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Return to Traditional Sourdough Bread

16 March 20207 min reading

Sourdough is a 5000-year-old ancestral method for making bread. You can make sourdough with just flour and water or you can speed up the fermentation process by adding some grapes. Water and flour for the yeast should be picked and chose. The ideal choice should be stone mill flour and chlorine-free water with high pH value.

Hatice Öncel Chemical Engineer

Natural products are more popular in recent years due to consumers' awareness about the negative effects of additives in ready-made food on human health. Particularly increased cases of obesity and diabetes, as well as autism among children, made these people seek healthy food and bread. As a result, we started to consume 5000-year-old sourdough bread instead of the modern type of bread with additives. The most distinctive characteristic of sourdough bread is the fact that it only contains flour, water, and salt.

When you mix the flour with water and wait for a certain amount of time, bacteria start to grow. Those beneficial bacteria called lactobacillus can also be found in other fermented products like kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. These bacteria break down carbohydrates and produce lactic acid, ethanol, carbon dioxide, and acetic acid. As a result acidity of the dough goes up and a sour taste is obtained. That is why it is called sourdough. The carbon dioxide that is liberated with the fermentation makes the dough rise. The dough gains at least a doubled volume during fermentation. When the dough rises, the alcohol evaporates whit high heat input but the carbon dioxide is trapped in pores of the sponge-like structure of the bread. The crust of baked bread becomes thicker, elastic gluten within the dough becomes tougher and makes the bread risen.

Superior Characteristics of Sourdough Bread Which benefits does sourdough bread offer? Why did so many people start to make their bread at home? To answer these questions, we should list sourdough bread's benefits for health:

Strengthens the immune system and prevents diseases. It is probiotic because of the bacteria it contains. It is rich in vitamin B12. It is effective against dysmnesia. It ensures slower insulin release and prevents sudden increase in blood sugar. It has a low glycemic index which means that it is filling. It is among healthy bread types for diabetes patients. The lactic acid that appears during fermentation pf sourdough bread, breaks down gluten and starch and it facilitates digestion of the bread. As sourdough breaks down gluten protein in the wheat, gluten concentration in the bread decreases to a minimum level. It remains fresh for a longer period and it is more delicious. Sourdough bread also has positive effects on human psychology. Making sourdough bread is an activity to relax just like making music or drawing/painting.

How to obtain the sourdough? Sourdough is a 5000-year-old ancestral method for making bread. You can make sourdough with just flour and water or you can speed up the fermentation process by adding some grapes. Water and flour for the yeast should be picked and chose. The ideal choice should be stone mill flour and chlorine-free water with high pH value. Dice a handful of grapes, add 50 gr of water and 50 gr of flour. Keep this mixture in a jar for 24 hours. You will see bubbles on the mixture. Remove grapes and 50 gr of the mixture. Add another 50 gr of water and 50 gr of flour. Repeat this after 7 or 8 hours. The yeast will be ready in 7 to 10 days. You can put it in the refrigerator and you can refresh it by feeding at least once a week. Sourdough contains fungi and bacteria. So you need to meet its needs to keep it alive. It will be active as long as you feed it and reproduces. The yeast gets better with age and allows you to make healthy and rising bread.

To make sourdough bread, you need sourdough, flour, salt, and water. You can make sourdough or get from your friends already making this kind of bread. There are very strong sourdough materials of 80 or years. Of course, 80-year-old and 8-day-old sourdough materials have not the same strength. The older bacteria are, the stronger they are.

How to make sourdough bread? If you have sourdough yeast, you can start to make sourdough bread. 500 gr of flour is needed for bread. You need to make an effort to get sourdough bread. You need to activate your yeast before starting to make bread. For example, if you have 100 gr of yeast, feed it with 100 gr of wheat flour and 100 gr of water. The yeast will start to rise in 4 or 5 hours. Autolysis is needed to be done when the yeast is rising.

The autolysis process is crucial for sourdough bread. This is the process that you leave it to rest after mixing flour and water. You add water to the flour and make it completely wet but do not knead it during autolysis. Flour and water are mixed in a wide container. You can start autolysis when the yeast is risen and doubled. It is approximately 3 or 4 hours after we prepare the yeast. We can add the yeast and 20 gr of salt to the autolysis mixture. After adding the yeast and salt we knead the dough until we obtain gluten windowpane.

To obtain the gluten windowpane, take a golf-ball-sized dough and stretch it between two fingers. If the dough is stretched without being broken off and becomes transparent, you pass the gluten windowpane test. If it is broken off and it has pores, you need to knead it a bit more.

After kneading the dough for ten minutes, put two spoonfuls of olive oil to a container and put the dough to that container. Cover it with a cap. It should be left to rest for an hour. Fold the dough from four corners to the center. Repeat this step 3 or 4 times with intervals of half an hour. Folding makes the dough stronger and allows pores to be formed. The bread becomes more sponge-like and softer. After the 4th folding, leave the dough to rest. You will observe bubbles on the dough. These bubbles are formed by carbon dioxide gas arising from the fermentation process.

Bacteria in the yeast are fed with the sugar inside the flour and carbon dioxide gas appears. This makes the bread rise. After 6 hours, the dough structure changes and it no longer sticks to hand. Dust a bit of flour on the kitchen bench, take the dough on it and make it a tight ball.

Cover it and leave it to rest for half an hour. Give its final shape by folding it again and put it into the fermentation basket. Dust a bit of flour on the dough and in the basket to prevent the dough from sticking to the basket. Leave it to rest for half an hour. You can put it into the refrigerator. You can check it after 10 hours. It should rise to the double volume and when you press with your finger it should take its shape back. The dough will be ready to be baked in 15 to 25 hours depending on the type of the flour and the activity level of the yeast. Take the dough from the refrigerator and make it upside down on baking paper. If you want to make a figure on it dust a small amount of flour and distribute it evenly on the dough. Use a razor blade to make the figure you want. During the baking process, the dough will be separated from these cuts.

Put the dough into the cast iron cooker with baking paper. Cook it for 25 to 30 minutes with 240 degrees. After 25 minutes check it if it has a slightly pinkish color. If so, open the lid and decrease it to 200 degrees and continue to cook with 15 to 20 minutes without using the fan. Take the bread from the cooker and chill it off. The baking process continues for a couple of hours after being taken from the oven. So do not slice it until it completely chills off.

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