The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Where's the Why/How?

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gravityarcher's picture
gravityarcher

Where's the Why/How?

Six months ago, I began growing my own starter with captured yeast from my mountain-top hideway. Since then, I've had various amounts of success with the one constant being improvement. At this point, I have a starter that I can take out of the fridge, and after two days of feeding, I can make a very tasty loaf of fresh bread that has risen perfectly and has a beautiful texture.


As someone who grew up with science and continues to pursue it, I'm rather interested in the science behind the sourdough. I've done some research and, suprisingly, have found little evidence of a single source that gives the hardcore science behind the bread. I often run into articles explaining the simple details, ending in how to make your own loaf, but never mention the true science of it.


Does anyone know of good source of knowledge of the exact science behind sourdough bread? I'm talking about chemical formulas of alchohol and acid production, scientific explanations of often heard advice, etc.


Things I'm interested in:


-the exact symbiotic nature of Lactobacillius and Yeast


-the effect of metal on the bread (why many say not to use it)


-how and why a starter matures over a period of time


-what hooch exactly is and why it is considered unimportant


 


Anyone have some insight or know of a good resource?


Thanks!


 

Zigs's picture
Zigs

http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Science-Chemistry-Craft-Making/dp/0977806804/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231201345&sr=8-4


She has a PhD in chemistry and can definetely get you started in the right direction as her book includes a robust bibliography.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== I've done some research and, suprisingly, have found little evidence of a single source that gives the hardcore science behind the bread. I often run into articles explaining the simple details, ending in how to make your own loaf, but never mention the true science of it. ===


In part that is because there is no single accepted body of theory on sourdough and its components.  As Emily Buehler noted in _Bread Science_, the scientific method was first brought to bear on the study of bread in 1840, yet 168 years later there is still no single theory of gluten development in straight (bakers yeast) dough.  And sourdough is 100 times more complex than straight dough.


That said, _The Bread Builders_, the classic book on building and baking in brick ovens, has an appendix that discusses the science of sourdough and provides many useful references and includes an interview with a leading German sourdough scientist.  Note that most of the detailed sourdough research is done in Germany so we English speakers have to find translations, but the references in TBB are all translated.  I recommend getting _The Bread Builders_ from the library as a starting point.


_Bread Science_ is very good too.


sPh


Note however that as of today (2009/01/05), Emily Buehler's web site appears to be infected with the malware known as "Antivirus2009" and its home page is popping infectious pop-up windows.  Direct links to sub-pages don't seem to be infected.  I e-mailed the site but have not received any response, so be careful.


==> Status update:  10 minutes later, still 2009/01/05. I received an e-mail from Ms. Buehler and she has the hosting company working on the problem.  Hopefully it will be fixed soon.


 


 

sphealey's picture
sphealey

This site has some useful sourdough research links: 


http://samartha.net/SD/index.html


sPh

leucadian's picture
leucadian

I too was frustrated at not finding the basic research, until I ran across the work done by Sugihara, Ng, and Ganzle, and others in the academic world. Here's my favorite article:


http://aem.asm.org/cgi/reprint/64/7/2616


I like this because it's authoritative and has some really useful graphs (growth rate vs. temp, pH, salt for instance). If you are accustomed to using mathematical models of physical processes, you'll like this. The references at the end of the paper are useful to start further searches. I believe Sugihara was the one who isolated lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, and somewhere I recall that it has not been found in the 'wild', only in bakeries. As I understand it, the unique thing about the SD yeast candida millerii (and maybe s. exiguus) is that it doesn't metabolize maltose, and the LB does. The yeast tolerates the acid produced by the bacteria, and the bacteria has plenty of food to grow on. Nice combinatiion. I don't think this works with all yeasts (most metabolize everything) and not all lactobacilli act the same as LB SF.


Gravityarcher, how did you sterilize the medium that you used to capture the wild yeast?


 

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture
GrapevineTXolda...

SpringerLink.com


type in:  sourdough


'So much info, so little time.'


Enjoy!

leucadian's picture
leucadian

There is a lot of research going on, as indicated by the abstracts, but I can't see paying $25-34 for a single article. Is any of it free?


Do you have access through an institution? Even the University of California is not listed as a subscriber, so aside from reading the abstracts, this is kind of a dead end for me. Any hints, or particular articles or authors?