Every baker who’s worth his or her dough should know how to bake the perfect sourdough loaf. But every artisan baker who is passionate about the craft continues to work to master the art of this simple, yet complex form of bread.
Sourdough is made with a starter or leaven which is a mixture of flour, water and naturally occurring bacteria and yeast. The enzymes produced during the process break down sugars which are metabolized by the natural yeast. Over time (days or weeks), a stable culture is created and refreshed or “fed” at crucial intervals with flour and water, which produces gas to rise or leaven the bread.
It is a fine science keeping the starter happy and active. You can get kind of attached to that little bowl of leaven.
A Brief History Lesson
The earliest sourdough was probably even before the Egyptians; but it was in the tombs of Egyptian kings that baking was illustrated in hieroglyphics—and even samples of loaves were found!
“Various forms of bread, including loaves shaped like animals, are shown. From the tomb of Ramesses III in the Valley of the Kings, Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt.” (Image from HistoricalCookingProject.com)
Bread making is one of the first signs of a civilized society as it requires skilled craftsmen to grow grains, build ovens and develop a knowledge of food storage and baking.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Boudin Bakery is world-famous for its Original San Francisco Sourdough French Bread, which is baked with the same “mother dough,” or sourdough starter, used since 1849.(hotel-online)
Sourdough and Gluten Intolerance
The Sourdough School in England was asked: “So why is Sourdough bread healthier than ordinary bread?”
The Answer: “The principal storage of phosphorus in seeds is found in the bran part of wheat and is called phytic acid. In humans, and animals with one stomach, this phytic acid inhibits enzymes which are needed for the breakdown of proteins and starch in the stomach. It is this lack of enzymes which results in digestive difficulties. Ironically, commercially produced whole grain bread, generally perceived as “healthy,” is often the worst thing a person with wheat intolerance should eat.”
Many of our customers who suffer from gluten intolerance or sensitivity have been able to digest our sourdough bread, and were amazed and delighted to be able to enjoy eating bread again! That wonderful natural yeast (levain) neutralizes the phytic acid, allowing our systems to better tolerate sourdough.
We at BeNanna Bakery would never recommend someone with diagnosed celiac disease eat bread; but in moderation, gluten sensitive people are welcome to come and try a loaf and share with us how they feel after eating our sourdough.
Starting Your Own Sourdough
Once you realize how fantastic natural sourdough bread smells and tastes, and how satisfying it is to eat, you may want to try making your own. We encourage our customers to try . . . and even sell the natural sourdough starter, and would be happy to share baking tips (check back here on our blog for a post about how to make your own sourdough).
If you would like to read about one baker’s sourdough story, visit Cookbook Archaeology: Bake Like an Egyptian
You can order the SOURDOUGH STARTER HERE, as well as other baking ingredients.
BeNanna Bakery’s perfect sourdough
BeNanna Bakery’s shelves are filled with fresh bread every Tuesday to Saturday, and many of the loaves are baked using the ancient sourdough technique. We try new flavours regularly like Rosemary & Olive Oil, Pecan Raisin, Cranberry,