Though sourdough bread recipes are considered simple, the chemical process that transforms water and flour into delicious sourdough bread is anything but simple.
Water and flour combine to form an astonishing number of chemical compounds that have active links to one another. The exact relationship between these compounds is still not fully understood. Responsible for this remarkable process are wild yeast strains and lactobacillus probiotic bacteria. The yeast and lactobacillus work in a highly effective symbiosis creating the taste and texture typical for sourdough bread.
In addition, sourdough bread offers great health benefits far exceeding most bread you buy in grocery stores. But what exactly is sourdough?
A sourdough is alive
Sourdough bread refers to bread baked on fermented flour; it can be wheat, rye, barley or a mix of different grains. Traditionally fermentation involves good bacteria naturally occurring on the grains. Different grains often have different bacteria and yeast naturally occurring and therefore, a mix of different grains can contain a highly beneficial combination of beneficial bacteria.
Baking sourdough bread is both and art and a science
Whatever grain you decide to use, I strongly recommend using flour from organic grains. Organic flour has much lower levels of pesticides and other toxins so please don’t to economize that benefit away. I also think sourdough bread baked on organic flour has a better, fuller taste. A high-quality multi-purpose flour also makes excellent bread.
Sourdough bread has character
When my wife takes out freshly baked sourdough bread from the oven, I love to smear it with my own fermented, creamy homemade butter and perhaps some cheese that slowly melts. The taste is exceptional! You can also add olive oil or sprinkle a little salt on the bread.
How does sourdough bread taste?
Sourdough bread is elastic, slightly rubbery, but in a great way. It is crisp, crunchy with a robust crust. The taste it a bit tangy, a complex, rich, deep flavor. Sourdough bread has great character.
Sourdough bread lives for a long time. I eat it for a least 5 days without any loss of taste or texture. After this, it’s perfect to toast.
Using the same principles, you can bake almost any kind of bread on sourdough. You can prepare wonderful white, light bread, full-grain, rustic bread, San Francisco bread, Italian Focaccia (my favorite), ciabatta pita and other bread.
Fermented foods have in common that they contain natural yeast and probiotic bacteria. Both the yeast and the bacteria make food much easier for the body to digest and assimilate. The same microorganisms also greatly increase the levels of vitamins, enzymes, lactic acid and
A sourdough is a mixture of wild yeast strains and beneficial lactobacillus bacteria strains all thriving in a simple blend of water and flour. The sourdough is teeming with beneficial microorganisms!
The yeast and bacteria form this intricate symbiosis where the lactobacillus bacteria (as in yogurt) consumes starches (sugars) in the flour and creates lactic acid. Many lactobacillus strains are probiotic; their properties being highly beneficial when consumed, even if they are dead. Lactic acid makes the environment acidic in which most yeast cannot survive. However, the natural, wild yeast in flour thrive in this acidic environment. And when yeast dies, it’s consumed by the lactobacillus bacteria. The sourdough process is absolutely incredible!
Health benefits of sourdough bread:
- Contains lactic acid that lowers the glycemic index (GI), meaning it does not cause insulin spikes
- The microorganisms predigest starches making the bread easy to digest
- Render gluten more digestible
- Creating higher concentrations of beneficial enzymes
- Easier for the body to assimilate vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
Give sourdough bread a try
You can, of course, buy some good sourdough bread. However, it’s expensive and in the long run, not the best option. Baking your own sourdough bread is far superior.
- Get a sourdough starter; buy one or ask a friend. You can also make one yourself.
- Try baking a simple sourdough bread, perhaps together with a friend who has some experience.
You will quickly get more experienced and ready to try different sourdough bread recipes. As you enjoy the delicious bread, you will not regret that you did.