By Lynn Blamires Content Writer for My Local Utah
Sourdough is the oldest leavening agent known to man. In the Encyclopedia of Food Microbiology, Michael Gaenzle writes: “One of the oldest sourdough breads dates from 3700 BCE and was excavated in Switzerland, but the origin of sourdough fermentation likely relates to the origin of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent several thousand years earlier, which was confirmed a few years later by archeological evidence. Bread production relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history; the use of baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back less than 150 years.”
Traditional sourdough bread like the cross-hatched artesian loaf uses sourdough as the only leavening agent. These are referred to as Type 1 Sourdough breads. It may take more than 12 hours for the bread to rise sufficiently in the proofing process to be ready for the oven. The bread is chewy and the flavor is more sour.
In Type II Sourdough Bread, yeast is added to leaven the dough. This is the type of bread you will get at a restaurant when you order sourdough toast with your breakfast. The loaf will look like a regular loaf of bread instead of the flatter artesian loaf. The sourdough flavor will be milder and the slice of bread will be softer. It is that sourdough flavor in a milder form that is preferred by some over the more sour and chewy Type I Sourdough Bread.
- 1 cup sponge
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Add the ingredients in the order that they are listed.
- When it has risen near the top of the mixing pan, I put my cast iron bread pan in the oven and set it for 350 degrees. When the oven is preheated, I take the bread pan out of the oven, spray it with a vegetable spray, and transfer the dough to the pan.
- With wet hands, I smooth out the top. I have learned that if I put the bread in the oven at this point, it will split and not in the way I would like it to. To control the split, I take a sharp knife and make a split lengthwise in the top of the dough and insert thin pats of butter into the groove.
- I then put it in the oven and bake it for 40 minutes. When it is done, I take it out and turn the bread out onto a bread board. I will usually take a test slice off the end, but then I will cover it with a dish towel and let it cool.
- This is a loaf of Type II Sourdough Bread. When it is cool, I will slice it and put it in the freezer. I will take it out and toast it or warm it in the microwave. It will keep for at least a week and it will taste as fresh as the day I baked it.