Sourdough is among the most ancient fermented foods that survived many centuries that we still enjoy today. Its distinct crunch and rich flavor make it stand out from the typical loaf of bread.
Used to be a rare find, sourdough made a comeback in recent years due to its uncomplicated recipe, affordability, and versatility. Who doesn’t love that slice of sourdough topped with avocado and egg every morning?
What is sourdough?
Sourdough is a type of bread made out of fermented dough. Unlike white bread, it utilizes wild yeasts in wheat compared to the commercial yeast used in white bread. The process also takes a little bit longer since the dough needs to be raised to develop lactic acid and make it more smooth and bubbly.
Sourdough is known to be developed in 3700 BCE. It was mentioned in ancient texts and even mentioned in one parable in the Bible. Rye flour is the first type of flour used to make sourdough which has no gluten. Today, some sourdough fans still use rye with wheat to leaven the sourdough.
In the 20th century, the demand for sourdough crashed with the rise of commercial bread baking using baker’s yeast. However, in 2015 to 2019, the pursuit of people to find healthier alternatives to gluten-filled white bread led to the revival of sourdough mania.
Sourdough further exploded as the world was locked down in 2020. It became an instant hobby for bored stay-at-home individuals and for people with no access to commercial yeast and other baking supplies.
What does sourdough taste like?
Sourdough has a crunchy crust with a little hint of sour but rich flavor. If you cut the sourdough immediately after pulling it out of the oven, it will reveal its chewy texture. So, some people let it rest for a few minutes before cutting it into loaves.
The rule of thumb in sourdough baking is the longer you ferment the dough, the richer the flavor. Other factors that also affect the flavor are the type of flour you used and how much you squeeze and fold the dough.
What is sourdough bread made of?
Sourdough is made of bread flour, wheat flour salt, sourdough starter, and water. Some people use rye flour instead of wheat. Usually, the second flour other than the bread flour only adds more flavor so any of the two can do.
Like most fermented foods, sourdough needs the starter culture of wild yeast to develop that bubbly texture and rise. The starter culture is made of fermented rye flour, white flour, and water prepared for four to seven days. The goal is to keep feeding the live bacteria in the starter culture with flour and water every day so they can develop bubbles in the dough.
How is sourdough made?
Sourdough is easy to make. Here’s how you can bake it at home:
- 800g bread flour.
- 200g rye or wheat flour.
- 850g lukewarm water.
- 200g sourdough starter.
- 20g. salt
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and stir it well until all the lumps of flour are dissolved. It’s best to use your hands to mix everything well because your sourdough will benefit from the wild yeast on your hands.
- Cover the dough with a cheesecloth or a clean towel. Then, leave it for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Check on the dough and do some squeeze-and-folds to allow gluten development. Let it rest for another 45 minutes at an hour and cover with cheesecloth or paper towel.
- Remove the cover and stretch the dough and fold it upwards several times. Then, let it sit for another hour. Repeat this process every hour for 4 to 6 hours.
- Once the dough starts to have visible bubbles and become more jiggly, you can now shape it the way you want.
- Score or create some design on top of the dough and place it in a moisture-proof container. Let it rest for another 20 minutes.
- Place the dough in the fridge for 12 to 16 hours.
- The next day, preheat the oven and set it to 250℃.
- Place the dough in a cast iron pan or casserole with a lid and bake it in an oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove the lid of the casserole and bake it for another 25 minutes. Once done, you can let it rest for a few minutes to reduce the rubbery texture when slicing.
What is the difference between sourdough and normal bread?
Sourdough and normal white bread both have gluten, carbs, and calories. However, they differ in the following features:
- How the dough rises: A typical dough of normal bread contains yeast, flour, and water. The yeast reacts to the gluten which triggers the release of carbon dioxide that creates the bubbles or pockets of air in bread.
Sourdough, on the other hand, is made using a combination of flour, a starter culture, and water. The starter culture contains wild yeasts and good bacteria developed naturally after fermenting flour and water. The good bacteria are responsible for releasing lactic acid, giving the bread its sour taste.
The bacteria in sourdough during fermentation feeds on the sugar which lowers the glycemic index of the bread.
- Flavor or taste: Sourdough, by the name itself, is slightly sour and often baked with a crunchy crust. White bread is usually sweeter than sourdough and has a soft texture.
- Preparation: Sourdough takes around two days before you can cook it in the oven. It requires several turns of squeeze-fold-and-roll to achieve that smooth and bubbly or airy dough.
Unlike white bread, it is also temperature sensitive and should be placed in the fridge before baking. It’s a lot of work but you’ll surely appreciate the fruit of your labor once you have that chewy but crusty loaf of sourdough bread.
- Ingredients: White bread uses baker’s yeast which is commercially produced while sourdough requires a starter culture that hosts a combination of good bacteria and yeast.
Health benefits of sourdough
Sourdough is a product of fermentation which means it has more gut-healthy contents than your usual white bread. Here are some of the health benefits you’ll get from choosing sourdough over white bread:
- Lower gluten content.
- Has a low glycemic index that aids in weight loss.
- Feeds good bacteria as a prebiotic.
- Has antioxidants that help prevent metabolic diseases.
- Rich in nutrients that boosts cell protection.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does sourdough cause bloatedness?
Yes. Just like other types of bread, sourdough can also make you feel bloated. It contains prebiotics that reacts with the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Is it okay to eat sourdough every day?
Yes, sourdough is a good addition to your daily diet. However, even if it has a low glycemic index, consume it in moderation since it is still high in calories.
Is sourdough keto?
No, sourdough’s main ingredient is high-carb flour. For a keto alternative, you should opt for almond flour in making your starter culture and sourdough.