We’re willing to bet you know of at least one person who has started baking a lot more since the start of COVID-19. At Xyza, we know a lot of folks who are making bread, for example. What a great trend! Did you know that behind every loaf of bread, there is a starter? Yes, a starter. Take sourdough bread … it all begins with … yep… a sourdough starter, which is fermented dough filled with yeast and bacteria that helps the bread rise. We’re pretty sure you don’t think about bacteria and yeast when you eat a slice of delicious sourdough, but bakers take their starters very seriously. Starters help create every loaf of bread, but they need love and attention, so bakers must “feed” or nurture them in order to bake a good loaf of bread.
But what happens when the starter produces bread that’s just bad? Sometimes bread doesn’t rise, and other times it just doesn’t taste good. Well, researchers at the Public Science Lab at North Carolina State University are looking for bad sourdough starters to find out what exactly makes sourdough bread good or bad. Dubbed the Global Sourdough Project, the study looks to answer a lot of questions, including the ideal flour to use for starters and what the starter should smell like. Using all of their findings, the researchers hope to find out which combination of factors—the weather, the water, or perhaps the methods used to feed the starter—might produce the best loaf of sourdough bread.
Have you ever baked something using the same recipe but it turns out different each time? What do you think made the difference?