The Fresh Loaf

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wild yeast

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ejm's picture
ejm

challah

After seeing Eli's version of Maggie Glezer's sourdough challah from her book A Blessing of Bread, I really wanted to make challah. But this particular bread uses a firm starter. (Firm starter?! I don' know noth'n' 'bout makin' no firm starters, Mizz Scahlet!) I don't have A Blessing of Bread yet (I do have Glezer's wonderful book Artisan Baking though and it's one of my favourites). And my other cookbooks talk about how to make firm starters but, but, but... I need hand-holding with new techniques. ESPECIALLY where wild yeast is concerned.

So I did an internet search to see if anyone else had made Glezer's challah. And found yet another version of Glezer's challah on Tatter's blog, "The Bread Chronicle". This one is made with a liquid levain. Ah, that's what I like to see!! I'm familiar with liquid levains. Not exactly an expert with them but at least I've used them frequently.

I had fun braiding challah.

challah weavingchallah weaving

challah weavingchallah weaving

I'm sure that it's incorrect to have that little bit of whole wheat flour but I really like to add just a little (using Carol Field's idea of adding wholewheat flour to our highly refined white flour to mimic stoneground flour). I think the tiny bit of whole wheat adds flavour as well, making the bread seem not quite so much like "white bread" that can be so flavour-free.

Our challah was wonderful! Wonderful and flavour-full. I loved the honey in it. And it was really fantastic for breakfast with hard boiled eggs and strong coffee with lots of cream.

challah
  • semi-wild challah recipe based on the recipe for basic sourdough in Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant and a recipe for challah in Maggie Glezer’s cookbook A Blessing of Bread

And yes, Glezer's book A Blessing of Bread is now on my "wish list". I think I neeeeed to have it.

-Elizabeth

yves's picture
yves

Ive been looking into various recipes and explanations of creating a starter, and i thought id put a summary here.

--

Pretty well all of the recipes include a replication step like "divide in two, disposing of one half, and adding back a particular ratio mixture as a replacement". A very few have slightly different steps in the first few days but end up with this process at the end.

Additionally almost all recipes have the same general description for success: a mixture that when replicated displays a leavening effect (rises to about double its size) and a sort of "large bubble" foam on a consistant basis over several days. Notably many authors mention that it is common to see a false leavening effect caused by undesirable bacteria in the early phase of the process that then disappears after several days only to be replaced by the real leavening effect a few days later.

By far the most common recipe comes down to: take a 1:1 by weight mixture of flour and water and replicate every 24 hours until stable. Some recipes suggest 12 hours, and some require specific types of flour, with many recommending wholemeal or rye flour until the mixture is stable and then switching to AP afterwards. Most suggest that the unit be a cup of water. Also a number suggest using a 1:2 mixture (1 cup flour to 1 cup water is about 1:2 flour to water by weight),

Occasionally a few additives are suggested:

Acidic additives: These usually include some kind of acidic juice, with pineapple or orangejuice in the initial steps. The idea is that the juice lowers the ph preventing undesirable bacteria from growing but providing a good environment for wild yeast while at the same time providing sugars for the wild yeast to feed on. Vinegar is also suggested occasionally for similar reasons.

There are a much lower number suggesting using milk products. In this case the intention seems to be to encourage lactobascili, and also possibly the same justification as for the acidic additives.

Diastatic malt is also sometimes recommended with a tiny amount being added in the initial steps, also people that use AP flour will be unknowingly including tiny amounts of this as it usually added by the miller. The intention of this seems to be to provide sugar to the wild yeast, but enzymatically from the starch from the flour. Sometimes sweetener is suggested for similar reasons.

A few sources seem to suggest that you can manufacture wild yeast from commerical yeast, or that commerical bakers yeast will revert to wild.

One or two seem to suggest using things like unmilled rye or barly, or using the skins of wild or field grown grapes.

---

When i decided to make a starter I had access to a commerical starter "Seitenbacher(c) Natur Saurteig" that is widely available in grocery stores where I live in Germany.

Since I thought that was kind of cheating I decided I would make two, one a replication starting from some left over dough from a batch i made with the starter, and one with raw material. Aside from the fact that one included a small part of the dough I did exactly the same thing with both: replicating of a blanced blend of rye and wholemeal flour mixed at 1:1 with water with the base weight being 200 grams. I was very careful not to contaminate the wild one with the commerical, always working with the wild one first. On the third day I added a tiny amount (0.1 of a gram or so) of diastatic malt after I replicated (i didnt have any to add on the first day), And by the 8th day i had stability. The two behave somewhat differently with the wild one being a little slower to rise, but rising further in the oven, and they make a nice loaf mixed together. :-)

My opinion of this is that Im not all that convinced by the additives, with the exception of the diastatic malt. For the juices the reason is that I think its hard to control how acidic the formulation goes, and that citrus frust have their own associated bacteria and yeasts, which are probably not as appropriate as the yeasts we see living naturally on grain. (I will say though that I have seen one particularly cogent argument, incidentally posted here, in favour of using juice.)

For the milk i think its just generally a bad idea, some of the bascili in milk can kill you and also most milk you can buy is pasteurized anyway, and i think that the bascili we want grow naturally on the grain and on our hands and other places. We dont need it from milk. Sweetener I think is a bad idea. In general they are preservatives,

My feeling is that one wants to encourage the wild stuff on the grain to replicate and that introducing things that are totally foreign wont help. Diastatic malt is an exception because it is a substance that does naturally occur in wheat and other grains and so adding a bit more doesnt drastically change things. Also its effect is slower, something that i think is important, providing a steady supply of sugar over time instead of a huge amount at the start which tapers off over time, something which doesnt seem to me to be inclined to make for a stable environment, and after all one thing we are looking for is a stable environment.

Anyway, Im no expert, form your own opinions. But most importantly try it, it isnt very hard. :-)

 

 

ejm's picture
ejm

wild rye bread © ejm July 2008

Dark rye bread flavoured with onion and caraway seeds and made with wild yeast; based on a recipe by "Breadchick", one of the Bread Baking Babes (BBB)

My starter is extremely active these days. I think that's one reason this bread turned out so incredibly well. When I started to make it, I was sort of sneaking around about it. It was a bit warm outside (around 28C) and I wasn't absolutely certain that turning on the oven would be a big hit.

My fears were unfounded. We loved this bread. And no wonder. It was fabulous!

It was equally delicious on its own, or buttered, or toasted and buttered. And it made the most stellar Reuben sandwiches (made with home-made red cabbage sauerkraut)! Did we take photos of the sandwiches? Ha. Of course not. We were too busy stuffing them down our gullets.

I was particularly thrilled with the slashes on the bread. I've never managed to have slashes stay so well defined. I only hope I can reproduce this! I can't wait until we have enough freezer space so I can make it again.

wild rye bread © ejm July 2008

For a more detailed account, please see:

The all-purpose flour I use is "No Name" (Loblaws) unbleached (about 11.5% protein). The rye flour is "Five Roses" Dark Rye flour (no idea how much protein). The bread flour is "Robin Hood" 'best for bread' flour (about 13% protein).

And I used my shiny new digital scale to weigh the ingredients!

digital scale © ejm July 2008wild rye bread © ejm July 2008
ejm's picture
ejm

I did it!!! I did it!!!

wild bread

After weeks of angst with babying my jar of wild yeast, feeling I would never be able to bake a loaf of bread that WASN'T sour (not to mention the several times I was going to throw in the towel altogether), I have achieved my goal.

Not only was it not too sour; it wasn't sour at all! And it was light!! Light as a feather!!

And here's how I did it: I virtually started over with feeding. Some time in March or so, I brought the sludge out of the fridge and returning to McKenna Grant's (Piano Piano Pieno) original formula, and started a twice a day regimen:

  • 2 Tbsp wild sludge
  • 3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp water

And kept at it for days until finally finally, it began to look like a real starter again.

Now the question is whether I'll be able to repeat the success...

I like to balance cookie cutter(s) on top of the just shaped bread to etch a design in top of the loaf. For this loaf, I used 3 heart shaped cutters. Instead of removing them just before baking, I left them there for the first half of the baking and removed them when turning them around to account for uneven heat in the oven.

wild bread

The bread really was outstanding. Wonderfully crisp and chewy on the outside and light and open-holed inside.

lungalux's picture

wild yeast

May 9, 2008 - 2:39pm -- lungalux

I am just starting to experiment with making bread and made my own yeast by mixing AP flour and water together and feeding it daily (twice daily at the beginning) per the Joy of Cooking instructions.  It's been 2 weeks and I have what I think is a nice looking bowl of wild yeast - it's pretty fluid (not runny) and has lots of holes on the surface and it smells pretty "yeasty" I think.  Whenever I feed it, it deflates and puffs right back up about 12 hours later. 

 I continue to feed it daily, but I'm not sure if

ejm's picture
ejm

chapati
A few mornings ago, I imagined that my wild yeast starter was all ready to make bread. I announced I would make focaccia with it to go with that evening's dinner of puy lentils and sausage. Silly me. I should have known this would be a mistake. My failures with my wild yeast are legion this winter. The focaccia dough failed entirely to rise. Not even a glimmer of a bubble. After several hours. So I stuck the slumping lump of dough in the fridge and made another announcement: I would make chapatis with wild yeast (ha) dough the next day, because they're made without yeast anyway. What a brilliant save!! The chapatis tasted faintly sour but they were absolutely wonderful. Especially when you consider that the dough might have been baked into a spectacularly terrible focaccia.
omelette and chapati

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