Here at Naturally Empowered, we're all about giving you information so you can be more self reliant, well & aware. Like many, we went down the bread-baking rabbit hole during the early months of quarantine and it has become a weekly ritual for us.
Previous to March 2020 we normally had one of these 3 breads in our fridge: Ezekiel Bread (yum, sprouted), Avalon or Zingerman's bread (yum organic). Now we're in the groove of making our own bread and it's not as time consuming or difficult as we thought.
Store bought bread (especially big box stores) can have hidden sugar (or corn syrup) and lots of ingredients that are hard to pronounce that lengthen the shelf life, enhance the flavor, make said loaf pillowy soft or a certain color. The flour in store bought bread can be stripped of its nutrients, bleached and enriched. Why can't it just be simple?!
There are a lot of great companies out there doing it right, like 3 we mentioned above. But if you've ever been curious about making your own, here's a good place to start. Besides sourdough bread having a very short ingredient list (3), it can be easier to digest than bread that is not naturally leavened or store bought and can even be tolerated by some folks that are sensitive to gluten. Please note: sourdough bread is not gluten-free.
(turmeric, furkake (nori, sea salt, sesame seeds) & black salt)
The thought of bread-baking from scratch seemed really overwhelming to me as I'm not a big baker, but my husband Mike and I tried our hand at a few new things, including building a gigantic garden with our best friend during "lockdown". Mike (director, videographer and Empowered Life Planner photo taker) made the most delicious pasta (let me know if you want a guest post from him) & the best jam (mulberry) I've ever had. Between the 2 of us, we tried out a lot of different bread recipes, but it wasn't until my friend Marta (lovely pal, postpartum doula & massage therapist) gave me some sourdough starter to experiment with.
The internet has thousands of sourdough starter how to's and sourdough recipes. Some are very time consuming, while others are for people like me who are more prone to set it and forget it. So I've found the recipes that take less time, less calculation & less steps...sounds kind of like the planner, huh :)
(the best sourdough banana bread)
Here is my favorite starter recipe (rye flour and water). The starter takes a few days to get going and after that requires about as much attention as having a goldfish.
Once you get your starter going, you can use the discard to make yummy things like sourdough pancakes and banana bread. Search sourdough discard recipes. You can store it in the fridge when you're not baking with it so you only have to feed it once a week. If you store it in the fridge, bring it to room temp (about an hour) before feeding it or using it for a recipe.
Here's my favorite easy sourdough bread recipe (just starter, flour, water, salt). Compared to many recipes that are more complicated with over 25 steps, this recipe works its magic overnight. If you don't have a kitchen scale, measurements by cup can be found under the the main recipe. The first half hour is the most important, so stay close!
Once you get the hang of it, you can get crafty and add ingredients like turmeric, matcha, garlic, chives & sesame seeds just to name a few. I've made this recipe about 15 times now and get more confident each time. There is nothing better than this bread with a little butter right out of the oven.
(sourdough pancakes with coconut cream "whip cream")
Here is a super easy & beautiful sourdough banana bread recipe. I've made it over a handful of times now. It has less steps than most banana bread recipes & is out of this world delicious. It can be made with fresh starter or discard which is nice. https://topwithcinnamon.com/sourdough-banana-bread-vegan/
Once you get the hang of it, add shredded carrot or raisins. I recently added some of Mike's mulberry jam and chopped apple to the recipe & that worked out really well :)
I know I'm just skimming the top, but it's a good place to start. I'm really interested to know where it leads you and what you find so please share!! Tag us in your photos and feel free to ask questions. We might be able to answer them :)
(another basic loaf)