The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

desem bread

codruta's picture

I think we all agree Phil's breads are awesome. When I saw his latest post, I instantly decided that I want to make the desem bread... but I didn't have a desem starter, and with 2 active starters in my house, I didn't really wanted to make another starter from scratch. But a couple of days later I saw David's post on the same topic and I followed his example. I took a small amount of my white starter and fed it with whole wheat flour at 50% hydration, kept it in the fridge all the time. After a week and 2-3 feeds, I decided to give it a try. The desem build was slighty sour (I tasted it just before using it), but the bread is not sour at all. Is not sour, is not bitter, it has a wonderful caramel aroma and is lighter than other WW breads I made before :)... but it doesn't have the famous sweet taste I hoped it would have :(. I think this might be because the desem starter still has some of the characteristic of the white starter and it will need more than 2 feeds to change completely... or is because I didn't use freshly milled flour like Phil did... or both.

I had and used a low protein (10.9g) whole wheat flour from Alnatura ( and Phil advised me to increased the prefermented flour and to reduce hydration and fermentation time. The overall hydration was 80% and fermentation time was 2h:30min (first fermenatation) and 1h:20min second fermentation at 24C. The dough was slighty underproofed, as you can see, but it had a good oven spring, nice crust colour and nice crumb (not as opened as Phil's ...but,  I'll get there one day!). I'll be making this formula again, the taste is very close to what I expected, the aroma is delicious and it was a real pleasure to eat it. Thank you Phil for the detailed formula and the help you gave me along the way!


The desem starter after 2 feeds:

The desem build just before use:

The preshaped dough, before rest and final shape (I made just one loaf from 850g of dough):

and the baked bread:

Best wishes to all of you,


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