This post is written by my friend Valerie Miller. We’ve been besties for years and both find healthy living intriguing and necessary. Though miles apart, we still often chat a couple times a week. A year ago she graciously sent me sourdough starter by mail. Since then my family and I happily devour sourdough bread on a regular basis. If you’ve not yet given it a try, there’s no better time than now to delight your taste buds and digestive system!
Sourdough: the rage in many a kitchen across the world. Although sourdough is a hot topic, and a popular trend these days, it’s a trend I’m very happy to subscribe to, so much so that my sourdough starter has taken the status of a pet, and making yummy, nourishing sourdough goodies has become a hobby.
Bread is Biblical! Its interesting to take note of the way bread was a staple, and necessary for physical survival in Bible times. Of course, most special of all is the fact that Jesus proclaims himself as the Bread of Life, in a spiritual sense. Sourdough is believed to originate in ancient Egypt and remained the main method of leavening bread until bakers yeast replaced it a couple hundred years ago. In recent years, bread has become a villain because so many people have difficulty digesting it. And rightfully so. The bread you find on the grocery store shelf has been made with less than stellar grains, added preservatives, artificial flavors, and synthetic vitamins!
Sourdough bread can be made with 3 simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water. How incredible! I’d love to meet the person who discovered the magic of sourdough!
Sourdough starter contains a mixture of lactic acid and wild yeast. During the fermentation process, these beneficial bacteria partially break down and “predigest” the starch and gluten proteins found in grains. Sourdough is not gluten free, but because of this process that has taken place, many people with a gluten sensitivity can enjoy sourdough bread. This process also puts sourdough bread lower on the glycemic index. In other words, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like yeast bread does.
Baking with sourdough isn’t hard! I’ll admit, I was intimidated by it at first. I thought it was a finicky thing that would produce only nice bread for the professionals. And I’m not a professional, so I anticipated ugly, flat bread! It’s true that I’ve had my share of flops, but those aren’t the norm. And flops are the perfect opportunity for the yummiest French toast!
Get a starter from a friend. You can also make your own starter, but its much easier to start out with an established starter. To feed your starter, you will want to feed with equal amounts of starter to flour and a little less water. It’s important to use unbleached flour, and non chlorinated water to feed your starter. My favorite flour to use is King Arthur bread flour. It yields a robust, bubbly starter. Starter stored on the counter at room temperature needs to be fed once a day to keep it alive. Here’s the good part (and what I do): you can store your starter in the fridge if you’d like, and feed it only once a week. When you’re ready to use your starter for baking, take it out of the fridge, feed it, and after several hours, it’ll be ready to use.
Before attempting to make bread, you’ll want to take note of how active and mature your starter is. A good rule of thumb is that it must double in 5 hours to be strong enough for a good rise in bread. The day before making your bread, feed it 3 times, morning, noon, and evening. It will be ready to go the next morning. For the recipe below, I start out with ¼ cup starter, feed it ¼ cup flour, and a little water. By noon, I have a ½ cup of starter to feed with ½ cup flour, and water. Before bedtime, its grown to 1 C, which I feed 1 cup flour, and water. The next morning you’ll have 2 cups starter, the perfect amount for your bread! (Be sure to save out a tablespoon or 2 of starter to set back and feed for the next time!)
Sourdough Sandwich Bread
2 C fed sourdough starter
1 ½ C water
2 T honey
2 T melted butter, or oil
Mix all together in your mixer bowl.
5 Cups bread flour
Mix for 3-4 minutes
Turn the mixer off and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Add 2 ½ tsp salt, and mix/kneed for 10 minutes
Remove the dough from the mixer, put it into a dish, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rise till double, approximately 3 hours. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into 2 loaves. Put the dough into well-greased bread pans, prick with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise till double. (Approximately 3 hours)
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Butter the tops and let the loaves rest in the pans till partially cool. This will help keep the loaves soft and prevent the bottom from getting crusty.
2 C fed sourdough starter
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the starter, eggs,butter and salt. Add the baking powder and soda and mix just until incorporated. Fry pancakes in lots of butter!
If you’re interested in making artisan sourdough bread, this is my favorite recipe. I do prefer a different baking time, 30 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.
I’m Valerie Miller, wife of David and mama to Austin, Felicity, and Eric. We reside in Athens, TN. As a busy mom, with a side of homeschooling, I don’t find much time for hobbies these days. Healthy living/eating, of which sourdough is a large part, has become my “hobby”, and it’s so satisfying to know I’m fueling my family with nourishing food! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org