The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

In Search of The Lost Nuttiness

Valerio's picture
Valerio

In Search of The Lost Nuttiness

The first bread I baked after I fully developed my current starter was pretty much perfection for my taste: It was slightly sour, but more importantly it had a nutty taste that would linger in your palate for a long time.

That bread dough was developed following a variation of the basic BBA sourdough recipe, the variation being that I mixed and baked the dough the same day, a direct-from-starter dough. That should have produced a lesser result, instead it produced a wonderful loaf.

Alas that was the first and last time I got such wonderful taste. Since then using the same starter, flour and recipe did not produce that nuttiness I am after.

I tried different variations including the 2-steps method, retarding the dough in the fridge overnight, using cold water, but nothing. I get great bread, more or less sour depending on the process I use but not nuttiness. Coincidentally the basic sourdough recipe in The Bread Bible does produce a sourer bread than the one in the BBA.

I even tested using a percentage of Whole Wheat and Bread Flour, but nothing. I use Bob's Whole Wheat and King Arthur Bread Flour.

Do you have any suggestions? Should I spike the mix with Rye? I remember one of my two current starters had some Rye meal in it and I am not sure if that would provide the much sought-after nuttiness.

Any help is more than welcome.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Well, I can never detect the nutty flavour that Rose Levy says is in her recipes, but she uses a small quantity of raw (not toasted) stone ground wheat germ when she is trying specifically for that flavour, so you might give that a try.
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I found organic stone ground raw wheat germ at War Eagle Mill in Arkansas, but they have nut contamination warnings so I couldn't order it. I am still looking for an organic nut-free source.
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sPh

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I made a _Bread Bible_ recipe yesterday with some bulgur wheat (although I actually used a bulgur wheat and soy cereal we had in the cabinet, but the wheat was the primary ingredient). It definitely had a nutty undertone, especially after toasting.
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In this recipe the bulgur wheat was not boiled, but just mixed with boiling water and allowed to sit for about an hour. It made up about 20% of the flour.
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sPh

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

You might want to try a wetter starter. Maybe at 125% or even 200%. I know that Floyd, at least, has said that his very wet poolish (200%) makes his French bread taste nuttier. It might work the same way with your starter.

Breadwhiner's picture
Breadwhiner

New starters tend to be almost entirely yeast as yeast grow more quickly than bacteria. Over time, starters accumulate bacteria, which can produce lactic and acetic acids, resulting in a sour taste. I had the same exact issue-- my starter produced wonderful "nutty" loaves with a beautiful crust when it was young and now produces nothing but straight sourdough. I would simply start a new starter with 1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup organge juice (or 1 cup water + 1 tbsp cider vinegar). I will do the same and post the result.

My first post. Hi everyone!

Valerio's picture
Valerio

New starters tend to be almost entirely yeast as yeast grow more quickly than bacteria.

Do you think then that by using commercial yeast instead of sourdough yeast culture, that will improve the bread nuttiness?

Breadwhiner's picture
Breadwhiner

Sorry I didn't see your post sooner. Commercial yeast may restore nuttiness to your bread if you use a pre-ferment. You can make a biga with 1 cup water, 1 cup flour and 1/4 tsp yeast. Let the mixture sit overnight and then add the rest of the ingredients (but no more yeast) the next day. Others have noted an improved finish (see recent post about whole wheat bread experiment) with a pre-ferment compared to making the dough with straight yeast. If that doesn't work, I would try a young starter. The advantage of a young starter is that it will have some lactic acid bacteria, which will add flavor to the bread. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers-- taste is subjective. Some people think WonderBread tastes just fine and see no reason to make bread at home! If you have the time, I would try the same recipe with different starters-- old starter, new starter, biga, and plain yeast. The time will be well spent because you will find out which starter gives you the result you need with the least amount of work. Plus, it would make an excellent post with photos :) .

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Agree with everything Breadwhiner said, though usually a "biga" refers to a stiff pre-ferment -- you'd use about 1 cup flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup water. One cup water and 1 cup flour will make a very wet "poolish."

As Breadwhiner says, that poolish should give you that nutty flavor you've been yearning for.