Just put my sourdough starter in a nice big jar, so should be whipping up some loaves of sourdough spelt bread in...9 days? Can't wait to try it again. My one and only attempt at sourdough a few years ago didn't impress me much. It was ok, but nothing to be excited about. I didn't realize that the flavours and techniques take time to develop and I think now that I"m older and wiser I'm ready to try again. While gluten free has many benefits and some people are forced down that road whether they like it or not, I'm honestly not willing to give up bread. I would be if I thought I should, but I don't seem to have a problem with properly prepared breads in moderation.
What I am going to give up is flashy new versions of wheat that pale in comparison with older varieties in terms of nutritional value. And I'm on board with soaking and fermenting flours properly. I've pretty much totally replaced whole wheat with spelt, and I love to mix in other gluten free flours in my other baking (such as coconut flour or buckwheat, sometimes oat flour) as well as do a fair amount of gluten free baking. I just think wheat and gluten are eaten so disproportionately that I want my kids to have a fighting chance, they'll be faced with all sorts of gluten and cheap wheat horrors every time they step out the door of home.
I'm using the sourdough recipe I've found in my new cookbook "Forgotten Skills of Cooking" by Darina Allen and love the little into to the bread section "What's Happened to Our Daily Bread?" She talks about how up until about 1960 bakers made bread in traditional ways which took 5 hours or longer, and used traditional ingredients. But as food became industrialized new methods (such as CBP, ADD, and the Do-maker process) that saved time and money but never bothered to take nutrition into account became widespread. The typical bread you pick up at the grocery store takes less than 2 hours from start to finish, and the wheat used is far inferior to traditional varieties. Many of the other ingredients used are not even food, and may or may not find their way onto the label.
She says: "During the last 50 years the sales of bread have plummeted and the number of people with wheat allergies and full-blown celiac disease has skyrocketed. Once the CBP was universally adopted all research was dedicated to producing varieties of short-stem wheat, strains of yeast and additives to facilitate this fast production method. Nourishment just simply wasn't a factor. Advances in functional properties of wheat have come at the expense of nutritional quality. Several research projects have shown that modern wheat varieties have less than half the mineral and trace element content of traditional wheat varieties."
These are things worth looking into, especially if you have children who love bread, any kind of bread. I know that if packaged white bread is anywhere around, my kids dive into it like candy, which is about how nutritionally valuable it is. In fact, some natural candies would be better. I don't keep that stuff in the house, though it does occasionally find it's way here through other people. I tend to toss it if it makes an appearance, hopefully before the kids find it! My oldest son loves anything that resembles bread, which is good and bad. On the one hand he can't resist the saltines at nanny's, but on the other he'll even eat my soaked spelt hockey puck biscuits (which I won't be making again any time soon LOL).
We are blessed, as I've mentioned before, to have a great source of real bread at our local farmer's market. A traditional German bakery that uses whole grains and no yeast, only real sourdough methods. The spelt bread I get there, and sometimes other varieties, is amazing and has good shelf life for fresh bread as well. Lately I've taken to frying a slice in bacon fat and OH MY GOODNESS, its soooooo good! The other day I fried a slice and topped it with fresh tomato slices and grated raw Gouda and broiled it for a minute, mmmmm. But I still just have to make my own bread! It's a part of my heritage, though the homemade bread I remember was always white...if I could look back a little further I'm sure I'd find sourdough...