Bread is a bit of a controversial subject in natural health circles. I’m not going to get into that debate today – grain /no grain, gluten /no gluten. For many people grains and gluten aren’t their friends; but for those who do eat bread, I promote sourdough as the healthiest option (and personally I think it’s also the yummiest).
True* sourdough is a fermented food (thus its sour flavour), however unlike other fermented foods which are eaten raw, it loses its probiotic benefit when it is cooked. The process of fermentation however still has other health benefits. It releases those higher nutrient and antioxidant levels and helps to break down those phytates - thus aiding digestion, and absorption of minerals. In fact sourdough fermentation may reduce the phytate content of bread by up to 50%. (see my post on sprouts to read about phytates : https://www.facebook.com/ShalomHealthNaturopathy/photos/a.900853756920204/1178800925792151/?type=3&__tn__=-R).
The fermentation process consumes some of the starches and sugars making it a lower carbohydrate bread and it is believed that this process may also modify the structure of the carbohydrate molecules, making it lower GI. Not only that but acidic foods help prevent blood sugar spikes.
Where most breads add baker’s yeast to help the dough rise, true* sourdough bread uses a “starter” made from “wild yeast” (in the air) and lactic acid bacteria that are naturally present in flour to help the dough rise. It is a much slower rise and a slow food process (which I like). My husband also really loves sourdough pancakes (recipe shared below).
I find making my own bread a very rewarding and even therapeutic process. Kneading dough and watching bread rise can be very therapeutic (although these days I tend to make a no-knead version which is super easy and quick to prepare – and I’ve shared my recipe below).
If you’re interested in making your own sourdough bread you will need a sourdough starter. You can make it yourself - google how to make a sourdough starter from scratch and you’ll find loads of instructions. This one is pretty good: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-starter-recipe. Even better - if you know someone who already has a sourdough starter, you can get some off them when they feed their starter and you’re ready to go. (If you are local and would like to get a sourdough starter off me just comment below and I’ll contact you when I have some spare starter).
If you are mildly gluten intolerant, you may be able to digest true sourdough bread as the fermentation process also breaks down some of the gluten, however if you are celiac or further along the spectrum of gluten intolerance then I don’t recommend eating any gluten containing bread. I have very recently found a good GF sourdough recipe which I shared on Sunday (https://www.facebook.com/ShalomHealthNaturopathy/posts/1198870440451866?__tn__=-R).
(*When I say “true” sourdough, I am differentiating from many commercial varieties that add a sourdough flavour or perhaps use a sourdough culture but also use yeast and bypass the fermenting process.)
My Wholegrain, no-knead sourdough bread recipe:
3 ½ cups whole wholegrain flour (I tend to use either all whole wheat flour or a mix of whole wheat and rye – I have played with different ratios – my families favourite being ¾ cup rye & 1 ¾ cup whole wheat)
¼ cup proofed and bubbly sourdough starter.
1 ½ cups room temperature (preferably filtered) water
1 tsp unrefined sea salt.
Put all the ingredients into your food processor with your dough hook. Mix on a medium to low speed until it forms a ball of dough (about 3 minutes).
Place this in an oiled glass mixing bowl. Cover and leave in a warm spot to rise (until doubled in bulk – about 6-8 hours).
Flour a work surface, tip out the dough and gently form it into a boule (the traditional ball shape of sourdough bread). Cover it with the bowl and allow it to rise for 30 minutes.
While it’s rising place a cast iron dutch oven in the oven and heat to about 230 deg C.
Take out the heated dutch oven. Spray it with olive oil and place your boule into it (if it has spread then quickly reform the boule before putting into the pot).
Put the lid on and bake for 40-45 minutes until lightly golden on top.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
This is my sourdough pancake recipe:
Take 1 cup of fed sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of flour and ½ - 1 cup of water. Mix these together in a glass bowl, cover with a cloth and leave overnight.
In the morning add:
1 small egg
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
Heat a frying pan and cook your pancakes. Add your favourite toppings - I prefer organic maple syrup with butter or cream & berries.