Life's been complicated the past many months as I've been caring for my mom as she's approaching the end of her life. She's approaching the final runway and talking to the control tower waiting for the all clear. It's been a long journey and most of the joy in life has been zapped out of me for now while we go through this.. so I've not been making much bread and don't recall that last loaf I made at some point in the spring. Reading everyone's bread forum entries has been a good distraction this summer - you're all to be applauded for your enthusiasm and dedication to the craft of bread baking. I'm posting tonight because I've just pulled one out of the oven a few minutes ago and wanted to share the story behind it..
Long before my mom's health turned for the worse early in the year I committed to becoming a beekeeper to offset the routine of life as a corporate suit with a part time bread passion.. I signed up for a local apprenticeship program and not being one to take it slow decided I may as well get my own hives right out of the gate.. (not exactly the best way to go about this as a novice - but it's been very rewarding and honey bees are good teachers!).
First up.. my two hives after being installed.. they sit on a roof top over-looking a cricket pitch..
The colorful painting of the honey supers (the upper boxes on each hive) was done by my daughter.. This picture was taken just after the hives were installed.
A few months later (about two weeks ago) I pulled a few honey frames out to extract some honey. Admittedly a bit premature (not all cells were caped in the frames) given it was their first year, but I really wanted to taste early summer honey (lighter colored and more delicate tasting than fall honey). So I only pulled out three frames..
I spun them out at a friends place and they yielded some great tasting honey! Did you know that in it's lifetime, the average honey bee can only produce about a teaspoon of honey?
But here's the thing.. the honey that was spun out gets poured into a food grade white pail from which I filled up my jars. And as I was trying to pour out the last bit of honey int he pail, there still was a thin coating of honey on it that the spatula left behind. I didn't want to just wash it out - thinking about how hard those bees worked to make this honey. So I spontaneously decided to add a few cups of water to the pale to rinse out and collect that honey which I then poured into a clean mason jar. I put the cap on it and left it by the kitchen window to see if I could get some wild yeast to develop. I've never made raisin water and figured this would be sort-of the same idea. About five days later I had some great smelling hooch! The honey started fermenting (this is how they make honey wine), some bubbles started forming and it gave off the sweetest smell of peach blended with alcohol. In the picture below I swirled the water a few times so you could see the yeasty bits float around.
At this point I took about 100g of this water and mixed it with 100g of whole wheat flour and left it over night. It definitely started to develop as I had some rise the next morning. I then refreshed this starter and gave it another 50g each of more water and flour and had a triple before noon. And with that I had a peachy, honey, alcohol smelling starter on my hands.. (sorry no pics of it).. I then followed this recipe https://www.sourdoughandolives.com/recipe/how-to-make-and-bake-with-raisin-yeast/ I found online to make a levain (without the use of raisins of course) and made some bread dough.. I mixed the levain Saturday and made the final bread dough yesterday. Life got in the way again and I had to leave the dough in the fridge overnight for an extended bulk and only earlier tonight did I have a chance to shape it and let it proof at room temp. I didn't get a full double of the dough in the proof basket (maybe about 50%).. so it's a bit over proofed.. but here was the final bread just before I pulled it from the oven..
I don't suspect the crumb will be much to look at, but I'm looking forward to giving it a taste to see if any honey flavor was passed along in the process.. This was a good experiment and proved to me that there's never an excuse for not making bread when you can harvest wild yeast so easily!
Bake happy.. bread1965!