Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sourdough Bread: Unicorn Style

This is a picture of the first-ever Unicorn Sourdough Bread Loaf, made with real, live Unicorn Yeast.

For those readers that do not know, sourdough bread is made using a naturally occurring yeast that is captured from the air via a flour-water mixture that is left out to sour. Sourdough bread has a number of nutritional benefits over that of regular whole-wheat bread, which is made with aggressive, commercial, prepackaged yeasts. These benefits lie in the fact that natural yeast provides a more complete fermentation process, which actually predigests the flour making the resulting loaf more digestible and less taxing on the body’s enzyme and various organ systems. Furthermore, sourdough bread made the traditional way is actually gluten free, which is good for those diagnosed wit Celiac’s Disease.

“The history of bread making is a good example of the industrialization and standardization of a technique that was formerly empiric. … It was simpler to replace natural leven with brewers yeast. There are numerous practical advantages: the fermentation is more regular, more rapid and the bread rises better. But the fermentation becomes mainly an alcoholic fermentation and the acidification is greatly lessened. The bread is less digestible, less tasty and spoils more easily.” Claude Aubert Les Aliments Fermentes Traditionnels

Traditional sourdough is always made with a ‘starter’, which is a mixture of flour and water, made to mud consistency, which attracts natural yeast from the air when left out with only a cloth cover. Making a starter takes about 3 days and while you can buy or obtain a starter from a dealer or a friend, making your own starter in your own house ensures that you are attracting and using naturally occurring yeast from your own highly localized area.

Note: People may be familiar with San Francisco Sourdough Bread, which basically refers to the fact that this bread is made using yeast that is naturally occurring in the San Francisco Bay area. Hence our Unicorn Sourdough Bread from Hotel Unicornio.

To make your sourdough starter, you need a glass jar (preferably quart-size, but can be a bit smaller), a cloth to cover the jar, a small wooden spoon, water, and whole-wheat flour. Note that our sourdough starter is in a plastic bowl and we use a metal fork to stir. While this is frowned upon, with glass and wood being more favorable, it is not a necessity.

In the glass jar, mix about a cup of flour with water to the consistency of thick mud. Make sure you stir well to dissolve all the flour making a relatively smooth mud-like mixture. Cover with cloth and set in outside, but covered spot. A porch works perfect for this. Each day, stir the mixture and add a bit more flour (as little as a tablespoon) and water to keep the same consistency. In three days or so, the mixture should start to smell sour and there should be bubbles forming in the mud, rising to the top of the mix slowly. This is when it is ready.

Sourdough starters only need to be made once and can then be saved for many years, as long as it is fed and cared for properly. Each time you use the starter to make a new loaf, save at least a ½ cup of starter in the bottom of your glass jar. Immediately feed it a few tablespoons of wheat-flour and add water to desired consistency. Do this each day or at least once every 2 days. If the jar gets too full you can give or throw away a bit of your starter, but it is important to feed it regularly. If not, it will go bad and not be good anymore.

The basic sourdough recipe is as follows:
• 1 quart whole-wheat sourdough starter
• 6-7 cups whole-wheat flour
• 2 tablespoons sea salt
• 1 ½ cups cold water

Mix the starter together with sea salt and 1 cup of water. Begin to add flour slowly, stirring a while. When necessary add the remaining water and stir in al remaining flour. At some point, it becomes easier to mix with your hands. Once it is basically mixed together, do NOT knead it. Merely make sure that all the flour is mixed in well to the dough. Cut the dough and place in well-buttered baking pans. Let rise in warm place for 4 to 12 hours. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.


  1. Love the name Shad!
    'Looking forward to trying this one out. Thanks.

  2. lovin your recipe! so easy!

    making some bread sarasota style yeast i'll letcha know how it goes!