Homemade sourdough bread: bringing a thousand-year-old tradition to life

With confinement, making your own old-fashioned bread has come back into fashion, even though it has been gaining popularity for some time. With its firm consistency, its robust and crispy crust and its flavor full of character, many find it more tasty than white bread.

Its traditional production is based on a mixture of wild yeasts which brings surprising nutritional values ​​to this bread. And with a little patience, love and good care, it can be prepared at home with ease.

Until the XVIIe century, the use of sourdough was the only technique known to bakers to obtain bread. It goes without saying that it is a process as old as the invention of bread itself. For over 5000 years, it has been made from a simple mixture of flour, water and air. In Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries, it is still the most popular type of bread.


Sourdough bread is a delicious blend of beneficial microbes. As with many fermented products with ancient origins (beer, wine and cheese), it is the microorganisms that give the right flavors. After feeding the sourdough with flour and water for a few days, the mixture becomes a prolific community: a population of lactic acid bacteria living in harmony with wild yeasts from flour and the ambient air. In each teaspoon of leaven, there are five billion lactobacilli bacteria and 50 million yeasts. The leaven ferments naturally … By releasing carbon dioxide, this fermentation allows the dough to rise.

The taste of this bread is slightly tart, with complex and subtle aromas due to the acids released by the lactic acid bacteria in the sourdough.

Health benefits

Its nutritional composition depends, above all, on the type of flour used to prepare it. Ultra-refined white flour has less nutritional value than rye or spelled flour. The fermentation process improves the nutritional profile of this type of bread in several ways. Lactic acid bacteria increase its acidity. This contributes to the degradation of phytates by almost 50% compared to conventional yeast, which allows better absorption of the minerals present in sourdough bread by the body as well as easier digestion.

This characteristic also increases the effect of satiety. Finally, the sourdough fermentation could modify the structure of the carbohydrate molecules in bread. This would slow down the rate at which its sugars enter the blood, thereby reducing its glycemic index.

Time and simplicity

Producing your own sourdough bread at home is not very complicated. The basic ingredients are water, flour, salt and … ambient air! However, preparing it requires patience. It takes longer to ferment and rise than other breads. You must allow up to six days, the time to properly feed and strengthen the leaven, before you can put the dough in the oven.

Did you know ?

For the past decade, researchers have been studying the benefits of sourdough bread for people with celiac disease. Some sourdough cultures break down gluten very well, which is good news for people who are intolerant to it!


  • Each sourdough bread has its own flavor, because at its heart there is a truly unique ecosystem of yeast and lactic acid bacteria.
  • There are a large number of recipes on the internet, based on wheat, rye and spelled.
  • Each baker has their own way of preparing their sourdough bread, depending on the ingredients used, the proportions of flour, water and the time spent on sourdough: all of which determine their character.
  • The shelf life of sourdough bread is longer: the acidity of the sourdough slows the appearance of mold and keeps its crumb soft for almost a week.
  • A leaven can be kept alive for several years. Treated with care and fed regularly, it becomes a precious food base.
  • A leaven on which a dark brown or pink color appears has been contaminated: it must be disposed of. A good sourdough has a pleasant smell of uncooked bread dough.
  • You can do all kinds of things with a leaven: for example, pancakes, waffles, cookies, pizza dough and muffins.

100% natural sourdough bread

Servings: give two loaves of bread


  • 1kg of flour
  • 200g homemade sourdough
  • 20g salt
  • 800ml of water


  1. Feed the leaven already prepared in advance: add 85 g of flour and 85 g of water (calculate using a balance) and let stand at room temperature.
  2. After a few hours, test the leaven by placing a very small amount on water. If it floats, it’s time to use it.
  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and water. Cover with a cloth and let stand 45 minutes.
  4. Pinch the leaven in the mixture. Add salt and 50 g of water. Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
  5. Let the dough rest in an airtight container for 30 minutes, in a place reaching 29 ° C.
  6. Resume kneading 6 or 7 times, leaving 30 minutes of rest between two sessions.
  7. Cut the dough in half, pour each part on a floured work surface and form two balls by folding the edges.
  8. Take a banner or colander and cover with a floured linen cloth. Delicately place the bread ball on it and cover it with the edges
    of the cloth.
  9. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  10. The next day, place the dough on a floured baking paper. Make a few slits on the top with a very sharp blade.


  • Heat the oven to 260 ° C (500 ° F) with a cast iron casserole dish at least three times the size of the bread.
  • Place the dough and baking paper in the casserole dish. Cook with the lid on for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Leave the bread in the oven for 20 min.
  • Take out the bread and let cool 2 hours before slicing it.
  • Repeat the same steps for the second loaf.

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