Some anonymous ancient baker forgot her bread dough one day and left it sitting out. Wild yeast in the air found the dough to their liking, settled in, and the resulting fermentation made bread that was lighter and better tasting than what the baker was used to. She learned to save a bit of dough and use it to “start” the next batch and soon everyone was using “sourdough starter” to make bread.
Then things changed.
You might blame the bakers at the court of King Louis
XIV of France. In 1668 they tried to introduce yeast as a substitute for traditional sourdough starter in bread making. After all, it was more convenient, quicker, and resulted in a lighter loaf.
Scientists of the time knew that this would reduce the
nutritional value and digestibility of bread and quickly rejected its use. Eventually, however, (blame scientist Louis Pasteur?) a single strain of yeast was isolated from the wild culture and baker’s yeast soon replaced sourdough starter in industrial baking.
How could this reduce the nutritional value of bread?
Wheat, like all edible seeds, grains, and legumes, contains phytic acid which interferes with the body’s mineral absorption during the meal in which it is eaten. Eating lots of high phytate foods may result in mineral deficiencies over time.
Three ways to reduce phytic acid are soaking, sprouting, and fermenting. When using a traditional sourdough starter, the bread dough is fermented with probiotic enzymes which “pre-digest” the gluten, making sourdough bread more digestible, even for people suffering from gluten intolerance. (Note: The probiotic bacteria are killed during baking, so sourdough bread is not a probiotic food.)
Breads made with a sourdough starter have wonderful flavor, much more complex than your average sandwich loaf, and not necessarily sour. At Newcastle Produce our three main bakery suppliers, Truckee Sourdough, The Baker and the Cakemaker, and Sourdough Solutions, all use sourdough starters to leaven their breads.
Placer County is home to three bakeries that all use sourdough starters to make their artisan breads.
Truckee Sourdough makes their breads using only freshly milled unbleached flour, sea salt and water. Their sourdough breads are leavened using a sour culture derived from the naturally occurring wild yeasts present in the Truckee area. (Their ciabatta bread is leavened using commercial yeast in the Italian tradition.) Using a long, slow process to prepare their doughs creates the rich flavors and textures of traditionally leavened bread.
THE BAKER AND THE CAKEMAKER
The Baker and the Cakemaker in Auburn is an artisan bread bakery that provides Placer County and surrounding areas with quality handcrafted artisan bread and prides itself in using organic flours, and top quality seeds, grains and nuts. All their breads are made with a natural sourdough yeast starter. Try their Meyer Lemon Rosemary Bread, a favorite of our NP shoppers.
A relatively new bakery in Colfax, Sourdough Solutions is dedicated to making food for thought, energy, and health. They start with healthy seeds. The grains they use are grown from heirloom seed, non-GMO and with no use of pesticides or herbicides. Most of this grain is grown in Northern California.
Whole milling the wheat leaves the bran, endosperm and germ (the healthiest parts) in the flour. The flour is unbleached, so this whole grain bread is dark and rustic. No white bread here!
Their sourdough starter (named George) ferments the bread for at least 24 hours, allowing George and his probiotic partners to do a great job for you and your digestive system. Sourdough Solutions will be at NP on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6, 11-1:30 pm, sampling their bread and waffles.