The sourdough or the bread you are seeing in this post contains only 4 things. Salt, Flour, Water and Yeast, that’s it. And this is how the bread or sourdough was originated thousands of years ago. Yes! the bread was discovered the way champagne did. It was an accident.
Someone forgot a bowl of grains outside their house. And that bowl got filled with rainwater. The mixture was left unnoticed and in a few days, they found a fermented bowl of porridge. And someone had an idea that we should put this in the fire. That radical thought of putting that fermented dough into the fire gave us bread which is considered an important part of human life. And the way it was made (by cultivating natural yeast) is the most talked thing on the table for a decade now.
I am not a baker but I always liked baking bread. When I started, I failed miserably. I had loaves of bread which are hard as rocks, burnt as charcoal and bland as water (I forgot to add salt). Despite many failed attempts, one thing kept me baking bread is, the bread is connected to the philosophy of food I believe in. And Bread is the most important part of every food culture.
Like every food, Bread is connected to the 5 Elements. But the idea of bread establishes that connection in a more direct way. Earth which grows it, Air and Water which shapes it, Fire makes it edible and Salt adds to the flavour. I always find bread making as a therapy. Especially making sourdough, as you cannot rush the things, you cannot expect a product in a few hours. It takes its time but the final product is worth it all. Let’s talk about sourdough.
The sourdough starter is a mixture of flour and water left out to cultivate wild yeast. Which eventually makes its colony with beneficial bacterias and produces carbon dioxide in a large quantity. since its a living organism, it needs to feed once in a while. Hence, there is feeding time for this culture. Now talking about what makes it “Sour”.
This is a single-cell fungus, which feeds on simple sugars present in flour. And it thrives on oxygen. Growth of Lactobacillus gives the signature funky smell which is like Alcohol (ethanol) and Vinegar (Acetic acid). Also, ethanol and acetic acid help prolong the shelflife of the bread unlike the white bread made of bakers yeast or commercial yeast. Not everyone is accustomed to the sour and bitter taste of the sourdough. But a large number of people prefer eating sourdough over the daily white bread.
The reason is not only it has a longer shelflife but also it has health benefits. Sourdough bread is mostly made with a combination of flours. Flours and the starter provide Vitamin B. Also, Sourdough is a good source of rich minerals such as iron, selenium etc. The sourdough culture or lactobacillus neutralizes the excess phytic acid present in flours. And like any other fermented food sourdough is a great source of probiotics.
Method of sourdough gets very technical. hydration %, autolyse, dutch oven or baking stone etc. I thought of making a recipe where I am not gonna do all that. I made a dough with domestic Sharbati wheat and barley grown organically in the state of Madhya Pradesh. and left it to ferment for 24 hours. Here I did no folds, stretches, tucks and so on. The motive of this was to eliminate that silver lining of technicality and fear of not able to achieve it. For this recipe, I aimed to replicate the method of Mesopotamians. And the only question I needed to ask is “is this edible ?”.
It’s not only edible but delicious as well. What just a few grams of salt and fermentation could do is remarkable. The only flavour I added is salt. The lactobacillus and the quality of the chemical-free grains added sour, bitter and sweet as well. I took no efforts to apply technic to make it more puffed or have strong gluten strands. Still, it has a nice crust which has the chew. The crumb has clusters of bubbles formed during the fermentation process.
The motive of this experiment was to find out how much we need to bake a loaf of bread. To find out what has changed in the process of making bread. From the time of Mesopotamia to the year 2020. There is no doubt that over the years we have excelled the bread in every way. Be it technically, scientifically or socially. But one thing hasn’t changed over the last 6000 years that’s-
HUMAN LIFE REVOLVED AROUND THE BREAD THEN AND IT’S THE SAME EVEN NOW.