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MAKE YOUR OWN SOURDOUGH BREAD
Live Green & Good content creator Rachael Perrett rises up to the challenge of making gut-friendly sourdough
When I began reducing my gluten intake to get to the bottom of an ongoing health issue, it was a daunting task – made even more difficult as a vegan. Some foods are easier to replace than others, but one thing I always struggled to find an alternative for was bread. Not only are gluten-free varieties lacking in taste and texture, but many of these also contain ingredients like milk. Enter sourdough.
When my brother-in-law enjoyed a year-long work hiatus in Singapore, he began making his own sourdough, sending us drool-worthy photos of his progress and boasting about its gluten-free credentials. When I was finally able to taste his creations, I knew my gluten-free journey had turned a corner. What I know now is that many store-bought breads are processed, making them difficult for our bodies to digest, particularly if we have a gluten intolerance. Sourdough, on the other hand, is made with wild yeast and is fermented, increasing its beneficial bacteria. This fermentation also breaks down the gluten-forming proteins that many people with intolerances need to avoid.
Knowing I was eager to make my own sourdough, my brother-in-law sent me away with half of his ‘ripe’ starter (more on this later) with strict instructions for feeding it (‘With what, a spoon?’ I wondered), and gave me a few key tips, including to be patient! I should have heeded his warning but I’m a Taurus after all (read stubborn). I’m an instant-gratification type, and sourdough is certainly not one of those chuck-all-the-ingredients-in-a-bread-maker types; this requires real commitment!
Despite being given lots of tips, the stubborn side of me insisted on doing things my own way, conducting my own research before setting out to make my first loaf. On the first round, I was a bit of an eager beaver, jumping straight into things, and cutting corners to speed up the process. Needless to say, I learned my lesson pretty quickly! Sourdough and speed, is not a recipe for a good loaf. Luckily, the second round was more successful. The process was actually quite simple, it just required several time-consuming stages.
I started with, well, the starter obviously, which is essentially a culture of flour and water that creates a wild yeast. It encourages the growth of healthy bacteria, which ferment the sugars in the dough and give the bread its sour flavour. By taking my brother-in-law’s fully developed starter, I was already part-way there (thanks buddy). I kept it in a glass jar and ‘fed’ it with flour and water to keep it active – no spoon required. I used a rubber band on the jar to monitor how
much it grew and used it when it was at its most active (nice and bubbly).
The various stages then include making a ‘slurry; a simple mixture of flour and water with the addition of the starter. After this, there were several steps that I’ve now learned are pretty essential in the sourdough-making process: there was a lot of mixing, kneading, and leaving things to double in size. Waiting for the loaf to cool was the biggest test of my patience, as needless to say after all those hours of feeding, knocking and kneading, I was eager to just dig in! I whipped up a bowl of soup while waiting, then enjoyed every single bite.
From now on, it’s homemade sourdough all the way for me, and it’s something my body is grateful for. Today, I continue to feed my starter so it can keep growing. Best of all, I can now spread envy among family and friends with photos of my own brilliant loaves.
JOIN THE REAL BREAD REVOLUTION!
Eager to encourage people to buy real bread from their local baker, and to make their own at home, the Real Bread Week campaign is the perfect opportunity to learn how to make it – find recipes and join the campaign