The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

commercial yeast vs. starter

runningknows's picture
runningknows

commercial yeast vs. starter

Lurked for a while, but now I have a question.... My starter's going quite well, making decent bread with it, nothing fancy but much better tasting than the local stuff for sale. My question: I've been using my starter as leavening for all of my baking right now (which I'm thrilled about) with much thanks to Andrew Whitley.  When should I use commercial yeast rather than the starter?  How do I know the difference?

 

-Randy

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

You don't say why you think you should use commercial yeast but from the standpoint of taste, the answer would be never.  From the standpoint of health, that answer is also never.  Sounds like you are on the right track.

Jeff

pmccool's picture
pmccool

commercial yeast can have a place in your batterie de cuisine.  There are some baked goods whose flavor you may prefer when made with commercial yeast instead of starter; particularly if your starter has a very assertive flavor.  Although it can be difficult to source in some locations, osmotolerant yeast may be just the ticket for baked goods with high sugar content and/or cinnamon content that would stall a starter.  And, on cool days when time is an issue, spiking your sourdough bread dough with a smidge of commercial yeast can help you keep things moving on your schedule.

I find that with a starter on hand, I use far less commercial yeast than I used to.  In my case, like Jeff's, it's a flavor preference.  However, there are some breads from my pre-sourdough days that I still like to make occasionally and I like their flavor, too, with commercial yeast.

Paul

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Commercial yeast seems to get an undeserved bad rep on TFL. Yes, sourdough breads are usually flavorful, and usually made with healthy ingredients. But the same could be said for some breads made with commercial yeasts. There are breads, and yeasted pastries I wouldn't make except with commercial yeast.

Don't limit yourself. It's like being the fly fisherman purist who goes home with an empty creel, 'cause he won't use worms.

David G

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

I still haven't obtained a sandwich bread as soft as the fluffiest you can buy in store, regardless of the various fats and other ingredients added (flour types, butter, oil, margarine, milk, potato flakes, sugar in various combinations). None of my friends could achieve a bread like that, so I'm beginning to wonder if there's a limitation in sourdough cultures that make such a bread unfeasible?

 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Michel Saus' Advanced Bread and Pastry, A Professional Approach, read about emulsifiers (page 156). Then read your "store bought" fluffy bread labels. You likely will find things like Sodium stearoyl lactylate, or Lecithin. Both are used to soften crumb.

The latter is a natural emulsifier, and available in health supplement stores (e.g.GNC) if you want to experiment. The book says typical usage is ).25 to 1%.

Emulsifiers also contribute to the volume exhibited by fluffy breads.

David G

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi David,

I wanted to add soy lecithin, but it didn't dissolve in water (nor in olive oil). I read that it's insoluble in water. Isn't it the right lecithin? or should I add it to the dough in some other way?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I don't know. I've never used the stuff. I'll do a little research for you, and see if I can find the answer. I'm not baking today, so it gives me something to do, and an excuse to not run the vacuum.

David G

Here's two links. Didn't take very long, now I still have time to vacuum. D*** it!

http://www.ehow.com/how_5827532_lighten-texture-homemade-bread.html

http://www.breadmachinedigest.com/tips/dough-enhancers-and-how-to-use-them.php

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi, thanks for the links.

I succeeded to dissolve lecithin using a plain blender: I mixed  10 gr of oil, 200 gr of water and 2 gr of granular lecithin, then mixed for 2-3 minutes. I obtained a whitish and foamy liquid that doesn't seem to have any residue. I'll keep it as it is to see how long it's stable, just out of curiosity.

I didin't know that corn oil contained emulsifiers; good to know, it's worth some test.

Jahosacat's picture
Jahosacat

I use lecithin, not the liquid type, in recipes in my bread machine without any problems. I've replaced the amount of oil with an equal amount of lecithin and see no difference in the bread. I tried it 1 time in SD with disasterous results! I wonder what would happen if I tried to dissolve it in warm water and add it when gowing the starter? I think it may be the fact that the bread machine starts heating right when it's turned on.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

The lecithin I bought at my health food store is granules a bit more than 1 millimeter diameter (it comes different ways and yours might not be the same...)

I measured the small amount and stirred it into the dry ingredients (mainly the flour) before mixing the wet and the dry and then kneading. It baked up fine for me that way.

If your recipe calls for dissolving your lecithin, but that doesn't seem to make much sense, check carefully that the kind of lecithin your recipe assumes is the same as the kind you have. As far as I know all the forms are interchangeable _but_ the procedure needed to mix them in can be quite different.

Jahosacat's picture
Jahosacat

I bought the lecithin thru a bulk spice website - I've been to the store/warehouse and trust them - and it didn't come with directions. It's not really granules, it's kind of a mass that sticks together. It doesn't smell funny and the breads I've used it in taste normal, so, I'm using it. I've never seen a recipe that uses it. I did some prowling on the internet to find out how to use it.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

So far as I'm aware, lecithin for baking is virtually always either "granules" or "liquid" (or very occasionally "powder").

The solid form seems to be for some industrial process but not for home baking. Yes your trust has been earned as it really is lecithin. But no the solid form is hardly ever used in baking/cooking; shame on the website for selling it in the solid form with no directions.

I wouldn't know what to do with it either; I'm glad you figured out how to dissolve it.

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Hi there Nico

I wonder how the use of so-called 'water roux' in conjunction with your sourdough would work, if you want soft bread (I don't, so haven't tried it myself). Quite a few threads on TFL if you search; this one has some useful links in it:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/16753/what-water-roux

Cheers, Robyn

Jahosacat's picture
Jahosacat

I agree! I've only been making sourdough breads since the beginning of this year  - and have come to love them! - but, there have been times when I didn't feel like dealing with the SD process and I had used the emergency loaf of bread I keep in my freezer. One time it was a trying week emotionally, one time I was sick and could barely make it to the kitchen and another time I was really hungry for a specific loaf of bread I make in my bread machine and didn't feel like doing it the SD way. I've been making bread in my bread machine for 10+ years; I can toss ingredients in, check the dough ball and leave it all in my sleep.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Nico,

You are an eminently respected sour dough baker.

Please can I urge you not to dabble with emulsifiers?   Unless you really want to produce cotton wool fluff that sticks to the roof of your mouth when you eat it.

Ok, great, emulsifiers trap water into bread.   And, they make it a lot easier to produce dough with a high hydration level   They are an integral part of bread improvers.   But they are added at a specified rate by "experts" in this area of chemical food manufacture.   Why do you want to partake of such experimentation when your splendid and much respected expertise clearly lies in a much more interesting facet of breadmaking?

All good wishes

Andy

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I want to go on record that I was just trying to help. I'm not advocating using the stuff. I had the same question: Why would anyone want to make bread that's fluffy?

Actually, I guess if your baking to please children, and get them to eat breads you trust because you made it yourself, fluffy's ok...for starters;-)

David G

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

For some unknown reason my friends on another forum always ask me to help them when they want to reproduce with sourdough some kind of bread sold in stores. This time around their attention was on fluffy sandwich bread, something that I eat at most once in a year (as you know, Andy, my preferences are all faced towards something much darker, tastier and denser like the schrotbrot sleeping in the kitchen:) ). Yet the pleasure of discovery and experimentation is very intuiguing.

I see that emulsifiers are a danger zone: too much and you'll do a disaster. Maybe some someflower seeds oil will have the same effect? The water roux technique suggested below seems very promising, too. Actually having to resort to pixie dusts isn't  very appealing.

davidg618's picture
davidg618

for the explanation. I found I had to accept, and put aside, my own bias in favor of answering what I considered a serious question. After further thought, I think its a good question.

Furthermore, I don't want to appear I'm contributing to the undeserved bad raps some ingredients and bread types are given here, and on other artisanal food blogs. As you are aware, additives in foods, natural and man-made, are studied and approved by the FDA, and have to be listed on the nutritional data. The consumer has the ultimate power to reject anything they fear or simply dislike.

Lecithin, the additive we've been discussing is a natural additive, derived from soy or corn. Besides being an emulsifier, health supplement advocates tout its efficacy for treating a host of human ailments. Allegedly, the FDA is investigating its curative powers, specifically for heart diseases.

I don't like to think of store bought white bread as bad; instead, I like to think of the breads we bake as better: flavor-wise and mouthfeel-wise almost always, and frequently nutrition-wise. 

And, like you, I am intrigued by the possibilities, and the fun of experimenting. 

David G

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi David,

I just don't share your faith in the "Authorities".   Are we, as the consumers, truly sufficiently informed to make judgements?   Governments really only tell people what they want to hear...unfortunately.

Of course lecithin is not available in this form in the UK, and I doubt it is in Italy either.   It is derived from Soya or Corn which is genetically modified; therefore it is not allowed in Europe, whereas it is quite accepted in the US.

Finally many people in Europe are waking up and asking questions about what food companies put in our food, as you say, in controlled amounts deemed to be safe by the government authorities.

Unlike you, I'll be honest, I just don't trust them.   That may make me biassed to many; I'll accept that.   Given I've emptied many brightly coloured sachets into the mixing bowls of supermarket in-store bakeries, I'm not really in a position to lecture anyone!   Although the idea of using any additives at home is a complete anathema.

I'd just sooner see Nico's energy and talent channelled into the more worthy and interesting rye breads he is clearly so passionate about.

Of course it's good to have debate, and I too think Nico has asked a good question.   But do we REALLY know the long term consequences to health...good, or, bad, from consuming foods prepared with functional additives such as emulsifiers?

Also, RiverWalker's ideas about using commercial yeast with enriched doughs is really sensible.   High fat, sugar, spice, fruits etc make it really hard for yeast to thrive [wild yeast, or, saccharomyces cerevisiae]   I tend to use a ferment in products like Chollah, or, Hot Cross Buns, as a means to get the yeast kicking.   Sour dough yeasts work too slowly to really cope successfully with high levels of enrichment.

All good wishes

Andy

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I expected someone would take me to task for my naivety, and misplaced trust in--of all things--the Government!

I consider you too much at least an e-colleague, and perhaps too and e-friend to debate with you. And too, I just celebrated my 74th birthday anniversary. At this age I pick my fights carefully, and infrequently. 

And, more importantly, you're probably right.

David G

ananda's picture
ananda

David, I have the utmost respect for you as an e-colleague and friend.   Fighting is definitely not what I had in mind.   But it seems from what you say, that we really think the same thing: trust for govt.??   Probably not then!

Nico, I didn't have cakes in mind when I wrote about commercial yeast in enriched dough; I should have clarified that I was discussing bread doughs which are, I think anyway, best produced from relatively short fermentation.   My that cake of yours was sensational!

Just a last note on lecithin: the one genuine natural source is, of course, found in egg yolk!   Rather important in creating an emulsion in cakes I might suggest?

Wishing you a belated, but very "Happy Birthday, David!"

All good wishes

Andy

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

was a serious improvement to the softness of the bread.

I mixed in the blender 30 gr of sunflower seeds oil with 240 of water and used this liquid on 360 gr of durum wheat flour plus salt and sugar.

The bread is softer than the other breads I made recently with butter, and almost there (although still not exactly there, but I'm already satisfied).

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

know the consequences, hence magical stuff is better in the hands of chemistrians than in apprentice sorcerors'. I put my years old lecithin back in the fridge.

As for cakes... our wild yeasts are really surprising: they are slow, but rarely they disappoint us. I've seen many times cakes doughs rising in the oven to surprising levels, even when they seemed to be dead in the bowl after twelve hours of fermentation. Remember my colomba? It's one of those :) and as you know I have a sweet tooth.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

its been available a lot longer than the altered corn or soy has, so think that they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater there.

Its supposed to help with the plaque problem in arteries etc, and is really a useful item. I don't use it for baking, but do use PAM spray for non stick cooking, most of which is now Canaol oil based which I don't use, because I'm allergic to canola, can't stand the taste (its not tasteless like advertised) and it causes wheezing in my lungs. So getting a non stick spray means reading the cans.

Further while gentic modification is not the way I think things should be, have you ever thought that the grains we now have have been genetically altered from the original 10,000 year old ones? Natural selection is a form of genetic modification, you pick the grains on what grows best in the area you live, the same for all seeded items, peas etc. Tibetian barley is a high altitude, short season, short stem barley, and is gentically different to the barley grown in other areas, while having some gentics in common it has a gene or two that allows it to grow in a high altitude short colder season area.

 

 

ananda's picture
ananda

I'm so with you on producing a totally diverse range of breads..without chemicals.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but lecithin, in its raw form, has not been generally available in the UK...I am happy to be corrected on this.

EvaB, yes I appreciate your comments about grain selection.   However, if you engage in discussion with certain groundbreaking individuals, such as John Letts and Colin Tudge, and a number of other academics in the UK concerned particularlarly about biodiversity issues, you come to realise that this grain selection has been counter-productive, in many ways.   It has come to the point now, in the UK, where many traditional varieties of wheat, long used for breadmaking, roof thatching, and a number of other uses, are now deemed to be illegal, as they do not appear on the "approved list", as condoned by the UK Govt. and by the EU.   Trading in these grains is actually a criminal offence!   So, really how barmy are we?   Unfortunately, very few people are waking up to how much things have to change if we are to feed 11 billion people on the planet, as projected, by the year 2050.   And, just for good measure, oil production has already peaked, and land which has been bombarded with fertiliser for the last 60 years is fast growing very tired.   If only it was as simple as grain selection, or GMO.

Very complex issues, and things really do have to change.   John Letts is an American living and baking in Oxford UK.   He and Colin Tudge are the most interesting people I have had the pleasure of listening to in academic debate about the way we can move forward by producing sustainable food.   Of course, emulsifiers won't be playing any sort of role in this; whether lecithin, or datem ester, sodium stearate, or anything else!

Best wishes

Andy

 

EvaB's picture
EvaB

that biodiversity isimportant, so you should be lobbying against such a list. Blogging, getting others in the know etc. That is the only way things are going to change, if those in the know get out and spread the word, debating among oneselves is ok, but counterproductive because you know the problem, you have to get out and get the rest of the world involved.

As someone said the best source of lethecin is in egg yolks, and they are trying to make us cut down on eggs (bad for your cholesteraol which is what the egg yolk fixes) then they say "oh we might have made a mistake with the low fat, no egg diet" but in tiny letters on the back pages because the huge diet industry is out there screaming "DON'T EAT FAT" and since they have tons of money for advertising, have you seen the ads at least 3 an hour on tv and that's a news channel, they win.

Same as the pharmcuticals, they have things that work for many problems, but since they are not patentable (long in use, food etc) they ignore any suggestion that anything might work, and go find some "cure" that is worse than the disease and then wind up having to recall it because its causing some other problem. Avandia for diabetics comes to mind, works for the diabetes but caused more heart problems.

If we don't get the word out about things like this, then it simply goes on and on.

RiverWalker's picture
RiverWalker

well my 2 cents from what tiny bit of expereience I had trying sourdough...

I didn't get to a point where I could repeatedly, consistently get results I liked with my sourdough,  while there was a difference in taste... I was not sold that it was enough difference to be worth the hassle.

personally I like the reliability and consistence in results from commercial yeast.

but if you are getting results you like, consistently, I would say the only time you should bother with commerical yeast is when you want to make something especially delicate, or especially heavy.  (croissants, brioche, ect)  or generally something where the more-generic taste of the commercial yeast, would be preferable.    

runningknows's picture
runningknows

Had no idea I'd touch off such a cool debate!  I guess my thing is that in all of the bread recipes I've seen (Whitley, Reinhart, et al.) they tend to use both starters and commercial yeast (esp. when making a sponge).  I've seen good results just using 50 g of my "production" starter for the sponge and 100g for dough and then adding enough flour to achieve the correct % hydration.  My proofing times tend to be a bit slower than I would get with the instant stuff but this usually suits my schedule better.  I was just wondering if commercial yeast adds something (good or bad) when you use it.  As far as the congrats from everyone, thanks SO much, but if I've seen far its because I've stood on the shoulders of giants (plus the natural yeast lurking in the rye flour I get from my local co-op must be on steroids)!  It seems so magical to produce bread from nothing but flour, salt, and yeast!

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, nicodvb

I have been baking fluffy breads lately, with commercial yeast and sourdough starter.

I found that the key methods to obtain a fluffy crumb in any home baked bread are:

1 - Be gentle with Initial mixing (no tearing)

2 - Adding salt after 30 min. of mixing yeast, and adding rest of the salt during folding.

3 - Gentle stretching Folding at least once.

4 - Preshaping and shaping with minimal dough handling

5 - High initial heat (450F) , and even baking all round the loaf with steam.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Funny, how discussions sometimes lead way off the original question (I couldn't agree more with you, Andy and Daisy)....

I am very pragmatic, when I have a great working recipe I use it, whether it's pure sourdough, mixed leaven or just with commercial yeast. Though I like sourdough breads very much, there are some bread ingredients that don't agree with the tang of sourdough. I tried a German Buckwheat bread first with a biga and then with a sourdough starter. The sourdough version was plain awful.

Karin

 

kolobezka's picture
kolobezka

By coincidence I also made two loaves with buckwheat flour last week. The acidity of the pure sourdough version overhelmed any buckwheat flavor. The yeast version was better ( I followed Bertinet´s recipe with slight modifications) but I would  welcome more pronounced flavour.

Could you give me a tip with your German buckwheat formula, please

thanks

zdenka

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Zdenka, you inspired me to work on that recipe again. When I tried it 2 years ago, I wasn't 100% satisfied with the flavor (with biga) and wanted to up it a bit. Therefore I used a medium sourdough in my next version and was so annoyed with the much too sour taste, that I buried the recipe.

I like buckwheat and I was always planning to work on this recipe again. I just went over it, compared it with the original in my old German baking book and saw some mistakes I made (not enough hydration), wrong temperature.

I will try it again tomorrow, using a soaker, but stretch and fold technique. If the bread turns out nice, I will post it and include it in my repertoire.

Karin