The REAL BREAD CAMPAIGN’ has launched ’ Sourdough September’ and to celebrate we will be making additional Sourdough loaves every week beyond our usual Rex Sourdough ( 90% white flour, 10% Rye Flour).
In the spirit of ‘Sourdough September’, let’s explore Sourdough and also explain why it is more expensive to buy 🙂
First, let’s debunk a myth: bread called Sourdough does not mean the bread is sour! It can be, but usually it is not. The term has been made fashionable in America to highlight bread made without Commercial Yeast. In France it is described as ‘Levain’. ‘Pain au Levain’ in France is simply a ‘Sourdough Loaf’ in America.
Sourdough still uses a yeast culture to rise the bread dough, but one which is home-harvested and grown, rather than a commercial yeast variety out of a packet or block.
Yeast, a single celled fungus, exists everywhere in the world around us and just requires capturing and encouraging, to grow. There are thousands of yeast strains which react in different ways. Anyone who has ever tried to make homebrew beer or wine, will know that there are types which ferment at the top of a beer solution and others at the bottom of the solution; some which operate at ambient temperature and some at low temperatures.
The first sourdough culture used in the Rex Bakery, was captured from nature by mixing flour, water & some local honey together about 2 years ago. The next day the Rex Baker threw away half of his mixture & added more water & flour. He did the same the next day and before he knew it, had a bubbling fermenting culture.
This is how our ancestors made bread, going all the way back to Ancient Egypt before Commercial Yeast Companies existed.
The Rex Baker has no idea whether the yeast culture he now uses came from the honey, the flour or the air. In fact over two years, he has refreshed the culture hundreds of times , so it is possible that the original yeast culture he captured is no longer there anyway and perhaps another strain introduced through the flour he has added or from the air, has now taken over. It isn’t really important, what matters is that it works. As it is a natural levain it can be very tricky & unpredictable as the Rex Baker found this week! More on the sourdough process in our next blog…
Sourdough loaves are perfect eat as bread on their own, to accompany any meal and make delicious toast. xx