If you walk down the bread aisle of most grocery stores, you’ll see that sourdough bread is one of the most common options, alongside white, wheat, and potato bread. Despite its mainstream branding, sourdough bread is actually one of the oldest bread known to man.
Is sourdough bread vegan, though?
Yes! Sourdough is almost always vegan. At its most basic, sourdough bread is made from three simple ingredients: fermented wheat flour, water, and salt, all of which are 100% vegan.
Just make sure to double-check and make sure that the bread doesn’t have any unexpected additives!
Today’s post is going to be all about sourdough bread. So, if you enjoy sandwiches, toast, or just plain old-fashioned bread, then you’ve come to the right place.
I’ll start by answering some of the most common questions about sourdough bread and breakdown the ingredients and baking process.
Let’s get this bread!
Is There Any Dairy In Sourdough Bread?
This is a very common question, especially since dairy and/or eggs are commonly used in baking. However, it’s not the case with sourdough bread.
The recipe for sourdough bread is ancient, simple, and contains no traces of dairy or eggs whatsoever.
At this point, you may also be wondering, “Why is dairy used in bread, to begin with?”
The main reason milk is sometimes used in bread (and baking, in general) is that it contains a lot of sugar. Seeing as none of the other ingredients in bread have any sugar, the added milk makes a huge difference.
Additionally, milk bread is significantly softer than traditional bread. For these reasons, milk bread is generally regarded as a “dessert” or sweet bread.
Does Sourdough Starter Have Milk?
If you’re looking for a short answer… No, the sourdough starter does not have milk or dairy.
A sourdough starter is the dough mix that’s used to bake the delicious sourdough bread. Unlike traditional wheat bread, the sourdough starter uses fermented flour. The fermented flour (or sourdough starter, as it’s often called) is made up of three ingredients:
- Lactic acid bacteria (a “good” probiotic bacteria)
- Wheat flour
Lactic acid is usually what trips most vegans up.
The word “lactic” is often mixed up with “lactose,” which is a common sugar that’s only found in milk and dairy products.
Although the words sound familiar, I assure you that they’re completely different. Lactose is associated with dairy, while lactic acid is an ancient probiotic bacteria that are found in our digestive system and is typically derived from plants.
Is Yeast Vegan?
This is a common question that I get from a lot of first-time vegans. I myself was unsure when I first went vegan.
Although yeast is a living organism, it has no central nervous system. It’s a simple eukaryotic species of fungi that are naturally found in the plant kingdom and throughout nature.
In other words, yeast is vegan.
Is Dunkin Donuts Sourdough Bread Vegan?
One of the best vegan options on the menu at Dunkin Donuts is their famous Avocado Toast. Despite the fact that it comes from a fast-food restaurant, I can attest that it’s a darn good recipe!
Avocado/guacamole is always vegan, so that’s not an issue. However, most people seem a bit unsure about whether or not Dunkin Donuts’ sourdough bread is vegan…
Thankfully, Dunkin Donuts’ sourdough bread is 100% vegan.
According to Dunkin’s ingredient list, their sourdough bread is made using:
- Enriched wheat flour
- Rye flour
- Malted barley flour
Although it’s got a few more ingredients than a simple flour-water-and-salt recipe, they’re all plant-based and safe for vegans to eat.
Sourdough 101: How Sourdough Bread Is Made
Well, that answers all of the vegan-related questions that most people have about sourdough bread… This section is for the more curious individuals out there.
As I mentioned, sourdough bread is one of the most ancient bread recipes known to man. Believe it or not, the ancient Egyptians were making sourdough thousands of years ago!
As with many such things, the belief is that it was discovered “by accident,” when a bit of airborne yeast landed in a batch of dough that was left sitting out.
Sourdough bread is known for its characteristic taste – slightly sour with a hint of saltiness. It also tends to be a bit firmer than traditional bread.
Unlike traditional bread that’s made using yeast and baking powder, sourdough bread is fermented with naturally-occurring yeast. The fermentation process is what gives the bread its sour taste and allows the sourdough starter to last far longer than non-fermented dough.
The Sourdough Starter: Where It All Begins
Making a sourdough starter is simple and easy. It usually starts with two types of wheat flour:
- All-purpose wheat flour
- Whole wheat flour
The whole wheat flour is full of natural lactobacilli and natural yeast that are waiting to be activated by water. The all-purpose wheat flour provides additional nutrients that feed the sourdough starter and create a nice, sourdough that’s ready to be baked.
It begins with a 1:1:1 ratio (1 part whole wheat flour, 1 part all-purpose flour, and 1 part freshwater).
For example, if you want to make a single loaf of bread, you’ll want to add 25 grams of each flour and 25 grams of water to a jar.
You’ll want to mix it down with a fork until it turns into a thick dough-like paste. Then, you’ll want to seal the jar and leave it somewhere warm or at room temperature.
Now that water has been introduced to the mixture, the yeast and bacteria in the mixture will wake up and start doing what they do best – eating the nutrients in the flour and producing gassy bubbles (which help the dough rise).
Every day, you’ll want to feed your starter by adding a small spoonful of all-purpose flour and an equal amount of water. You’ll repeat this process for about five days. By the end, you should have an active, extra-bubbly sourdough starter that’s ready to bake.
How Long Does Sourdough Starter Last?
Here’s where things get interesting…
Since sourdough is naturally fermented, it can last up to several weeks in cooler temperatures. In fact, early Western and Alaskan frontier explorers used to keep jars of sourdough starter with them, as yeast wasn’t commercially produced or available for purchase back then.
Due to the cool northern temperatures, their starter would stay safe and ready in their packs for weeks at a time until the explorers were able to bake it.
In general, your sourdough can easily last two or three weeks in the refrigerator. If you let it sit too long, the bacteria will eventually over-populate and the bread won’t be good for eating.
Is Sourdough Bread Healthier Than White Bread?
One of the best reasons to eat sourdough as a vegan is that it’s incredibly healthier. In fact, it’s a LOT healthier for you than traditional white bread or even natural whole wheat bread.
What makes sourdough bread so healthy for you is that it’s a natural probiotic food.
Lactobacillus bacteria are one of the key ingredients in modern probiotic supplements and are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive and immune system. The more sour your sourdough bread is, the more probiotics you’re consuming with each serving!
As far as the calories go, though, white bread and sourdough bread have similar nutritional value.
Butter Up Your Sourdough Bread With Vegan Butter!
One of the best ways to eat your sourdough bread is the simplest- butter on toast. There are several great-tasting plant-based vegan butter on the market. They’re typically made using natural vegetable or nut oil instead of dairy.
Alternatively, if you prefer your sourdough as a sandwich, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan deli meat slices next!