Baking with sourdough
Is there anything more satisfying than waking up on a Saturday morning to the smell of freshly baked sourdough bread? I can hear multitudes of coffee purists all over the saying “umm...yeah”. As an avid coffee drinker myself, I can confirm that coffee is a close second. But I digress.
There is something atavistic about bread making that is universal in almost every culture across the world. There are even those who devote their minds and efforts to investigating the origins of bread and beer? Which came first, they ask. Whatever the answer, I believe that bread is the most fundamental of foods, and its history is intertwined with the history of the human race.
I have been baking with sourdough for two years now, so I still relatively new to the game. I have often wondered why baking with sourdough resonated so strongly with me? I think that the answer has to do with time. For me, cooking and baking is a therapeutic process. It’s a meditative process that allows me to focus my thoughts and clear my mind of any distractions. It’s a relationship with time. And that relationship with time is no better represented than in bread making. Baking with sourdough is dependent on so many variables of that are often beyond one’s own control.
That is not to say that baking with sourdough is a discipline better suited for an elite few. In fact, anyone, and everyone with the luxury to do so should make an effort to make their own bread from time to time. It’s a discipline that grounds you in reality. Forces you to pay close attention to your environment. This is a discipline that I would argue we all need in our lives.
So get your flour ready. Prepare to be frustrated. To be slightly daunted. However, I can assure you that the reward is definitely worth the effort.
What is Sourdough?
Simply put, sourdough is a dough made by using a naturally occurring fermentation culture that contains bacteria and yeast. Most sourdough bakers maintain what is often refereed to as a sourdough starter; a mixture of flour and water that is continuously fed with flour and water to maintain the bacteria and yeast culture. There are plenty of guides online that instruct you on how to start and maintain a sourdough starter.
The basic sourdough recipe that I describe below is meant to be accessible to everyone. There are no complicated formulas. No scales or special equipment required. Just flour, water, and patience. This is not meant for the amateur bread maker (although you are certainly more than welcome to try it out). It is meant for those of you who have heard some much about sourdough bread, but never got a chance to try it out because it seemed so daunting or even intimidating.
Cardamom Buns using sourdough
My interpretation of a classic Swedish recipe; using sourdough starter instead of dry yeast.
Basic Sourdough loaf
A basic sourdough bread recipe that should hopefully be accessible to anyone. Check it out!
Rye loaf (Råg bröd)
This rye bread is by far my favorite bread to make. As far as sourdough is concerned, it is also the easiest to make. If you have some sourdough starter laying around, but don’t feel like putting in the effort required to make a regular Sourdough loaf, I invite you to try this recipe out.
No kneading required? Check!
Do I have to get my hands dirty and sticky at any point? Nope!
Will I get delicious bread in the end? Absolutely!
One thing you should keep in mind however is that you will not get the satisfaction of tasting your loaf until at least 24 hrs. after baking. Rye bread is best served after allowing it to rest for several hours so that its flavor fully matures. Therefore, patience is key.
I am no authority on rye farming, but I can say with confidence that finding rye flour at a local supermarket (or mill) in the EU should not be a problem. If you are in North America, Africa, or any other part of the world, please share with us your feedback on the availability of rye flour in your region.
This recipe is a inspired by the classic Danish rye bread recipe.
As always, I recommend stone-ground flours if accessible to you.