Sourdough Bread – Tasty and Healthy?
While bread has gotten something of a bad reputation in recent years for its simple carbs and high calorie content, keep in mind that baked bread, and especially varieties like sourdough bread, can add needed fiber and other nutrients to your diet. The key to adding bread to your diet while staying healthy is to simply monitor how much you have every day, and ensure that you’re not getting too many calories or simple carbs overall. It can be helpful to make your own bread from a good sourdough recipe so you know there isn’t any unnecessary sugar added, and so you can toss in other ingredients for more nutrition overall.
Let’s take a closer look at sourdough rolls and bread and a standard recipe you might follow, and what is meant by a sourdough bread starter, so you can see how this bread is different than most other varieties. You can then try a few simple sourdough bread recipes on your own, so you get some healthy and tasty variety in your everyday diet.
1. How is sourdough bread different?
One way that sourdough bread is different is that it contains a type of lactic acid bacteria that is not found in most other breads. This bacteria that develops when baking sourdough bread is very healthy, and it gives the bread its unique, somewhat sour and pungent taste. When you make your own loaves and rolls by following a sourdough bread recipe, you can adjust the amount of sugar added, so you can reduce or increase this sour taste, according to your own preferences.
2. What is a sourdough bread starter?
To make sourdough bread, you need to begin with what is called a starter. This is a mixture of flour and water that needs to ferment before it can be used in your baking, and which causes that lactic acid to form. This starter will also create leaven, which helps the bread to rise, but the fermentation of this mixture is what give the sourdough bread its unique taste. As with all parts of a recipe, this sourdough bread starter can vary according to your tastes; it might be a runny liquid when it’s done fermenting, or it might be an actual thick dough that you use as the foundation of the bread itself.
3. Benefits of sourdough bread
As said, all bread will have fiber that your body needs to help fill you up and control your appetite. The more whole grains in your bread, the more beneficial it is for your overall health. This fiber will not only help control your appetite but it will also bind to other foods and cause them to break down more readily in your system, so your body can better absorb their vitamins and trace minerals.
You may already realize that fiber from sourdough bread or any other bread can help with digestion and elimination, because it will break down those foods, so they move through your system much more easily. When you have more healthy fiber from a good sourdough recipe, you will enjoy better digestion overall.
Note, too, that a typical sourdough bread recipe is made with much less gluten than other breads. For those with celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten for any reason, this can mean enjoying a tasty bread without the unpleasant side effects of too much gluten.
4. Baking sourdough bread on your own
To try baking sourdough bread on your own, you need to mix up a starter. You can use the same starter for different recipes, so consider something very basic. To make a simple sourdough bread starter, start with a large ceramic or glass bowl (the starter will rise considerably), and dissolve one package of yeast in one cup warm water and let it sit for ten minutes. Mix in 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1-1/2 cups additional water. Cover this loosely, typically with just a light dishtowel, and let it sit at room temperature for 3 or 4 days.
Once this sourdough bread starter has risen over those days, you can then separate it as needed and according to your sourdough bread recipe. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered; a mason jar is often recommended for starter that you’re saving.
5. Easy sourdough bread recipe
Using another large bowl, stir in 1 cup bread flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons salt, and one package dry yeast. Add 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons butter, softened, and mix. Stir in 1-1/2 cups of your starter. Mix in an additional 3-3/4 cups bread flour. Turn this dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Grease your bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn so that the surface is entirely oiled, and then cover. Allow this to rise for 1 hour. Punch down the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes. Shape into loaves or sourdough rolls, then place in baking pans. Let rise again for another hour. Bake at 375 degrees F for one hour.
6. Mixing up your sourdough bread recipe
Because sourdough bread and sourdough rolls have a unique flavor, you may want to try them on their own before adding your favorite sandwich ingredients. You might add a bit more sugar to your starter and to your easy sourdough bread recipe in order to reduce the actual sour, pungent taste. On the other hand, you might reduce the amount of sugar if you enjoy that unique flavor of sourdough bread. Once you get a combination of sugar and salt that you like, you can even use a whole wheat bread flour or add cracked wheat or other grains to the recipe.
If you prefer bread with a bit of crunch, you can also add an egg wash to the loaves or rolls right before you bake them, and then sprinkle chopped onions over the top. This gives your sourdough bread an added bit of pungent flavor, making it a perfect accompaniment to any meat or fish dish, and adds some crunch to the taste as well.