First of all, I want to clarify that you do not have to stop eating bread if you want to be in shape, which is the mistake I made some years ago. You have to eat the good one!
At first, I decided to get rid of bread because of the high gluten content and high glycemic index, but I was suffering because I LOVED bread. I made some research and I realized that the problem was not the bread itself but the way industrial bread is baked.
Let’s start from the flour: the problem is not related to carbs, wheat, spelt, rice etc… they are great food if eaten as they are in nature, but in the bakery industry they are over refined, so all the good nutrients are gone and what is left is just pure sugar, with a high Glycemic Index (GI), which means that the sugar in your blood jumps at high levels and then your body needs to produce a lot of insulin to bring it downfast. This creates a “sugar rush”, makes you fat, leaves you hungry and increases the risk of Diabetes: none of these sounds nice!
Now, one could think that the problem could be solved just by buying “dark bread” or wholegrain bread, but this is true only if wholegrain bread were really wholegrain and this happens just in very rare case of small family bakeries. The bakery industry tends to use white flour, highly processed and rich in gluten because this raises the bread better and faster. The wheat germ is added back in with some wholegrain flour; therefore, it is a little better than white bread because of the small amount of wholegrain cereals, which cause less of a spike of glucose in our blood, but this doesn’t quite solve the problem.
After some more research, I also realized that the wholegrain flours we buy are “dead” and empty because they have been produced such long time ago that the nutrients are evaporated and what is left is almost a non food.
To solve this problem I invested around 300 € in a home electric mill (I do not regret a cent of that!). It is great: I just buy the grains, put them in the mill and, after few seconds, I get the flour, finer or coarser, but what is important is that the milled grains are wholesome and fresh!
At this point, the problem was the yeast. I did not want to use instant yeast and brewer’s years wasn’t an option I liked too much either because it tends to act too fast and inflate the bread; this is the main reason why eating bread makes you feel heavy and full of gas.
The sourdough, instead, is a live fermenting option. It needs time to act, because it does not only inject air in the bread but it modifies the compositions of it:
- The Lactobacillus bacteria contained in the sourdough produces lactic acid, which deactivates the phytic acid which inhibits the mineral digestion;
- This bacteria also breaks down the starches making it more digestible and decreasing the total GI (glycemic index);
- During the longer preparation of the sourdough the gluten has also broken down, becoming more digestible;
- The fermentation process increases the content of beneficial bacteria in the bread which enhances healthy bacteria in the gut (something we all need these days!).
I found all these reasons really convincing and I decided to start my own sourdough, even if I was scared by the “feeding” process and by the sentence “ you have to take care of it like a baby”…
After having taken example from google and some blogs and after a suggestion from another fellow who started his own sourdough from scratch and, finally, after three trials and “deaths” (you can accuse me of murder!), I managed to start my own.
HOW TO MAKE SOURDOUGH:
I will not give you precise weights because I do not know them; I think we have to learn from our grandparents who made sourdough by instinct, without any knowledge of chemistry.
STEP 1: Put some whole flour in a small cup, add warm water until it is soaked enough; the dough must have almost the same consistency as dough used for cakes. Cover it with some plastic paper and leave it 36-48 hours.
STEP 2: The dough now has a sour smell, be careful to not find any mold on it, otherwise throw everything away and start again. Weigh the dough and add the same amount of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar or malt to help the fermentation and warm water. Here again the dough must be more liquid than the bread one, you should not be able to knead that with your hands.
STEP 3: Repeat this process every day for around 8 weeks, leaving the dough always outside the fridge, in an half opened jar at a temperature between 22-27 degrees. Normally you should through away half and activate the remaining half, but sincerely, just after the first week, I was using half for baking and it was not so terrible.
After these 8 weeks, the sourdough is more stable and you do not need to feed it every day, you can keep it in the fridge and use it for bread every 2-3 days.
HOW TO MAKE SOURDOUGH BREAD:
STEP 1: Activate the sourdough 24 hour in advance. Add some flour and water to make it a little more liquid so it is easier to use in the bread.
STEP 2: Go for 3 parts of flour and 1 part of sourdough, so for 600g of flour you need 200g of sourdough.
Put the flour in a large bowl, make a hole in the middle and pour the sourdough, mix the flour with the sourdough and start adding water. How much? Well, it depends on how much liquid the sourdough is and on the flour used. Pour water slowly until you see that the dough is elastic and you can knead using hands. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. Before adding salt, take a piece and leave aside to ferment for the next time (always leave the first 24 hours outside and then put it in the fridge. Knead the remaining dough for 10-20 min such that it incorporates air and then leave it around 2 hours, knead again and leave 1 h more. Now bake that in the static oven, 250 deg for the first 5 mins, then 200 for 10 and 180 for the other 10-15.
Tip: I use very different flours, mixing them to get always different bread. Usually I put 1/3 wheat, 1/3 spelt and the last 1/3 I mix buckwheat barley and rye.
I also make pumpkin bread or sweet bread with fig and walnuts, but you can put everything you like in the mix!
Just a last remark: The process looks complicated and long, but you need to know that I work full time and I practice a lot of sport in my free time; I just plan half an hour in the evening 2/3 times per week to prepare my bread, this is to say that you do not need to be a (desperate) housewife to make your own bread! I hope that this article inspires you to make your own sourdough bread. Feel free to get in touch with me in case you have doubts or questions, I am happy to help and share my own experience.