You probably know by now that I'm slightly addicted to baking bread. I love shaping warm dough in my hands, pulling a crusty loaf out of the oven, and biting into a chewy slice. Over the years, I've gathered favorite recipes from my mom, friends, and various cookbooks. Whether I was looking for a dinner roll, bagel or whole wheat loaf, I usually had a good recipe.
Why then, if I could make a decent bread, did I choose to make sourdough? There are numerous reasons stated but here is a few.
- Since no yeast is needed, sourdough is cheap. A basic loaf needs nothing but flour, water and salt.
- How can anyone read the "Little House" books and not want to be Ma with her pot of sourdough bubbling on the back of the stove. From the cowboy cooks in the chuck wagons to the forty-niners with their precious sourdough amongst their prospecting tools, sourdough has a wide history that enthralled me as a child.
- By some reports, sourdough is a healthier way to eat grains. It is certainly the traditional form that civilizations used for centuries to prepare bread. Some people find sourdough easier to digest than typical whole grain bread. Others say that sourdough bread allows the nutrients in the flour to be better assimilated. If you've read Nourishing Traditions you've heard of the benefits of soaking grains. I haven't had much success with soaking flour. I can make edible bread but not wonderful. I've had better success with sourdough which apparently has the same benefits. When going to the bother of making homemade bread from freshly ground flour, getting the maximum benefit just made sense. There is much written online about the benefits of sourdough, here is one article.
- I was surprised at how quickly we preferred the sourdough flavor. Typical yeast bread tasted bland in comparison. Even if it wasn't cheaper or healthier, the flavor would have encouraged me to continue my quest for perfect sourdough bread.
- Sourdough is just plain fun. Okay, now you know I'm off my rocker. Maybe a mom cooped in a house with four littles comes up with weird ideas of entertainment! But I've read of bakers with years of experience in baking and in very different stages of life then I, and they appear to get a kick out of watching flour and water turn into a bubbling growing pot of sourdough, too. So I think I have company in saying that sourdough baking is simply enjoyable!
Probably the history of sourdough bread first caught my interest. The health benefits propelled me to give it a try. But the flavor is what has kept me baking sourdough. When my husband walks out to the kitchen in the morning, takes a deep breath and sighs in anticipation for his sourdough waffles, I know I have something good going!
If you make sourdough bread, I'd love to hear what got you started and why you continue!