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Bread and IBS

Have you ever wondered which is the best bread for IBS and why sourdough low fodmap? This month’s theme with The Recipe Redux is “Bake Some Bread,” so we will discuss how to make sourdough bread and answer this question!

I bake all the quick bread in my kitchen, but that’s my husband’s jurisdiction regarding yeast bread! Most of the time, it is artisan sourdough or “Super Hero Sourdough.”

There are just some things that my husband makes better than me, and he enjoys making them. And to tell you the truth, if he wants to make them and I get to enjoy eating them, I kindly let him. Two things include his famous Superhero Chili, which you may already have tried, and his mouth-watering sourdough bread.

Many years ago, he and I attempted to nurture a sourdough starter and failed to keep it alive. However, eleven years ago, our son gave my husband a starter for his birthday. I am happy to share that he has kept it alive ever since! If you don’t have access to a sourdough starter, you can make one, and Maurizio from The Perfect Loaf has some significant steps to create your own!

For ten years, my husband was perfectly content making his sourdough bread with the mixer, kneading it, and adding lots of flour to it, and we liked it just fine. It tasted perfect but didn’t have the big air holes that some sourdough breads had. It was a little dense sometimes. Then, last summer, my husband got to reading The Perfect Loaf blog, and then he started kneading the dough less, which was very wet. He bought unique baskets, dishcloths, and a big iron skillet with a lid.

He also borrowed one of my food scales and weighs instead of measuring all his ingredients. This new way of making bread was very foreign to me, and I wondered why he was changing what he had been making after all of this time. The first few times did not always turn out how he intended, but after the third time, he got the hang of it, and now he makes some incredible artisan sourdough loaves with that perfect chewy crust and those bubbles on the inside.

How Do You Make Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Makes the Best Bread
This is my husband’s sourdough starter. He has taken good care of it over the years!

What Do I Need to Make Sourdough Bread?

I learned from him while writing this post, and from a recent class we attended in Asheville at The Secrets to Sourdough Bread.

  1. If you keep the starter on the counter and use it every day, it needs to be fed every day. However, my husband keeps him in the fridge, so he does not have to feed it daily since he only bakes on Sundays. He gets the starter out on Thursday morning and feeds it morning and night. Then he feeds it again Friday morning and night.
  2. So, my question was, “How Do You Feed It?” He said, “Feed the starter equal parts of flour and water,” which for him is 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
  3. How much sourbread starter for bread? When I asked him, “How much sourdough starter do you use?” He shows me. So, on Saturday, he makes his “levain” with 60 grams of his sourdough starter, 60 grams of flour, and 60 grams of water. Then, he mixes and shapes the very wet dough. Then he puts his cotton dishcloth in his proofing basket. Add the dough and then cover it with the cloth. He then adds one of my mixing bowls on top of it. He puts them in the fridge and lets them rest there overnight.
  4. Another question that I have for him: “Why do you have sourdough that you need to get rid of? And how do you know it is time to get rid of it?” His answer “When you feed your starter and your container gets too full, you need to either throw away some or find another place to recycle it.”
  5.  “Why do you need the skillet with the lid?” My husband said, “Because it makes steam.” Maurizio from The Perfect Loaf explains why steam is necessary to make perfect sourdough bread.

Making bread this way takes more time, but it has been a great project for him, and I wanted to share with you the steps he takes to make the bread in case you are interested in trying to make it yourself. He was very gracious to share one of his recipes with me to give you, and since his mom has named him after a well-known superhero, I had to name it:

Superhero Sourdough Bread

My husband has several recipes he uses with his sourdough starter; here is one of his recent creations.

Makes two sizeable round sourdough loaves

943 grams flour

720 grams water (flour selection is essential; you can read more about flour selection for your sourdough bread here)

18-20 grams salt

160 grams of levain (sourdough starter-See question number 3 above to see how to make it.)

Rice flour for shaping

My husband uses the 10-inch cast iron Dutch oven to bake and provide the bread steam.

About 8 hours before you build your dough, make your levain in a giant plastic bowl. Cover it with plastic and allow it to get to room temperature. ( The Perfect Loaf has some great tips about temperature and sourdough bread making).

When the levain is bubbly and active, add water and stir. Add flour and salt and mix with your hand on a lightly floured counter until it is moist and no lumps remain. Allow it to “bulk proof” for about 3-4 hours and fold every 3-4 hours.

Kneading without the bread getting tough.
This is how a superhero will knead the dough.

After the dough has gone through the bulk proofing (it should be almost double what it was when you first made it), place it onto a lightly floured surface, divide it into half, and shape it into loaves. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest again for about 30 minutes.

Bulk Proofing the Sourdough

Place the loaves into the proof baskets, which have been covered with cotton dishcloth sprinkled with rice flour. Sprinkle the top with rice flour and then wrap the dishcloth over the towel. You can also add a piece of plastic wrap, but as I mentioned, this is where my husband adds those big mixing bowls and allows the bread to be refrigerated for 8-12 hours overnight.

Wet Sourdough Recipe
This is how the loaves look in those proofing baskets with the cotton dishcloths.

How to Long Bake Sourdough Bread

How to Bake with Sourdough Starter?

To bake the following day. Get the first loaf out and allow it to be at room temperature. While it is doing that, preheat the oven to 500 degrees, place the Dutch oven in there, and heat for 20 minutes with the lid on. Cut parchment paper more significant than the loaf but small enough to fit just enough to go over the sides of the Dutch oven and would be enough to grab onto to pull the loaf out of there. Sprinkle with rice flour before adding the loaf.

Sourdough on Parchment Paper
This sourdough loaf is ready to be scored before it goes in that hot oven!

What to Bake Sourdough Bread In?

One of the big decisions is what to bake sourdough in, and there are various ways: bread pans, on the stone, or a Dutch oven. This time, we are using the Dutch oven.

Carefully score (cutting a long slash across the top of the loaf) with a sharp knife. When the Dutch oven has been in there for 20 minutes, with plenty of hot pads, carefully remove the lid and place the bread in the bottom. Add the top back on the top and bake for 20 minutes at 500 degrees, which would be with steam. Carefully remove the top of the lid and allow the bread to bake for another 25-35 minutes at 450 degrees. (at this time, he takes the other loaf out of the fridge and starts the whole parchment with the rice flour and scoring steps all over again. See above).

Sourdough bread Baking
Notice how that parchment is hanging. That is how you grab the loaf without getting burnt, along with a lot of hot pads.

My husband carefully removes the bread from the parchment paper, which has plenty of potholders, and allows it to cool on a baker’s rack.

He puts the lid back on and heats the Dutch oven again for 20 minutes at 500 degrees. Then, it will be time to bake that second loaf.

How Do You Make a Sourdough Starter

About 15 years ago, our son bought a dry packet of starters, and my husband has kept it going ever since. You can also get a starter from someone. Once, my husband and I went to a sourdough-making class and received a starter. You can also make your own. Below are the steps to use to make one:

How to Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch | Easy Baking Tips and Recipes: Cookies, Breads & Pastries : Food Network | Food Network

We had the opportunity to have Dr. Erin McKenney, a microbiologist from North Carolina State University, speak on the uniqueness of each sourdough starter. You can read a little more about it here:

Intercontinental Study Sheds Light on the Microbial Life of Sourdough | NC State News (ncsu.edu)

Is Sourdough Low Fodmap?

Some people ask if white sourdough bread is low in fodmap (and whole wheat). If it is slow-rise sourdough, it is, and I will share why.

If someone does not need to avoid gluten and has IBS, a slow-rise sourdough is also low in fodmap. This is surprising to many people.

Why is sourdough bread low fodmap?

The microbes in the sourdough starter break down the fructans, one of the most common fodmap that is bothersome to most people. That is how it becomes a friendly IBS sourdough bread. Here is an article from Monash University’s Sourdough Processing & Fodmaps that explains a little more about how it happens. As a Monash Trained Fodmap Dietitian, this is something that interests me. I also enjoy being able to talk with clients about adding this to their elimination diet if they are not gluten-free.

Resources On How Do You Make Sourdough Bread

My husband also learned much about his new technique from Classic Sourdough by Ed and Jean Wood.

I also like Emma Christensen’s guidelines from the Kitchn. My friend Maia, a baker, recently shared a lovely book called Sourdough by Sarah Owens. It has some great ideas on using that little leftover sourdough that could not be put back into the container.

Make Some IBS Sourdough Bread

If you are affected by fructans and IBS symptoms, sourdough low fodmap is one of the best breads for IBS.

I hope some of this post helps uncover the mystery of “how do you make sourdough bread?” and that you may be enticed to try it or if your significant other can make it for you! I am a registered dietitian nutritionist living in Asheville, NC, and I love to share recipes to make life more decadent (even when I share someone else’s recipe with permission).

This recipe takes a little time, but if you want authentic sourdough bread, this is how to make it! I enjoy eating our Superhero Sourdough!

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