Frequently Asked Questions
What does "naturally leavened" mean?
This means leavened without store-bought yeast, also know as commercial yeast. Instead, the bread is leavened with a sourdough starter.
What is sourdough?
Sourdough is a mixture of flour and water that is allowed to ferment. Like yogurt or sauerkraut, this process relies on a microbial culture. In this case it's a variety of bacteria and yeast that naturally occur in the flour and in the air. Once this mixture is "active" you can use a small portion of it in your dough, just like commercial yeast, to leaven your bread. It is the oldest method of making bread and people have been using it for thousands of years.
Why choose sourdough?
Before answering this, it's important to have an understanding of what "commercial yeast" is. Commercial yeast is a single strain, or variety, of yeast that is fast acting and incredibly reliable, which is why it's a baker's dream and gained so much popularity among professional and home bakers in the 20th century. Before that, people used sourdough or brewer's yeast to leaven their bread which took longer and was more challenging to control. There are upsides to commercial yeast and I use it in my pastries (croissants) but there are also downsides. A fast dough rise means that the flour doesn't get a chance to ferment/break down in the same way a slowly risen sourdough would. You can still make a "slow-dough" bread with commercial yeast but you wouldn't be able to achieve the texture or depth of flavour a sourdough bread has, arguably because of the microbial diversity in a sourdough culture. So, a sourdough bread will be easier to digest, potentially even for those who are gluten intolerant (but not celiacs). By choosing sourdough you are also honouring the tradition and history of bread that has sustained civilizations as far back as ancient Egypt.
Is sourdough bread probiotic?
Sourdough itself is probiotic and contains the same strain of bacteria that is responsible for the action in sauerkraut (lactobacillus) but once it's baked all yeast and bacteria die because of exposure to heat. All the probiotic benefits happen during the slow rise, where grains are broken down and certain nutrients are unlocked before the loaves go in the oven.
Why choose whole grain?
Whole grain flour is exactly what it sounds like - flour that contains all parts of the grain. 100% of what goes into the mill should theoretically come out as flour. This includes the endosperm, the bran, and the germ. Each of these components have their own nutritional benefits and together they make a well-rounded food source that is rich in protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber. To produce white flour, mills will remove the bran and the germ leaving just the endosperm. This is the starchy part of the grain, containing very few vitamins and minerals. White flour certainly has a purpose and without it we'd have a hard time making the perfect baguette and croissant, but if it's the only flour you're eating you're missing out on the nutritional benefits of the germ and bran. We also metabolize white bread quickly and whole grain bread more slowly, so it keeps us full longer.
Do you make gluten free bread?
I do not! If my customers are gluten sensitive/intolerant I encourage them to try one of my whole grain/alternative grain options like the spelt or kamut bread. Gluten free bread is difficult to make and requires so many ingredients that I wouldn't have on hand in my bakery. I also have so much wheat flour in my bakery that it would't be a safe production space for GF products and if gotten into the hands of a celiac it could make them sick. So I'd like to leave this to the GF pros!