Listen to your gut! Here’s why.
What is Sourdough?
From our thriving starter of symbiotic microbes enlivened with science, patience and passion, to the slow retardation and magical fermentation to coax the most flavour and nutrition, to finally, the healing experience of breaking bread.
Flour, Water & Salt + Culture, Warmth, Time & Love = Sourdough
At its most basic, this is sourdough.
Sourdough is the oldest way of making bread using naturally occurring wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria for which we create a hospitable environment with flour and water. Used as both a verb and a noun, sourdough refers to both the process of fermenting flour, water and water, as well as the baked loaves of bread.
Over the recent years, it has become a trendy buzzword, an expression amongst the hip and elite that you are serious about your craft and what you eat. It’s almost synonymous with quality, with uppity. Baking sourdough became one of the defining trends of the early pandemic lockdowns. Flour became a supermarket rarity, joining the ranks of toilet paper, face masks and sanitisers. It was how Anna started too—finding comfort and control in the soothing kneading and the discovery of health benefits beyond characteristic aroma of bread baking in the oven.
Our approach to sourdough is beyond sourdough being a yeast substitute or a shiny, brag-worthy ingredient. Like a beloved pet, we feed it, care for it. Ours has a sweet name—Audrey! It thrives and gives back even more than it takes. It’s sensuous and almost spiritual, the way sourdough requires such immense dedication to see a loaf through from start to finish. We want to honour this time-honoured art, reclaim its position as a health-giving menu item in our daily meals.
So, journey with us to savour the transformative properties of sourdough:
- From our thriving starter of symbiotic microbes enlivened with science, patience and passion…
- To the slow retardation and magical fermentation to coax the most flavour and nutrition, happening right in our proofer room…
- To finally, the healing experience of breaking bread and seeing the sourdough magic beyond bread, to pasta, pizzas and more.
This is where you become part of the microbial magic that feeds our starter which in turn, nourishes your gut health. We could do it fast, processed and commercial but we would be stripping you of the nutrition and nourishment in bakes that come with long and slow fermentation. Enjoy your sourdough specialty spread, both in-store and available for retail. Scan the various QR codes around our store to know more about what’s Better For Me!
We hear this a lot during our rundown to the opening of Anna’s—that eating our sourdough doesn’t seem to cause bloating, otherwise apparent when consuming commercially processed bread. Research studies now point towards the apparent transformative prowess of fermentation—microbes have an amazing, extraordinary ability to change flour, water and salt into something easily digestible and nourishing!
Sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic, ie the fibre in the bread helps feed the good bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria help maintain a stable, healthy digestive system. Grains are also powerful probiotics that support the positive gut bacteria. At Anna’s, our intentional choice of key grains boost the nutritional benefits for our gut and even our mood and well-being.
We’ve been asked many times—a store centred on sourdough? Really? Yes, yes and yes. We are convinced by science that microbes are the key link between food and our gut and mental health. There is even anecdotal evidence showing that bakers are on average healthier than their peers, likely contributed by the benefits of manual work as well as the close interaction with friendly microbes that helps in building a diverse gut community.
Sourdough bakes can even modulate the microbes that contribute to mental health. The simple truth is—we are in a symbiotic relationship with microbes. The more diversity in your bakes, the more robust your gut microbe. The more robust your gut microbe, the more benefits for your mental health. The sooner we can appreciate this relationship, the more we can do to eat better, perform better, live better.
Whether you are a baker, a diner or both, we will love to journey with you to appreciate the art of fermenting foods and the many delicious ways to boost the diversity of your microbes through fibre, pro- and pre-biotics, polyphenols and more!
How Sourdough Works?
This is the technical bit. But worth every bit of your time!
There is a lot going on in the humble dough. Sourdough is bread made from flour, water and salt, fermented using lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and wild yeast. The sourdough starter is quite simply, a colony of symbiotic microbes nurtured in a pot of water and dough. In a healthy starter, wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria thrive in a mutually beneficial, inter-dependent relationship, sharing all the available nutrients in the flour.
The Fermentation Process
When you create your starter, the multitude of bacteria and yeast start to break down the starch into sugars, which they then use to grow and multiply. Fermentation changes everything. We leave ours overnight for a minimum of 16 hours to prove in our slow-proofing room, allowing the yeast to slow down and the bacteria to work and produce acetic acid which gives sourdough that signature tang. It is that sourness that contributes to sourdough’s digestibility. If you have wheat sensitivity or digestive issues, this cold retardation allows for increased levels of acidity which means the flour is broken down more, leading to increased digestibility.
Different LAB produce different acids. Some bacteria produce more acetic acid, others more lactic acid. These contribute to the wide variety of flavours, profiles and textures in sourdough. The type of flour (we recommend freshly milled blends!), the temperature, the length of fermentation play important roles too.
We love taking the seats by the slow-proofing room and taking in the sight of the sourdough baskets all lined up, cold and rising in their own time. The room may seem cold and still but now you know, so much is happening!
The beauty of freshly milled flours
Flour is milled from grain, that’s easy. Most of the time, the grain used is bread wheat. Traditionally, flour used to be stoneground but commercial needs have shifted the modern milling process to use steel rollers instead. While highly efficient, the rollers get immensely hot and significantly decreases the amount of lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast present in the flour. When wheat is ultra-processed this way, the grain is crushed, milled and then sifted to remove the germ and the fibrous outer layer—the two nutrient-dense parts of the wheat kernel— in order to extend its shelf life.
We get that commercially processed flour is easy and convenient. But we do strongly believe in the benefits of freshly milled flour. So we are bringing that to you!
At Anna’s, we use The Mockmill Professional and the Hawos Pegasus—nifty, classy machines from Germany. Stone ground flour is a beauty to have in slow-fermented breads. You get to hand-pick every single ingredient depending on the profile you want, the diversity in the blend you desire. And all the benefits below!
The surest reason to use freshly milled flour is the ability to create diversity in your flour blends that will in turn boost the diversity in your loaves to maintain a diverse gut microbiota.
Commercial flour is milled to almost the same specification. With freshly milled flour, there’s coarseness and fineness to suit the grain profiles, adding a new dimension to your loaves.
Freshly milled flour hasn’t had time to oxidise and thus retains more nutrients. Creating your own blends helps to maximise the fibre content to feed the widest range of beneficial microbes throughout your bakes.
Once you have a whiff of the wheatened scent from bakes from freshly milled flour, you’ll never go back. Depending on your choice of ingredient and the blend you have created, the flavour can range from nutty to floral, with an elevated richness that is quite unparalleled. No more bleached and bromated flour!
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All things sourdough and better for me.
Anna’s, 681 Punggol Dr., #01-04, Oasis Terraces, Singapore 820681
Sun-Thurs: 8.30am-9.30pm | Fri-Sat: 8.30am-10pm
Anna’s x Union, NUS 12, Kent Ridge Crescent CLB-01-03, Singapore 119275
Monday to Friday: 8:30am – 8pm | Saturday: 8:30am – 5pm | Sunday: Closed