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 create the taste and texture typical for sourdough bread.
In addition, sourdough bread offers health benefits far exceeding most bread in grocery stores. But what exactly is sourdough?
What’s sourdough bread?
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 indeed teeming with beneficial microorganisms!
Sourdough bread refers to bread baked on fermented flour. It can be wheat, rye, barley or a mix of different grains. Traditionally, fermentation happens due to microorganisms naturally occurring on the grains. Different grains contain different bacteria and yeast and therefore, a mix of different grains have greater more diverse of yeast and bacteria.
Whatever grain you decide to use, I recommend using organic flour. A high-quality multi-purpose flour also makes excellent bread.
How does sourdough bread taste?
When my wife makes fresh sourdough bread, I love to use my own fermented, creamy homemade butter and perhaps some cheese that slowly melts. The taste is exceptional! Also great to add olive oil or sprinkle a little salt on the bread.
Sourdough bread is elastic, slightly rubbery, but in a good way. It is crisp, crunchy with a robust crust. The taste it a bit tangy, a complex, rich, deep flavor. Sourdough bread has a special character.
We still eat our sourdough bread for a least up to 5 days after being baked. After this, it’s perfect to toast.
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 many other.
Is sourdough bread healthy?
Fermented foods have in common that they contain natural yeast and probiotic bacteria. These microorganisms basically chew and predigest the food so it become easier for humans to digest and assimilate. The same microorganisms increase availability of vitamins, enzymes, lactic acid and other nutrients.
The lactobacillus bacteria (as in yogurt) consumes starches (sugars) in the flour and creates lactic acid. Both yeast and bacteria are 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!
Benefits of sourdough bread
- Contains lactic acid that lowers the glycemic index (GI), meaning it does not cause insulin spikes
- Easier for the body to assimilate vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
- Microorganisms predigest starches making the bread easier to digest
- Contains higher concentrations of beneficial enzymes
- Render gluten more digestible
Give sourdough bread a try
You can, of course, buy good sourdough bread. However, it’s expensive and in the long run. 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 making simple sourdough bread together with a friend who has some experience. This will greatly sped up the learning curve.
As you get more experienced, you might try different sourdough bread recipes. And I hope you will not regret that you did.