The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking soda in sourdough

  • Pin It
PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Baking soda in sourdough

Can someone tell me what the purpose of baking soda is in sourdough bread?  I'm making oatmeal sourdough bread from the Bernard Clayton book of Complete Breads, actually have made it once before and found it a bit dry, and there's a tsp. of baking soda in it.  I was wondering if that would have contributed to the dryness.

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

I repeat Baking Soda in Sourdough?  Sorry but this sounds like some sort of strange sacrelege.  It may be an attempt to offset the sour or acid taste.  Try leaving it out and retarding the dough overnight.  I've been toying with the idea of doing some oatmeal sourdough but haven't gotten around to it as usual..., Maybe it's time to have a go at it!


Wild-Yeast

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

I think there's something called "Alaskan sourdough" where baking soda is used as leavening, and sourdough more for the flavor. There's also a light rye bread called "Sheepherder's bread" where baking soda is used... something like a Nury's light rye only with baking soda.


I know. But please don't shoot the messenger.

LeadDog's picture
LeadDog

I tried making a Sheepherder's bread like this with the baking soda and it was the worst bread that I have ever made.  The baking soda seemed to take all the flavor away from the bread.  The bread had a texture of a loaf that you went to the store and bought.  The people at work just ate it all up so I didn't have to eat it.  I don't think I will ever use baking soda again in sourdough bread.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

And this is bread ordered by the same people a few weeks ago, so I guess they liked it enough to order it again.  I just found the bread to be dry and crumbly, and now I'm wondering if it's the oatmeal which is not presoaked beforehand and therefore, seems to slurp up all the liquid.  The baked bread is nice and light, but it's not the sort of thing we particularly like at home, being used to a nice soft moist buttermilk sourdough.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and moisture like a sponge.  I use them for this purpose all the time.


I just love my microwave for soaking oats.  Bring up the water to a boil and throw in the oats and let it cool.  Comes out about right.  If you weigh water & oats first, you know how to fit it into your recipe.  If the oats are extra to the recipe, and the water has been soaked up.  The amount of water will have to be added back in or the bread will come out dry.  I hope that makes sense. 


Mini

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When Sodium bicarbonate is combined with liquids or acids it releases CO2 gas that can raise the dough.  Oven heat speeds up the reaction.  So there must be a direct correlation to the crumb.   Fluffier?  Or holier?  Cake like?  You tell me.  I can honestly say I've been tempted to suggest it for those who just don't like chewy gel bubbles in their bread.   Just to see what happens. 


Would it soften the gluten in high glutinous flour?   Hmmmm.    If I ever get stuck on some corner of the earth with a big sack of high gluten flour and my desire would be to create a soft fluffy dinner roll, I'd try all kinds of solutions.   This would be the first.   I wonder what the Soda Bread bakers are thinking...


Sourdough?  Why not?  Being acidic, the reaction with soda would be greater resulting in more gas than if simply mixed with water.  Soda is a leavening agent.  But it can also change the pH in the dough, either raising the pH level back to ideal or raising it high enough to slow down the reproduction of Lactobacteria.


I also remember reading somewhere that it can add a buttery flavor. 


Mini

b_elgar's picture
b_elgar

Well, I have to say that I have very sucessfully made sourdough bread with baking soda in it. The first time I did this was due to trebling a sourdough English muffin recipe (that I do believe I found and adpated from around here at some point) and realizing that I was getting bored making muffin-shaped objects, I decided to turn a chunk of it into a loaf.


The results were so spectacular, so tasty, the crust so delightfully crunchy, the interior so wonderfully textured, that I have used this SD muffin recipe as a loaf bread basis ever since.


In fact, I made these loaves not too long ago and you can see them at my flickr page.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/25648800@N04/sets/72157612397109757/


Boron


 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I didn't get much oven spring in mine, but they came out very nicely.  Since both were sold, I didn't get a chance to see the crumb, but I'll ask my friend next time I talk to her.  I'm beginning to think it's the dry oatmeal that tends to make the bread dry, because even as I'm kneading it, I can feel the oats slurping up the moisture in the dough.  I let it sit and rest for about half an hour part way through the kneading, then spritzed it with some water and that seemed to help a bit.  The baking soda is added with the salt, 1 tsp. of each, so it may be used as another source of sodium besides giving the bread a bit more lift.

Davo's picture
Davo

I wouldn't call this sourdough, I'd call it "quickbread". I have a SD recipe book that full of "quickbread" recipes as well as real sourdough recipes. Things like a banana loaf - more cakey than bready, I reckon.


You can use baking soda and sourdough starter to make scones, and pancakes, too - I have. As said its the reaction with acid that makes the almost instantaneous CO2 - a chemical, not biological, reaction.