My Favorite Way to Make Bread
About fourteen years ago, I went to a class on “How to Make Sourdough Bread.” My daughter had gluten intolerance and we found that she could eat sourdough bread without the side effects created by regular bread. The man teaching the class explained that the process of making sourdough was an ancient art and one that had many benefits that we are unaware of today. Why do so many of us struggle with gluten today? There are all kinds of books and websites dedicated to gluten-free living, and rightfully so, because the bread we consume today is very different from the bread we ate for hundreds of years. But why is gluten intolerance an epidemic in this day and age? What has changed?
Is our bread different today?
Before the 1950s, most bread bakeries ran two shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow process using a culture that contained the lactobacillus bacteria. This slow process was necessary for bread to be properly digested. In the process of making sourdough bread, the bran in the flour is broken down during the long rising time, releasing nutrients into the dough. Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted (to learn more about sprouted breads click here) is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. The phytic acid in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals to be absorbed by the human body. When you naturally ferment or sprout bread, you eliminate all phytic acid. About 90% of the phytic acid remains in breads made with instant yeasts, unless it is sprouted bread.
In their efforts to increase profits and speed up the bread making process, bakers began using new techniques that took only three hours to make a loaf of bread – and now some can even take only one hour. They used the new instant yeasts which made the old way of making bread (using cultures and fermentation that not only help to preserve food but also increase the nutrients available for our bodies) unnecessary.
Sourdough breaks down the bread to be more digestible
Not only that, all our wheat has been hybridized and many individuals cannot digest wheat due to the protein structure of the grain. But here is good news! During the making of sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are broken down into more digestible simple sugars, and protein is broken down into amino acids. Enzymes develop during rising. These enzymes are not lost while baking since the center of the loaf remains at a lower temperature than the crust. This fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, also allows for a bread that is lower on the glycemic index, thus making it better for those with blood sugar issues. The fermentation also helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract, resulting in proper assimilation and elimination.
It was my daughter Maci’s inability to digest wheat that started me on a journey learning about foods that were transformed when they were sprouted or made with sourdough culture. New research shows that many food allergies are caused by a lack of certain strains of bacteria in the gut. Often these strains have been killed off by antibiotic use and when you replace the bacteria that is missing with cultured foods the allergies go away. People who came to my classes and website were experiencing the same results when eating bread that was made with sourdough cultures. Now, not everybody who is gluten intolerant can handle it right away. They need to heal their guts first with cultured foods on a regular basis. After this occurs, I have seen so many people thrive when eating breads – as long as these breads were fermented with a sourdough culture or sprouted.
Overnight sourdough bread with a slower ferment
This method involves an even longer, slower ferment that produces fantastic results. To achieve really good results you’ll need a pot with a lid for baking and a scale. The pot helps steam the bread and the scale helps you achieve accuracy in measuring. The measurement of a cup of flour can vary from person to person, and this can give everyone different results. Using these two things has really changed my bread into a thing of beauty; and boy, wait till you see the results, you’ll be hooked!