The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour as food?

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Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

Flour as food?

As a former beer maker, my recollection is that prior to making beer, whole grains have to be malted first, to start a conversion of the starch in the grain to fermentable sugars the yeast can convert into CO2, alcohol, etc.

Sour dough seems to bypass the malting process. How does that work?

rockfish42's picture

Flour naturally has some amylase present, often malted barley flour is added to insure a consistent level from the flour. Yeast and lactobacillus both produce amylase enzymes as well. The reason malting is important to beer and not necessarily emphasized in bread, you don't want/need a full conversion of starch to sugar. The reason sourdough and yeast preferments are preferable to having a quick conversion and subsequent fermentation is that the byproducts of yeast/bacteria reproduction and their waste products improve the flavor and keeping quality of the bread.

jeremiahwasabullfrog's picture

when you think about it, bread has a lot more grain in proportion to the water then beer, so a lower % conversion is needed.

Also, beer is normally made with a pretty narrow range of microorganisms - often just a single strain of yeast - you don't want sour beer! The broader microbial population of sourdough gives it better capacity to break down starches.

And as mentioned above, you are not looking for such complete conversion or starch--> sugar/alcohol anyway


rockfish42's picture

Strangely, I've seen experiments making beer using a sourdough starter as the yeast culture. I'm tempte to split off a gallon sometime from a batch and see if it works, I have my doubts as my culture is not supposed to be able to metabolise maltose.