What is sourdough bread? The difference is in how they are made. Regular bread is made using store bought yeast that reacts with gluten making the dough rise. Sourdough bread, on the other hand, is made with a “starter”. This starter is made from a combination of yeast and bacteria growing inside a paste made of flour and water.
I never realised but until now there was never a true or legal definition of sourdough bread. It is always important to check labels as some breads may not be the real deal and may be made using yeast and additives. So I was pleased to be reading about “Sourdough September” where the Real Bread Campaign have launched the Honest Crust Act to protect the reputation and name of slowly made, artisan bread. This month its all about encouraging you to make our own sourdough or buy the real thing.
With that in mind I have just taken my sourdough starter out of the fridge today… its been in there for just under two weeks as I haven’t had the time or energy to think past ‘bought bread’ for the back to school and chaotic start to the month. It is all about the starter and this is the time consuming bit as it can take about 5-6 days to get your starter ready.
I remember a few years ago ‘Herman the German’ came home from school with the girls and we had to feed ‘Herman’ for a few days before passing it on. It is like having a pet and something you have to tend too each day! The recipe I used to make my sourdough was on day one, you place 150g wholemeal or rye flour in a bowl with 150g water and 1⁄2 grated apple. Mix with a fork until combined. Fill into a large jar, close and leave covered at room temperature for 3 days. I use a mason jar (good seal and you tend not to get mould) for this but they also say a Tupperware would work.
Each day you “feed” the starter with equal amounts of fresh flour and water. As the wild yeast grows stronger, the starter will become more frothy and sour-smelling. On average, this process takes about 5 days, but it can take longer depending on the conditions in your kitchen.
Day six is the exciting one whereby you use your starter to make your bread. Find a recipe online, there are lots, but its combining the starter with lots more flour and water, leaving it to prove etc.. Unless like me you have ‘halted progress’ by popping the starter in the fridge. If you have had it in the fridge for a few days you will need to take it out for 48 hours before you can start feeding it again… sounds bizarre doesn’t it?
Sourdough is a healthier kind of bread. Whole grain bread, generally perceived as “healthy,” is often the worst thing a person with a wheat intolerance should eat. Sourdough is definitely much easier for us to digest as the natural starter prevents the effects of the phytic acid.
Anyway I should mention we are all massive fans of sourdough and afraid homemade as always is so much better, especially warm out of the oven. I really love sourdough toast too which works day 2 or 3, if there is any left over at that stage! Onwards with my homemade sourdough bread… ready for the weekend!