Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Baking with Sourdough

Today I want to talk about something that has become a new fun hobby of mine. Baking home made sourdough bread.

Baking sourdough is a little different from baking regular bread. Rather than using a yeast, you bake with a "sourdough starter" (fermented flour and water). It takes a bit longer, but the result is well worth it.

Sourdough starter is pretty strange. It's easy to make at home yourself, but I actually inherited mine from a coworker. Sourdough starter is "alive" like any yeast culture, it needs to be fed regularly and taken care of to stay healthy. 

My coworker named her sourdough Robert... since I have some of Robert's offspring, my sourdough starter is named Bobbi.

So why have I started cooking sourdough bread?

First and foremost, I love having fresh bread at home. Usually when I make a loaf it's Saturday or Sunday night; I make my loaf and then let it rise overnight (it needs about 12-15 hours) and then wake up early to put it in the oven to bake. 

Let me tell you that NOTHING makes you feel good about Monday morning like hot bread out of the oven with a bit of butter and your coffee. Warm bread is good for the soul, and that was my first motivator.

There are other great reasons for baking your own bread. One is the cost. If you can bake your own, it's much cheaper to buy flour than it is to buy a loaf of store bought bread every week. Pound for pound you're saving money. 

There's also the added benefit of knowing EXACTLY what you're eating. You add the flour you pick, salt, water, and any seeds or nuts you see fit. My favourite loaf is sourdough starter, salt, bread flour, whole wheat flour, ground flax seed and honey.

The process of making the bread itself is also quite therapeutic. I've never been a huge baker (I lean towards cooking), but there's something about kneading your own dough and watching it rise that is so satisfying. I knead my bread by hand, I don't own a dough-hook attachment for my mixer or a bread maker. Just two hands and the oven, and it works great.

Since I've started making sourdough bread at home, I've also learned a lot about the potential health benefits of it. There's a lot of literature out there that leans toward sourdough being a better option for those with gluten sensitivities, people with IBS, or those (like me) who tend to bloat heavily when they eat. Sourdough is supposed to be easier to digest, leading to less tummy swelling. 

I know keeping the daily bloat to a minimum is something we can ALL get behind!

If you're at all interested in trying your hand at sourdough baking, here is how you can get your Sourdough starter started! It`s a bit of reading, but the gist is: 
  • Add water to flour
  • wait about 12-36 hours
  • If the mixture has started to "bubble", it's alive!
  • Give your starter a name (after all, you created life!) and start feeding it regularly
  • Once it's healthy you can stick it in the fridge so you don't need to feed it all the time (that's what I do)
Once you've got your starter, check out this website for lots of great recipes, as well as information on maintaining your starter. I recommend starting with the recipe for San Francisco Sourdough and then trying more once you've got that down.

While I've started branching out with my bread making, I've also started making sweet treats with my starter, like these delicious homemade cinnamon rolls!

Have you ever baked with sourdough starter? Do you bake your own bread with a traditional yeast? Are you interested in trying some delicious baking (because I would love you to tag me in your attempts on Instagram!). Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Baking!