In recent years, sourdough bread has risen to become the darling of the baking world, captivating the hearts and kitchens of many. Its crusty exterior, chewy crumb, and distinctive tangy flavor have made it a beloved staple for bread enthusiasts and beginners alike. This blog post delves into the origins of sourdough, the 2020 baking craze, and why it embodies the essence of hygge, even though the craze may not have recognized it as such
The Age-Old Tradition of Sourdough
Sourdough bread is a time-honored tradition dating back thousands of years. It owes its unique flavor and leavening properties to naturally occurring wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, present in the environment. This dynamic duo forms a symbiotic relationship, giving rise to the characteristic tang and chewy texture that sets sourdough apart from other bread varieties.
The Sourdough Baking Craze of 2020
In 2020, the world found itself in the midst of unprecedented circumstances. As people sought solace in the comforts of home, a remarkable trend emerged – the sourdough baking craze. With extra time on their hands and a desire for a productive, fulfilling activity, many turned to the art of bread-making. Social media platforms were inundated with images of freshly baked loaves, starter jars, and eager bakers embarking on their sourdough journeys.
Unearthing Hygge in Sourdough Baking
The Danish concept of hygge, pronounced "hoo-guh," encompasses a feeling of coziness, contentment, and an appreciation for life's simple pleasures. While the sourdough craze of 2020 may not have explicitly labeled itself as hygge, it embodied the very essence of this comforting philosophy.
Connection to Nature: Sourdough bread epitomizes a connection to nature's rhythms. The process of cultivating a sourdough starter requires patience, as wild yeast and bacteria slowly transform flour and water into a living, breathing entity. This nurturing and waiting in anticipation for the starter to bubble and grow mirrors the rhythms of the natural world.
Slow Living: Sourdough baking encourages a slower, more deliberate pace of life. Unlike commercial yeast, which accelerates the rising process, sourdough relies on a natural fermentation process that takes time. This unhurried approach invites bakers to savor the journey, fostering a sense of mindfulness and presence.
Sensory Pleasures: Kneading dough, inhaling the yeasty aroma, and listening to the crackling crust as it cools – sourdough baking engages the senses in a deeply gratifying way. These sensory experiences contribute to a sense of well-being and pleasure, further aligning with the principles of hygge.
In retrospect, the 2020 sourdough craze inadvertently tapped into the timeless Danish concept of hygge, providing solace and comfort during uncertain times. Beyond its delicious end result, sourdough bread-making offers a therapeutic and grounding experience that embraces the warmth and simplicity of life's pleasures. So, whether you're a seasoned baker or a curious beginner, consider delving into the world of sourdough and experience the hygge magic for yourself.
Are you ready to embark on your first sourdough bread baking journey?
How to Make Sourdough Bread Like a Boss
Any sourdough bread starts with a starter. Instead of using store bought yeast like a normal loaf of bread, sourdough bread relies on a living culture of yeasts that you grow at home. We love the extra tang of our Culture of Health San Francisco Sourdough Starter. A sourdough starter is just your own colony of wild yeast and each colony can have it own flavor. Giving this starter some time to digest and leaven your dough will produce the sour flavor that's the calling card of sourdough bread.
Recipe from Cultures For Health
2 1/3 cups fresh sourdough starter
3 1/3 cup flour
1-1 1/2 cup water
Scant Tbsp. salt
Sourdough bread is packed with prebiotics that are good for your gut health, and its slow fermentation process gives the bread a lower glycemic index.
Mix sourdough starter, flour, and salt together. Use enough water to make bread dough. A moist dough is preferable to a dry dough. Because of difference in hydration and humidity, it's difficult to give and exact amount of water to use, but as you make a few loaves, you'll get a feel for when the sourdough feels ready to work with.
Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test”: a small piece of dough will stretch between four fingers without breaking thin enough to allow light to pass through. This can be done via a whole bunch of methods, both by hand and with a stand mixer. One common method for kneading sourdough bread is to grab the dough, pull it and fold it over, rotate the sourdough 90 degrees and do it again. Repeating this folding will help build the gluten strands that will produce the light and airy structure as the dough rises.
Shape the dough into a loaf. Place in a pan or proofing basket, or on a board. Rub a little oil on the top surface of the dough and cover lightly with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 4-24 hours. If desired, a short (4-12 hours) proofing period can be used and the dough can be punched down, reshaped, and allowed to rise a second time, but a second proofing period is not required.
Slice an X shape in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife or razor blade. As the bread bakes, the air inside will expand, giving the sourdough some additional loft. However, that expansion can split the bread. By using a razor to provide a place for that expansion, we can minimize the risk of the bread doing something unexpected as it cooks.
Bake at 400°F until the internal temperature reaches 210°F. (Use a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom or side of the loaf.) Bake 30-60 minutes (depending on loaf size).
Cool before slicing. Yes, let it cool before slicing. I know, everyone wants fresh, warm sourdough, but the bread will be better if you let it cool first!
Tweak Your Recipe :
Now that you've made a loaf, one thing you'll notice is that this recipe is more of an outline than an exact recipe. If you use more water and make a wetter dough, you'll get a little different texture. If you let it proof longer, that sour flavor will intensify. Cooking in a dutch oven will result is a thicker crust. And there are a dozen other tweaks you can make to make the sourdough recipe your own.
Once you've created a bread that you love, you'll be able to recreate it and share it with friends and family. There's nothing quite like sharing a homemade sourdough bread with friends who recognize and love the unique flavor that only your sourdough bread brings to the table!
Now that we've explored the wonders of sourdough bread and checked out a recipe, are you feeling inspired to try your hand at baking your very own loaf? If so, you're in luck! I've curated a list of essential tools and ingredients to help kickstart your sourdough adventure.
Check out these must-haves to get started:
KneadAce Pro Glass Sourdough Bread Starter Kit
A glass jar with a funnel-shaped opening enables effortless handling. Comes with a silicon cover for fridge storage that doubles as unti-slip base for your kitchen counter during fermentation while using the cloth cover. It also comes complete with volume, net weight & feed line marks, thermometer, cloth cover and perfectly shaped silicone spatula. You use an elastic band marked with the days of the week gives you an accurate indication of when you last fed your sour dough starter and the feeding level.
Cultures for Health San Francisco Style Starter Culture
Cultures for Health's San Francisco style starter has proven itself very versatile and hardy, happily thriving in a variety of environments to continually produce chewy, crusty, tangy sourdough loaves. If you're going for authentic, go for the San Francisco Style culture.
This highly rated kit includes six tools and a 9 inch proofing basket.
These carefully selected items will not only make your sourdough baking experience more enjoyable but will also set you on the path to creating delicious, artisanal loaves.
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