Monday, 9 April 2012

What is Sourdough?

I've mentioned that I mostly bake Sourdough Breads. What is sourdough(SD)? Without going into the technical nitty-gritties of SD, SD bread is produced using one of the first forms of baking bread...with wild natural yeast. Jeffrey Hamelman maintains that "SD represents the true alchemy of the baker...bringing together of ingredients that on their own cannot uphold life, and, transforming them into nourishing life-sustaining bread." Don't just take my word for it, but, SD bread is more digestible; it has an unmistakable crumb texture and a depth of flavour (no doubt, to some it's acquired) that makes you want to get more of.

Here's what SD is NOT:
  • SD bread is NOT bread that has gone bad, hence, the sourness.
  • NOT all SD bread is sour. Its sourness or lack of it depends on the degree of fermentation.
  • SD bread is NOT just one type of bread. A great many kinds of regular bread can be turned into SD bread by replacing commercial yeast with a sourdough starter. After 7 years of baking sourdough bread, I find it an adventure to turn normal commercial yeasted breads into a full sourdough. 
  • You don't find SD in commercial bakeries much, because, "time is money" to a business, and SD flavours are slowly coaxed through a slow fermentation process. 
I still tremendously enjoy every step of making SD bread, from kneading and folding the dough with my hands to seeing it spring alive in the oven. It thrills me to be privy to such a miracle.

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