Sourdough bread: A sweet alternative to Ramadan pide

Wth Ramadan starting at dawn on Saturday, everyone is waiting for the moment they get a hot Ramadan pide for "iftar" (fast-breaking meal) and put butter on it, enjoying the enchanting smell before eating the whole piece in a second. Although it sounds like a dream, eating Ramadan pide can be a nightmare for some.

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Wth Ramadan starting at dawn on Saturday, everyone is waiting for the moment they get a hot Ramadan pide for “iftar” (fast-breaking meal) and put butter on it, enjoying the enchanting smell before eating the whole piece in a second. Although it sounds like a dream, eating Ramadan pide can be a nightmare for some. Ramadan pide usually lies heavily in the stomach, making the person who eats it uncomfortable. Also, it makes you feel full before eating anything else, which is an issue during Ramadan, as you have a very limited time to eat and give your body all the minerals and vitamins it needs during the day.

It is a good thing that we have an alternative that is as sweet and delicious as Ramadan pide. Sourdough bread has been around for centuries and this unusual bread is made with fermented yeast instead of fresh yeast that is used for regular bread and Ramadan pide. Sourdough breads use a fermented, batter-like dough starter to make them rise and enhance their flavor. A portion of the sourdough starter is mixed with the bread’s ingredients, while the remainder is kept and “fed” with more flour and water to use in future batches. What makes sourdough bread unique is that it does not go bad for over a week. Another unique feature of sourdough bread is that it can be kneaded with machines like any other bread but also by hand by the bakers and mixed with a lot of water.

In Turkey, sourdough bread is quite common, especially in rural areas. Baker Mehmet Atlı and his son are two people who continue to bake sourdough bread every week in their shop in Giresun province of Turkey.

The yeast that the Atlı family uses in their shop is known for being around for more than 150 years. “I learned this profession [baking] from my father. My grandfather was a baker as well. We bake sourdough bread, which is called ‘sulu somun’ (‘wet bread’) here, once a week, in a stone oven. The origins of this sour yeast go back to the times of my grandfather,” Atlı said.

The younger Ayhan Atlı said that they not only sell this bread within Giresun but send it to other provinces in Turkey. Claiming that they send the sourdough bread they bake to health professionals and dieticians as well, the son said: “We are the only bakery to bake sourdough bread in Giresun. We bake it once a week as it is quite hard to prepare the dough compared to the regular breads we eat. A loaf of sourdough bread weighs between 7 and 8 kilograms. We sometimes sell it in pieces according to the demand of customers. We also send this bread to other provinces via cargo companies.”

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