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Home > Healthy Living > Around the globe with sourdough bread

Around the globe with sourdough bread

San Francisco in the United States is perhaps the most well-known city associated with sourdough bread but sourdough breadmaking is a tradition and practice found in many countries around the world, each with its unique variations and flavors. 

Some breads are specific for the region because of the strains that can be found in the starter; others are connected to the location culturally. Maybe you will find some baking inspiration in this blog.

San Francisco Sourdough

San Francisco sourdough is a unique type of sourdough bread with its roots in San Francisco, California. What sets it apart are the specific strains of wild yeast and bacteria found in the region. This particular combination, often called Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, imparts the notable tangy and slightly sour taste that is characteristic of San Francisco sourdough.

The fermentation and baking processes that give it its characteristic features are a bit different too. Typically lasting 12 to 24 hours or more, this prolonged fermentation allows the wild yeast and bacteria to flourish and impart their distinct flavors and textures to the bread. Bread stands out for its distinctive tangy flavor, chewy texture, and crispy crust. The traditional baking techniques, often using hearth ovens, contribute to the development of the crust and the overall texture of the bread.

If you manage to get the starter with this particular bacteria strains, you can bake it anywhere in the world.

Italian Sourdough Breads

When we think about Italy, delicious focaccia or ciabatta comes to mind. Most of the breads can easily be made with sourdough. There are many typical breads that come from certain regions too.

Pane di Altamura

Named after a town settled on one of the Murge plateau hills, pane di Altamura is a country-style sourdough bread that has been traditionally produced in the provinces of Bari and Barletta-Andria-Trani for centuries. It is made only with durum wheat dough, natural yeast, salt, and water. Once the staple food of Murge people, these large loaves of bread were kneaded in Altamura’s households, branded with the family name and then baked in community ovens.

Sourdough Pane di Altamura is a variation of the traditional Altamura bread, utilizing a sourdough starter. This addition infuses a subtle sourness and enhances the overall flavour. The natural fermentation process yields a slightly chewier crumb, complementing the bread’s iconic crunchy crust. Traditional ingredients like durum wheat semolina, water, and sea salt are combined with the sourdough starter, and the bread is baked at high temperatures in a wood-fired oven to achieve its distinctive texture and aroma. This adaptation retains the cultural and historical significance of the original Altamura bread.


Sourdough focaccia offers a heightened flavour complexity when contrasted with its traditional counterpart, courtesy of the fermentation process driven by the sourdough starter. Utilizing a sourdough starter in focaccia introduces a gentle tanginess to the flavour and enriches the bread’s overall texture.

Focaccia bread is usually one of the go-to breads of every sourdough baker because it’s easy to make and leaves room for creativity when choosing the toppings.

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French pastry delights

Even though France is famous for its bread and baguettes with wonderful sourdough versions, we will focus more on the pastries this time.

Sourdough Croissants

A sourdough twist on the classic croissant. Sourdough starter is used to impart a subtle sourness to the dough, resulting in a flaky, buttery pastry with an enhanced flavour profile.

Sourdough Brioche

Incorporating sourdough starter into brioche dough gives this rich, soft, and buttery pastry a slightly sour taste while maintaining its tender texture. It’s commonly used for making French toast and other delightful treats.

Sourdough Macarons

Sourdough macarons are a contemporary variation of the classic French macaron, where a sourdough starter is incorporated into the macaronage process. The macaronage process involves folding almond flour and powdered sugar into the meringue mixture to create signature smooth, shiny, and slightly chewy macaron shells.

Flatbreads from different countries

Sourdough is a versatile leavening agent that can be used to create various flatbreads across different geographical regions. Here are some notable sourdough flatbreads from different parts of the world:

Sourdough Naan (India, Pakistan, Middle East)

Naan is a soft, leavened flatbread typically made in a tandoor (clay oven). Using a sourdough starter can add depth and complexity to its flavour while maintaining its characteristic soft and fluffy texture.

Sourdough Injera (Ethiopia, Eritrea)

Injera is a sourdough flatbread with a spongy texture, commonly used as a base for stews and other dishes. The fermentation process from a sourdough starter gives Injera its distinct sour taste and characteristic appearance.

Sourdough Tortillas (Mexico, Spain)

Tortillas are a staple in Mexican cuisine, typically made from masa harina (corn dough). Using a sourdough starter can bring a unique tanginess to the tortillas and enhance their flavour.

Sourdough Pita (Middle East, Mediterranean region)

Pita is a round, pocket-style flatbread that puffs up when baked. Incorporating sourdough in the preparation can give the pita a nuanced, aromatic taste.

As we gather inspiration from these global sourdough variations, we’re encouraged to start our own sourdough journey. Establishing a sourdough starter unique to our environment and experimenting with different flours can lead to the creation of personalized sourdough bread and pastries.

Understanding the importance of fermentation, temperature, hydration, and baking techniques empowers us to craft delightful and flavorful baked goods that resonate with our individual taste preferences.

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