When you frequent the bakers for a fresh loaf of bread you’re bound to see various types of ‘sour dough’ bread are available. Instead of calling it sour dough, sometimes it is known as sourdough – but the two terms generally mean the same thing.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about sour dough is that it is a specific type of dough that uses specific ingredients – which isn’t exactly true.
Instead, the truth is that sour dough is a general term for various types of dough that are created using a specific leavening process and thus has a lactobacillus culture!
Don’t worry if that sounds Greek to you – you’ll understand what it means soon enough.
What is Leavening and How it Relates to Sour Dough
Essentially, leavening is the process that dough goes through to make it fluffy and soft when it is baked into bread. This process involves capturing miniscule pockets and bubbles of air within the dough itself.
Sour dough is the first form of dough that was created using the very first leavening process.
In short – once upon a time all breads came from sour dough. It is the process that created sour dough that was first used by bakers to bake the first breads and thus it has affirmed a place for itself through history.
The first origins of sour dough can be traced back to Egypt in 1500 BC, and it eventually made its way across Europe where it continued to be the dominant (and in many cases, only) form of leavening well into and after the Middle Ages.
Even in America and Alaska, sour dough was extremely popular especially during the Gold Rush days when it was the most commonly found type of bread around.
So as you can see, the leavening process is intimately connected to sour dough, which in turn is a historic type of dough that remains popular to this very day. In fact, even if you were to walk into a bakery right this very moment you’d probably find some loaves that are made using sour dough.
For the most part this is because up to this very day it is one of the best ways of leavening rye bread and so has retained its popularity.
Although nowadays there are other types of leavening that can be used to make breads, sour dough is still going strong. With its own unique taste and flavor, it certainly looks like it will continue to do so and it is a fair bet that you’ll find this type of bread around for decades to come – if not longer!
But if you haven’t already tried sour dough bread in the past – you need to do so as soon as possible to know what you’re missing out on!