What is Sourdough?
There is a common misconception that ‘sourdough’ refers specifically to a particular ‘flavor’ or bread, often a type of white bread that has a distinct sour taste profile.
But sourdough actually refers to any bread that has been made with a natural culture of wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (known as a sourdough starter) that is used to slowly ferment bread dough.
Most type of bread can be sourdough, whether it be crusty loaves, fluffy brioches or laminated pastries like croissants - breads that many wouldn’t associate with being sour at all. Some people are therefore of the opinion that the name ‘sourdough’ is actually a little inaccurate or misleading, and that sourdough should perhaps be re-named ‘naturally fermented bread’ to distinguish it from bread made using baker's yeast (aka commercial yeast/fast-acting yeast/dry yeast).
A Very Brief History of Bread
It is thought that bread was discovered by accident about 6000 years ago in Egypt, when natural yeast found in the environment developed in a bowl of wheat porridge, fermented and rose when baked.
In time, people would have discovered that this ‘new food’ was more nourishing than the porridge it had been made from. Since this discovery people all over the world have been using ‘natural yeast’ (aka a sourdough culture) to make bread.
In the 1880s commercial yeast was introduced and quickly established itself as a standard ingredient in bread making.
Selected over countless generations and optimized for the role of putting gas into dough, the purified monoculture (single strain) of yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, allowed bakers to produce bread in a fraction of the time sourdough cultures took, and also gave them a decisive gain in control due to its mechanical and predictable behavior, something that made it incredibly well suited for industrial bread production.
Although bread made using commercial yeast physically resembles bread made using a natural sourdough culture, the biochemical processes that lead to the final product are vastly different resulting in a significant difference in the chemical composition of the finished loaf. It is now increasingly believed that the slow fermentation that occurs in sourdough not only produces bread that is more nutritious, but that is also easier to digest, and that cutting out this crucial process through the use of commercial yeast may at least be partially responsible for the higher incidence of bread intolerance we are seeing in recent years.
Within the last century the speeding up of the bread making process for mass consumption has radically altered what we know as bread.
Whilst traditional sourdough bread contains three simple ingredients, flour, water, and salt, modern industrially produced bread often contains over 25 ingredients and additives. In order to produce a loaf in a minimum amount of time, a whole arsenal of additives becomes necessary. Among them, extra yeast, extra gluten, fat to improve softness, reducing agents to increase dough elasticity, soy flour to add volume, emulsifiers to produce bigger softer loaves and slow staling, and preservatives to extend shelf life
Storage of Bread
One of the beautiful things about sourdough bread is it will last longer before staling and molding than a commercially yeasted bread.
Some great storage options:
- Material bread bags.
- Linen bread bags are by far the best way to keep bread fresh.
- Reusable wrap like Bee's Wrap the wrap works extremely well at keeping loaves soft but not too soft.
- Paper bags, kitchen towels.
Plain paper bags and kitchen towels also work very well to keep bread from excessively drying, this is a better option than plastic or leaving on a bench.
- For long term storage, a freezer is a handy option.
By subjecting bread to very low temperatures the retrogradation process can be mostly halted, preventing the migration of moisture out of starches and their subsequent re-crystallisation.
- Don't place bread in the refrigerator!
Finally, and this is a very important one, don't store bread in the refrigerator. It might seem counterintuitive since the refrigerator is seen as a food-preserver, but placing your Before Sliced Bread loaf of bread in the refrigerator will actually cause it to stale faster than if it's kept at room temperature.
How and when can I order?
Orders for Friday delivery open weekly at 3pm on the Wednesday prior.
Orders for Tuesday delivery open weekly at 3pm on the Sunday prior.
Please try to order early as orders are currently filling up very quickly.
What about deliveries?
We deliver to homes and workplaces within a 10km radius from central Ballarat twice per week, in our electric van.
Our bread varieties change season-to-season.
There will be some variability because we use natural ingredients and bake in a woodfire oven.
Sending the gift of bread is the closest thing to delivering hugs in person!
The perfect gift to say "I'm thinking of you", and is especially lovely to send to a family with a new baby.
Just remember to update the shipping details when you check out.
Let's work together
Proud to bake in Ballarat. If you are based in Ballarat and would like to work with Before Sliced Bread then please reach out - we love to work collaboratively and creatively with other small businesses!