Taking a closer look at the science and benefits behind sourdough bread

BESIDES dalgona coffee and cloud bread – the two viral pandemic trends – sourdough baking has made its own mark on social media as well.

The aroma of freshly baked bread in your own home does wonders to help you stay sane, especially since movement restrictions due to Covid-19 can affect mental and physical health.

What distinguishes sourdough bread from regular bread is the way it is made. While commercial yeast is used in regular bread to make it rise, sourdough makes use of a “starter”, which is a fermented combination of flour and water with good bacteria and wild yeast present.

The strains in wild yeast are known as Saccharomyces, which usually has more flavour as opposed to commercial yeast. It does not contain any additives and has a natural slightly tangy flavour.

Although sourdough bread seems easy to make, it actually takes a longer time to leaven and rise in order to achieve its crusty yet airy texture, compared to other types of bread.

Beginners might find it hard to comprehend the science behind making sourdough, but making it does not have to be so complex.

Baking it

The essential ingredients – flour, water, salt and an active sourdough starter – are enough for you to get started. You can make your own sourdough starter from scratch, with just flour and water. It is important to feed your starter daily and let it grow for seven to ten days.

Once you have these ingredients set and ready to go, mix them without the salt and let your dough rest.

Once rested, add the salt, knead the dough and let it rise in a warm place until it is nice and puffy.

Shape your dough once it has risen. You can also opt to leave it in the fridge overnight and cover the loaf with a greased plastic wrap if you wish to add more depth of flavour.

The last step is to pop your loaf in the oven. Although sourdough is usually baked at quite a high temperature, the recipe that you use will tell you when your loaf should be taken out.

Nutritional advantages

Fermented foods are usually beneficial to your health. Sourdough bread has its own health benefits as well. Its enhanced nutrition profile enables your body to absorb nutrients easily due to the presence of lactic acid, which has the ability to discharge antioxidants during the fermentation process.

Typically, sourdough bread is easier to digest as opposed to other breads due to its prebiotic content and its probiotic-like characteristics. The fermentation process lowers gluten, which can usually lead to bloating and other digestive issues.

Sourdough may also help you maintain sugar levels as the bacteria that aid in forming the sourdough has a unique effect on the starch present in the bread. It modifies the framework of the bread molecules and helps your body absorb them at a slower pace, which also decreases the bread’s glycemic index.