We're from the Middle East. We live in Jerusalem. We Love Bread. We can't live without it. I do draw the line at yeast though. Yeast is problematic it a few ways, both directly and indirectly.
Yeasts feed candida in the gut, so for many people unnaturally fermented bread that is leavened using yeast is unsuitable.
In addition, the fast leavening of yeast doughs does not allow for a proper culturing of the flour. Therefore resulting in a loaf that is not only not nutritionally dense but actually robs nutrients from our body in order to digest it.
“The process (of natural leveling with a sourdough starter) helps increase and reinforce our body’s absorption of the cereals nutrients. Unlike yeasted bread that diminishes and even destroys much of the grain’s nutritional value…” Jacques DeLangre via Nourishing Tradition by Sally Fallon.
Natural leveling of bread helps to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult to digest proteins (gluten for example), resulting in a loaf that is more nutritious, easier to digest and less irritating for our gut
“A lot of that information was known pragmatically for centuries; thus when yeast was first introduced in France at the court of Louis XIV in March 1668, because at the time scientists knew that the use of yeast would imperil the people's health, it was strongly rejected… Today…. scientific evidence and clinical findings are confirming the ancient taboos…” Jacques DeLangre via Nourishing Tradition by Sally Fallon.
Using a sourdough starter is a long process that takes some planning. Unlike the quick method of yeast bread. But once you get the hang of it and have a system in place it is not more time consuming or complicated. Plus you never run out of yeast, as you are continually adding to and ‘feeding’ your starter.
“The history of bread making is a good example of industrialization and standardization of a technique that was formerly empiric…. it was simpler to replace natural leven with brewers yeast. There are numerous practical advantages: the fermentation is more regular, more rapid and the bread rises better. But the fermentation becomes mainly an alcoholic fermentation and the acidification is greatly lessened. The bread is less digestible, less tasty and spoils more easily.” Claude Albert Les Aliments Fermentés Traditionnels, via Sally Fallon.
So that's the why of sourdough in a nutshell, but how? Michael Pollon in his documentary ‘cooked’ says: “(to bake bread) you need to buy a scale, calibrated in grams, learn the metric system….” It is a daunting task. Even though it is such a simple food, three ingredients: flour, water, and salt. It's the procedure that begs to explain. In this post I will not get into making your own starter, that's for a different post. One can buy a starter kit, ask for a jar from a friend or make your own. Basically it's soaking flour in water and harvesting wild yeast from the air. I used Sally Fallon’s recipe from ‘Nourishing Traditions’ to make a starter.
The most successful, and simplest procedure I've come up with for baking a really great loaf of bread is this:
Day 1 noon: Remove sourdough from the fridge, and feed it; add equal amounts by volume of flour and water (for example 2 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp water). Place on the counter at room temperature. This stage ensures you will be using a very active starter to create a loaf that rises well and has great flavor.
Day 1 evening (17:00-19:00): Make the dough according to the recipe given below.
Day 1 night: Just before you go to bed line a loaf pan with parchment paper and pour the dough in the pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow leave to rise until the morning.
Day 2 morning: Heat your oven to 240C / 460F and bake your loaf for half an hour, rotating after 15 minutes to ensure a uniformly baked bread. The bread should be heard to touch, bang on it to make sure it's baked.
Foolproof Sourdough Bread Recipe:
500 grams, ½ a kilo flour (whole wheat, whole spelled, white wheat, white spelled, even rye will work or a mixture of any of the above.)
60 grams sourdough starter, recently fed and at room temperature.
440 ml of water
12 grams of salt
With K mixing hook mix flour and sourdough starter. Add water and mix on lowest speed for five minutes. Notice how different the dough looks. That is the gluten forming to create a great loaf.
Allow sitting for 20 minutes. Add salt and mix on fastest a for 3 minutes. Sometimes you can see the dough separating from the bowl.
Allow to proof for 2-4 hours.
Transfer dough into a parchment paper-lined loaf pan and cover with a clean dishtowel.
The following morning preheat oven to 240C/ 460F and bake the loaf for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven, remove from pan and place on a cooling rack. Try to cut it only when bread has cooled. Even though with the smell of fresh bread it is very hard to wait!!