The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Never Ending Search!!!!!!!

gtprice's picture

A Never Ending Search!!!!!!!

For more years than I care to remember, Ive had an urge to make bread using natural leavening, ever since I picked up a lttle booklet on "Sourdough Bread," which included a packet of "sour dough starter;" at the San Franciso Airport while on a business trip long before my retirement in 1987. Mostly my efforts have been a disaster; because, I now believe, I've concentrated on the "sour dough" concept, trying to capture and propegate "natural yeasts," I must have a brown thumb when it comes to raising wild yeasts!!!!! Recently I abandoned my fixation on "sour dough" for I'm really not that into the unique taste; and now believe that what I really yearn for is the ability to make a good loaf of bread with leavening that I have nurtured from an initial package of store bought yeast, without any further use of such. It just seems so unnatural to have to buy and use a package of store bought yeast every time I make a loaf of bread. If I have to buy the yeast I might just as well buy a loaf of bread!!!! Today I produced my first loaf of edible bread using only 1 cup of flour, and two cups of, what amounts to a third generation, sponge.

I did this using a bread machine, because I'm also not that into hand kneading, and all that sticky dough.  

So here's my recipe

Starter: First Day - Two cups warm water, 1 tbsp suger, two cups all purpose flour. 1 pkg yeast.

           Second Day - Two cups warm water, 1 tbsp sugar, two cups all purpose flour

           Third Day - Remove two cups sponge, place in bread machine bucket. Allow to breed for several hours. Add 1 cup flour, and process on basic bread cycle. Then add two cups of water, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 cups flour to remainder of sponge.

Repeat third day routine for each subsequent loaf.

So all you "Artisen Bread" bakers out there - sent me your comments - favorable, or not!!!!!!


Kuret's picture

Any kind of condition we can present at home will not be suitable for growing brewers yeast, this kind of yeast is grown in sugary solutions that are aggraveted to such a degree that the yeast cells work aerobically. In a sponge or similar the oxygen will run out after some time and fermentation will be anaerobical, this means no cell budding, or reproduction.

The yeast cells common in sourdough starters are however capable of reproducing themselves under these conditions. Therfore when you continue to maintain a sponge made from commercial yeast you will eventually end up with sourdough as commercial yeast can not surivive in great numbers especially when the bacteria gain ground and starts acidifing the solution.

I whould adv ise you to try making a starter again and to forget all you have heard about wild yeasts etc. Try searching for starter 101 in the serach box or maybe looking into the handbook, I am not involved with the handbook nor have I read the handbook so I have no clue what is in there but I whould suspect there is some kind of starter recipe.

Good luck! Real sourdough is the bomb.

hsmum's picture

If you are seeking natural leavening apart from a sourdough-type starter, you might search this site using "yeast water" as your search term.  It's really quite an interesting discussion.  I have yet to try this method myself, but I do intend to.


gtprice's picture

Appreciate the comments of Kuret & hsmum.  Kuret - I suspect I'm in the process of following your suggestion of "making a starter again," for I also suspect that the "store bought yeast" I started with will not survive the iterations I've been putting it through; and the fact that I still have a vibrant "sponge," if that's the right word, and if it will continue to make an edible loaf, that something else is taking over. I'll have to wait and see, or maybe someone out there can tell me what I'm really doing!!!

gtprice's picture

My search is still on - but the couple of comments I got have stirred me on, and I think I'm making progress. Went back to "Sourdough 101" again. Tried to ignore the special ingredient "Rye Flour" in the beginning, and the meticulous detail on measurements, and ritual; and, of course, the emphasis on "sour dough," which, as I said up front, "I'm not really into that unique taste," as that is not a priority in this search.

Anyway - I started by dumping half of the "sponge?" resulting from those several days of trying to promote the store bought yeast; and then have just been adding flour, a little at a time, until I have a "sponge?" that is somewhat of the consistancy indicated in "Sourdough 101" It appears to be behaving as indicated, making me think I may, finally, have a working "starter;" which, interestingly, does not seem to generate a coating of "Hooch" (not enough liquid); or the acrid smell; which is a plus. That always turned me off - thinking all I really had was a rotting mess. Seems the lack of liquid has created a "Sponge?" that tends to hold the accumulated gases, rather than allowing them to escape; and instead actually doubles in size.

Wish me luck


gtprice's picture

Exact measurements, when using a starter are impossible; and aren't helped any by the problems inherent working with flour. How much flour is in a cup? Flour has different moisture contents depending on numerous factors, such that the amount of liquid needed to create a fixed volume of "sponge," of the proper consistancy, to eliminate that nasty "hootch" buildup; while still able to contain the gases such that the dough will rise, is no fixed value. Combine that with the volume variations associated with a good living "Sponge," and it's density variations, and any attempt at naming specific volumes of flour to water to starter is impossible!!!!!

What then??

My solution seems to be - start with a fixed volume of starter in the bread machine bread pan, say two cups, (eyeball 1/2 of a batch made with four cups flour), then add one cup of water, and two cups of flour; and wait to see how the dough shapes up on the intial "knead" step. It should be stiff enough to not stick to the sides of the bread pan; and moist enough to be "kneaded" by the machine. Deviations from either need the addition of "SMALL" amounts of flour, or water, during the cycle to assure the proper consistancy.


gtprice's picture

Tonight I delivered a beautiful two pound "Fresh Loaf." Not perfect. A little dense, but definately edible. Hope I can do it again!!!!

My wonderful Italian mother-in-law was a great cook. My expansive waist line can vouch for that. Her daughter and I used to ask her for her recipes; and she always replied, "You know. A handful of this and a little of that. It's the way I always make it."

Here's to you "Momma," and you too "Kuret." Between us - Bread made with just flour and water is possible. It'not sourdough. No sour aroma or taste. It's must be the bread everyone made before the availability of "Yeast." The recipe "Some flour and a little water - the way I always made it"??????????


gtprice's picture

My, almost, lifelong pursuit of a basic bread formula, besides being an exercise in exasperation, was stimulated by an underlying concern that, urban dwellers like me, could face a disaster, personally, if we were ever unlucky enough to be swept up in a community disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, or flood, that wiped out basis services like food delivery. Here in Florida, where I now live, that is an every day concern, and we have experienced it to varying degrees on a number of occasions recently. On those recent occasions, many of us suburbanites have been reduced to standing in long lines waiting for meager handouts from seriously overtaxed disaster services because the restaurants, and grocery stores were, if not flooded out, were without electricity, and normal food deliveries; and primarily dealing with spoiled food.

Now that I know I can make a basic bread, from just starter and flower, not necessarily one made in a bread machine, or in an oven, I can envision salvaging my sealed container of starter, and my sealed container of flour, from whatever devastation I might find myself in; and if unable to use a bread machine, or an oven (which might not be a problem since the power companies here response the quickest of anyone), I could still make some variation of flatbread over a fire from readily available storm debris, and my little hoard of the basics; pioneers, and prospectors, depended on "once upon a time."

What else have I got to worry about????????