I read about this product on a number of blogs while researching an easy way to make healthier bread in bulk each week (for our family and I also make extra for friends or colleagues that could use a casserole and a bag of bread when life gets difficult. What I found was "Bread for Life" sourdough starter for making bread from Azure Standard (link information coming up). I had at that point already been on a quest to incorporate more cultured/fermented foods and beverages into our diet, so this was a blessing to find. This starter is yeast free and works great with wheat flours. Plus - it bakes bread for about 10% of what it costs to buy specialty breads at the store and you won't have to buy commercial yeast ever again.
No doubt, we have all heard of increasing numbers of people suffering from gluten intolerance and other gut-related ailments. Grains in particular have been getting a bad reputation. On the other hand, the Bible speaks very highly of bread, and the Lord's prayer teaches us to ask for "daily bread." So what is the best way to eat if we don't have Celiac but find that eating too much yeasted bread causes other issues with our health?
Enter naturally leavened bread in the form of sourdough. Unlike bread made from fresh, non-fermented and/or non-sprouted flour, it is very gentle on the body, while having a much higher nutrient content thanks to the living enzymes, plus a whole host of other benefits. So instead of being concerned about the carbs and gluten in bread (an issue if you have Celiac disease, which I don't) I now have bread daily and embrace it as a healthy staple.
Not only is sourdough bread more nutritious, it also greatly reduces the amount of phytic acid found in whole grains. It's been noted by many health professionals that consuming large amounts of whole grains that have not first been properly prepared by either fermentation or soaking and sprouting can have detrimental health effects, mostly in the form of mineral loss, which could impact bone loss as we age.
The starter after its first week at home.
All you need to get started is a "starter", unlike traditional sourdough starter, which is left out and covered on the counter, the bread for life starter stays in the refrigerator, is not nearly as temperamental and only has to be "fed" (water flour mix) every couple of days. Make sure you store it in a clean glass (periodically putting starter in clean bowl and give the container a nice wash and vinegar rinse, and only use wood utensil to stir. Do NOT use chlorinated water in less you want to kill it. You'll also want the room or oven it rises in to be at least 70 degrees (our gas oven with pilot light on is perfect) Other than that it's pretty bullet proof . It also has uses NO oil and has a sweet light fluffy texture that's great for toast or sandwiches. You can keep several quart mason jars going or if you bakc in large amounts use a gallon jar.
Basic Loaf of Bread
Throw in a cuisinart with a blade (or you can hand mix and knead five minutes)
1 cup starter
1 tsp. salt (optional if on a salt restricted diet)
1 cup pure filtered water (chlorine will kill your leavening)
2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
Mix for 5 minutes, put in oiled bowl, and let rise 5-7 (yes!) hours in warm place (70 degrees +) Punch down and put in lightly oiled bread pan and let rise 1-3 more hours. Bake at 350 25-30 minutes.
To make dinner and breakfast rolls that are lighter and slightly sweeter do this:
1 cup starter
1 cup milk or nut milk (at room temperature)
1 tsp salt
1 Tablespoons sugar or honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 and 3/4 to 3 and 1/4 cups hard white wheat flour (not whole wheat)
Put in cuisinart with blade or mix and knead by hand for five minutes (should be nice and stretchy). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 5-7 hours (depends on how warm the kitchen is). You need a minimum temp. of 75 for it to raise. 80 is better. If you don't have an oven in which you can place the dough with the lightbulb on set it on a a trivet on a heating pad set on low - that kept my bowl a constant 80ish temperature which was perfect. Form the dough to desired shapes. Let rise 2-3 hours more hours.
Bake at 375 for around 20 minutes for buns and rolls and 40-50 minutes if you want to make a big loaf of bread, as pictured. If desired brush warm bread with butter as soon as it is removed from the oven for a soft crust and a nice sheen
Click here for a link to all the information you'll need if you wish to try this There is even information for making your own, capturing spores from your garden with a simple jar/cloth method, though I've not tried it.
Note: Azure does not traditionally ship this refrigerated product. They deliver via semi truck, to a local drop off point, acting as a middle man to connect you to independent growers and food producers, shortening the distance your food travels from farm to table. You'll find a huge selection of products you won't find at smaller retails If you are buying a product such as this, you place your order and put in the zip code of where you are at and they tell you where your drop off day and time in (Mine was only a 20 minute drive). A drop coordinator keeps you in the loop on the process. Plus their prices on grains, whole and ground are SO good, I'm going to make it a regular source for organic goods.