What exactly is sourdough bread?
Sourdough is a naturally leavened bread that uses a starter (a mixture of flour and water that contains wild yeast and good bacteria) to rise.
Sourdough is known for its characteristic tangy flavor (which comes from the slow fermentation process), chewy texture and crisp, crackly crust. Sourdough bread takes much longer to ferment and rise than other types of bread, which is what creates its particular texture.
What does it mean when a bread is “high hydration”, like Dear Grain?
Hydration simply refers to the ratio of water to flour in your dough. The hydration of your sourdough affects everything, from the length of time it needs to ferment, to the ease of shaping, to the crumb inside the loaf.
The two most important benefits of a high hydration bread are longer shelf life and higher digestibility. A basic sourdough usually falls within 60-70% hydration. At Dear Grain, we’ve spent many flour-coated hours perfecting our process and recipe to achieve a loaf that is 83%+ hydration. This results in a bread that is super digestible (even for many with various gluten sensitivities, according to our customers) and has a shelf life that is 3-5 days longer than most bread.
What benefits do slow-fermented breads have?
The natural bacteria breaks down the starches and gluten during the slow fermentation process, releasing sugars, acids and CO2 into the dough - which, as a result, enriches the dough with flavour. The longer and slower the fermentation, the more digestible and complex in flavour the dough becomes.
Sourdough bread’s lower gluten content may make it easier to tolerate for individuals sensitive to gluten. The longer fermentation time also helps improve the flavor and texture, making it an all-around more nourishing and nutritious loaf.
Why does our bread have a dark crust?
Our goal is always to achieve that darker, golden mahogany coloured crust. A darker crust in sourdough is an indication of proper long fermentation. When the bacteria breaks down the starches, they release sugars. These sugars caramelize in the hot oven and create a darker, more flavourful crust.
A darker crust also helps preserve the humidity in bread and helps keep it fresh for longer.
How should the bread be stored?
If the bread will be consumed in a few days, we recommend you cover it with a cloth and keep it in a dry place. If you would like to store it for a few weeks, wrap it in a plastic film (whole or cut in slices) and keep it in the freezer. Never store your loaf in the refrigerator - the starch molecules in bread recrystallize very quickly at cool temperatures, and causes the bread to stale much faster when refrigerated.