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Tale of Two Sourdough Uses: Part 2

Many weeks ago, we started our series on the tale of two sourdough uses and in that first part we went deep deep into the science of sourdough. Probably more than was anticipated.
What can we say, when you want to nerd out, you have to nerd out.
The point of this series, however, was to look at the two ways we use sourdough in our bakery.
The first way, and the most common, is as a naturally leavener for our bread. Why? Simple, it is healthier, it is real, and it is how bread was meant to be.
Aside from the flavour development of a naturally leavened dough, which really lets the flavour of the organic flour shine, it is better for us. As noted in part one of this series, the natural yeast and LAB have a better opportunity to pre-digest the starches found in the flour making it easier for our bodies to digest the bread. This means naturally leavened bread won’t spike your blood sugar when consuming, it will help maintain it. It allows you to absorb the nutrients needed, without causing your body to become sluggish.
When you consider a loaf of bread from the grocery store, it will most likely have been made with baker’s yeast – commercially produced yeast – which we like to think of as dough steroids.
Rather than letting something occur naturally over time with care and attention, commercial yeast is like injecting adrenaline into a dough. It supercharges the dough with the single goal of rising faster. It doesn’t focus on fermentation or the consumption of the sugars present in the flour, it already comes packed with its own nutrients to feed from. This means your body is left to do all the hard work of digesting the starches present. Hello food coma!
That is why all our products are naturally leavened. Bagels, cinnamon knots, dinner buns, sandwich bread, and free form loaves.
So, the first way to use sourdough is as the natural leavening agent.
The second use for sourdough starter is as a flavour agent in secondary products.
Often home-bakers will end up with what is called Sourdough Discard after feeding their small amount of starter. This has led to an unlimited number of food bloggers on the interwebs coming up with ridiculous ways to use sourdough discard.
Note: food bloggers were not the first to use sourdough discard. They just like to reinvent the wheel any chance they get by adjusting one ingredient slightly and calling it their own. Sheesh.
In our bakery on a given week we too have a certain amount of discard depending on our production. However due to the popularity of some of our products, we actually have to make more discard just to satisfy the demand. So, what was born of the desire to reduce our waste has turned into a full-fledged product line.
Our best example of this is our Sourdough Cookies. Where we substitute out moisture from other ingredients in place of sourdough discard.
We have found this gives our cookies a signature flavour and texture unlike any other. The process of making them is more laborious, but the results are decadent.
Our cookies go through a multi-day rest of the fridge once balled, so as we learned from the first part of this series, the LAB (lactic acid) continues to convert starches creating the slight sour flavour. One not to be missed.
Other examples of using the discard as a flavour enhancer are in products such as the biscuits we made this past summer at the farmers market, as well as certain pie shells.
Without getting too much into the chemistry of how to use discard in many baking applications, the general principle is to substitute a certain portion of water or moisture from your recipe, as well as flour, given that your discard is part flour and not completely liquid.
In pie dough this could be as straightforward as removing the water. However, in something like cookies or soda breads (muffins, banana bread, etc), you could look at removing egg whites or browning butter to simmer out all the water. There is a real science to it.
There you have it. Two uses for sourdough. One to leaven, the other as a flavour enhancer and wastage reducer.
Now, do you have any tried-and-true ways of using sourdough discard? Pancakes? Waffles?

Tale of Two Sourdough Uses: Part 1
Tale of Two Sourdough Uses: Part 2

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