Wednesday, 20 March 2019 13:44

Sourdough Bread

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Baking with sourdough is one of my most favorite things! And it’s healthy. Healthy bread! What did you say - healthy bread? What about all the carbs and the gluten!? Let me explain. 

Sourdough bread is made using a sourdough starter which is basically flour and water that you let sit out on your counter or in the fridge for days and weeks at a time. The flour and water is exposed to the air which contains natural, wild yeast. The white substance on grapes? Wild yeast. By combining the yeast with flour and water an environment is created that allows the yeasts to thrive and grow. These yeasts combine and ferment with the bread and water and keeps them fed and alive to use in baking. A starter is a wet substance, not a powder. Until the late 1800’s all that was ever used to make bread was natural yeast or sourdough. After that commercial instant yeast came into play. Yeast feeds on sugars in the flour and breaks down things like gluten. While the yeast eats, it creates carbon dioxide that creates the gas bubbles that helps the bread to rise without the common yeast powder that we are all used to.  

“The slow raising process of natural yeast has many critically important health benefits. Here is what science can prove:

1. Natural yeast slows digestion to help you feel full longer, making it a natural way to eat less.
2. The organic acids produced during natural yeast fermentation lower the glycemic index of bread.
3. Best of all, natural yeast lowers the body’s glycemic response to all carbohydrates. An intriguing 2009 study showed that not only did natural yeast bread lower the glycemic response better than whole wheat bread made with commercial yeast, but the body’s glycemic response also remained lower when eating a meal hours later. No other kind of bread produced the same result.” 

(taken from The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast by Caleb Warnock and Melissa Richardson)

Baking with sourdough takes time. It takes around 12 hours for the first rise before baking. You have to remember to feed the starter and keep it alive on your counter! It seems intimidating, but once you get into a routine with it, it becomes second nature. Feed your starter, mix up some bread, let it sit on the counter overnight, and bake in the morning. Then your family gets to enjoy nutritious bread all week. The best part is you can make tons of other things with your starter not just a plain loaf of bread. You can bake scones, muffins, dinner rolls, sweet breads, English muffins, and pancakes. Honestly anything you can bake, you can make with sourdough. How cool is that? 

I’ll include some of my favorite recipes at the bottom but first you need a starter.  Where can you get one?

1. From a friend! Ask your friends or ask around in some local swap and classifieds groups. All it takes is ¼ cup of starter to get a new starter going. 
2. Make your own! There are many detailed articles about making your own online. That’s what I did. 
3. Buy one online. A quick google search and you’ll be able to see all the places you can buy a freeze dried starter online.  

Once you get your starter and begin feeding it, use it often! The best way to get your starter going and ready for really good bread is to bake with it often. 

Here are some of our family’s favorite recipes for baking with my starter:

Basic Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Ingredients:

½-¾ cup starter
1-2 tbsp honey or sugar
1 to 1 ¼ cup water
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil or fat of your choice
3-3 ½ cup flour 

Method:

Mix starter, honey, salt, oil, and water together then add flour until you have a kneadable dough. Knead it for a few minutes then cover it with a damp towel and let it sit on the counter for 12-18 hours. 
After the first rise, shape your loaf. Press dough into a rectangle,fold like a letter, and let sit seam side down for 10 minutes. 
Meanwhile, prep your loaf pan by lining with parchment. 
After the 10 minutes flip seam side up and press into a rectangle again, but this time roll it up and tuck the sides under to make a tidy loaf then put it into the loaf pan. 
Let for second rise for 1-2 hours. 
Preheat oven to 425F 
Using a sharp serrated knife, score the loaf. This allows the bread to rise and expand better
Bake for 25 minutes then turn in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!

Sourdough Banana Bread

Ingredients:

¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter or coconut oil
2 large browned bananas, mashed
1 egg
1 cup starter (stirred)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ c chopped walnuts or chocolate chips, optional

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x4 loaf pan.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Add mashed banana, egg, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.
Using a wooden spoon, slowly add the starter and beat to incorporate. This will take a minute or two, but it will get there!
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
Pour into greased pan.
Bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and enjoy! 

Pancakes

Ingredients:

Overnight Sponge:
2 c whole wheat flour
1 c starter
2 c buttermilk (I use milk with a splash of apple cider vinegar)
2 T maple syrup

Final Batter:
¼ c melted butter or coconut oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda 

Method:
The night before, combine all ingredients for the sponge and cover to sit overnight.
In the morning, add the melted butter/oil, egg, and vanilla and mix well.
Sprinkle the salt and baking soda on top of the batter, then combine.
Leave the batter while you preheat your griddle to 325 degrees. The batter will raise up and get nice and fluffy!
Pour batter by ¼ c portions onto a hot griddle.
Flip when bubbles raise to the surface (2-3 minutes) and cook another minute or until browned.

 

Sarah HopkinsSarah is a wife and mother in Georgia. She and her husband Michael are both lay members of the Home of the Mother. Sarah graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. It was at Auburn that she fell in love with her husband and the Catholic Church. She converted to the faith in 2014. When she is not busy running after her two toddlers, she enjoys grocery shopping alone, cooking, drinking good coffee, and being outdoors.