Sourdough

or Natural Leavening

Every bread I bake is made with the traditional leavening skill that accompanied humanity throughout our history. This technique can have many names but it is commonly known as sourdough fermentation. It consists of nurturing naturally occurring micro-organisms and using them to leaven the loaves (something similar to yogurt, with water and flour instead of milk).

This tradition is very different from employing “fast-acting, instant yeast” which is an industrially-processed, single strain, lab-grown agent. And although packaged yeast is reliable, expedient, forgiving and easy to work with, it cannot fully ferment the dough; it just creates CO2 making the dough rise. 

On the other hand, sourdough is a long, slow and quite temperamental process. The organisms present in its “starter” change depending on the grains and flours used, from one region to another etc and even from baker to baker as we develop a symbiotic relationship with the beings we work with. And now comes the pluses: sourdough fermentation develops flavors, creates healthy organic acids, vitamins, breaks down gluten and starches… the list goes on but the overall result is a much more tasty AND healthy piece of bread. Natural fermentation eases digestion and creates healthy nutrients. Instead of feeling bloated, gassy and full, when you munch on my sourdough bread you feel light, joyful and nourished!

My starter, who by now is old enough to be in middle school, has been passed on to me from a baker I admire and that has guided me through my learning process with her books. He has been (quite literally) through the thick and thin with me. I feed him every day with filtered water and freshly ground organic and local rye berries so he is happy, active and helps me to make the most wondrous loaves you will taste!

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Fresh Milling

I source wheat, rye, oat and other berries from Janie’s Mill, an organic family farm just 2 hours from my kitchen here in Illinois. Every month I receive heirloom grains and then I stone-mill them in small batches to guarantee maximum freshness and flavor. The truly whole flour I make is very different than the supermarket already years old stale powder, which has lost its nourishing power (creating the sorts of trouble people have been blaming “gluten” for). The industry’s metal-rolling process destroys the grain, removing its flavor and most important nutrients, so as to mask pesticides, mold and pests found in huge silos where they sit for ages. None of this happens at Nourish. The rye who feeds my sourdough culture and the ancient wheat that composes the bread is fresh, vibrant, flavorful and incredibly nutritious, giving each bread a distinct heartiness and deep nourishment.

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Wholeness

A wheat berry is made up of endosperm, germ, and bran. On every baking good I make, I use the entire grain, providing the vitamins, fiber, minerals, antioxidants and essential oils that give each type of wheat its flavor and nutrition. And since I only grind the kernels as I use them, all the good stuff is fresh. I can’t say the same for commercial flours and its products, that sit around on shelves for months and have the few good nutrients oxidize and decay. Not on your bread! Here all that is good is ready to nourish your body and soul.

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Organic, Local, and Heirloom Grains

My breads are somewhat basic: water, flour, and salt (plus the mix-ins for different flavors). Don’t be fooled though; wheat flour should be very flavorful. I use organic, Illinois grown, ancient or heirloom wheat varieties such as Turkey Red, Spelt and Einkorn. They come with health benefits (antioxidants) expressed in their sweet, delicate and bold flavors, nothing like the bland unknown hybridized commodity flour supermarkets sell. I rely only on natural qualities of amazing ingredients to deliver good flavors to you, my customer. Enjoy naturally delicious bread!

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