Frequently asked and discussed when it comes to whole grain wheat sourdough breads. Many of the aspects briefly touched upon here can be a detailed topic in its own right. It is not only to highlight on sourdough but also to kindle a little more..

What is Sourdough bread?

Sourdough means fermenting dough. An ancient / oldest process of making naturally leavened bread from the fermenting dough has come to be known as Sourdough bread. Leavening is done by naturally occurring yeast & lactobacilli during the fermentation of the dough.

Why is it called an artisanal bread?

Truly artisanal breads are made by traditional methods using natural ingredients; relying on the skill of the baker and time put into the production. Three basic ingredients being Flour, Water and Salt. Except for the dough mixer for the initial mix, the rest of the process of folding, dividing and shaping the loaves are all done judiciously by hand. The flour is not standardised and the fermentation is dependent on the climatic conditions of the bake day. It calls for the baker to make finer adjustments to the recipe and the process every single bake day; going by the look, touch and feel of the dough as it develops. All these accounts for each bake to be unique and every single loaf to have a character of its own, unlike the 100’s of identical looking, and tasting industrial breads that are churned out day after day. It is a skill that is  acquired by baking 1000’s of loaves.

What is the shelf life of sourdough breads?

Food should be consumed fresh, ideally as soon as it is cooked for obvious reasons. When that’s not possible, it is to be consumed within a few hours of cooking. Whole grain wheat sourdough breads are best consumed within 24 or 36 hours, though they stay good for a few days.

Why Emmer / landrace wheat?

Emmer is an ancient wheat and one of the first crops to be domesticated. It is more than 10,000 years old and has not undergone the modern hybridisation process for that matter any landrace variety. Emmer is low in gluten and has a low glycemic index. Breads as best as it can get – made with an ancient wheat and an equally ancient process.

Why do we mill our own flour?

As far as we understand, industrial flours milled in steel roller mills are reconstituted, fortified and standardised with additives / gluten (and still can be labelled as whole wheat flour) to perform in a certain predictable manner batch after batch, no matter where the grains came from. 

Milling our own flour is the only way to keep it simple, with all the components of the grain in the original proportions, ensure it is very fresh and is 100% whole grain wheat flour.

Are the terms ‘whole wheat flour’ and ‘whole grain wheat flour’ the same and interchangeably used?

No, both are not one and the same. Whole grain wheat flour contains all of the whole grain. Whole wheat flour may not contain all of the whole grain, some bran and germ may have been left out and also the flour may be fortified and standardised with additives.

Sourdough breads: Nutrition, mineral bioavailability and gut health

Bran, the outer layer of the wheat kernel is full of nutrients and is a good source of dietary fibre (in industrial milling most or all of the bran is separated from the flour, becomes a by-product and goes as a raw material to other industries). It is the bran that gives the characteristic sweet, nutty flavour and texture to whole grain sourdough breads. The bran that acts as a protective outer layer of the wheat kernel, has a high concentration of phytic acid (considered to be a beneficial as well as a not so beneficial nutrient). This phytic acid when bound to the other minerals is known as phytates and helps in the  storage of seeds. During sprouting, the phytates break down making available nutrition to the young plant. The phytic acid binds to other minerals in the digestive tract  and inhibits or limits our body from absorbing minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. The lactic acid bacterias present in sourdough fermentation help break down and degrade the phytic acid making available these minerals to be absorbed by our body. The dietary fibre is a good source of food for the gut bacterias, aids the passage of stools through the colon, relieves constipation and helps regular bowel movements. Natural fermentation of whole grain wheat flour reduces the bread’s glycemic index, degrades the gluten protein making it easier for digestion and is a good source of B vitamins especially vitamin B12.

Sourdough breads Vs Industrial breads


Sourdough Bread

Industrial wheat Bread


Main Ingredient

Whole Grain Flour from Organic Emmer, an ancient wheat variety


Cold milled in a slow rpm stone mill


Flour is not Standardized

Whole Wheat flour / Refined Flour from modern wheat resulting from intense cross- breeding


Milled in huge industrial roller mills. (It is said the milling results in upto 60 different sizes and multiple products)


Flour is Standardized


Other Ingredients


Rock Salt



Edible Vegetable oil


Wheat Gluten

Wheat Bran

Flour Conditioner / Bread Improver

Colouring agent



Fortified with synthetic Vitamins and Minerals


Supposedly a minimum of 20 ingredients



Natural culture from flour and water inhabited by a number of strains of yeast present in the environment


Commercial / bakers yeast with a single strain of yeast


Handmade except for a brief initial machine mixing of dough


Close attention required in each step of the process and doing the required finer adjustments in every bake


Time consuming, minimum 18 hrs


Steep learning curve, necessitating some skills


Set steps – weigh, machine mix, divide and put in loaf tin, allow rising in tin, oven bake, cool and pack


Everything is standardized requiring no real time adjustments and is very predictable


Fast, 3-4 hours


Not much skill required


Shelf life

2-3 days

1 Week



Complex flavours from slow fermentation

Sweetish – sugar added to suppress undesired flavours from artificial ingredients


Feel and texture

Soft, Springy and Fibrous

Very Soft and squishy – identical looking loafs



Wholesome and healthy


Nutritious  – Bio-availability of nutrition, natural yeast produces many B Vitamins apart from that naturally present in the whole-wheat grain


Aids bowel movement for some


No artificial additives

Ease of production


Perception of having wheat bread


Notion of Nutrition trough fortification

The bread tastes sour / tangy

It is a bread made with fermenting dough. A mild tangy / sour flavour profile is the very nature of sourdough breads. More or less it is an acquired taste.

We sometimes hear people say, it doesn’t taste like sourdough

The process of making naturally leavened bread has come to be referred to as Sourdough. Sourdough bread made with all purpose flour / bread flour / maida will have an entirely different taste and nutrition profile than one made with 100% whole wheat grain flour. It is also about what people have perceived as sourdough bread. Terroir plays a major role; environmental factors and context of the growing wheat crop and harvest to the colony of microorganisms that have come to inhabit the natural yeast culture. By design our breads are not too sour / tangy, but we are happy to bake a more sour tasting bread on request.

The bread is dense

We often associate bread with the store bought white industrial breads that are crumbly soft. In relation to that, the crumb of sourdough breads made with 100% whole grain wheat flour are springy and firm; yet soft that some refer to as being dense. Of Course it’s difficult to swallow without a little bit of chewing.

What are hearth breads?

A traditional way of baking bread by placing the fermented dough directly on the hearth / floor of the wood fired oven. It gives the crust a distinct character, flavour and mahogany like color. Hearth breads have a leathery and crackling crust with a softer crumb.

The crust looks burnt

The caramelization of the starches present on the surface of the dough that happen due to the intense heat gives that trademark dark color and aroma. The dark color and character the hearth breads impart on the crust are mistaken by some as being or appear to be burnt. Of course it does get burnt if the oven temperature is way too high! 🙂

What is the difference between a loaf and a batard?

Both are made from the same sourdough.

Loafs are baked in a bread tin. The tin constrains the sidewise expansion of the loaf as it bakes. The expansion is called the oven spring and is constrained to give only a vertical rise resulting in a finite rectangular loaf of bread. 

Batards are hearth breads, baked directly on the surface of the hearth. A batard is free to expand in whichever way the natural forces exerted by the expanding carbon dioxide act from within the proofed dough, as it bakes. Batards are closer to oval in shape and no two batards will be identical in shape and appearance.

The crust of the loaf bread is relatively softer. The crust of the batard is a little crunchy / chewy and more flavourful. The crumb of loaf breads are more evenly open whereas the crumb of batards tend to have a random openness. Both the crumbs taste more or less the same.

The crumb is not so open like the many desirable pictures of sourdough bread we see on social media

The openness of the crumb (crumb with uniform and big irregular holes) is directly related to the type of flour used. Such open crumbs are obtained when made entirely with strong bread flour (that gives a strong gluten forming potential) or a blend of bread flour and whole wheat flour with the bread flour percentage being at least 40%. 

Our breads are made with 100% whole grain wheat flour. It may not have the kind of visual appeal as those made with bread flour but they make good where it matters most, in  flavour and nutrition.

How to keep the bread, can it be refrigerated?

Its best kept in a bread box or in an airtight yet breathable container. It can also be kept loosely wrapped in a cotton or paper bag. 

No, it should not be refrigerated. If you want to store it, slice the bread, wrap in aluminium foil and freeze it. To consume a frozen slice, bring to room temperature and toast the slice or heat it in an oven at 150C for a few minutes with the aluminium foil on.

How can i consume the bread?

It can be had as a snack or a meal in different ways. It goes well with spreads, butter, jams, soups / rasam or with any of your favourites sides,  stew / sabji (include a lot of vegetables) and is delicious when made as sandwiches plain or toasted. Bread pizza is another creative idea. Keep experimenting slicing thin, thick or cutting into chunks. Need a good bread knife though.

A slice of bread is more or less equivalent to a chappathi or rotti and much more nutritious. 4 or 5 slices will give satiety, chew well to relish and experience the flavours.

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