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Sourdough Bread

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As Josh Hutcherson from the Hunger Games jokingly said “I play Peeta. That’s his name given to him by his parents. He comes from a long line of bread. His sister is Rye. And his brother is Whole Wheat” Today is National sourdough bread day and it is the world’s healthiest and easiest bread to make – not implying that you name your child Sourdough.

The reason seems to be that the principal storage of phosphorus in seeds is found in the bran part of wheat and is called phytic acid. In humans, and animals with one stomach, this phytic acid inhibits enzymes which are needed for the breakdown of proteins and starch in the stomach. It is this lack of enzymes which results in digestive difficulties. Ironically, industry produced whole grain bread, generally perceived as “healthy,” is often the worst thing a person with wheat intolerance should eat.

Luckily we have an ally, sourdough, and the wild yeast in the leaven pre-digests the phytic acid as the bread proves (rise/bloom). This neutralises the effects of the phytic acid and makes the bread easy for us to digest. These phytic acid molecules bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, which make these important nutrients unavailable to us. Long slow fermentation of wheat can reduce phytates by up to 90% (Lopez et al 2001) The sourdough bacteria pre-digests the flour, which releases the micronutrients. This process takes place over a long slow fermentation, which gives your loaf a superior taste and texture. Sourdough bread also takes longer to digest; studies have shown that rye flour added to sourdough can help regulate blood sugar levels, which helps ward off diabetes, it is gut-friendly and it naturally preserves itself. The integrity of sourdough is so complex that it contains a host of goodness in terms of nutrients.

SOURDOUGH BREAD RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cups fresh sourdough starter (a combination of flour and water that has been sitting for a few days – yeasting/fermenting)
  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 1-1 1/2 cups water
  • Scant tablespoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Mix sourdough starter, flour, and salt together. Add 1 cup water, then more as needed to make moist bread dough.
  2. Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test.” That is, a small piece of dough will stretch between four fingers thin enough to allow light to pass through without breaking.
  3. Split the dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf.
  4. Place in a loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 inches), proofing basket, or on a board. Cover lightly with a towel and proof 4-24 hours.
  5. Slice an X shape in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife or razor blade to allow the loaf to expand during baking without splitting in unexpected places.
  6. Bake at 200°C for 30-60 minutes, depending on loaf size, or until the internal temperature reaches 88° to 98°C. Use an thermometer inserted into the bottom or side of the loaf.

Cool before slicing.

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