Sourdough is a dough containing a culture, usually in symbiotic combination with yeasts. It is one of two principal means of biological leavening in bread baking, along with the use of cultivated forms of yeast. It is of particular importance in baking rye-based breads, where yeast does not produce comparable results. In comparison with yeast-based breads, it produces a distinctively tangy or sour taste, mainly because of the lactic acid produced by the culture. The actual medium, known as "starter", is in essence an ancestral form of pre-ferment.
In English-speaking countries, where wheat-based breads predominate, sourdough is no longer the standard method for bread leavening. It was gradually replaced, first by the use of barm from beermaking, then, after the confirmation of germ theory by Louis Pasteur, by cultured yeasts. However, some form of natural leaven is still used by many specialty bakeries.
Sourdough starter is traditionally made with a small amount of old dough, preferably saved from a prior batch. This is traditionally called mother dough or chef, or in more modern usage, seed sour. First-generation starter or spontaneous seed may be created by storing new dough in a warm place and allowing sufficient time for it to sour. This small amount of old-dough starter contains the culture, and its weight is increased by additions of new dough and mixing or kneading followed by rest or leavening period. A small amount of the resulting dough is then saved to use as starter sour for the next batch.As long as this starter culture is fed flour and water weekly, it can stay at room temperature indefinitely.
Sourdough bread is made by combining the increased amount of starter with another new-dough addition, along with any other desired ingredients to make the final dough. The starter comprises about 13 to 25% of the final dough, though particular formulas vary.This final dough may be divided and shaped, then allowed to rise, followed by baking.
It is not uncommon for a baker's starter dough to have years of history, from many hundreds of previous batches. As a result, each bakery's sourdough has a distinct taste. The combination of starter processes, refreshment ratios and rest times, culture and air temperature, humidity, and elevation also makes each batch of sourdough different. (Wikipedia)
Five Fun Facts:
- Sourdough is the oldest and most original form of leavened bread. The oldest recorded use of sourdough is from the Ancient Egyptian civilizations.
- During the gold rush days in California, some of the Boudin family who were well known master Bakers from France came to the San Francisco area. They found out that the sourdough culture there was very unique and they became very famous for their bread with this special flavor. The miners flocked to this bakery every morning for this special tasting bread. Since 1849 they have been using the same sourdough culture, which they call a "Mother dough" and the same recipe, flour, water, a pinch of salt and some of the this "Mother Dough".So important is their "Mother Dough" it was heroically saved by Louise Boudin during the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
- The sour taste of sourdough bread comes from lactobacillus, which lives in symbiosis with yeast, feeding on byproducts of the yeast fermentation. The sour taste itself comes from the lactic acid produced by the lactobacillus. This also helps the bread last longer without spoiling as most microbes can’t handle the acidic environment created by the lactobacillus.
- Diabetics can benefit from eating sourdough bread. It has a low glycemic index, which means it will not spike your blood sugar. Studies have shown that eating sourdough for breakfast will also help you process your lunch in a more beneficial way.
- Commercial yeasted breads require the addition of oils, sweeteners, conditioners, and preservatives to improve flavor and keeping qualities. Sourdough does not.
Five Bread Recipes:
- Everyday Whole-Wheat Bread- This is a good transitional loaf of bread. Start with this and get ready to go all whole wheat. This whole-wheat loaf is excellent for sandwiches, toast or eating plain. It has a light, springy texture and a mellow, slightly sweet grain taste from cracked wheat. The crust is crisp when the bread is first baked, but gradually softens as it stands.
- Multigrain Molasses Bread- This home-style, Multigrain Molasses Bread is great for tasty sandwiches, or even by itself as a healthy snack. The flavor of this hearty, home-style multigrain bread is reminiscent of nice, "bran-y" bran muffins. It's great for toasting, making sandwiches or eating as is.
- Savory Pumpkin Artisan Bread- Spread these crusty loaves with roasted garlic or be a total food snob and dip in seasoned olive oil.
- Hot Pretzel Challah- The ballpark meets the Shabbos table!
- Squash Tea Bread - Give your quick bread a new twist with this winter squash winner.
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Nutrition information for one medium slice of sourdough bread:
Fat: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 36 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 328 mg
Protein: 8 g
Sugars: 2 g