The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman sourdough yeast water

varda's picture

Yeast water Vermont Sourdough with peony...

After being pushed over the edge by Akiko's magnificent baguette, the desire to ferment just became too strong.    So over the last few days I've been making banana yeast water.   I followed Akiko's instructions in her blog post which also refers to a very detailed and helpful web page.   I replaced raisins with sliced bananas but otherwise followed instructions.   This means that I started with banana and water only rather than weaning my flour based levain to fruit as I have seen others write about.  After 5 days it seemed that the yeast water was ready.   I strained out the water, took half of it, added flour, left it overnight on the counter and baked with it the next morning.   The results were tasty but not quite ready for prime time.    Meanwhile I fed the yeast water with another banana and water as per Akiko's instructions and this morning was ready to try again.   I decided to bake Hamelman's Vermont Sourdough partly because it's good and Codruta reminded me of it, and partly to have a well recognized formula to experiment with.   Further I baked two loaves - one with a banana yeast water levain and the other with my regular levain.   Since these were different hydrations the only difference in the two doughs was how much water I added to the final dough.    All of the percentages matched Hamelman's instructions.   While preparing both doughs, I noticed that the yeast water version was always more manageable and with a more silky texture.   Really though, there was very little difference between the two doughs.   However during final proof it became clear that the one with regular levain was fermenting much more rapidly.   In fact so quickly that the oven wasn't entirely ready for it when I put it in.   Unfortunately this caused me to stumble technically.   The loaf bottom split in the oven and so the whole loaf came out misshapen.    I am almost sure this was due to the fact the oven wasn't steamed properly and also possibly the stone wasn't sufficiently preheated.   Oh well.   I waited until the first loaf was done (and the oven resteamed) before putting in the yeast water loaf.    This had definitely needed the extra 55 minutes of proofing and did much better in the oven.  As for taste, what can I say - they are both tasty breads, but the regular levain sourdough has a tiny bit of sour tang which is quite delicious, where the yeast water loaf is a bit flat.   Also if you look at the crumb shots below, even with the poor misshapen loaf, the regular levain wins the competition.   So maybe I simply chose the wrong formula to test out my yeast water on and picked one that is more appropriate for a regular levain.    I will probably try, try again, and I simply love the fact that I can take a piece of fruit, doctor it for a few days, and end up with something that very competently raises bread.   


Yeast water Vermont Sourdough crumb...

Vermont Sourdough with standard levain crumb...

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