September 25, 2013

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The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…

Breadmaking is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.

– M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

FOCUS:  Food

I have been baking my own commerical yeast-free sourdough bread for about a year now, ever since reading a fascinating article in Whole Living about the supreme health benefits that fermented sourdough bread has over the yeast-injected, mass-produced breads we find in our American grocery stores today (you can read the article here.)  My first few attempts at baking sourdough from scratch yielded marginal results, but now I have the routine down and I find myself kicking out a few loaves at least once a week.  There is something deeply satisfying about baking your own bread – especially one that is made with only four simple ingredients – flour, water, salt, and a little sweetener (sugar, honey, or molasses).

I make fermented sourdough bread because it is a healthier alternative to yeast-baked breads, but mostly because it is delicious.  There is something about the slow, days-long fermentation process that yields an incredibly tangy and tasty bread.  Interestingly, over the past few years researchers have been experimenting with sourdough fermentation as a means for making traditional wheat bread safe for people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance).  Apparently, the organisms that are produced during the fermentation process break down the large gluten proteins into smaller amino acids that are easier to absorb and less toxic to our digestive systems.  Just one more reason to keep doing what I’m doing…

7 thoughts on “September 25, 2013

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    1. You should give it a try! They say it’s the ‘Mt. Everest’ of bread baking, but I think that’s a liitle dramatic. It just takes time and patience :-). The key is a good reliable starter – make your own, or buy from a trusted baker.

  1. Great photo, but what do you mean by Yeast free? I always thought Wild yeast in the air is a key ingredient in bread ( sour dough), yeast produces Co2, which causes bread to rise. Torrey and I made our own sour dough bread, but we’d love your recipe. We had a couple of flops too. Tell me more about this yeast free bread. This is the first time I ever heard about it. Thanks.

    1. I suppose my wording was a little misleading (and I have since changed), what I meant to say was that the bread I make is true sourdough and is commercial yeast free. You are correct that a natural sourdough does rise from the wild yeast in the air. However, so many sourdough recipes or sourdough breads that you see these days contain commercial yeast. This is so unfortunate! Contrary to the health benefits that come from naturally fermented sourdough which benefits from the many wild yeasts in your environment, the commercial yeast that is used in most breads cannot break down the phytic acid or anti-nutrients in the flour. This is because the yeast strain that has been isolated in commercial brands has been manufactured solely for the purpose of making bread rise quickly. If you are interested, here is a great article on the difference between commercial and wild yeasts here.

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