Many food trends came out of the time we spent in lockdown. The very first and probably the most popular to get trending was ‘sourdough bread’. The artisan hashtag exploded overnight as every wannabe baker grew their starter as well as their beards (again). Hipsters were back, but with a slightly more dishevelled and wilder look than before. Bit like the breads themselves. There was talk like (insert Cape Town accent, bru) “How active is your levain” and “My recent loaves  have beautiful ears, I’ve really mastered the scoring”

Hubby is the bread master in our house and normally we’d get a loaf maaaaaaaybe once a week. Of course during lockdown we were all at home and for some of other reason ALWAYS hungry, so he had to up his game to a loaf every second day. He has kept this up for almost 6 months without fail! For those that make their own, know that it’s a lot of work and patience, but once you get used to eating sourdough, there is no way you can go back to those slices of tasteless, colon clogging, gas making squares the shops pass off as bread. No matter how ‘Superior’ they say it is. This is now his new norm.

Sourdough is highly nutritional and a healthy staple to include in your daily diet. Here’s 5 reasons why you should start eating it.

1) It’s fermented. This means that instead of using a packet of yeast, natural wild yeasts from your surroundings are used to very slowly ferment the dough. This long process also helps pre-digest and break down a lot of the fructans and proteins which makes digestion easier. The lactic acid created by fermentation helps neutralize the phylates in the flour (Phytic acid prevents the absorption of minerals by binding to them before they can be absorbed by the body). Therefore, making the vitamins and minerals in the bread more available to the body.

2) It’s wholegrain. Well, not always, but I think most of us use some kind of whole grain or part thereof in our breads. Whole grain means the actual grain (of any sort) still contains the germ, endosperm, and bran, as opposed to refined grains which only have the endosperm. Eating wholegrains regularly is a sure way to lower your risks of several diseases.

3) Prebiotics. Although the heat of baking will kill off all the probiotics in the bread, it doesn’t affect the prebiotics, of which sourdough has plenty. Just as important to gut health as probiotics, these prebiotics are the indigestible fibres found in some of our foods that feed the good bacteria in our gut.

4) No sugar spikes.  A high-fiber diet reduces your body’s production of insulin and keep blood sugar levels regulated. This is also ideal for weight loss support.

5) Soul food. There are loads more health benefits, but I’m going to finish off with a benefit to the soul. Taking that kind of time out on a regular basis is so good for the mind. It’s a repetitive and long process that can become quite meditative and relaxing and forces you to slow down. Creating something from scratch with your own hands to feed your family is something we lost long ago, so this practice is such a beautiful way to re-connect with your people and make them a really quality product. And as per usual, every sourdough made, means one less plastic bread bag bought.

STARTER RECIPE:

(It’ll take about 7 days from start to finish, so give yourself enough time)

Always weigh the ingredients, it’s more acturate.

STARTER DAY 1

50g wholewheat flour
50g water

Put the flour and water into a clean mason jar and mix together well.
Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

STARTER DAY 2

Add to the first day’s starter:
50g wholewheat flour
50g water

Add this extra flour and water to the original mixture. Stir together until well and
cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

STARTER DAY 3

Pour out and throw away half of sourdough starter and add:
50g water
50g wholewheat flour

Add the flour to the starter and mix in the water. Cover and leave overnight. It might be starting to ferment, but if not, don’t worry, it will. This is a game of patience.

STARTER DAY 4

Pour out and throw away half of sourdough starter again and add to it:
100g water
100g wholewheat flour

Add the larger amount of flour and water to the starter and mix well.  Cover and leave overnight. Things should start happening now. It will be smelling quite sour and will likely rise to the top of the jar during the night. Be sure to put the jar on a plate.

STARTER DAY 5

Pour out and throw away half of sourdough starter again and add to it:
100g water
100g wholewheat flour

Add the flour to the starter, add in the water and mix well. Cover and leave overnight. The starter should be active and full of tiny little bubbles. It will have a strong sour smell.

STARTER DAY 6

The starter will be quite active now. It will be full of bubbles and have a slightly pleasant sour aroma. If the starter looks really active, you could try making a loaf with the half starter that you throw out.

Discard half of sourdough starter and add:
100g water
100g bread flour

Add the flour and water to the starter, and mix well. Cover and leave overnight.

STARTER DAY 7

After feeding your sourdough starter for a week (or more depending) it should be very active and full of bubbles by now. It should double or triple in size during the 6-8 hours after feeding. If you live in a warmer climate, your starter will grow much quicker than a cooler climate. Summer starters are also very different to winter starters.  If it is bubbling and rising and smelling,  then your starter is ready to use. If not, continue the feeding until it does. After 12 hours the starter will drop back down and may even form a layer of liquid on top of it. This is normal, but it needs to be fed again to keep alive and healthy.

When making your sourdough bread remember to always keep some sourdough starter to continue feeding and making more bread. This starter can be kept alive for many years even decades. Be careful of black mold growing on the sides and around the top. Put it in a clean jar every now and then to prevent this from happening.

HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER

Your sourdough starter is alive and needs to be fed. This depends on how often you want to make bread and what conditions it’s kept in.

If you’re wanting to bake a loaf every couple of days, follow a daily feeding plan. If you’re baking a loaf once a week, you can keep the starter in the fridge for up to 10 days without feeding. Start feeding it 2 or 3 days before you want to bake, to activate it again.

DAILY FEEDING

You will eventually find your own method and routine. Every sourdough baker has their own. When doing a maintenance feed, discard half and add 100g water and 100g flour. You can use the discarded to make pancakes or look up ‘what to make with discarded sourdough’. There are loads of great recipes. Or throw it away/compost it.

SOURDOUGH BREAD RECIPE

After all this, you can finally make your first loaf of bread. It’s good to keep a diary of your starter in the beginning. This will help you figure out when’s the best time to make bread. If your starter takes 6 hours to rise then fall, it’s best to use the starter at hour 5 or 5 ½, just before it peaks. This means that the starter has been well fed and at it’s optimal growth stage. Take what you need for your bread recipe and then feed the left over starter again for the next time.

275g starter

30g salt

750g water

500g normal bread flour

500g whole wheat flour

Mix salt, water and starter together.

Add flour and mix with a large spoon or your hands. No kneeding needed.

Leave for 40 mins.

Flip and fold the dough 4 times every half hour for 3 hours.

Leave it to prove for 6 hours or until it’s doubled in size.

Turn out onto a floured worktop and shape your bread into a loaf.

Place it into your proofing basket and leave to rise for another 6 hours or until it’s ready.

Do the finger test. Poke it with your finger. If the dough pops back up, it’s not ready yet, If it stays in, it’s over proved and if it pops back up only halfway, then it’s ready to bake.

Set oven to 230′ C and warm Dutch oven/pirex bowl for at least 20 mins.

When ready, turn the dough out of the basket into the Dutch oven and bake with lid on for 30 mins.

After 30 mins take lid off and bake for another 30 mins or untill brown and crispy.

Leave to cool for 30min – 2hours. Enjoy!

Purple Superfood Sourdough

If you are ready to experiment and add new things to your bread, Synerchi Organics  have a beautiful range of superfoods that you can add. Here, they’ve made a sourdough using their Purple Sweet Potato Powder. This super food is an antioxidant powerhouse:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Immune boosting
  • Cancer-fighting
  • Lowers risk of hormone imbalance
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Improved endurance

To add it to your bread, add 1 cup of this powder to your 1kg loaf when mixing the flour. For a 500g loaf, add half a cup.

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