Sourdough bread is one of the oldest forms of bread known to man, dating back thousands of years. It’s no surprise that in recent times, with the resurgence of homemade bread making, sourdough has become a popular choice. But what makes sourdough unique, and how can you make your own delicious loaf at home?
What is Sourdough Bread?
Unlike most bread, sourdough is naturally leavened, meaning it does not rely on commercial yeast. Instead, it’s made from flour, water, and wild yeast that occur naturally in the environment. This yeast, called lactobacillus, helps to ferment the dough, creating a unique sour taste and texture.
Sourdough bread is known for its natural tanginess, crisp crust, and chewy texture. It also has a longer shelf life than commercial bread, thanks to its natural preservatives that come from the fermentation process.
Creating a Sourdough Starter
To make homemade sourdough bread, the first step is to create a sourdough starter. This is a mix of flour and water that is allowed to ferment naturally, encouraging the growth of wild yeast. To make a sourdough starter, combine equal parts of flour and water in a bowl and stir until the mixture is smooth. Cover the container with a cheesecloth or paper towel and let it rest at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
After 24 hours, you should see some small bubbles forming on the surface of the mixture. This is a sign that the yeast is beginning to grow. Feed the mixture with equal parts flour and water every day until it begins to double in volume within 6-8 hours of feeding. This is a sign that your sourdough starter is ready to use. You can now keep your starter in the fridge to use whenever you want to bake bread.
Making Sourdough Bread
To make your sourdough bread, start by mixing your flour, water, and starter together until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, then let it rest at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.
After the resting period, the dough should have doubled in size. You can now shape it and let it rise for a second time. This is called proofing. Once the dough has proofed, use a sharp knife to slash the top of the dough, creating steam vents. This will help your bread rise and develop a crisp crust. Bake the bread in a preheated oven until it’s golden brown.
Sourdough bread is a nutritious, delicious, and earthy bread with a unique taste that is hard to replicate. With a little bit of patience and practice, anyone can learn how to make an incredible loaf of sourdough bread from scratch at home. Give it a try!