Did you know that there is no legal definition for “Sourdough”? That means that practically any old loaf can be called a sourdough. Unfortunately there’s so many bogus claims in the food industry, it can be difficult for the public to work out what’s truly authentic. To help, the Real Bread Campaign has been calling on Defra for Sourdough to be formally defined & the name restricted to real Sourdough.
While we wait, here’s some “pseudough” examples to recognise & even avoid:
- Supermarket plastic wrapped “sourdough” can even be a loaf with added “sourdough flavour”. Artificially recreating the taste doesn’t make real Sourdough!!
- Sourdough with long life ingredients that’s frozen & delivered part baked to be browned off, often just refers to the rustic look of the bread in appearance.
- “Artisan bread brands” that aren’t what they seem. Some are owned by private equity firms, and one famous name sourdough specialist is even financed by Warburton’s, the big bagged sliced bread brand. This can mean a long corporate supply chain between production & delivery to outlets like markets – we’ve bought a 2 day old sourdough this way, too dry to enjoy
- Even many traditional bakers choose to add commercial yeast, citric acid or “improver” (even called “organic improver” sometimes!) to their Sourdough recipe, or buy flour with artificial “improver” in it to speed up their bread development pace & size. They don’t have to declare this in the labelling, even though 71% of the British public think they should. We know this is common practice because
- A well known local craft bakery approached us asking us to loan them some “improver” as their stocks were running low. We don’t use it so couldn’t help J
- If you use anything artificial like that, you can’t use the phrase “Real Bread”. We challenged that the local chain bakery brand was using flour with improver & as this was confirmed in correspondence, by the Advertising Standards Authority, so that they’re no longer allowed to use that phrase.
- Last month EAT (the sandwich firm) was challenged via the Advertising Standards Authority for adding commercial yeast to its sourdough toastie mix. It turns out they can still call these sourdough, as there’s no legal definition…
- These breads often fail the press-back test that the Rex Baker described on the BBC – the construction is so poor that the crumb stays compressed & tacky if pushed hard. Real Bread will bounce back because the structure is so strong.
When we opened Rex, our best selling breads were our white tin breads & baguettes (that’s still true with the Rex children btw J) but today, Sourdoughs are bringing Friends to Rex from far & wide.
What is Real Sourdough?:
- Made with Sourdough starter or natural leaven. In Rex, this is a non-commercial mix that we made ourselves from Misbourne honey originally, and nurture every day. This is mixed with our organic flour, salt & water to make Rex Sourdough breads.
- Allow time to ferment the dough & rise naturally. The sourdough starter works naturally, over time, to ferment all our organic flour wheats & grains and is thought to denature the gluten they contain during this process. A side benefit is that over time, the leaven causes the bread dough to naturally rise. In Rex, we allow at least 24 hours for all breads & a full 3 days for Sourdoughs to mature.
Why should you seek out authentic Sourdough?
Well first, most of our loyal Friends will tell you that Sourdough is delicious. It shouldn’t taste sour, but it should be more complex & interesting than tinned bread loaves. If it’s not real sourdough… you’ve been seduced by the marketing, not the real taste.
Next, some of you tell us that carbohydrates bloat you. We always recommend to try a slice of Rex Sourdough because our organic flour, natural leaven & time to ferment means the bread is highly tolerable & easy to digest. Many people think they’re wheat or gluten-intolerant – when in fact they are intolerant of poorly fermented wheat & gluten. They can enjoy Rex Sourdough with comfort.
So if you have tried something that you thought was sourdough, and tasted & looked ok to you – can you be sure that it took 3 days to make naturally with an organic leaven? If not, you may face the digestion & bloating difficulties of fast bread. Anyways, why pay artisan skills prices for yet another fast food bread?
So even though the law doesn’t yet define & protect Real “sourdough”, we do in Rex!! Every single one of our breads complies with all Read Bread Campaign criteria for Real Bread … and you can trust our pure approach & provenance. If you have any questions, we love to answer them….
See you in Rex over Easter we hope!!