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I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately – both with sourdough and commercial yeast. We generally prefer sourdough for the health benefits and flavor, but I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison to see what differences, if any, I noticed in the texture, flavor, and rise of the bread.

So, I mixed up two batches of dough for a no-knead whole grain loaf. One was risen exclusively with sourdough while the other contained commercial yeast as well as a bit of yogurt. The no-knead loaf required a longer rise time anyway – 12 hours to be exact. So I used just a cup of sourdough starter to see if I could mimic the minimal amount of yeast.

Here are the results.

Rise Time

Yeast-Risen: This bread took about 12 hours to rise, as the recipe stated. This was done in two stages with an eight hour rise in the bowl followed by a four hour rise in the pan. (It’s cool in our house so I think this is why it took longer.)

Sourdough: This bread took 24 hours to rise, also in two stages. We like a longer fermentation period for bread anyways, but I wasn’t expecting it to take quite this long. Again, I suspect the cooler temperatures in our home.

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Rise

Both breads seem to have the same rise in the end. Neither rose to incredible heights but this was a no-knead whole grain bread so we were expecting a nutty, full-bodied loaf.

Flavor

Hands down we enjoyed the sourdough loaf more so than the yeast-risen loaf. Our children also love the tang of sourdough so it wasn’t hard when I asked what they preferred. The yeast flavor was nice but it was definitely lacking that sourdough tang which I find to have an almost umami quality.

Conclusion

We preferred the sourdough loaf in the end, mostly because of the flavor and the benefits of the fermentation process. While many people tell me that sourdough creates a more dense loaf than commercial yeast, I think some of this comes down to patience. Sourdough can definitely take a longer period of time to rise but we find it worth the wait.