By Arathi Menon
There is something about Dina’s sourdough bread and you need to eat it to believe it. To the uninitiated, sourdough is perhaps the oldest form of bread there is. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians discovered this style of fermentation by accident around 1,500 BC. It spread first to Greece and then to other parts of Europe.
Sourdough was the default bread-making in places like Germany until brewer’s yeast (from the breweries) became popular and demanded equal space on dinner tables. Nevertheless, sourdough continues to be popular, largely among the health-conscious.
Sourdough bread is now available in Mysuru, thanks to a German baker who has made Mysuru her home.
Dina Weber from Bielefeld, Northwest Germany, was an avid traveller who, on her first trip to India in 2014, met a British baker who played a pivotal role in shaping her career as a baker. From him, she learnt the art and science of sourdough making which ignited her passion to bake.
“I was trained as a barista and bartender but I was always interested in baking. In Goa, I was volunteering at a cafe where I met a baker from the UK who taught me how to make sourdough bread,” she says.
She went back to Germany but returned to India and opened a cafe in Gokulam, Mysuru, with her husband Balamurugan. Dina realised that a business cannot depend solely on the floating yoga student population, so she closed the cafe and started a bakery.
Dina says that sourdough is basically a curd culture that needs to be kept alive by feeding it with flour and water. For the bread making, a portion of the culture is mixed with flour and water and made to rest for eight to 12 hours. This helps the micro-organisms to multiply. This is called a starter which is, in fact, the rising agent.
What makes sourdough different is that it is made from yeast which has multiple organisms unlike the commercially available yeast. “Sourdough has multiple strains. This helps sourdough predigest the protein and starch chains making it light,” Dina explains.
Why would anyone choose sourdough bread? For one, it is healthier. The natural process involved in baking a sourdough bread makes it possible to predigest protein and starch chains making it easy to digest and healthy for the gut. It’s also tastier since multiple micro-organisms in the culture work on various sugars broken down from the starch, giving the bread a varied flavour profile.
Moreover, sourdough bread that Dina makes has no artificial additives or preservatives making it excellent for overall health.
There are a lot of interesting flavours like roasted pumpkin bread, carrot and seed bread, baguette and gluten-free with ragi and rice. She also has some sweetbreads, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls and chocolate brioche.
Priced between Rs. 180 and Rs. 450, Dina says her bread varieties are catching on with Mysureans.
Dina’s bakery, SAPA Sourdough & Pastry, is located in Jayalakshmipuram, next to Brindavan Hospital, where she has bake sales every Thursday for two hours from 5 pm to 7 pm.