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How to Identify Good Sourdough Bread

When it comes to breads, #SourdoughBread is the real star right now. Everybody wants a piece of it! If you’re not baking sourdough bread, you’re buying it, hash-tagging it or talking about it. Sourdough bread has ‘risen’ to prominence because of its nutritional value. Theobroma’s very own wheat sourdough loaf is a treat to eat. Crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, our sourdough loaf is the gold standard of high-quality sourdough bread. If you’re a sourdough fan, or keen on becoming one, you must know how to identify good-quality sourdough bread. And that’s because there are a lot of low-quality breads in the market. Inferior breads lack the nutritional value high-quality breads offer. Read on to find out the obvious and not-so-obvious markers of good-quality sourdough bread.

Commercial sourdough bread

Unfortunately, most commercially available sourdough loaves are not of the best quality. Since there are no regulations on ingredients, commercial bakeries often take the liberty of adding unhealthy ingredients like oil and yeast in a bid to bake more bread by minimising the time taken for proofing (allowing the dough to rest and rise before baking).
All good things take time and the process used to make high-quality sourdough bread is a time-consuming one. There are a few key components that are needed to bake the perfect sourdough bread. These are fresh flour, water, salt, and a natural starter (leaven or levain).
Real sourdough bread is made without the use of commercial yeast or any other commercially available leavening agent. Leavening agents make bread rise when it is baked. The leavening agent or preferment used in real sourdough bread is a natural starter. This natural starter is nothing but a pre-fermented mixture of flour, water, and salt.
The natural starter is fed into a fresh mixture of flour, water, and salt and is then kneaded to perfection. At Theobroma, this is the process we follow to make our wheat sourdough loaf. If you wish to know how to identify a good sourdough bread, look at the packaging label to see whether the manufacturer has used a natural starter or not.

Importance of the ‘au naturel’ starter

The natural starter used to make sourdough bread is allowed to ferment in the bread dough so that wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria present in the atmosphere can multiply within it. Think of this yeast and bacteria as Fairy Godmothers, who weave their magic on the bread and convert gluten into acids and sugars that give the bread it’s signature tangy taste.
The acids in the sourdough mixture also keep the bread free of harmful microbes, making the bread safer and healthier for consumption. Yeast, on the other hand, is responsible for giving sourdough bread its fluffy and bubbly texture.

3 pointers to identify authentic sourdough bread

According to renowned microbiologist Marco Gobbetti, there are 3 main factors that can be used in the identification of good sourdough bread. For one, you should buy bread that is replete with wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria, a.k.a. The Fairy Godmothers. Secondly, there should be approximately 100 lactic acid bacteria cells for every yeast cell present in the sourdough mixture. (If this ratio is off, it tells you that the manufacturer has used commercial yeast). Thirdly, there should be four-parts acetic acid and one-part lactic acid in the bread.

Layman’s guide to spotting fake sourdough bread

If you find Gobbetti’s 3 pointers too cumbersome to follow, here are six factors that will help you easily differentiate between real sourdough bread and the so-called ‘sourfaux’ (fake sourdough) bread.

Simple ingredients

Simplicity is a virtue, and a marker of good sourdough bread. The bread should only have Flour, Water, Salt, and Starter (also referred to as Culture on some labels). While the first three are the basic ingredients, the Starter or Culture should be the natural starter used to leaven (raise) the dough. Apart from a natural starter, at Theobroma, we use whole wheat flour to boost the nutritional value and fiber content of our sourdough loaves.

No commercial yeast

Real sourdough bread will never contain commercial yeast since it suppresses the natural fermentation process of flour. This eliminates the important health benefits of sourdough bread like easy digestion.

No sweetener

Since commercial yeast is not used in real sourdough bread, it does not require sweeteners that are generally used to activate commercial yeast. If the ingredients list of the bread contains sweeteners, it may not be real sourdough bread.

Short expiry period

One of the easiest pointers on how to identify a real sourdough bread is the short expiry period. If the bread you purchase has a shelf life of a few weeks or even months, it is not real sourdough bread.

Crisp crust

Real sourdough bread is also characterised by a crisp crust that gives off a slightly smoky and roasted aroma. Moreover, the crust of real sourdough bread is usually thin and airy and makes a distinctive crackling sound when the bread is broken in half. The inside of the bread should be bubbly and chewy and the bread should have a slightly tangy taste.

Other distinguishable factors

Real sourdough bread does not contain additives like oil, milk, corn, and dough conditioners. It is made with whole grains and is generally more expensive than regular bread.

Based on these pointers, identification of good sourdough bread should now become easier. Real sourdough bread is a prebiotic, and therefore aids digestion as well as your immunity. At Theobroma, we only offer authentic, artisanal sourdough bread. Shop for our wheat sourdough loaf online to eat healthy and also keep your social media game on point!