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Sourdough Pt 2 – Bread
Apologies for the lateness in this post – I had intended to post this at the weekend, but life got in the way.
To make sourdough bread, you will first need a sourdough starter. You can buy them online easy enough, but don’t waste your money buying one from overseas, that purports to be 100s of years old – within a few months of feeding with your favourite brand of flour, the local strains of lactic bacteria will take over. Alternatively, follow the instructions here to start your own.
There is a lot of whimsy and romance around sourdough bread that just isn’t true. However, there are several proven benefits to sourdough bread, unlike bread made from cultured yeast. Sourdough bread is slightly better for you because the lengthier proofing times actually breaks down a lot of the proteins (gluten) making it more digestible for humans. Good if you have a sensitivity to wheat gluten, but not if you are celiac.
Like other fermentation processes, the bacteria present in the sourdough starter eats the starch and sugars present in the grain. This results in a lowering of the starch, or carbohydrate content of the bread, which is helpful for keeping blood sugar levels regulated. It also makes it easier for your body to extract more of the vitamin and mineral content of the grain.
The increase in lactic acid, what gives it that slight tang, also works as a natural preservative and prevents mould growth. Once baked, keep your bread cut side down in a paper bag which will maintain the crust and prevent contamination from dust or insects.
Finally, the bacteria present in the sourdough help to activate phytase, an enzyme that breaks down an anti-nutrient present in all grains, beans, and seeds called phytic acid. This may seem minor, but phytic acid is known to strip your body of minerals and can be hard on your digestion.
Your starter will live quite happily in the fridge for a week or two if you only want to bake at weekends. I would advise feeding at least once a week, even if you are not baking with it, to keep the yeast and bacteria population strong. It’s not unknown for sourdough enthusiasts to take their starter with them on holiday. If you want a longer break, you can actually dry out the starter, then, if kept in an airtight container, reactivate it weeks, months or even years later.
Alternatively, you can store it at room temp but you will have to bake with it and feed it every day.
PS – An alternative method of baking the bread is in a clay pot. Follow the instructions as above, apart from do you final overnight proof in the fridge, then place in a cold oven before turning on to the same temperatures as above. This method means you don’t need the roasting pan of water, as the pot lid maintains all the steam