Sourdough is truly the queen of all bread... in our humble opinion. The mother of the bread is the starter, or levain in French, masa madre in Spanish, Zakwas in Polish.
She’s strong. She’s nurturing. She’s patient. She’s dynamic. She’s giving. She's the mother of sourdough, our starter, Jude.
The wild fermented starter is something that sets sourdough bread apart from all other types of bread.
A common misconception about sourdough is that it is a flavor of bread. In fact, sourdough refers to the technique and style used in bread making. It is a word to describe the process of fermenting flour, water, and salt. And the same word is used when talking about the bread.
It's not incorrect to think this... after all sourdough does have a distinct flavor compared to other bread. Every loaf of bread that comes out of Voyageurs, begins with Jude.
So why is sourdough bread making so unique, and often quite challenging?
- It is the oldest way of making bread and there is nothing better than pulling a handmade loaf out the oven with a big peel. Every time I shovel the peel into the oven to retrieve bread, I feel like I'm paying homage to this traditional bread making technique.
- Making bread using a sourdough starter gives you better bread. The texture and flavor are far superior to that of a yeasted loaf. The time that is given in sourdough bread making allows for the grains to transform through fermentation. Beginning with the starter, wild yeasts that exist in the air and on the grain settle into the mixture of flour and water. The fermentation that occurs after a few days is what gives the starter its sour smell.
- The process of baking sourdough nurtures both mind and body and requires a thoughtful and spiritual approach. It's both scientific and artistic and is truly a combination of passion, patience, and craftsmanship. I always joke that "the bread doesn't wait for anyone," when the dough is ready to be shaped. Becoming a bread maker has helped me to respect timing and routine.
- Sourdough is fundamentally better for your body. The bacteria in the sourdough help break down the grains and gluten, which makes it more digestible and nutritious. It is this microbial fermentation that is transformative and sadly missing from commercially made bread.
- It's wild and unpredictable. Unlike making bread with a powdered yeast, using a wild starter means it can be very unpredictable. At Voyageurs we record everything from the time each mix is done, to the temperature of the water, flour, and air.
So yes, I truly believe sourdough is the ultimate bread making technique. It takes a deep love, passion and a lot of patience to make good sourdough bread.