Kids can make sourdough bread for a science experiment as well as for baking yummy sandwich bread. Yeasts are living microorganisms that are used to leaven baked goods through fermentation and the release of carbon dioxide gas, which makes the dough rise. Gas is trapped as bubbles in the dough. These gas pockets expand when the bread dough is left overnight, causing the dough to rise. Natural yeast, levain, is everywhere in the air, soil, and especially on the skins of fruit and the surface of grains. This natural occurring yeast was how bread was leavened throughout history and now we call that bread Sourdough.
Sourdough breads are made with a fermented starter. Kids can make a sourdough bread starter with 2 cups organic all purpose flour, 1 packet of active dry yeast, and 2 cups distilled water in a 2 quart glass container covered with a dish towel in a warm place for 3 – 4 days, stirring once each day to attract wild yeasts and the lactobacillus bacteria. Long slow fermentation produces healthy bread that is great for digestion. The starter is ready to use and can be stored with a lid in the refrigerator. It needs to be fed once every other week by bringing it to room temperature, adding 1 cup pure warm water, 1 cup organic all purpose flour, and left at room temperature for 8 hours before returning to the refrigerator.
Kids can make 2 sourdough bread loaves by starting with 1 packet active dry yeast, 1¼ cups organic almond milk, and 1 tbsp organic sugar and letting it get bubbly for 10 minutes. Mix in 1 cup sourdough starter and let it sit for 2 hours. Stir in 1 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil, 2 tsp sea salt, and 3 cups of organic all purpose flour. Gradually add 2 ½ more cups of flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing until the dough is smooth and not too sticky. Kids can turn dough out on a floured surface and knead 10 minutes, shape into a ball, coat with olive oil, and cover with linen towel for 1 hour. Then punch dough down, divide in half and form two round loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal, cover with linen towel and leave in a warm place overnight. The next day, kids can preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the loaves for 30 – 40 minutes until tapping on the bottom produces a hollow sound. Cool on wire racks. Kids can impress their family and friends with this tangy artisan sourdough bread that is good for digestion and makes delicious sandwiches.