Baking: Yeast or Sourdough?

Nowadays, bread is mostly baked using baker’s yeast. The main reason for this is that it’s easier, less time-consuming and the bread is sure to rise nicely. Less time means less cost, leading to higher profits but not necessarily to healthy bread.
In my point of view, that’s the only reason why someone would actually use baker’s yeast to bake bread.

In the past, this was different. Sourdough is one of the oldest known form of fermentation, going back thousands of years.
It’s based on the lactic acid bacteria that naturally exist in flour. These bacteria ferment the sugars in the dough, producing gases which in turn cause little bubbles to form in the dough. This makes the sourdough bread rise naturally.
When baking, these bubbles expand, causing the bread to rise even more.
Sourdough is considered to be tastier and healthier than conventional bread.
Because it’s fermented, i.e. pre-digested by the bacteria, it’s much easier to digest by the human body.
Sourdough fermentation will also degrade Gluten to a certain extent, far more than baker’s yeast, making it not Gluten-free but at least very low on Gluten.

There is also a difference between refined and whole grain flour. This has an influence on the nutrition composition.
Simply said, bread made of whole grain flour is considered to be more nutritious than that made of refined flour indepent whether it’s based on sourdough or baker’s yeast.
Therefore, I’d always go for whole grain bread whenever possible.
Even though it’s made from the same flour as regular bread, sourdough-bread is considered to be more nutritious.
At this point we need to dive into the chemistry of baking, but it’s worth it to understand why things are done in a certain way.
Whole grain bread contains a lot of minerals. Unfortunately though, the body can only absorb a certain quantity of these minerals. How much it can absorb depends on the level of phytic acid in the bread, as this binds to minerals which in turn makes these minerals inabsorbable for the body.
Using baker’s flour, the advantages of whole grain flour over refined flour are mostly lost becaouse of the higher level of phytic acid in regular bread.
In sourdough-bread, the lactic acid bacteria significantly lower the quantity of phytic acid.
Compared to this, bread that was baked using baker’s yeast may have twice as much phytic acid, binding far more minerals.
Also, the lactic acid bacteria in sourdough can release antioxidants during fermentation.
All this plus the sourdough-bread’s probiotic-like properties make it easier to digest than conventional bread.
In addition, it contains a good percentage of non-digestible fibers that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
As a result, regular consumption of sourdough-bread supports and improves the health of your gut, having a positive impact on your digestion.

That’s why personally, I only bake sourdough-bread, if possible.

One final important point that needs to be mentioned here is that a large percentage of the so-called sourdough-bread available in commercial bakeries actually isn’t real sourdough-bread at all. In many cases, the fermentation-process is only very short. Just long enough to achieve a slightly sour smell and taste but too short to actually lower the quantity of phytic acid. To make the bread raise, usually baker’s yeast, so-called “flavour-enhancers” and other chemicals are added.

Conclusion: Bake your own sourdough-bread. You need time, approx. seven day, but the result is absolutely worth it.

One Reply to “Baking: Yeast or Sourdough?”

  1. Very nice article. I haven’t yet challenged myself to prepare one. Probably lacking patience, the most important ingredient for a perfect sourdough.
    Keep writing. Keep inspiring.

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