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The Trombone ForumPractice BreakFood and Drink(Moderators: RedHotMama, BFW) Sourdough: Why did most people forget about this?
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harrison.t.reed
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« on: Sep 09, 2016, 11:14AM »

So, my wife and I are really big on organic, non-gmo foods, eating mostly plants, and cooking as much as possible. When we eat meat it's local meat. Bread has been taboo since we've been married and we only get it for special occasions. Sugar is even more rare.

We watched "Cooked" on Netflix, a documentary about the most basic forms of cooking, including baking, based on Michael Pollan's book of the same title. I had read the book a few years back, but the episode on baking really sparked our interest in the bread he was describing. Specifically, he challenged viewers to try real sourdough that has been slow fermented. He believes no one would have gluten intolerances to this kind of bread.

My wife and I thought about it. People have been eating bread, specifically sourdough, for AT LEAST 10,000 years, with evidence suggesting an upper limit of 30,000 years (evolutionary time scales). There is no way that bread can be as evil as some health gurus make it out to be, IF it somewhat resembles the breads of olden days. But making bread is hard, right? There's a reason why Sourdough is expensive and considered a specialty food, right? Well, we have started making our own bread to find out. Turns out it's dumb simple.

Our first few batches had been using whole grain wheat flour, but I believe that using a mixture of white and whole grain flours will better approximate the type of flour used throughout history. After all, the greeks and romans wrote about sifting flour to make it better -- they just couldn't refine it to the extent that is making people sick today. But I was amazed that you really don't need to measure or worry about anything like books about baking would have you believe. All you need to know is that 7 cups of flour makes enough dough for two large loaves of bread or four small loaves. The recipe is simple! Total "active" time actually touching the dough or cutting it / putting it in the oven is about 15 minutes. Most of the time it is just sitting in a bowl while you eat, relax, go for a walk, and practice.

1 Put about a cup of flour into a bowl and mix with enough warm water to give it a batter-like consistency. Leave it out for a few days until you see bubbles on the surface.

2. Discard most of the mixture, add in fresh flour to replace what you got rid of, and mix with warm water to return it to a batter consistency. Let it sit over night. If it is bubbly again the next day, cover it with cheesecloth to keep out fruitflies. This mixture is your starter. It is ready to go.

3. You can either dry out the starter with flour and freeze it until you need it (revive by thawing and mixing with warm water), or you can keep feeding it until you need it by discarding most of it and adding fresh flour and water.

4. To make bread, at around 4 or 5 PM put 7 cups of flour into a bowl and mix with warm water until it is a pretty wet dough. Add half of the starter from the previous steps and freeze the rest for the next time you need it. Mix and knead in the bowl. Let it sit for 20 minutes.

5. Add 1.5 TBS of salt disolved in a small amount of warm water to the dough and mix it in. Cover with a damp cloth. Let it rise for an hour.

6. Every hour, reach to the bottom of the dough and pull that part up onto the top, working your way around the bowl in a circle. This develops gluten and helps the dough ferment. Do this until you go to bed, and put the dough into the fridge overnight.

7. Pull out the dough in the morning (or whenever you plan to bake the next day). Don't touch it and let it come to room temp. Cut the dough so that it fills your baking pans almost to the top, and bake it for 20 to 25 minutes at 475 degrees F. Done.

After we did this a few times, and realized how little effort and knowhow it takes once you understand the process, and how delicious real sourdough is, we wondered how come most people don't do this. It's dirt cheap, delicious, and the bread literally contains three ingredients.

Anyone else into sourdough?
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 09, 2016, 11:53AM »

I can tell you that we have very different ideas of what "little effort" means. 
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harrison.t.reed
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 09, 2016, 11:59AM »

I can tell you that we have very different ideas of what "little effort" means. 

I thought so too! Once I actually did it, and then did it again the next weekend, I realized that it took less effort than cooking dinner!

I swear it is only about 15 minutes of actually dealing with any of the ingredients.
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 09, 2016, 12:00PM »

After we did this a few times, and realized how little effort and knowhow it takes once you understand the process, and how delicious real sourdough is, we wondered how come most people don't do this. It's dirt cheap, delicious, and the bread literally contains three ingredients.
While it's easy, it's not fast. Sourdough is expensive (compared to other breads) because the process isn't as conducive to mass production.

One of the fun things about sourdough is the variability. If you make a starter Colorado and I make one in SoCal, the bread will taste different. Boudin has supposedly been using the same starter since 1849.
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 09, 2016, 12:03PM »

I may be biased from living in/around SF, but....sourdough is awesome.

I'm super curious how it compares to sourdough baked in Boulder/Denver. When I lived there, we never could find good sourdough, so trips to/from the bay area ended up carrying back loaves of the stuff.

We never tried making it ourselves though....hmm.
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« Reply #5 on: Sep 09, 2016, 12:13PM »

I don't care for sourdough bread.  But I don't think it's terribly hard to make, the starter lasts a really long time in the fridge.
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« Reply #6 on: Sep 09, 2016, 12:25PM »

I thought so too! Once I actually did it, and then did it again the next weekend, I realized that it took less effort than cooking dinner!

I swear it is only about 15 minutes of actually dealing with any of the ingredients.

I'm just not down with the "do this....then several hours later do this....in two days, bread!"  No thanks.  I have too much to do than to keep coming into the kitchen to piddle with bread.

After I depart Alaska I'll just keep some of this in my fridge/freezer:

https://www.p28foods.com/baked-goods/p28-high-protein-bread

To each their own for sure!  I'm not trying to get down on your bread experience.  People think I'm crazy for building my own speakers/subwoofers.    Whatever you enjoy, man!   Good!
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« Reply #7 on: Sep 09, 2016, 01:00PM »

My non-scientific mind says it's the modified foodstuffs that is causing the celiac diseases & nut allergies!

I'm sure there were folks 50-60+ years ago that might have had digestional distress due to foods,  but not the sheer numbers & severity we see today!!!

Back to the subject...I've tried to make a starter in the past,  but it either went mouldy or I forgot to feed it regularly.  Gotta try again as home-made bread is SOOOO delicious!!!

Plus the idea that "I made that!!"

Some ideas:

http://germanfood.about.com/od/bread/a/sourdostrtr.htm

Eric
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« Reply #8 on: Sep 09, 2016, 01:29PM »

I've tried sourdough several times and eventually my lack of consistency catches up and the starter goes off.

My inlaws are the most consistent Baker's I know. Maybe like you and your wife it's easier when both are involved. We gave them what is now their favorite book; The Village Baker by Will Ortiz. They are grindingly consistent studying a topic when they decide to do it and have learned a lot from him.

In Another comment on this topic someone said they don't like sourdough. As someone else points out sourdough isn't conducive to American style commercial baking so alot of commercial "sourdoughs" are so far from the traditional ways that it's no surprise people think they don't like it. Real sourdough is made in  few commercial bakeries in the US more in Europe.

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« Reply #9 on: Sep 09, 2016, 02:27PM »

We've got plenty of great local sourdough here in the Santa Cruz area.  My wife loves it.  I just don't like it that much!  While I've had a few that I enjoyed eating, mostly in fancy restaurants, I still would've preferred a white loaf.
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« Reply #10 on: Sep 13, 2016, 09:44AM »

One reason for the decline of sourdough breads besides those already mentioned, is perhaps the demonization of carbohydrates by many if not most diet gurus.  My contention is that there's absolutely NOTHING like the smell of homemade bread baking.  I still remember when AlGore was VP and the EPA had determined that commercial bread-baking was inherently pollution because of the carbon dioxide being released into the air (yeah, right...) and how much fun was made of the EPA's decision (they finally backed off, I think).

I 've done a couple different breads using a starter.  One was a French tourte, courtesy of a recipe from Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France (it's only in the first edition, not the newer one--unexplainable to me, because it's some of the best, heartiest bread for dipping into soups and spreading with pate`that I can imagine).  The other was Sourdough Baguettes, courtesy of a recipe from Lukens and Rosso's The New Basics.  This one had a thin crispy crust and exquisite fresh out of the oven with a pat of butter (okay, the whole damn stick) Good!
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« Reply #11 on: Sep 13, 2016, 10:23AM »

I love bread. A agree people can't have been eating it for thousands of years if it was really bad.

I've tried making "starter" before and it never worked.

My main disappointment about home-made bread is that it doesn't toast like commercial bread does. It just turns into a big flat crouton.
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« Reply #12 on: Sep 13, 2016, 11:51AM »

Starters are easy. You just need to keep it thin like cake batter and regularly discard most of it and refeed it.

I think that using 75% whole grain flours, and letting it rise/ferment for the evening and in the fridge overnight makes it healthier. The starter breaks down a lot of the fiber and adds nutrition.
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« Reply #13 on: Sep 14, 2016, 09:48AM »

I love bread. A agree people can't have been eating it for thousands of years if it was really bad.

I've tried making "starter" before and it never worked.

My main disappointment about home-made bread is that it doesn't toast like commercial bread does. It just turns into a big flat crouton.

But it DOES make killer croutons--and garlic bread--and bread pudding... :D
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« Reply #14 on: Sep 14, 2016, 10:03AM »

One thing we do is sweat a bunch of chopped garlic in olive oil, reserve the soft garlic, grill slices of the bread in the oil, top with the garlic and some basil or maybe a hard cheese. So good!

The point of this topic was to basically say that I am amazed at how easy it is to just make a week's worth of bread, how great it tastes, and how much better I feel. I have been trimming down (not that I was overweight) steadily eating homemade whole grain sourdough as my main starch. And I am someone who avoided bread like the plague for years.

I think that the combination of the fiber from the bran, the nutrients from the germ, and the additional nutrients unlocked by the slow ferment make this bread extremely good for my health.
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« Reply #15 on: Sep 14, 2016, 12:54PM »

Their is science out there from those who developed the glycemic index diet that sourdough bread, even made from white flour, is slower to digest. This makes it more satisfying to eat so you eat less. This may account for part of your weight loss.
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 26, 2017, 01:34PM »

The Sourdough quest continues. Our bread keeps getting better and better. It's so good and it's only three ingredients!

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« Reply #17 on: Mar 26, 2017, 01:56PM »

Harrison
No yummy pictures to share but I was inspired to try a new starter by your post.
The Village Baker book I mentioned provided this MO for a starter. It relies on the native yeasts which are in the frosty bloom on the surface of grapes.
Last fall was the first year our grapevine had given us grapes.  I mixed a small batch of a rye flour and water batter and buried a single unwashed grape in it's middle. After 24 hr.s it had started to foam. I removed the grape and and fed the batter. Since then I have made 100% rye flour sourdough every week or so.
Thanks for starting this topic.

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« Reply #18 on: Mar 26, 2017, 02:02PM »

 :D

I love it!

We stole our ideas from Michael Pollan's excellent book "Cooked". Probably the most important book about being HUMAN to come out .. maybe ever. A great read.

Have you noticed your home baked sourdough just makes you feel better?
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« Reply #19 on: Apr 10, 2017, 09:16AM »

My wife and I thought about it. People have been eating bread, specifically sourdough, for AT LEAST 10,000 years, with evidence suggesting an upper limit of 30,000 years (evolutionary time scales). There is no way that bread can be as evil as some health gurus make it out to be, IF it somewhat resembles the breads of olden days.
And we've been drinking milk for 7500 years, but lactose intolerance is still very real in a subset of people.

The health gurus are often a bit wacked, including the sentiment that everyone can eat sourdough, because there really is poor understanding and the area is dominated by amateurs... see michael pollan unfortunately. His expertise is in journalism - not nutrition or diet or food. Though while I understood and largely agree with his premise in "in defense of food", his writing was atrocious.

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But making bread is hard, right?
Nah, just takes time.

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Our first few batches had been using whole grain wheat flour, but I believe that using a mixture of white and whole grain flours will better approximate the type of flour used throughout history.
"White" flour is typically bleached, and only uses the endosperm of the grain. It was first produced in large scale in the late 1800's, and really took off because it keeps and stores so well, with most of the nutritious parts removed. It has also greatly helped contribute to malnutrition problems since it came out - especially the first 50 or so years, see "pellagra" in the US South. We try to alleviate that now with adding back in vitamins and such (ie "enriched" flour) but many problems are still there.

If you're looking for historical, that would be stone ground using the full grain. If you're going to experiment, best would probably be with different grains rather than different ways of processing the same grains. For most of history, the grains were more variable than the method to mill or crush them.

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After we did this a few times, and realized how little effort and knowhow it takes once you understand the process, and how delicious real sourdough is, we wondered how come most people don't do this. It's dirt cheap, delicious, and the bread literally contains three ingredients.
Time and temps generally.

I am cheap. In the winter, my house moves between 60 and 55 per time and the programmable thermostat. In the summer it's 80 and 85. Spring/Fall, the heat/ac is off and the windows are open. To get a good rise to a bread, consistent temps in a specific range are needed, and mine vary per season. Too cold, and it won't go. Too hot and it goes too quickly and unevenly and has a different fermentation. I've smelled alcohol in my bread before... quite strongly.

Another thing is planning and time. You need to set it before hand, time according to conditions, and then also bake... All takes planning and foresight.

I do love fresh bread, and cook it occasionally when the time and temps are favorable. Years ago, I made two loaves every other day per a specific diet. Lots of time and effort though.

If you think that's simple and tasty, you might want to look at some other old food stuff as well, such as sourkraut. Literally you chop up cabbage, toss with some salt, then let sit in a crock (weighed down) to ferment. That's it. Pickles, wine, ciders, beer... all quiet "easy" per your standards, and nice to have around too.
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« Reply #20 on: Apr 10, 2017, 02:42PM »

-----

I've been a dedicated sourdough bread baker for years. I use long fermentation times, approximately 18 hours at 67 degrees (depending on flour type) and very long (36 to 48 hour proofing) at 38 to 42 degrees. It is my understanding that the long fermentation and proofing times is what makes sourdough so digestible and tolerated by those that suffer from store bought bread. Long fermentation digests the gluten turning into easily digestible proteins (amino acids).

Common store bought bread is often done in 3 hours from start to finish. Yech! Not good. Not to mention the variety of dough conditioners and other such nonsense that is added to get the product finished in such a short time. The so called gluten intolerance that is seen today is a result of bread products that are not properly fermented, unlike the old days. It's a real thing for many people, but I suspect that if they ate some of my sourdough bread they would not suffer any ill effects. I have seen this with many friends of mine, so I know it's true.

I use a wide variety of flours including hard wheat bread flour, soft wheat Italian '00' and '0', semolina, old wheat varieties such as Kamut, and an early form of wheat called spelt. I have excellent results with all of them and have spent countless hours developing a feel for my dough and where it is at in its fermentation process and what step(s) are needed to ensure an excellent and I mean excellent loaf of true sourdough bread.

My ingredients are: flour, purified water by reverse osmosis, pure white Spanish sea salt, and sourdough starter. My starter is old and healthy. There is nothing better than a simple and pure loaf of sourdough bread. Especially if I made it.  :D All temps are farenheit.

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« Reply #21 on: Apr 10, 2017, 08:56PM »

The Sourdough quest continues. Our bread keeps getting better and better. It's so good and it's only three ingredients!



I can't eat much bread without repercussions, but a good sourdough is irresistible.  After you have mastered this you should try your hand at Irish soda bread. Ahhhh.....!!!
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