Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What to eat Wednesdays - Sourdough bread (breadmaker recipe)

Last week I wrote about how Nourishing Traditions has challenged me to eat more unprocessed whole foods. Well, I managed to get some sourdough starter from the lovely Sarah Walsh, who also shared this easy breadmaker recipe for sourdough bread. Thanks Sarah!

Here's a picture of my gorgeous sourdough starter. Note the yeasty bubbles which show it's active:
You can make your own sourdough starter, but I've heard it's difficult to get a good result so was pleased to be given an already proven batch. 

I store it in the fridge. To keep it alive I simply feed it with equal amounts of flour and water (usually about half a cup of each), either after I've removed some starter for baking, or every four days.

Sourdough bread ingredients
  • 2c filtered water
  • 2t unbleached natural sea salt
  • 4c stone-ground wholemeal or rye flour (or a combination)
  • 1/2c sourdough starter
Place ingredients in breadmaker in the order listed. Set to dough mode and hit start. After the dough cycle has finished, leave dough in the breadmaker for seven (yes seven!) hours to rise. It needs that long to properly break down the phytic acid so your body can absorb all the wonderful nutrients within the grain. (Read more about this below, under 'Why eat sourdough?'.)

Sourdough bread takes longer to rise than bread made using commercial yeast. See how much more it has risen in the next photo, after the extra seven hours.

After your dough has adequately risen, hit 'bake only'. That's it.

Sourdough bread contains no preservatives, so you'll want to keep it in the fridge to prevent mould growing. I slice mine up as soon as it has cooled from baking, and then store it in a plastic container in the fridge, ready to make sandwiches and toast.

Why eat sourdough?

Numerous studies have found sourdough to be the most nutritious bread available.
  • While the bread is rising, it's also fermenting, a process that pre-digests starches, making sourdough bread easier to digest than quick bake varieties. 
  • Fermentation breaks down gluten, which may help gluten-intolerant people eat it without side effects.
  • Sourdough naturally has lactic acid, which gives it its distinctive 'sour' flavour, but also breaks down phytic acid. This is what I see as being the most important health benefit as phytates block our absorption of minerals such as zinc, magnesium, copper, iron and phosphorous. When you eat quick-bake wholegrain bread, your body is unable to absorb any of those minerals because the phytates haven't been broken down. All those lovely nutrients, wasted. You may as well eat white bread. 
  • Sourdough protects vitamin B1 from damage caused by the heat of baking.
Sourdough is cheap to make.
    • The sourdough starter captures wild yeast from the air, so you don't need to buy commercial yeast. Where other bread recipes call for flour, yeast, milk powder, bread improvers, sugar and oil, sourdough bread is basically just flour, water and a pinch of salt. Even the sourdough starter is made with just flour and water. In short, all you pay for is flour, salt and the electricity needed to cook it.
    You know exactly what you're eating.
    • Again, just flour, water and a bit of salt. No long list of additives and preservatives.


    1. That looks really great! Hope you're enjoying the Simply Fun ebook :)


    2. I have just made this loaf - have wondered for so long how to make sourdough in the breadmaker and just couldn't get it to work. This has worked brilliantly!
      I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I'm really happy to see that you've hit on WAP. It totally changed the way we eat and I provide for my family. You may want to check out Kay Baxter's book - Change of Heart, its like a kiwi Nourishing Traditions. Also if you are going to be serious about starting everything from scratch then I would explore your bulk food options - I have an account with Chantal organics in Napier and belong to a co-op for Ceres. That way we get most of our dry goods in bulk and organic at a much cheaper price than supermarket (we even get butter in 25kg blocks and split it with friends and family). I get our milk from an organic farm up the road, raw milk is the tastiest and most nourishing food I have ever tasted and the kefir that comes from it is so creamy and yummy. Our veges are delivered weekly from an organic grower to supplment what we don't grow (if you are moving to Wellington then you could look into the wellington CSA?). As a result I just don't have to go to the supermarket very often! Wonderful, a total release from having to trawl around the most depressing and non-nutritive way we have ever developed of gathering food.

      Anyway good luck with your journey!

    3. Hi Eden.fam,

      I'm glad the sourdough loaf worked for you! I've been making it so much. It's so simple!

      Thanks for putting me onto Kay Baxter. I've manged to get her book on designing an orchard from Hamilton Libraries, but they don't have Change of Heart. I investigated down in Wellington when I was there recently and they do stock it, so I plan to set up a library account and get it out ASAP after we move.

      My friend Sarah Walsh has a Chantal account so I was able to order some bulk flours and things through her. I also visited a Commonsense Organics store when I was in Wellington and it had a great selection of everything, so I think that's where I'll do most of my shopping. They even send out weekly vegetable boxes, which will be just brilliant.

      I'll have to investigate whether there are any organic dairy farms near Wellington that I could source raw milk from. It could be quite a drive out, so I don't know how motivated I'll be to actually do it. Do you notice much of a difference health-wise drinking raw milk?



    4. Hi Emma,

      The person to get in contact with for Raw milk in wellington would be Deb Gully - she and her partner Iain are the WAPF chapter leaders for wellington and they get raw milk delivered once a week to their house and then people are able to pick it up from them. They have a website - that you could use to get in touch with them or look under westonaprice wellington chapter. We love raw milk, I will not go back to pasturised milk again, there is no comparison and when you make Kefir or caspian sea yoghurt out of it it takes on a whole different flavor again, delicious. For me pasturised milk causes me to be mucousy and snotty, I don't have this at all with raw milk and I don't get the bags under my eyes with it like I do with pasturised milk. My kids are allergic to dairy, but they don't react to fermented raw milk and so they get heaps of smoothies and raw milk cheese to keep them going.

      Deb Gully also sells the green pasture range of fermented cod liver oil, this has been great over winter, we have had 1 cold only (not bad for a house with a 3 and 4 yr old) and I put this down to the good amounts of vitamin d that we have been getting from the cod liver oil.

      Sorry I took so long to reply - didn't see your reply till now and I do have a 2 week old baby as well!


    5. Hey Pip,

      Wow, a new baby. Congratulations. Exciting! Boy or girl?

      Thanks for all the info on Wellington sources. I've been wondering where to get fermented cod liver oil, which I saw recommended on an American website. That solves that problem.

      And heading to someone's house to pick up raw milk seems a lot easier than driving out to a farm. I'd definitely be up for that.

      We made feta a couple of weeks ago with raw milk that my friend sourced, and there was quite a bit left over so I've made kefir and yoghurt with it. We also had lots of whey left so I frozen most of it up in small batches to use in future soaking/baking recipes.

      It's amazing how things seem to becoming together now. I finally feel like, 'Yes, this is what I was looking for but didn't even know existed.' WAP has cleared up so many questions I had about what a healthy diet should be. It just never made sense to me before that a healthy diet was one of deprivation and constant nagging hunger. Eating real, nutrient-dense food makes so much more sense.

      Thanks for all your help. I so appreciate it!


    6. Another question for you Pip - what's Caspian sea yoghurt? How do you make it? Cheers!

    7. Girl - Meghan Margaret Edinborough, all 9lb 14oz of her and just gorgeous! A lovely very rapid (1 hour) home birth.

      Worth thinking about for the fermented CLO - we buy it direct from the USA in bulk (12bottles) and split it with a friend (they have a website that you may have already found - This works out to be about $55-60 per bottle which is quite a difference to the price here, although Deb sells hers for the best price in NZ.

      Caspian sea yoghurt is like yoghurt, you keep a bit from each batch as your starter but it is like kefir in that it doesn't need heat for the culture to ferment, it is done at room temp. It has a different flavour to kefir as well, not quite as astringent. Its quite yummy. But I tend to just keep my kefir going the most, it has by far the best spectrum of bacteria.

    8. Oh a girl! Gorgeous! And a big one at that. What a quick labour though, despite her size. How's she settling into family life?

      I would love to go in with you on some cod liver oil, if that's a possibility? What part of the country do you live in?

      Thanks for putting me onto the farmlet website. Lots of interesting reading there!

      How long ago did you start eating a whole foods diet? What sort of changes did you make first?


    9. Hi Emma
      You mention sourdough starters are actually quite hard to get going successfully. Where can one get some that is already started. I live in Tauranga.
      Many thanks

    10. Hi Fay, You might be able to contact these people to purchase a sourdough starter form and have it sent to you:




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