In my journey to learn more about real foods and the way that methods of food preparation affect our body's ability to utilize all that our food has to offer, I ended up learning quite a bit about soaking and fermenting grains. This method of preparation helps to "pre-digest" the grains that we eat so that our bodies can more readily pull out the valuable nutrients that are otherwise locked tight in the grain as a means of protecting itself (think about the way that seeds, once consumed by a human or animal, remain in their whole form throughout digestion and excretion, so that upon exit they are ready to rock and roll in terms of setting root and growing a new plant).
Anyhow, as a result of my research, I've pretty much switched to only using sourdough breads to meet the carb-y needs of my family. Why? Because sourdough is made through a fermentation process whereby you create a starter that incorporates the wild yeast in the environment to break down the sugars present in the flour. That, and I just have a real affinity for all things fermented at this juncture of my life...
So, after examining a number of recipes, and actually enrolling in an online sourdough bread baking course, I've come to be pretty skilled in the area. And here's what I've really learned and that I would like to pass on to anyone who tries this recipe: sourdough is a science, but not an exact one.
There are certain principles you must keep in mind. First, even after a week of growing your starter, it will not be that prolific, and your loaf will not rise very much. However, if you are diligent in feeding it, over the course of a few months you will see a huge transformation in the rise of your dough, so keep at it!
Second, the type of flour you use makes a difference. White flour, organic or not, is pretty void of nutrients, so it doesn't give your starter as much to feed on, and the resulting loaf has almost no sour flavor at all. It pretty much tastes like french bread...which is still delicious by the way. Should you want a more sour flavor, try substituting a half cup of the flour in the bread dough recipe for a half cup of wheat flour.
Also, consistency is key. When you measure your flour, you want to measure the same way every time: dip your measuring cup into the flour, press down with the flat of a knife, and scrape the extra back into the bag. The best way to ensure consistency is to weigh your ingredients, but honestly, I rarely have the patience or time for that endeavor...
If you really want to get into making sourdough bread, feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love baking and bread-making and am more than willing to share some tips with you guys!
Yield: 1 loaf
- 4 cups flour
- 2 cups sourdough starter*
- 1 cup water
- ½ tbsp. Sea salt
In plastic or glass bowl, combine flour, starter, water, and salt. Knead 5 minutes, or until smooth. Let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Then fold dough by pulling from the edges and folding over the top of the “loaf”. Do this all the way around, working in a circle around the edge of the loaf. Let sit another 30 minutes before repeating the folding. Do this for two more 30-minute rotations. Then do two 1-hour rotations, following the same process.
Remove dough from bowl and place on a lined baking sheet. Shape into loaf, then cover and let sit in a warm place for an hour.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a small pan of water on bottom rack and make sure top rack is positioned in the center of your oven.
Once loaf has set for 1 hour, place on top rack of oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove water pan from oven and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the outside has a nice golden brown crust. Remove from oven.
Let cool completely before slicing for storage, or serve warm with some yummy soup!
*To create sourdough starter, mix an even ½ cup of flour with ½ cup water. Let sit 24 hours, then feed with another ½ cup flour and ½ cup water. Do this every day for about 7 days, and before feeding it each day be sure to pour off any clear liquid that may accumulate. After 7 days, the starter is ready to use. If you aren’t going to use it right away, place your starter in the refrigerator and feed at least once a week. Pull it out and feed it 7 to 12 hours before you plan to use it.