Varieties of Sourdough

by Kim

"How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?" This quote, said famously by baker Julia Child, sums up our feelings perfectly about the bread available today.Thus it warms our heart, just like the ovens of America, that we've seen so many people taking it upon themselves to produce their sourdough bread.

People are moving wisely away from commercially produced bread, it's high sugar and additive contents, and towards recipes where they know exactly what's going into it. What we've seen, though, is the overwhelming amount of options. You decide to bake sourdough bread, and the question isn't how to do it, but which variety to choose (luckily you didn't live in ancient Greece, where they had 70 varieties of bread). And we don't want you to be overwhelmed. You have enough going on in your life without worrying about which bread to make. Here are a few questions, though, that can narrow your decision. They're easy to answer because they're dependent upon YOUR tastes:

  • What type of texture do you want? Light and airy? Dense and heavy? Fluffy? Full of holes?
  • How do you plan on using it? Will this be for sandwiches? For hors d'oeuvres and spreads? As your bed pillow? (Just kidding)(Wait, who are we to say otherwise?!)
  • How sour would you like the taste? This is more determined by proofing time, but can also be influenced by the type of starter you use

Alright, we hope those can refine what you're looking for. It should be much easier to make your choice, based on what we've laid out below:

San Francisco: This is one of the tastiest varieties, given the abundance of yeasts in the Bay Area. That begs the question - can you make San Francisco Sourdough bread, even if you don't live in San Francisco? The answer is, yes! Actually, in a blind taste test of sourdoughs made throughout California, the winner was from Los Angeles (the panelists were furious when that was revealed). San Francisco is the most popular variety, as it has a very pronounced sourness. The only downside is it takes a few more hours to proof, compared to other types.

Camaldoli: As the name suggests, this is an Italian variety. This is popular for its multitude of uses - some purchase Camaldoli Sourdough to make pizza crust, muffins, pancakes, tortillas, and many other baked goods.

Danish Rye: Known throughout Denmark as rugbrød this variety is highly nutritional and a healthy alternative to white bread. Danish Rye is less sweet, lower in fat and gluten. Grains and seeds are traditionally added, increasing the dietary fiber content. It's the bread used to make Smørrebrød, the open-faced sandwiches that are hugely popular in Denmark.

Desem: Desem is featured as "Whole Wheat" on our website, as it's our only starter of that type. Traditionally used in Belgium, it is loved for its nutritional value and it's nutty and slightly sour flavor.

Brown Rice: And finally, a sourdough starter without gluten. It's purchased primarily for that reason and also for how quickly it rises after being activated. You just have to feed it often. So, there are several options for you. Again, your selection should depend chiefly upon what you want to use the dough for. Once you're ready for your home-baking journey, take your first step and browse through our starters!