Chef Sanjana Patel remembers the first sourdough she made like it was yesterday – the crisp and earthy crust, a deliciously chewy texture and an unparalleled depth of fresh, tangy flavours that she had never found in off-the-shelf bread.
Recently, you would have noticed an increase in the number of people sharing their sourdough baking stories on Instagram. With more people being cooped up indoors all day, a sourdough revolution seems to have begun. While most love this crusty, golden-brown hued bread, many are still coming to terms with ‘What exactly is sourdough?’
“In India, we mainly resonate bread with soft, white bread like ‘ladi pav’. Since sourdough has a denser crumb, it comes across as a hard bread that is not as easy to chew,” says Sanjana, Creative Director and Executive Chef, La Folie.
So what exactly is the hype around Sourdough? Let’s start at the beginning. Long before the introduction of commercial yeasts, sourdough was said to be made by the ancient Egyptians. Thus, it’s safe to say that all bread before commercial yeast came into the picture, was naturally leavened sourdough.
Today, sourdough is about as natural as you’ll get when it comes to bread. Made with three natural ingredients- starter, salt and flour- this bread has quickly gained popularity among bakers due to its no knead method of preparation.
Sourdough however, is a labour of love. It starts by making the “sourdough starter”, think of it as your own ‘wild yeast’ made by fermenting flour and water together. Once happy and alive you must feed it ever so often and keep it bubbling! The older the starter, the better the sourdough.
With the help of a good starter, minimal effort and a great deal of patience, it can take you about two days to make your light, chewy sourdough. Cold or delayed fermentation produces a variety of complex flavours, not found within a warm fermented bread.
The slow art of sourdough baking is also justification of why it is actively better for you than the regular sliced white bread. Simply put, sourdough contains the same friendly cultures as your much-loved homemade dahi (yogurt). These enzymes and bacteria get to work during the slow fermentation process, releasing flavour compounds and doubling up on its nutrients, which render sourdough as not just a flavourful bread but one that promotes gut health and is easier for the body to digest.
“Sourdough bread is really versatile with international cuisine due to its flavour, texture and nutritional content, hence making it a much healthier alternative to white bread” says Sanjana.
Shop La Folie’s range of sourdough bread here.