The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough bread is just another bread

angiechia's picture

Sourdough bread is just another bread

Recently embarked on sourdough baking, and have been talking excitedly with my friends. Some share my interests, others fall short of saying "a sourdough bread is just another bread". All of a sudden, I felt defensive. I know SD bread has better taste profile, texture, and more health benefits. Wonder if anyone have been through this? How do you convey the goodness of SD message across to this "just another bread" camp?

dabrownman's picture

care less about it.  They obviously have never eaten SD bread and are just ignorant.  Your SD bread will speak for itself once they taste it.  If they still think it is just another bread, then there is another thing at work - stupidity comes to mind!  No worries - the bread will say everything necessary.

Happy SD baking

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Unless it is being used for communion or used to argue that the people cannot afford to eat bread, causing one to respond with "then let them eat cake."

For many, it is a hobby about which they are passionate. But, I counsel against sacrificing friendships over it. In the end, the best loaf of bread does not hold a candle to a good friend who may hold utterly irrational and blasphemous opinions about bread which might cause others to shun them or cut off their head.

PetraR's picture

SD is a hobby for me that I LOVE DEARLY, I am still learning though.

Baking Bread, any Bread for that matter makes me  happy and smile, it relaxes my mind....

I had people asking me what the big deal was with SD and that it is JUST a bread, though , they never tasted a GOOD Bread such a SD and when I let them sample some of my SD Bread they quickly changed their mind.

For me it is not just the Bread that I LOVE, it is also my SD Starter that I LOVE to look after and care for.


clazar123's picture

Or their palate cannot discern much in the way of taste. Or they are so conditioned to bad tasting bread that good, well-made bread seems odd.

But there is hope. My usually clueless husband who has no palate at all recently whined that we haven't had any "good bread" lately as I haven't been baking much the last month. Wow! He noticed!

Bake some deliciousness for them! And for yourself!

PetraR's picture

My hubby complains when there is not a loaf of SD in the house.

He loves thin slices of it and toasts them.

Bob Marley's picture
Bob Marley

And I'm getting ready to slash and bake my first loaf of SD.  I already have under my belt around 400 loaves of yeasted bread.

PetraR's picture

Ohhh please do not forget to make pictures.

It is so exciting , I bet you can not wait for it to be ready.

I have one with Seeds bulk fermenting and already drooling.

Laurentius's picture

Hard bread is what my wife calls it. Meaning anything unlike the white fluff she get from the supermarket, and she will not eat it, saying it takes to long to chew. I recently taught her how to make dinner rolls and she compared it with the ones she had from Costco and said yours are heavier than Costco`s and I told her that the air in her`s is what made her`s lighter. My neighbors keep us supplied fresh veggies, fish, game and fruit in exchange for a loaf of sourdough. I have one friend`s wife that I ship a loaf a week, send me a gourmet package a month, fill with cheese, terrines, jams, chocolate, nut butters,french butter, foie gras anything she can find to compliment the taste of the sourdough. Ummmm, life is good with bread.

PetraR's picture

My Daughter and 2 of my 3 Sons LOVE my Sourdough Bread.

The other Son does not like Sourdough Bread but he really likes the White Bread I bake * he does not know I put some unfed Sourdoug in it to enhance the taste. hehehe.

My husband prefers the White Bread I bake but also likes the SD Bread, just not as much.


MisterTT's picture

friends are not really wrong. Some of my friends and even family members don't get it either, but they're respectful of baking as a hobby no different from playing billiards and that is fine with me.

There is such a thing as a person who just doesn't like bread, no matter how good it is. I won't eat any sort of fish if I can avoid it regardless of how fresh, well-prepared and artfully presented it is, so why couldn't the same be true for some people regarding bread?

If you're really set on making them "see the light", don't shove it down their throats. Personally I can't stand when someone takes up something new and can't stop talking about it -- just produces the opposite effect of appreciating it. Don't say anything if it doesn't come up. But when the necessity arises, serve them a sandwich on some flaxseed rye and see if they won't notice ;)

rozeboosje's picture

Of course it's "just another bread". Just another .... tastier .... yummier .... more rewarding bread. Like gold is just another metal and diamond is just another rock. :-)

lepainSamidien's picture

Dan is a friend of mine, and he recently took up carpentry as what may properly be called a "hobby." We develop these things when we grow up; when playdates are no longer arranged for us, and we are the masters of our own diversion; when the afternoon sun becomes too tiresome and oppressive, and we yearn for the dusk. Dan had spent the first year out of college like many of us who graduated in the dead-center of the financial crisis: partying our faces off to forget about the fact that we had just entered into one of the most unforgiving job markets in modern history. Dan was no different: he partied with an almost seraphic enthusiasm, chartering pleasure-boats on rivers of nepenthe, hoping to blur out the dim prospects that the future held.

But, finding himself unfulfilled by this course, Dan found--as I said before--a "hobby." He immersed himself in the art of carpentry, starting by building modest patio furniture before graduating to more elaborate structures, more nuanced finishes, and more complex designs. I have recently had the pleasure of visiting my friend, and his work truly amazes me: within two years, he has gone from a complete tyro to a burgeoning, self-made journeyman, and he is only getting better. He continues to build with passion, and this passion comes through in all of his works. When I look at a stunning bookcase he is on the verge of completing, I am awestruck, while I can see that he is almost ashamed to show it, as he can see all of the flaws that the average eye will miss. I know that I could say to him, "Dude, after all, it's just a bookcase." And, after all, isn't it just a bookcase?

To me, no. It is not just a bookcase, in the same way that sourdough is not just bread. Perhaps I am romanticizing the whole thing to excess, but to me, it is something so much more than just bread. It is the creative act; what's more than that, it is an act that has required an entire history of care: my sourdoughs only rise the way they rise, taste the way they taste, smell the way they smell, because I have brought them, with my hands, to the state in which they find themselves presently. Some of my starters have been with me for years; in a very subtle way, they carry with them the history of my struggles and triumphs, both with bread and otherwise.

It's not worth losing a friendship over the argument, but I think it is worth it to express to your friend just why sourdough is so doggone exciting. Whenever my friends have asked me about my sourdough, I launch into elaborations that probably bore my poor interlocutors, but I really can't help myself. I don't really care that I'm the "crazy bread guy," because I believe that's just an occupational hazard of being a true aficionado--(by the bye, for a great discussion of this term, please refer to Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises)--a hazard of which I am extremely proud.

And so I sympathize with my friend Dan as he feels crushed by the innumerable imperfections that the naked eye could scarcely see with a microscope, because I--and I am sure many others on this site--share that infectious perfectionism that takes hold when you immerse yourself in this labor of passion. That's not to say there is no joy; on the contrary, it is an almost exclusively joyful endeavor, baking with sourdough. It keeps me on my toes; it changes with the hours, days, weeks, months, and years; it never lets me get complacent, and begs me to strive for more.

Apologies for the rant . . . the short answer is, there are some people to whom you cannot convey the greatness of SD, but it never hurts to try.

Needless to say, Dan understands the greatness of SD.

dabrownman's picture

of a bookcase that doesn't have to say how great it is or what a great carpenter he is - after only 2 years - and it is ju8st a hobby!  You know hiss bookcase is awesome -  you think Dan is too.  Neither said a word about how great they are.  You have seen it and you know they are and no one can change your mind except ....Dan.

It is the same with bread and bakers.  Everyone who sees and tastes great bread knows it  - no one has to tell them - even though they can be told they are going to taste great bread and when they do - they think it is great 0 even though it is crap..  The baker who made it may be complete jackass - but no once can say he or she can't bake a great loaf of bread - because he did.  He doesn't have to say he is a great baker because his bread speaks for him. 

When they say the bread is great or the baker says he is great - chances are both are being sold to the weak minded.  Better to let them taste the bread and see what they say.  It isl like baking boldly.  i love it and know that it is a sign of some of the finest breads I have ever tasted.  Others say it is burnt and won't even taste it.  No worries - to each their own.  There is a bread for everyone

I do know that if the person asks after tasting.... ' Is this a sourdough?' - It isn't  .....and it need to be way more sour!

Most folks really do prefer their bread not to be sour or very sour and explains why weakly sour SFSD is the most popular of SD breads.

angiechia's picture

thanks everyone for such a myriad of comments!

Dan is a truly inspiring story, I could almost feel that he sense my exact sentiments. And indeed gold is another metal and diamond another rock! How simple, yet apt explanation! I love this forum ..

For me, I enjoyed kneading a lot, found that therapeutic. With SD bread that I have tried so far, there is no kneading, just S&F. In essence, this is not just therapeutic, but almost amazing watching nature at work, converting a wet lump into a dough!

To each his own, but I guess sometimes as bakers who put so much into the loaf, we have such great pride that we zoom into defensive mode quickly. It certainly is not about money, but definitely about time, effort, love, patience .. like tender loving care that we shower upon our baby


BobBoule's picture

bread and then a slice of my bread. They never think that bread can be ordinary again.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I can't imagine buying wonder bread in order to have people compare it to my bread. What made you think to do such a thing?

BobBoule's picture

I didn't buy it, I have no use for it. :) I had them bring it to my place, I cut both wonder and mine into cubes. I told them we were going to do olive oil tasting (which I am known for doing) but the surprise was that I made them close their eyes and I put the cubes in their mouths, alternating several times between each, then asking them what each one tasted like was rather revealing. The wonder bread was said to taste like bland cotton balls (some even said it had a chemical taste) and my bread tasted yummy and had a nice chewy texture. Whew! I'm glad i passed the wonder test! Oh, I like that name: Bob's Wonder Test™

108 breads's picture
108 breads

The bread, the Dan story, and other committed learning journeys outside of school must please the person who is doing the learning and doing. That my family loves the bread and my daughters' friends expect it, that is gravy. It is so satisfying to experience going from ignorance to wonderful breads in a year. I am now, a year and a half into my 108 bread quest, considering the next challenge: soakers, different flours, the still evolving search for a sourdough challah recipe that works for me (I got some great suggestions from thefreshloaf that I have yet to try) are all possibilities.

I have to admit that after the Dan story, I am curious to learn some carpentry. If he's on the East Coast, would he teach some classes?

ElPanadero's picture

"How do you convey the goodness of SD message across to this "just another bread" camp?"

When you break it down, it really is just another type of bread. Bread in it's most raw and natural form is just 3 ingredients, Flour, Water and a little salt. A leavening agent can be used of course but in the case of sourdoughs that is just more flour and water. For other breads it might be baker's yeast or yeast water or any other leavening agent.

In part then, I can understand your friends complacency regarding sourdoughs. There has clearly evolved an unecessary "mystique" and cliche about sourdoughs which is a shame and that's probably what feeds their viewpoints on the issue.

What matters in bread making are the techniques used which develop good structure, a good rise and great flavour. Sourdoughs in no way rule the roost here, they ARE just another bread in this respect. It is the longer fermentation/proofing times that the wild yeast enables that develops the flavour . . . . . . but that trait is not limited to sourdoughs.

For example you can make great tasting loaves using conventional bakers yeast and leaving the dough to ferment overnight. Most Artisan Bakeries I know all have some type of "Overnight White" loaf though they all give them different fancy names. Equally many bakeries use a special bakers yeast which is "slow acting" such as the Easybake DSL yeast or L'Hirondelle yeast. With these you can ferment and proof doughs and loaves for hours just like you can with sourdough starters. You still get great development and great flavour. Most amateur home bakers are probably only aware of conventional baker's yeast, dry active yeast and SD starters. Slow acting yeast is less well known but often used in bakeries.

So in summary I personally wouldn't give Sourdoughs the elevated status many seem to want to apply to them. Rather I would suggest that the greatest breads are "Long Fermented" breads which use only flour, water, salt and a leavening agent.
So, for me, Sourdoughs are "just another type of long fermented bread" and I'm sure we could all wax lyrical about why long fermented breads are so good, healthy and tasty and quite right too !