The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Desem Starter

Steve H's picture
Steve H

Desem Starter

I am considering trying to make Desem bread, and the recipe I've found for it requires 10# of freshly milled whole wheat flour to get it going (maybe 5# according to Mike)  I do have a friend with a (small) mill so I might be able to make this happen but I have two questions:

1.  Does anyone have a Desem starter they would be willing to share? (I wonder if it is dryable/freezable like a normal starter)

2.  Does anyone know what kind of wheat I am supposed to use and where to get it?  Do I use this: http://morebeer.com/view_product/17121/102155/Wheat ?

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

I started one and I absolutely LOVE it.

I'm in Canada, so it might be difficult to ship you some if you're in the U.S. with security being what it is these days.

Nova, I would recommend dehydrating on parchment if you want to ship some to Steve. Then if Steve reconstitutes it under colder temperatures as required for Desem, it would probably work fine. Nova, no liquid or hydrated starter freezes well, the cells burst with expansion. Dried yeast freezes fine.

Steve, I read that it is essential that the mill be cleaned well, so if you can clean your friend's mill, or at least grind a bunch of other flour through it first. I used my Vitamix dry/grain jar to grind a flour, from organic wheat and some spelt berries. I started it in the cool garage, in a paper bag as said in Laurel's kitchen. I put the paper bag on a baking pan right on the concrete floor of the garage so it would be good and cool. It worked amazingly well. I put the Vitamix grain jar in the dishwasher first so there weren't other organisms on it. I happened to have a tiny thermometer so I put that beside the bag to monitor that it kept in the temperature range recommended. I also scrubbed my hands really well before handling it, wanting to make sure it got the right organisms, while I was establishing the new starter.

Not only is the flavor really nice, but the leavening power is outstanding. It's a good fast riser, it surprised me. One of the things that I like is that if you're a twice a week baker, Desem works great with that schedule versus other starters.

I'm really glad I did it, though it took a few years to get me to the point where I could be bothered to do it.

Steve, do you happen to have any sources that give the hydration in % or weight, Laurel's kitchen gives it in cups, and I wish I knew what was correct as a % hydration or weight.