Sourdough bread

Sour Dough Culture

Sour Dough Bread – my favorite!

It was a grey, rainy Sunday morning in 1991, as a kid, I was hanging out with my mum in the kitchen because that’s where we have the most fun. There was something going this morning though, mum didn’t seem as happy as usual when we are cooking up stuff in the kitchen. I spotted an odd smelling piece of dough on the counter and it felt to me as the reason why mum was acting a bit off.

‘What’s that mum?’ a question I had asked about 19 times this morning with regards to different bits and pieces. ‘Oh that’ mum responded in a sigh. ‘That is kinda strange, it’s some weird dough that has travelled the world and I’m supposed to bake and share. I’m not sure what to do with it. I think it’s for hippies” This was pretty much my first encounter with sour dough culture and probably the only time in my life that my mother showed me an ingredient and did NOT inspire me to cook with it. It took at least 20 years for both mum and I to be converted and now both of us bake our daily bread with the aid of our beloved sour dough culture.

So what is sour dough in 3 sentences? Sour dough is a name to describe a bread dough which has been created with the help of wild yeast cultures. These days most breads are made to rise using commercial, fast growing, reliable yeast strains, which are captured in dry or fresh form and more or less ready to use at your disposal. Sour dough cultures however are their untamed, unhurried, beautiful cousins. You can capture them, if you’re quick enough, from the air around us and offer them accommodation. They prefer hotels built out of flour and water. This culture, is called a sour dough starter, is kept alive, not unlike a pet, in the kitchen and added to your dough or batter for sour dough baking. We call our sour dough culture at Bali Silent Retreat, Miss Ketut and she has happily lived in our fridge since day 1.

The main difference between using conventional yeast and sour dough is that the latter takes a lot longer at rising, at Bali Silent Retreat we take 24 hours for the process. During this long process the army of brave sour-dough-culture-soldiers are working their sour little butts off to better bread. Without going into the science behind it, here are 6 reasons why we love sour dough baking and you will too:

  • It gives bread great texture, elastic with a great uneven crumb
  • Delicious tangy flavour
  • Sour dough bread is proven to be easier to digest; the pro-biotic cultures literally transform the flour
  • Vitamins in the flour are more absorb-able making the bread more nutritious
  • Some gluten intolerant people can actually tolerate sour dough bread
  • Sour dough bread is low impact on GI. (Gastro Intestinal system).

If that last point doesn’t mean much to you, great, you’re not up to date with the latest diet trends which can only be a good thing.