Do you want to learn to make healthy sourdough bread? I’m going to show you how to make a Nourishing Traditions sourdough bread recipe.
Simple homemade sourdough bread
This basic sourdough bread recipe is simple, healthy, and delicious. It is the perfect thing to make with your Nourishing Traditions sourdough starter, which I show how to make here.
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Just like the cookbook Nourishing Traditions explains, souring or fermenting grains makes them easier to digest (source). The fermenting breaks down anti nutrients, and makes beneficial nutrients more available for our body to use.
“Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and, in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available.” Nourishing Traditions, page 25
A true sourdough bread recipe that uses no yeast, like this Nourishing Traditions sourdough bread, is a wonderful way to enjoy properly prepared grains. And, it’s surprisingly easy!
If you want to enjoy pasta with the benefits of properly prepared grains, learn how to make my sourdough pasta recipe here.
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Sourdough bread is simple
That’s one of the things I love about making homemade sourdough bread. It is really doable! If you’re just getting started making Nourishing Traditions sourdough bread, there are a few things to know before you start.
How is sourdough different from regular bread?
With yeasted bread, you have quick rise time. True sourdough bread takes longer, and this is a good thing!
With a nice long fermentation time, things like phytic acid are broken down, making the bread more easily digestible, the nutrients more available, and wonderful tangy flavor.
Traditional sourdough bread is different from modern bread in other ways, too. This recipe uses whole grain flour and no white flour, which makes for a bit of a heavier loaf.
It’s delicious, and we love it. We slice it and use it like you would any other bread. This bread is wonderful with homemade soup, like this chicken soup recipe.
If you want a lighter loaf, you can substitute part of the whole grain flour with white flour. This will make for a lighter loaf that some people might like better for things like sandwiches.
That’s what I do in my sourdough pizza crust recipe, and my sourdough hamburger buns. If you want to make some pie, check out my lard pie crust recipe. I also have a recipe for crisp fermented pickles here.
Making Nourishing Traditions sourdough bread takes practice. You probably won’t get it right on the first try!
That’s okay. There are a lot of factors that come into play, and the only way to figure out what works best for your flour, starter, climate, and environment is to just experiment! Don’t be afraid of it. Jump in and have fun!
Perfecting an artisan sourdough bread recipe like this one is so worth it! When you bite into that soft, thick slice of bread, spread with grass fed butter, you’ll instantly become a fan.
Things to know before you start
When you’re making the dough, don’t be afraid of a wet, sticky dough that is easy to work with. You don’t want the dough to be too dry.
The amount of flour and water you need will depend on how dry your flour is, and how wet your starter was. Different grains are more “thirsty” than others. The only way to find this out is to get started, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
I like to start with the recommended amount of flour, and 1 cup of water. If the dough seems to need it, I’ll add the remaining 1/2 cup of water.
The rising time can also vary greatly! This depends on the temperature in your home. On warmer days, the rise will happen more quickly, and on cooler days it takes a lot longer.
You’ll know your bread is finished rising and ready to bake when it has filled out nicely and has at least doubled in size.
You can also poke the dough and see what happens. If the dough dents in and fills out again soon after, it can keep rising. If it stays dented in and doesn’t fill out, it probably won’t continue to keep rising anymore.
It’s also okay to finish the rise and begin baking your bread when it has reached a nice big size that you like, even if it does have further rising potential. Again, you’ll get the hang of this after a couple of tries.
Nourishing Traditions sourdough bread directions
- 2 quarts active, bubble sourdough starter
- 13 cups freshly ground spelt, kamut, or hard winter wheat
- 1 1/2 TBSP sea salt
- Approximately 1 1/2 cups filtered water
- Place starter, salt, and 1 cup water in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir until salt is dissolved.
- Slowly add flour. Eventually it will be easier to mix with your hands.
- Add 1/2 cup water if dough becomes too thick. The dough should be soft and easy to work with.
- Knead in bowl for 10-15 minutes.
- Divide dough into 4 pieces, shape into loaves, and place in buttered loaf pans.
- Allow dough to rise for 4-12 hours.
- Bake at 350ºF for about 1 hour.
- Remove from pans and allow to cool before slicing. Bread will keep at room temperature for about a week.
How do you make a healthy sourdough starter?
You can make an easy sourdough bread starter at home. It’s as simple as mixing some flour and water together! I show how to make a Nourishing Traditions sourdough starter in this post, which you can check out here.
There are also commercial sourdough starters you can buy online. I use and really like this rye sourdough starter. I use it with a variety of flours, depending on what I’m making.
To get the two quarts of starter that you need for this recipe, start feeding your sourdough starter 2 cups of flour on the first day, 2 cups of flour on the second day, and 3 cups of flour on the third day. Each time, add enough water to make pancake batter consistency.
If you have extra sourdough starter accumulating, I have 12 delicious sourdough discard recipes here.
Is sourdough healthier than white?
Sourdough is definitely a healthier option compared to non fermented whole wheat bread, or white flour bread, but for different reasons.
Non fermented whole wheat bread has whole grains. But, the non fermented grains have a lot of anti nutrients, like phytic acid. Phytic acid binds with minerals, making them not easily digested and not well absorbed. Over time this can lead to mineral deficiencies. Non fermented whole grains can also be irritating to the digestive system.
Like I mentioned above, souring or fermented the grains deactivates phytic acid, making the minerals and other nutrients more available and absorbable, and makes the grains easier to digest.
White flour doesn’t have the problems with anti nutrients that whole grains do, but it is also void of a lot of vitamins and minerals. As I suggested above, adding some white flour to whole grain flour is a nice way to lighten up baked goods, while still getting benefits from the fermented whole grains.
Souring or fermenting also helps the gluten in either white or whole wheat flour be more easily digested as well.
Why is sourdough bread healthy?
Sourdough bread is what traditional, healthy cultures have eaten for centuries. It think it is so fascinating that these cultures had the wisdom to properly prepare their foods like this, in ways that enhance nutrient availability and make them more easily digestible. They’re also delicious!
Sourdough bread is the healthiest option when it comes to bread, because the souring breaks down anti nutrients, like phytic acid. This makes the nutrients more available and absorbable, and the grains easier to digest.
Is sourdough bread okay for gluten intolerance?
This is a very individual situation. Definitely check with your doctor before trying new foods that you’re unsure of. People with celiac disease are unable to have gluten, whether it is fermented or not.
Here’s my personal take on the situation: I don’t think we are designed to be able to easily digest gluten in its non fermented state. Of course, some people have more trouble with this than others.
Many people are okay with eating gluten and don’t suffer symptoms. Other people have what they call gluten intolerance, varying from mild to more severe. Often, addressing gut health will greatly improve a person’s ability to digest grains.
I believe that traditional cultures were wise to fermented grains, as this makes the gluten more easily to digest. Knowing all of this, it makes sense that many people who have trouble digesting gluten in non fermented baked goods are able to eat sourdough bread with gluten, and have no problem.
More sourdough recipes
Have you made sourdough bread?
What was your experience? What kind of flour do you like to use? Share in the comments!
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