Sourdough Bread and its Benefits!

IMG_0383THE JOY OF SOURDOUGH BREAD

I have been learning how sourdough is so much healthier for us than regular bread; there are several reasons.

One reason is that during the initial process we capture a “wild yeast” which is far superior to a commercially made yeast. I am not a scientist and have no ability to recall scientific mumbo jumbo but I get the gist and please do your own research on these claims that I make, summarizing what I have learned.

The good ole Joy of Cooking has a wonderful little blurb about wild yeast by the way.

Commercially made yeast is not a naturally occurring bacteria and has been modified to accomplish, in a short time, a process which takes many more hours in nature. This is due to society’s undertaking to make events happen quickly so as to squeeze more activity into every moment, rendering the senses numb and the heart anxious.

In times of yore (until not that long ago actually) all bread was made in this way, harnessing a natural bacteria for a rising agent. Food processing used to take some time, some thought, some mindfulness, some care but that has all been sacrificed in this day and age for the sake of “efficiency”. Well, along with the disappearance of the caring went the nutritional value and digestibility of this food. The baby was tossed out with the bath water!

Let’s make some real bread!

  • Your sourdough starter is like a pet, only much easier to feed and will never piddle on the carpet. Give him a name.

~ Once he is established, you will only need to feed him a mixture of rye flour and water every 4 days or so. He is very forgiving and perhaps he could withstand neglect and still be nurtured back to life. Sally Fallon says that rye flour is best because blah blah blah but probably any flour would do. Really, we should be using organic flour so it is not GMO. Oh and avoid chlorinated water please, says your starter. Chlorine supposedly evaporates out of water within 7 hours if you leave the lid of a container of chlorinated water.

The idea is that during the process of soaking the flour and exposing it to natural bacteria, the phytic acid is transformed making the chemical make up of the flour not only digestible where it wasn’t so much before but also changing the bran from a nutrient sucking element to a nutrient giving one (phytase). Not very scientifically said, again, do your own research. Please check out; thebreadgeek.blogspot.com

I would really like to reassure you from my own experience that your sourdough starter is VERY FORGIVING and that this is not an exact science. I know this because I am a dismal recipe follower, preferring to wing it and get a feel for the thing.

~ Your starter may live in the fridge or in a cool spot in the house. The cooler the location the less frequently he will need feeding…

He can live in a mason jar with air space (he bubbles and needs air) with a loosely fitting lid. He can live without a lid…he will become more sour and tangy if left outside without a lid. Don’t let him dry out ever. Keep a wet towel over him at least.

~He definitely needs feeding when a layer of liquid appears on his surface. You can pour this off and give him a nice flour and water mix. Or, you can mix the water in (I think this is not the best but I did it before I knew better and it was ok)

~He could just go on like this indefinitely but you might want to use some occasionally to make bread right? Here’s how that goes to the best of my knowledge.

  • Pour some starter into a big mixing bowl (1/4 to 1/2 cup). I swear I didn’t measure and it turned out just fine!
  • Add a cup of water, 2 tsp salt and rosemary (optional) Add white organic flour little at a time incorporating with wooden spoon.  Maybe 5 ish cups of flour in all. The consistency matters more than the amount. Now knead for a short time. You may have to keep adding some flour during this process. Coarse stone ground whole wheat works well at this point. Knead 4-5 minutes or so.
  • Place your dough in an oiled bowl (big enough for expansion about 100%) cover with a wet towel and place anywhere overnight.
  • In the a.m. punch the dough to poof the air out and fold over a couple of times. Let sit another hour or so.
  • If you’re doing loaf pans put them in pans before this last rise. If free forming then gently place on hot stone or pan just before baking and cut some slits in the top.
  • Bake in very hot oven for first 10 minutes then turn down. You can either spritz with water a couple of times during baking or have a ramequin with hot water in the oven for a touch of steam. Or not.
  • Bread is done when a hollow sound is heard when you give it a tap.
  • Trial and error is encouraged and any comments and improvements are welcome!

Yum yum!

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