Secrets of sourdough bread
February 19, 2009 | Making breads with natural leaven
yeasts as opposed to commercial yeasts is a dying art,
partly because of the speed at which commercial yeast
rises. So with the death of natural leaven yeasts, what
are we losing really?
According to Dave Oblock, sales manager at Crumb Brothers,
we're losing a lot. He says the slow fermentation of
the slow rise process is the appropriate environment
for good bacteria, and that's where the creation of
better nutrients comes into the bread.
"White flour and quick yeast breads tend to break
down in your digestive and blood system much quicker,"
Oblock said, "which changes your blood sugar, and really
you prefer to have a more gradual change of that. So
by converting these and breaking them down with the
natural yeast and those good bacteria, that's part of
the reason that makes it more healthy, besides tasting
Oblock said many people who have yeast intolerance
tend to have no adverse reactions to bread made by this
Commercial yeasts can go from the mixing bowl to the
shelf in a matter of hours and that's why they're so
popular, but the nutritional value is depleted. So,
though it sometimes takes days to create a loaf of bread
by this process, it may just be worth it to those who
enjoy bread, but can't eat much of it for health reasons.
The flavor is also an obvious factor in the importance
of sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is known for its
amazing and distinct flavor. The interesting thing is
that the term "sourdough" is used more specifically
than it was originally intended to. Olbock said sourdough
is a word that should be used when describing almost
any naturally leavened dough.
Melissa Dean said a common example of a sourdough
bread that goes by another name is Amish Friendship
Bread. This bread is created by essentially the same
fermentation process and is made with natural leaven
yeast. The "starter" that is created by this bread-making
process needs to be fed just like any other type of
sourdough, and that is why the starter gets passes around
Oblock shared his theory on the process of feeding
starters. "Starters are like children. You feed them
regularly, you watch after them, you do everything you
can do with them, and maybe, just maybe if you're lucky,
they turn out great."
So getting a good starter is essential to making a
really good tasting bread. How does one get a good start?
There are a couple of ways. You can get a starter from
someone else, or you
can make your own.