The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Bread That Grew A Horn or Apple Yeast Gone Wild

hanseata's picture

The Bread That Grew A Horn or Apple Yeast Gone Wild

During our last trip to Portland I lured my (for good reasons) wary husband to go with me to "Rabelais", with the sanctimonious promise "just wanting to look what's new". Rabelais is cooks' equivalent to an opium den, a famous cookbooks-only store; they carry probably every English language (and several foreign language) cookbook on the market, plus many antique ones. Leafing through all these enticing books, looking at all those mouthwatering photos, leaves the mind boggled and the eyes glazed over...We left the store, I with my broken promise - and Jan Hedh's "Swedish Breads & Pastries" -, and my cautious Richard with a (twice as expensive!) magnificent Vietnamese cookbook.

What had caught my attention in Hedh's book was the leaven used in several Pains au Levain - yeast made of raisins or apples. With all that discreetly fomenting leftover apple yeast water in my fridge - thanks to RonRay - I needed another baking challenge after producing one nice  loaf with this strange homemade yeast. Reading the recipes I was quite astonished to learn that fruit yeast is regularly used by French and Italian (and obviously also some Swedish) bakers as milder sourdough alternative. From Ron's (RonRay) and Akiko's (teteke) discussion on fruit yeast breads I had assumed that this was a (somewhat exotic) Japanese invention!

Following Hedh's recipe I cultivated a "mother" (1. step), "chef" (2. step) and then the levain from about a teaspoonful of apple yeast water. When I placed the Pain au Levain in the oven, it looked to me somewhat flat, and I was a bit concerned about it's oven spring capacities. While we were drinking tea, I kept one eye on the oven. At first the rim rose a bit, the middle seemed to cave in - and then I watched incredulously how my bread started growing a veritable horn!

After some suspenseful minutes the whole loaf began to swell ominously, but fortunately stopped short of exploding.

Pain au Levain from Jan Hedh's "Swedish Bread & Pastry

Holey loaf! Apple Yeast Gone Wild - or only baker's impatience?


The bread tasted great, and even with the large holes, we managed to butter the slices and eat them with Südtiroler Speck and Fontina.

This weekend I gave it another try. With the first loaf I had made the dough with brief kneading and autolyse - whereas Jan Hedh suggests long kneading, at low speed, without autolyse. I wanted to see whether it would make any difference if I used his technique, and, also, whether a longer rise in the banneton would affect the bread's "holeyness".

The first loaf I had made with a whole wheat and rye addition, for the second I wanted to use some leftover kamut. The longer kneaded dough got warm faster than stated in the recipe - the water should have been colder - but I didn't notice the slightest difference in dough consistency or performance to the one I made before. And I like the idea with brief kneading and autolyse much better.

This time I tried to catch the exactly right moment of the optimal rise before placing the bread in the oven. And then I watched and - saw another horn growing, though less pronounced than the first one. And the bread had, again, a very strong oven spring.

Pain au Levain with kamut

So I guess it's really The Power of The Apple Yeast

The kamut version tastes as good as the first bread. And now I'm going to have a slice!




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

before hitting the heat might help reduce the bubble size if desired.  I've also noticed this before. 

I think we can be rougher with the shaping giving a good 10 seconds of kneading to degas with these "yeast water" doughs.  What do you think? 


ananda's picture

Hi Karin,

Lovely bread to post on at the year's end.   I followed Daisy_A's recommendation and captured a copy of Hedh's book on Artisan Bread recently.

I know there's been a big thread on fruit yeasts very recently.   Methinks this may be one that really takes hold on TFL next year.   For sure, I have plans to experiment.

Very best festive wishes and a great 2011


RonRay's picture

Karin, please don't tell people that apple yeast makes horny bread.... ROL

Love that crumb. That apple yeast water and the clementine are the most interesting (for me) to watch, as they bubble away, but none of the bread (so far) has threatened to explode...  ;-)


hanseata's picture

Daisy, those kinds of bookstores are like black holes - they suck you in, and you spend hours without noticing. Unfortunately I can't resist appetizing photos, either. - I was actually wondering whether I shouldn't include an overnight bulk fermentation in the fridge, I rather bake in the morning than in the afternoon.

Mini, the strange thing was that the loaf came out of the banneton rather flat and didn't appear to contain too much air after the bulk fermentation, either - I pressed it down with flat hands, as Hedh suggested.

Andy, it's definitely worth experimenting. It's also a funny idea to make your own yeast - and that this yeast water it seems to have stronger leavening capacities than instant yeast - though it must have much less yeast cells and fresh cake yeast is so fickle. So far I have fed it only with drops of orange juice from the cutting board after cutting oranges for our cereal.

I hope my husband doesn't read your comment, Ron - he's anyway suspicious of my passion for dough ("The Other Man)...

Happy holidays and, as the Germans say, "einen Guten Rutsch" (a good slide into the New Year)!





wally's picture

I hope you do more experimentation - and share it with us!  My initial reaction looking at the pictures of your first loaf was that is was way underproofed.  But the crumb structure of both loaves doesn't say that to me.  It's a very interesting, inconsistent crumb and I wonder what is at work to make it so.

Thanks for sharing this.

Happy Holidays and happy baking in 2011!


hanseata's picture

I am wondering about the crumb, too. There was also a difference between the two last loaves (I baked a couple, my first trial was only one bread), one was denser than the other. I'm sure there is room for improvement. They all tasted good - though in general I prefer the tangier taste of sourdough.



dabrownman's picture

You will be pleased to known that I baked my first YW bread with seeds today!  I put chia, nigella and basil seeds inside and out, substituted orange juice for half the water, substituted white whole wheat for some of the bread flour and added a little turmeric to make the crumb color more yellowish.  It turned out great and I named it for teketeke who has helped me with my YW starter and breads.   My YW breads always have exposive spring, whether retarded or not,  but not the huge and handsome holes you get in your YW crumb.   I blogged about it today.  I am getting very fond of YW for any bread that doesn't need or want sour.  YW's are very strange beasties.

hanseata's picture

and basil seeds? Never heard of baking with those! How do they taste like?


dabrownman's picture

Indian aisle of Lee Lee's Chinese Grocery in Chandler, AZ.  An India friend tells me that they bake with them all the time - especially breads.  They just have a very slight nutty and basil flavor.  I use them on my bagels and Challah now.  They were very inexpensive compared to the garden kind.  I planted some and they are growing fine basil at one one hundredth of the cost.  Corriander seeds work the same way.  I haven't tried my hemp seeds yet.  One smell of them and I was instantly transported to a 40 year smoky flash back that I now can't remember .  You have to have the right bread for them I think.   I'd plant them but I donlt need any new sandals or rope :-)  

hanseata's picture

that sounds very intriguing. I'll keep it in mind.