Only four ingredients are actually needed to make bread (flour, water, salt, and yeast), but today most supermarket bread is made from more than 30 ingredients. During the 50s and 60s food industries learned they could separate the wheat kernel into its three parts: starch, bran, and germ. By only using the starch, all nutrients were stripped from the bread. When they combined this with fast acting yeast, a new bread came onto the market. We know this as Wonder Bread. By speeding up the fermentation process that breaks down gluten naturally in 20–60 hours, the process of baking bread was sped up so bread could be made from start to finish in as little as four hours. The significant drawback is that now the human body has to do more work to break down the gluten, causing irritation in the digestive system, which is why many people are cutting gluten out of their diets today. Science shows this likely wouldn’t be necessary if bread was made with wild yeast and whole grains using the full fermentation process.
Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. Most commonly people associate gluten with wheat, “since the endosperm (starch) of a wheat kernel contains the highest levels of gluten. It acts like a balloon so air gets trapped in gluten through the baking process causing the bread to rise, giving bread elasticity and extensibility. Gluten is not inherently bad, as some would believe, and can be good for you if you aren’t allergic or have a severe sensitivity. It is a protein comprised of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When people eat gluten, an enzyme in the digestive tract breaks down the gluten protein so its nutrients can be absorbed. Some people can’t properly or efficiently break down the gluten found in modern day bread and wheat products, due to how bread is made today. When it comes to choosing bread, choose wisely, a true sourdough will be better for those with a gluten sensitivity. For supermarket bread, try to choose bread with the fewest ingredients possible, but buying bread from a local bakery that specializes in bread is your best bet.
Below are step-by-step instructions on how to make a starter that breaks down gluten naturally using fermentation. The starter can then be used to make delicious sourdough bread—in your very own kitchen!
Download our Pastry Chef Leah’s recipe to use your starter to make sourdough bread.
Making a Starter:
Kitchen equipment needed:
1 glass jar with a lid, at least 20 ounces.
A digital scale. We highly recommend using a scale since ﬂour and water weigh differently.
Equal amounts of ﬁltered water and bread or whole wheat ﬂour (in our example we will use 4 ounces).
Follow the steps outlined by scrolling though the pictures below: