“Before the 1950′s, most bread bakeries ran two shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow process using a culture that contained the lactobacillus bacteria. This slow process was necessary for bread to be properly digested. In the process of making sourdough bread, the bran in the flour is broken down during the long rising time, releasing nutrients into the dough. Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted (to learn more about sprouted breads click here) is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. The phytic acid in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals to be absorbed by the human body. When you naturally ferment or sprout bread, you eliminate all phytic acid. About 90% of the phytic acid remains in breads made with instant yeasts, unless it is sprouted bread.” – Cultured Food Life
In order to make sourdough bread you need to begin with a “starter.”
“Sourdough starter is likely the oldest, being reliant on organisms present in the grain and local environment. In general, these starters have fairly complex microbiological makeups, the most notable including wild yeasts, lactobacillus, and acetobacteria. They are often maintained over long periods of time. The Boudin Bakery in San Francisco for example, has used the same starter dough for over 150 years. A roughly synonymous term in French baking is levain.” – Wikepedia
Many starters have been nurtured from as far back as the 1700’s and shared throughout generations. I loved the idea of being able to share it with friends and neighbors. The thought of going back to a simpler time is warming.
A healthier option for bread and the whole science behind this living and fermenting process had me hooked. After researching a little more I decided to order a starter online rather than attempt to make my own. Once the starter arrived, the science experiment began!
I used a recipe from “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The directions may seem daunting at first, but be patient and read them thoroughly before you begin. I have since made many loaves and each time it gets easier. Eventually you won’t have to even look at the recipe. Enjoy the process. The final product is worth it!
~Enjoy, Mama Ferg