What is Sourdough Bread? A Beginner’s Guide

Most of us have heard of sourdough.

Perhaps you’ve eaten it toasted beneath some smashed avo or had your Instagram feed flooded with images of homemade sourdough during the peak of the 2020 lockdown. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself: what is this mysterious, crunchy, tangy bread the world has come to know and love?

From its origins to its ingredients, we have compiled everything you knead (we couldn’t help ourselves) to get you started on your sourdough journey in our Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough. Think of us as your spirit guides on your quest for sourdough perfection.

So, what is sourdough bread?

Simply put, sourdough bread is slow-fermented bread.

It’s naturally leavened bread, which means that no commercial yeast is needed for it to rise. Instead, it uses a sourdough ‘starter’ – a mixture of fermented flour and water that contains wild yeast and good bacteria – to rise.

It’s this wild, or naturally occurring, yeast that produces the signature tangy flavour and the slightly chewy texture you often find in sourdough. Wild yeast has more flavour than commercial yeast and causes the bread to rise in a different and slower way than normal baker’s yeast, which is what gives the bread its crackled, rustic look and good keeping qualities.

Sourdough is as natural as you can get when it comes to bread, as it doesn’t contain any additives such as milk, oils or sweeteners. And, it’s because of this – paired with the naturally occurring acids and long fermentation that make it more digestible and easier for the body to absorb – that makes sourdough a healthier alternative to its supermarket counterparts.

What is in sourdough?

We already mentioned that sourdough bread is made from a live fermented culture, or a sourdough starter, and doesn’t include any additives. But, you’ll find three main ingredients in traditional sourdough recipes:

  1. Flour: sourdough can be made using many types of flour, but for our basic recipe, we use high protein bread flour.
  2. Water: good old tap water is totally fine to use. No need to waste your money on mineral water.
  3. Salt: any type of cooking salt is fine, but we always recommend fine, pure sea salt if you can get your hands on it.

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Sourdough vs. normal bread: what’s the difference?

The main difference between sourdough bread and your run of the mill, supermarket kind is that sourdough doesn’t require commercial yeast.

But some of the other major differences between your artisan sourdough loaf and your white Tip Top loaf are in fact the health benefits sourdough offers, including:

  • Sourdough bread is often easier to digest than bread that’s fermented with baker’s yeast due to the prebiotic content
  • Sourdough is said to have a better effect on blood sugar and insulin levels than other types of bread, as the sourdough fermentation modifies the structure of carb molecules
  • May be easier to digest
  • The slow fermentation process results in an increase in the bioavailability of the bread’s vitamins and minerals, which makes it easier to digest

You’ve made it this far. So, are you ready to journey into the world of sourdough? Check out our Sourdough Bread Recipe for step-by-step instructions, or dive right in and buy our Complete Sourdough Starter Kit today.

Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @youkneadsourdough on Instagram, so we can see your culinary masterpieces. *Chef’s kiss*

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