Sourdough Made Simple: A Guide to Creating Your Own Starter And Bread

Sourdough Made Simple: A Guide to Creating Your Own Starter And Bread

Sourdough bread is the oldest form of leavened bread, dating back to 2000 BCE when it was first used by the ancient Egyptians. [1]

Sourdough bread is a type of bread that’s made with a starter culture. This unique method of baking has been around for thousands of years, and it produces a loaf that has an incredibly rich flavour. Despite being trendy these days, sourdough can be intimidating at first glance: you have to make your own starter culture and keep it alive before you can use it for baking!

To make your own sourdough starter, you will need water, flour and patience—and that’s about it!

Sourdough bread is often considered healthier than regular bread because it contains no preservatives or additives. It’s also easier to digest than other types of bread, which makes it a great choice for people who have digestive issues.

What Is Sourdough?

Sourdough is a type of bread that’s made with a natural fermentation process. The dough is fermented for several hours to days, which allows it to develop complex flavours and improve digestibility.

Sourdough starter is made up of water and flour. When left alone for a period of time, wild yeast and beneficial bacteria will flourish in it by feeding on these two ingredients only.

As each sourdough starter is unique, with a different makeup of yeast and bacteria due to its ingredients, fermentation time and environmental conditions.[1]

Sourdough’s distinctive tang comes from the lactic acid produced by bacteria present in the starter dough.

Benefits of eating sourdough bread

  • Sourdough relies on “wild yeast” and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour to leaven the bread. Some lactic acid bacteria strains that are part of sourdough starter have the potential to improve gastrointestinal health. [1]

  • The process of making sourdough bread reduces the amount of phytic acid in flour, which allows us to better absorb minerals like iron. Phytates found in plant seeds and nuts can also form complexes with dietary minerals such as magnesium or zinc—inhibiting their absorption. [2]

  • Sourdough bread is less likely to cause blood sugar spikes than bread baked with baker yeast. This effect is likely due to the lactic acid produced during dough leavening and the reduced availability of simple carbohydrates.[3]
    Sugar spikes during the day can lead to a significant dip in blood sugar which can leave you feeling tired, hungry or moody throughout the day.

Making the Perfect Sourdough: Using a Hydration Calculator

If you’re looking to make the perfect sourdough bread, using a hydration calculator can be a helpful tool in determining the right amount of water to use in your recipe. The hydration level of your dough is a crucial factor that can affect the texture and final result of your bread, so it’s important to get it right.

A hydration calculator can help you to adjust your ingredients based on the desired hydration level, the type of flour you’re using, and the amount of starter you have. By using this tool, you can ensure that your dough has the right consistency and texture for a perfect loaf of sourdough.

Additionally, using a hydration calculator can help you to maintain consistency in your recipes and improve your sourdough baking skills over time. As you become more familiar with the process, you can experiment with different hydration levels and adjust your ingredients accordingly.

To find a sourdough hydration calculator, simply search for the term online. With this powerful tool at your disposal, you’ll be well on your way to making the perfect sourdough bread every time.

Understanding Hydration Percentage in Baking: A Guide to Perfect Sourdough Bread Every Time

Hydration percentage in baking refers to the percentage of water compared to the total amount of flour used. This is often misunderstood as being a percentage of the dough itself, but it actually refers to the percentage of water in relation to all the flour used.

To calculate the hydration percentage, you’ll need to do some simple math. First, add up all the flour in your starter/leaven and the flour in your recipe to get the total amount of flour. Then, add up all the water in your starter/leaven and the water in your recipe to get the total amount of water.

Calculating hydration percentage is easier when your starter is at 100% hydration, meaning the amount of water is equal to the amount of flour. By understanding hydration percentage, you can use a hydration calculator to ensure that your sourdough bread recipe turns out perfectly every time.

The best hydration percentage for sourdough bread can vary depending on personal preference and the type of bread you want to make.

Generally, a hydration percentage of around 70-75% is common for sourdough bread. This means that for every 100 grams of flour, you would use around 70-75 grams of water.

However, some bakers prefer a higher hydration percentage, which can result in a more open crumb and a chewier texture. Higher hydration percentages can also make the dough more challenging to work with, so it’s important to test and adjust as necessary.

Ultimately, the best hydration percentage for sourdough bread is the one that produces the texture and flavor that you prefer. Experimenting with hydration percentages can help you find the perfect balance for your sourdough bread recipe.

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter (Mother Sourdough)

  1. To begin your starter, mix 1 teaspoon of flour with 1-2 teaspoons of tepid water in a jar or plastic container. For best results, use strong bread flour.

  2. Keep your starter covered loosely and check on it the next day for feeding (see below). Keep it in a warm place, such as on your kitchen counter.

Feeding the starter

  1. Next is feeding the starter: every day for 5 days or until there’s enough activity in your mixture (bubbles form on top), repeat the previous step (add 1 teaspoon of flour with 1-2 teaspoons of tepid water) for five days.
    You know if the starter is ready when there are bubbles and if it smells good. It is now ready to be used in baking!

  2. You now have a starter, which is the base for your bread. You’ll need to take care of it if you want delicious loaves every time!

  3. Refrigerate the starter, and 24 hours before you want to use it, pour half of it off (discard or preferably use in another recipe) and add 100g flour and 100g water. Leave at room temperature until active again.

  4. The longer the starter is allowed to go dormant, the more times its feedings will need to be increased—that is, half of it poured off and replaced with new flour and water.

  5. If the starter is ready to use, a teaspoonful of it should float in warm water. Now you can make bread!

How to Make Bread With It

Now that you have your sourdough starter and flour in the right conditions, it’s time to put them to good use and bake some bread! Here’s a delicious and easy recipe to get you started:

Delicious Whole Grain Sourdough Bread Recipe

Ingredients 

  • 400g strong wholegrain bread flour

  • 100g starter

  • 340g filtered water

  • 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt (or any other salt you have)

Method-

If you make the dough early in the evening, it can be baked in the morning.

  • Start by mixing water and starter. Then add flour, mix well, and rest for 30 minutes or so. Add salt; now you’ve got dough!

  • Bulk rise: once the dough has rested, reshape it into a rough ball. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let it rise until its size is roughly doubled. Allow the dough to rise in a lightly covered bowl for 3-12 hours.

  • To improve the strength of your dough, during the bulk rise, you can perform a series of ‘stretch & folds’. To begin this process: use slightly wet hands to make an envelope shape out of the four corners; repeat 3 times every 30 minutes.

  • Shaping a round loaf: place the dough on a floured surface so that it does not stick. Shape the dough into a round shape and place it in an oven-safe pot covered with baking paper; let rise again covered for about an hour or until doubled in size.

  • Score the dough, and you’re ready to bake.

  • Preheat your oven to 220°C, then bake for 25 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 30 minutes at 200°C on the Fan setting or until the bread is ready.

  • When the bread is ready, it needs to sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. 

  • Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

  • Enjoy the freshly baked bread and keep growing your sourdough and enjoy good quality homemade bread.

Conclusion

So, now that you know how to make your own sourdough starter and bake some great-tasting bread with it, what are you waiting for? Go try out this recipe and let us know how it goes! We hope this guide has been helpful in showing you how easy it is to make your own sourdough starter.

Sources

1. Lau, S. W., Chong, A. Q., Chin, N. L., Talib, R. A., & Basha, R. K. (2021). Sourdough Microbiome Comparison and Benefits. Microorganisms, 9(7), 1355. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9071355

2. Lopez HW, Duclos V, Coudray C, Krespine V, Feillet-Coudray C, Messager A, Demigné C, Rémésy C. Making bread with sourdough improves mineral bioavailability from reconstituted whole wheat flour in rats. Nutrition. 2003 Jun;19(6):524-30. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(02)01079-1. PMID: 12781853.

3. Maioli M, Pes GM, Sanna M, Cherchi S, Dettori M, Manca E, Farris GA. Sourdough-leavened bread improves postprandial glucose and insulin plasma levels in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. Acta Diabetol. 2008 Jun;45(2):91-6. doi: 10.1007/s00592-008-0029-8. PMID: 18317680.




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