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What is Sourdough Bread?

Sourdough bread has become all the rage these days. Start kits for sourdough have flooded the market, reaching households of DIYers across the World.

Sourdough is made by the fermentation of dough using the bacteria naturally found in yeast. The lactic acid produced by the bacteria creates the sour taste that gives the bread its name. Archeologists discovered the oldest proof of sourdough bread, circa 3700 B.C., in Switzerland.

The sourdough bread recipe consists mainly of flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and water. Modern kitchens can use a sourdough starter to skip the fermentation process when making their bread.

Sourdough is a loaf ideal for sandwich bread. It is also popularly served as a side to soups or savory meals. It is typically served with butter, olive oil, or other savory toppings.

The History of Sourdough Bread

Consider sourdough the great, great, granddaddy of all bread. Sourdough is older than metallurgy, existing as far back as 1,000 B.C.E., if not farther.

Ancient Egyptians immortalized the process of making sourdough in their hieroglyphs. The Bible speaks of the process, too, for the Jews could not wait for their bread to rise before fleeing Egypt. Why was that? Yeast-leavened dough doesn’t take that long to proof, just a few hours, right?

Sure, modern yeast-leavened dough doubles in size in an hour thanks to activated yeast. But pure yeast culturing did not exist until the 19th Century when Louis Pasteur used the microscope to identify yeast and began the process of culturing it.

Before Pasteur, yeast-leavened bread did take quite a bit of time because it relied on the presence of wild yeast in the air and on the flour grain collecting on a mixture of sugar, flour, and water overnight or for several hours until enough yeast gathered to leaven a loaf.

Small wonder that ancient people quickly learned to keep a chunk of the bread dough as a starter for future loaves, with yeast already amply present in the previously made dough.

Evidence of sourdough exists in most cultures that farmed cereal grains, but its true dominance came with the California Gold Rush of the 19th Century. French gold-pioneers and bakers arrived in California, bringing with them their sourdough recipes. Soon, a legend was born.

San Francisco became ground zero for the American sourdough. The city remains the capital of sourdough bread in the United States, so much so that their NFL team’s mascot calls himself Sourdough Sam.

From San Francisco, sourdough launched to superstardom, with prospectors taking the bread to their gold-hunts in Alaska and Canada. Over time, with the availability of cultured active yeast on store shelves, sourdough became less a necessity and more a regional specialty.

Sourdough exists as a popular, special variation of bread in the United States, and remains the primary form of leavening in much of the world today.

Ingredients in Sourdough Bread

The list of ingredients in sourdough bread varies depending on if you choose to go the wild yeast route or the instant yeast route. Aside from the yeast source, the base ingredients are usually the same across recipes.

  • Instant Yeast (if not using wild yeast)
  • Sourdough starter (optional, contains wild yeast for multiple loaves)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Water

Sourdough Bread Nutritional Information

Sourdough forms by means of fermented bacteria. That same bacteria happens to be great for your gut health. More importantly, sourdough has lower levels of phytate than most other bread. Phytate inhibits iron absorption in the body and may promote mineral deficiency.

As far as nutritional facts go, sourdough is fairly low in fat and has a whopping 8 grams of protein per slice. Plus, a serving has about 12% of your daily recommended iron intake and 4% of your daily magnesium.

Sourdough does have 36 grams of carbs per slice, but overall, sourdough has quite a few more nutritional benefits than most bread.

How to Make Sourdough Bread

Provided you aren’t gathering your own wild yeast overnight (if you are, just put the recipe’s sugar, water, and flour in a bowl to collect wild yeast over the night,) sourdough doesn’t have to be rocket science. Like most bread recipes, you’ll start with mixing all your ingredients together.

Most sourdough recipes require a step called autolyse, which allows the water to soak into the flour and begin the formation of gluten. This makes kneading the dough easier later on. It takes about 20 minutes, and then you’ll move on to the kneading of the bread.

Sourdough requires three proofing stages, one after the first knead, one after shaping, and an additional 2-3 hour long proof before baking. While baking, you should add water to the bread pan or mist the bread for a moist result.

Sourdough Recipes

Sourdough has been adopted as a basic dough recipe easily changed and added to.

Savory recipe variations frequently include herbs and cheeses. Try adding cheddar, rosemary, and garlic to your sourdough for a cheesy twist on garlic bread.

Sweet variations exist, too. Sourdough works wonderfully as a cinnamon roll dough. Just add your cinnamon and sugar to the dough and top them with icing for a sweet treat!

Sourdough FAQ's

What is sourdough bread?

Sourdough bread is a type of bread that is made with a sourdough starter. The starter is a mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to ferment for a period of time, usually several days. The fermentation process creates lactic acid, which gives sourdough bread its distinctive sour flavor.

How is sourdough bread different from other types of bread?

The main difference between sourdough bread and other types of bread is the sour flavor. Sourdough starters are also known for their ability to leaven bread without the need for commercial yeast, although some recipes do call for a small amount of yeast to help the dough rise.

What is a sourdough starter?

A sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to ferment for a period of time, usually several days. The fermentation process creates lactic acid, which gives sourdough bread its distinctive sour flavor.

How do you make a sourdough starter?

There are many different recipes for sourdough starters, but they all generally follow the same basic method: mix together flour and water in a ratio of 1:1, allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for several days until it becomes bubbly and sour-smelling, then use it to make sourdough bread.

How long does it take to make a sourdough starter?

It usually takes about 5-7 days to make a sourdough starter from scratch. However, you can also purchase sourdough starters from many online retailers or specialty baking stores.

What is the best flour to use for sourdough bread?

There are many different types of flour that can be used for sourdough bread, but most recipes call for all-purpose or bread flour. All-purpose flour is a good choice because it has a moderate protein content, which helps the bread to rise. Bread flour has a higher protein content and will produce a slightly more chewy texture.

How long does it take to make sourdough bread?

The actual process of making sourdough bread is relatively quick, taking only a few hours from start to finish. However, the dough needs to rise for several hours or overnight before it is baked, so you will need to plan ahead when making sourdough bread.

What are the steps for making sourdough bread?

The basic steps for making sourdough bread are as follows: mix together flour and water to form a dough, allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, shape the dough into a loaf, allow the loaf to rise again, then bake it in a preheated oven.

Can I make sourdough bread without a sourdough starter?

No, sourdough bread cannot be made without a sourdough starter. The starter is essential for giving the bread its sour flavor and for leavening the dough.

How do I store sourdough bread?

Sourdough bread can be stored at room temperature in a covered container or wrapped in a clean towel. It will keep for several days, but the flavor and texture will change over time. Sourdough bread can also be frozen for longer-term storage.

What is the shelf life of sourdough bread?

When stored properly, sourdough bread will keep for several days at room temperature or up to two months in the freezer.

How do I know when sourdough bread is bad?

Sourdough bread that has gone bad will develop mold or a sour smell. If you see either of these signs, throw the bread away and do not eat it.

Is sourdough bread healthy?

There is no definitive answer to this question since there are many different types of sourdough bread and each one can vary in nutritional content. However, sourdough bread does tend to be lower in sugar and calories than other types of bread, and it may also contain more vitamins and minerals due to the fermentation process.

Can I eat sourdough bread if I have gluten intolerance?

Most sourdough bread is made with wheat flour, which contains gluten. Therefore, sourdough bread is not a good choice for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. However, there are a few brands of sourdough bread that are made with gluten-free flours and are safe for people with gluten intolerance to eat.

Can I eat sourdough bread if I have candida?

Candida is a type of yeast that can cause infections in the body, and it is often found in the intestine. Sourdough bread may contain small amounts of candida due to the fermentation process, but it is generally considered to be safe for people with candida to eat in moderation.

What is the difference between sourdough bread and regular bread?

The main difference between sourdough bread and regular bread is the fermentation process. Sourdough bread is made with a sourdough starter, which contains wild yeast that ferments the dough and gives it a sour flavor. Regular bread is made with commercial yeast, which does not create the same sour flavor.

Is sourdough bread vegan?

Most sourdough bread is made with wheat flour, water, salt, and a sourdough starter. This means that it is vegan-friendly. However, some recipes may call for additional ingredients such as eggs, milk, or butter, so be sure to check the recipe before assuming that the bread is vegan.

Is sourdough bread keto-friendly?

Most sourdough bread is made with wheat flour, which is high in carbs and not suitable for a ketogenic diet. However, there are a few brands of sourdough bread that are made with low-carb flours such as almond flour or coconut flour, and these can be a good option for people following a keto diet.

Is sourdough bread Paleo-friendly?

Most sourdough bread is not Paleo-friendly because it is made with wheat flour. However, there are a few brands of sourdough bread that are made with Paleo-friendly flours such as almond flour or coconut flour, and these can be a good option for people following the Paleo diet.

What is the difference between sourdough bread and sourdough starter?

Sourdough bread is made with sourdough starter, which is a type of fermented dough that contains wild yeast. The starter is what gives sourdough bread its sour flavor. Sourdough starter can be made at home or purchased from a bakery.

How do I know if my sourdough bread is bad?

There are a few signs that your sourdough bread may be bad. These include mold growth, a sour smell, and a change in color. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to throw the bread away.

Can sourdough bread be frozen?

Yes, sourdough bread can be frozen. Bread that is frozen will stay fresh for up to three months. To freeze sourdough bread, slice the bread and place it in a freezer-safe bag. When you are ready to eat the bread, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.

My sourdough bread is too sour. What can I do?

If your sourdough bread is too sour, you can try slicing it thin and toasting it. This will help to mellow out the sour flavor. You can also add sweet toppings such as honey or jam to offset the sourness.

What are some other uses for sourdough starter?

In addition to making sourdough bread, sourdough starter can also be used to make pancakes, waffles, biscuits, and pizza dough. It can also be used as a sourdough starter for sourdough bread.

My sourdough bread didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. What went wrong?

There are a few possible reasons why your sourdough bread didn't turn out the way you wanted it to. One possibility is that your dough was too wet or too dry. Another possibility is that your dough didn't rise enough. Finally, your bread may not have been baked long enough or at a high enough temperature. If you are having trouble with your sourdough bread, it is best to consult a recipe or seek help from a baking expert.

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Shane Jones

About Me

Hi, I'm Shane the person behind bakesomebread.com

I've been baking bread for about 10 years now and ever since mastering sourdough bread in 2020 I've decided to branch out into discovering every type of bread imaginable.

This website will document all of those bread types along with recipes as and when I've made them.

If you're a pizza fan check out my other site Make Some Pizza