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Sourdough: The How to & Benefits

Who knew I had the patience for this! Ahaha, I have to chuckle to myself cause I really didn't think I had it in me. When lockdown started my dad said to me "Yay, now you have time to make me some homemade sourdough!" I didn't think much about it and thought it was going to be an easy peasy loaf to make, boy was I wrong! I started my starter in the beginning of lockdown but I failed terribly, a month went by and we were still in lockdown and I thought agh why not give it another bash... Below I've included a simplified recipe of how to make your own starter & bread. 

Before we dive in let's have a look at the gut lovin' benefits...

Recent research into the role & diversity of microbes in the human gut is radically changing the way we think about bacteria. From an early age, we are taught that bacteria and other micro-organisms cause disease and we should limit our exposure to them, however quite the contrary! Our gut microbiota is involved in pretty much every aspect of our health, these micro-organisms help protect us from disease, they are essential in making a range of nutrients, help neutralise drugs and other carcinogens... the list goes on #yesplease

One thing that amazes me is the volume of microbes living in our digestive system. An individual human can have hundreds of different species of bacteria present in the gut, along with viruses, yeasts and other microbes. Think of it this way: possibly 10 times more bacteria in our gut than living cells in the whole body... that's crazy! Each of us have a complex ecosystem reliant on a community of microbes for many essential body functions. 

So what should we be eating to support the diversity of microbes in your gut? 

Simply put, your gut microbiota needs a variety of food to survive. (Definitely not depriving it of nutrient-dense food groups- which I've seen too often.) Fibre is especially important. Dietary fibre forms an important food source for many of the bacteria in the gut. The benefits of fibre are twofold. Firstly, it is a food source for many of the bacterial species which can digest it, releasing nutrients which would otherwise be unavailable to our digestive systems. But if there is too little fibre in our diets, the gut bacteria begin to not function too well possibly causing a little damage, which could lead to a compromised gut lining. Leading to trigger a response in the immune system resulting in inflammation. The role of healthy and diverse gut microbiota in protecting against autoimmune diseases seems particularly relevant as we are seeing diagnosis of these disorders more & more. 

One simple way of increasing the dietary value of sourdough is to bake with a variety of grains. Using stoneground whole-wheat flour which provides plenty of fibre, something that is often lacking in a modern, western-style diet. Adding other grains to your loaves, maybe some rye or spelt feeds different microbes and can help to maintain microbial diversity.

The acidification of the dough, brought about by the lactic acid bacteria during the long slow fermentation, also helps improve the bioavailability of nutrients in the bread. This increases the amount of food available to the microbes and makes fibre, minerals, vitamins and phenolic compounds easier to digest. Also, the acid environment during fermentation helps to begin the breakdown of proteins. So, if you have a compromised gut microbiota and are having digestive issues, the proteins which may be causing problems have been pre-digested, and are less likely to provoke an immune response. In this sense, the sourdough is very much prebiotic. 

How To Make Your Starter

What you'll need:

  • Measuring cup 

  • Glass jar or plastic container

  • Tea Towel or cling wrap

  • Spoon

  • White Bread Flour

  • Filtered Water

This process roughly takes 5-6 days. Every day you will "feed" your starter with equal amounts of water and flour & you will watch it become bubbly and sour-smelling. These are all good signs that your starter is becoming your wild yeast! 

Let's get to it!

DAY 1: 

In a plastic bowl or a glass container mix together:

3/4 cup white bread flour

1/2 cup Filter water

Mix it until it is a smooth & sticky paste. Cover it with a tea towel or with cling wrap and leave it until tomorrow, roughly 24hrs. 

DAY 2: 

In the same container or bowl add:

1 cup White bread flour 

1/2 cup filtered water 

to the mixture, mix it all up until it's nice and smooth, very sticky with no lumps. Cover it again with a tea towel or cling wrap & place in a warm spot. 

 DAY 3:

When you mix it you might just see a few bubbles... how exciting! 

Today you are going to feed it again by repeating the same measurements as day 2. 

1 Cup White bread flour and 1/2 cup of Filtered water. Mix it all up, cover it and place in your warm spot until tomorrow. 

DAY 4: 

More bubbles and maybe slightly sour-smelling? How's yours going? 

Today you are going to add slightly less than 1 cup of white bread flour and 1/2 cup of Filtered water to your starter, mix it all up, cover it and wait 24 hrs to feed it again. 

DAY 5:

It should be really bubbly and healthy at this stage... Today will be the final day of feeding. 

Add 1 Cup of water bread flour and 1/2 cup of filtered water, mix it all up until smooth & sticky. Store in a warm spot, covered and check on it tomorrow. 

You can store your Sourdough starter in the fridge until you need it. I found the longer I left it the more active it became.


First things first you'll need to "revive or refresh" your mother/ your starter.

105g Rye Flour

105g Filtered water

25g Mother (original starter)

Take your starter out of the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature before you start.

Mix these 3 ingredients until it makes a smooth, lump-free paste. Let it rise, almost double in a warm spot. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. 

To make one loaf combine 460g of White Bread flour and 50g of Wholewheat flour, mix in 360g of filtered water. Add in your refreshed mother. Squeeze the dough in one hand until all the dough and mother are well combined. We want to work the dough gently and not force the gluten structures. (It will do that magically by itself) 

Oil a separate bowl and place dough inside, sprinkle 10 grams of salt over the top of your dough, place a tea towel over and let it rest for 30-40min. ( I left mine for about an hour #winter) Now you will begin the famous folding! Folding is quite simple. Wet one hand and place it underneath the dough, pulling it up and towards you, you will then repeat this 3/4 times working in a 360-degree rotation/direction. Once you have completed your folds pinch into a ball and flip the dough upside down. You will repeat this process at least 3 times, letting it rest for 40 min each time or in-between your folds.

On the last fold, you will now transfer it into a proofing bowl or any bowl you'd like. Remember the dough will take shape of the dish you choose. I found that a beer bread pot worked the best. Place a tea towel in your bowl & sift some flour over the towel, covering it well. 

Place your dough in its new home. To trap in moisture place It in a bag or place a lid over it, refrigerate it overnight. 

Let's Bake! The first step is to preheat the oven at 260/270 Degrees Celsius. Place a cast-iron pot with its lid on into the oven for at least 40-50min to get nice and hot. When ready remove the lid and place baking paper on the bottom, transfer your refrigerated dough into the pot & now you can score. You can make a spiral, squares whatever you'd like. Place the lid back on and let it bake for 20-25min. By placing the lid on it you create steam and this helps with the baking process. After 20-25 min remove the lid and place back in the oven for a further 35-40min or until golden brown or that "almost burnt"appearance. Let the bread cool completely before cutting it. That's the hardest part! 

And thats it! My simplified version of a complicated sourdough...

I would love to see your creations, so please do tag me on Facebook or Instagram. This gut-loving bread needs all the glory it can get, cause its delish.

Happy baking & sourdough mastering! 

Stay safe and healthy.

Lots of Love, 

Amanda From Africa

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