The Sourdough Experiment Revisited

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If you read my initial post on sourdough, you’ll know that I was actively questioning whether or not to try gluten again. After watching “Cooked” on Netflix, I was convinced to give it a go after almost 4 years of abstention. The thought of being able to consume real bread again, without consequence, was very enticing!

When choosing a flour to start with, I wanted to go with something that is as far from modern wheat as possible, and it seemed like einkorn fit the bill perfectly. Einkorn is much less adulterated than modern wheat. It’s genetics are much more simple, and it’s lower in the gluten protein. That’s good news for someone like me – as I was hopeful that sourdough fermentation would break down most, if not all, of the gluten in the flour. After doing some brand research, I decided that Jovial Foods einkorn flour was probably one of the best sources I could procure.

As far as instructions go, you’ll need a starter recipe which explains how to cultivate natural yeast. You’ll also need a bread recipe –  I chose this one from Beets N Bones. It was very easy to follow, plus, it helps that her bread looks absolutely gorgeous. I had high hopes for mine!

You’ll also need some basic equipment. A digital scale (this one is inexpensive and works great), a large bowl, and a locking glass storage container.

I followed the Jovial starter recipe for 5 days. You basically just combine warm water and flour in different proportions and let the mixture sit in your pantry. After a couple of days, I had bubbles! The fifth day is the first day that you are able to use the starter for bread.

Now, I’m going to warn you – the bread baking process is long and tedious. On day 5, I took 1-2 tablespoons of the starter and mixed it with fresh flour and water. You need to let this mixture sit for 4-6 hours. This is called creating the “leaven.” I wrapped the bowl in plastic wrap & a towel, and let it sit on the counter.

Meanwhile, my twins were doing this:

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After 4-6 hours have passed, you should see bubbles in the bowl. Then, you add 550 g of water to the leaven, and mix in 750 g of flour. Let it sit for 3 more hours.

Lastly, you add 15 g of salt and the remaining 25 g of water  – to create a very wet, sticky dough.

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This is the fun part. You get to turn the bowl and fold the dough over itself several times every 30 minutes for about 3 hours. The dough is supposed to increase in size by about 20-30%. It is incredibly sticky since Einkorn doesn’t have a ton of gluten in it. Therefore, it really isn’t going to knead like an all-purpose flour loaf. After this phase, I let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I set it out for an hour to lose its chill. I followed the recipe and preheated a dutch oven for 20 minutes at 475, then baked for 15 minutes lid on, and about 20-25 minutes with the lid off.

I didn’t score my loaf – because I’m a straight up amateur. I’m really mad that I didn’t, because it would have looked so much better.

As you can see, it came out very dense. I knew that I was using an immature starter and that my first loaf would probably be terrible. The good thing is – it tasted pretty fantastic. It was everything I ever wanted in experiencing gluten again. It was very sour and dense, but had a great, crispy exterior.  I did try to moderate how much I ate because I didn’t know what after effects it might cause. Unfortunately, after a day or so, my loaf completely fell and any air pockets were lost. I know that future attempts will probably be better if I use a more mature starter.

Will I make sourdough again?

Normally, if I get “glutened,” I feel bloated, nauseous, and experience serious tummy troubles. I did not react to the sourdough in that way at all. I did, however, experience something that I had not felt in a long time. Since watching my carb intake and going gluten-free four years ago, I very rarely feel my blood sugar go through the roof. After eating this bread – I could almost immediately feel it – it’s a high from the carbohydrate, and then a subsequent crash. It reminded me of how I felt when I used to eat a standard American diet. There is also that sense of wanting to binge on freshly baked bread. It’s certainly a gateway food for me where I lose self-control. I do not feel this way when I eat quinoa, GF bread, or rice.

I think I would make sourdough again, but not for everyday. Maybe once in a blue moon, if I’m hosting a gathering or something where homemade bread would be a great addition to the menu (or if I just want to impress people ;-). The thing is, maintaining a sourdough starter is a lot of work if you only plan on making bread once or twice a year. You’d have to refrigerate it and diligently refresh it once per week just to have it on hand. You could create a new starter every time, but that requires A LOT of expensive flour and a huge amount of preparation time. Not to mention, if I keep making new starters and baking bread on the 5th day, my starter will never improve and neither will my bread’s quality and texture. It’s almost as if you have to go all in on sourdough bread. Commit to the effort and get results, or pretty much don’t do it at all.

This is one of the points in “Cooked” that spoke to me so much. After going through the process of baking bread by hand, without commercial yeasts, etc., I understand that it’s definitely a labor intensive commodity. One of the men featured in the series implores you to eat whatever you want – so long as you make it yourself from scratch. Think about if you had to make ice cream from scratch before you could eat it. You’d probably never eat ice cream, save for maybe a very special occasion. We are not eating foods in quantities that match the effort to take to produce them, and it’s making us sick. Every night, I find it very easy to make meat and vegetables for dinner. But, bread, cookies, cakes, pies – I can’t have those on the table by 5 pm every day if I’m honoring the authentic means of production. Eating simply is eating naturally; unadulterated is easiest and usually best. Treats always have a place, but only on occasions when the effort, time, and cost are worthwhile endeavors.

I have to say, being gluten free for so many years, I’m pretty happy where I am. Putting so much effort into something that I don’t even regularly eat is probably not worthwhile for me. Perhaps as my kids get older, it might be a great project for homeschooling because there’s a ton of science and exactitude involved. I’m glad I was inspired to try it and look forward to potentially enjoying it again as a rare treat.

I’d love to read your thoughts! 

Have you ever made homemade bread?
Do you think it was worth the effort?
Are there other foods that you like to make homemade occasionally?

CATEGORY: Wholesome Living


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