What is sourdough bread and how is it made? The recipe is simple, but the chemical process is anything but simple.
Water and flour form an astonishing number of interconnected chemical compounds that is still not fully understood. Responsible for this remarkable process are wild yeast strains and lactobacillus probiotic bacteria. The yeast and bacteria create the taste and texture typical for sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread offers health benefits exceeding most bread in grocery stores. But what exactly is sourdough?
What’s sourdough bread?
Sourdough bread refers to bread baked on fermented flour. It can be wheat, rye, barley, or a mix of grains.
It’s a mixture of wild yeast strains and beneficial lactobacillus bacteria thriving in a simple blend of water and flour. A sourdough is teeming with beneficial microorganisms!
Traditionally, fermentation happens due to microorganisms naturally occurring on the grains. Different grains might contain different bacteria and yeast. A mix of grains have a more diverse composition.
I recommend organic flour. A high-quality multi-purpose flour makes excellent bread.
How does sourdough bread taste?
My wife makes excellent sourdough bread. I use fermented butter and cheese, at times adding olive oil makes the bread irresistible!
You can make many types of bread on sourdough. But often the bread is elastic, slightly rubbery in a good way. It’s usually crisp, crunchy with a robust crust. The taste is a bit tangy, complex, and rich. It has character.
We eat our sourdough bread for a least up to 5 days. After a few days, it’s perfect to toast.
You can make white, light bread, full-grain, rustic bread, San Francisco bread, Italian Focaccia (a favorite!), ciabatta pita, and many others.
Is sourdough bread healthy?
Fermented flour contains natural yeast and probiotic bacteria. These microorganisms chew and predigest the ingredients that become easier to digest and assimilate. The 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!
- Microorganisms predigest starches making the bread easier to digest
- Lactic acid lowers the glycemic index (GI), lowering insulin spikes
- Easier to assimilate vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients
- Contains higher concentrations of enzymes
- Renders gluten more digestible
Give the sourdough a try
You can buy good sourdough bread. However, in the long run homemade sourdough bread is superior.
How to get started:
- Make a sourdough starter. Or buy one, get it from a friend.
- Make sourdough bread together with someone with experience. This greatly speeds up the learning curve.
As you get experienced, you might try different sourdough bread recipes. And I hope you will not regret that you did.