I love a nice loaf of bread, and I bet you do too. And my client Viola, who asked me for this recipe surely does so. But bread got a bad rep over the last decade, and sadly it is true that bread isn’t very good for your health. First of all it is easy to overconsume: good bread is really tasty, not very satieting and very calorie dense. But that’s not a problem if you are diligent with your tracking. Even worse are the effects of several anti-nutrients found in high dosage in bread. But there is a way to make your bread healthier: souring!
Before I show you the process of making your first sourdough, let me tell you why it is so much better to switch to sourdough bread. As I already mentioned, grains are full of anti-nutrients that create several problems:
- Only 13% of the magnesium in bread containing the anti-nutrient phytic acid is absorbed by the body.
- Iron uptake from bread can be as low as 3.8%.
- In animals anti-nutrients found in bread can reduce protein digestibility to less than half.
Fortunatley sourdough bread often has better mineral bioavailability, a lower glycemic index, higher anti-oxidant activity and better protein digestibility. So let’s get our little fermentation experiment starting. All you need is rye flour and water!
The process couldn’t be easier, you only need a little time. Get a non metal, acid proof container and put 50g of rye flour and 50g of water inside. Mix together, giving a thick dough similar to pancake dough. Add more flour if it is too thin or more water if it is too thick. Cover with a tea towel and leave the starter in a relatively dark room (don’t let the sun shine on it).
Every day from now on repeat this process: add 50g of rye flour and 50g of water. After a few days is should start to develop a sour smell and bubbles should appear. After a week your first sourdough starter should be ready for baking. If at any point it starts to smell foul, changes color dramatically or is not bubbly anymore throw it out and start again. Just use common sense and your nose for this.
When you decide to bake with your sourdough, remove most of it from your “sourdough hotel”, leaving a little to feed again, using it for your next bread. You can keep this process up indefinitely!
Easy bread baking recipe
- Get a mixing bowl with your sourdough starter and add 500g of the flour of your choice. I simply use more rye flour.
- Season with 1-2 teaspoons of salt, fennel seeds and caraway. If you like, you can add one tablespoon of sugar to kickstart the fermentation.
- Add some water and mix the dough together. Add more flour of water as needed. You should be able to form the dough into a ball. Leave it in the mixing bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave it in a warm place for at least 12 hours (I let is rise for at least 24 hours).
- Preheat your oven to 230-250C (this strongly depends on your oven)
- Prepare a heat proof bowl with a little water to add some steam for baking (not needed if your oven has this function)
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper (not needed if you have a good non-stick tray) and place your dough on it. Score it with a very sharp knive and put it into the oven for 15 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to 190-200C and bake for another 40-50 minutes, depending on how thick your loaf is.
- Take it out of the oven and resist the temptation to eat it immediately. Let it cool down for at least two hours, or even better give it some time to develop flavour and eat it tomorrow.
It took me a few attempts to get a really nice loaf of bread and even after many, many times of baking, I never get the same result. This is the beauty of a natural process! Feel free to experiment: I like to use a little fine polenta flour, it gives a nice and crunchy crust. You could use heritage grains such as buckwheat or emmer. Also the use of spices isn’t set in stone! I like to use pepper and dried lavender, so feel free to use your favorite spices.
Your sourdough starter can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. It can also be frozen or dried if you need to put it to an even longer pause.
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