The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Desem Starter

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Steve H's picture
Steve H

Desem Starter

I am considering trying to make Desem bread, and the recipe I've found for it requires 10# of freshly milled whole wheat flour to get it going (maybe 5# according to Mike)  I do have a friend with a (small) mill so I might be able to make this happen but I have two questions:


1.  Does anyone have a Desem starter they would be willing to share? (I wonder if it is dryable/freezable like a normal starter)


2.  Does anyone know what kind of wheat I am supposed to use and where to get it?  Do I use this: http://morebeer.com/view_product/17121/102155/Wheat ?

nova's picture
nova

Steve,


You can use regular fresh organic flour you purchase...but fresh ground is better.  I have had success with either type of flour.  However the fresh ground gives a much more vigorous growth in the starter.  Hard winter or spring wheat berries are what you want to grind..I have lots of desem but it does NOT freeze well.  I have tried to do so and basically have to put it on life support to get it back in shape.  Life support was feeding it with rye flour for several days and then returning back to whole wheat only for the feeds.


Where are you located?  I am in NC.  I would be glad to give U starter...but I think shipping it is very risky without temperature control.  It has to stay within the 42-68 Temperature range to  keep the microflora healthy.  And I have never heard of drying the starter out, as one can with Sour Dough.

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Thanks!  I'll let you know if I decide to do it.  It sounds risky and complicated to ship though, so I might just bite the bullet and do it here.


Steve

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

I started one and I absolutely LOVE it.

I'm in Canada, so it might be difficult to ship you some if you're in the U.S. with security being what it is these days.

Nova, I would recommend dehydrating on parchment if you want to ship some to Steve. Then if Steve reconstitutes it under colder temperatures as required for Desem, it would probably work fine. Nova, no liquid or hydrated starter freezes well, the cells burst with expansion. Dried yeast freezes fine.

Steve, I read that it is essential that the mill be cleaned well, so if you can clean your friend's mill, or at least grind a bunch of other flour through it first. I used my Vitamix dry/grain jar to grind a flour, from organic wheat and some spelt berries. I started it in the cool garage, in a paper bag as said in Laurel's kitchen. I put the paper bag on a baking pan right on the concrete floor of the garage so it would be good and cool. It worked amazingly well. I put the Vitamix grain jar in the dishwasher first so there weren't other organisms on it. I happened to have a tiny thermometer so I put that beside the bag to monitor that it kept in the temperature range recommended. I also scrubbed my hands really well before handling it, wanting to make sure it got the right organisms, while I was establishing the new starter.

Not only is the flavor really nice, but the leavening power is outstanding. It's a good fast riser, it surprised me. One of the things that I like is that if you're a twice a week baker, Desem works great with that schedule versus other starters.

I'm really glad I did it, though it took a few years to get me to the point where I could be bothered to do it.

Steve, do you happen to have any sources that give the hydration in % or weight, Laurel's kitchen gives it in cups, and I wish I knew what was correct as a % hydration or weight.

nova's picture
nova

Buns of Steel:


The Oven Builders indicates that 100% hydration is the way to go with desem: equal weights of flour and water.  I have gone a different way: you can keep it as a stiff: 3:4:7.....3 parts starter to 4 parts water to 7 parts flour...works well and convert to the 1:1 when prepping bread.


The dehydration idea I like and can try...I am going away for 10 days and cannot figure out how to keep the desem in good shape...will try drying it on parchment and see if I can reconstitute b/4 I go out of town.


Steve, if I can dry it successfully, would be glad to ship some to you.


Nova


 

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Awesome!  Its worth a try!  Let me know how it goes and thanks so much!


If it works, I'll be glad to dry some of mine and ship it out to others as well!