The Fresh Loaf

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Noob couple starter questions

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Cleatus's picture
Cleatus

Noob couple starter questions

So I just went to this bread class....French guy, seemed to know what he was talking about.  We made several different breads- he used a "liquid" levain in every batch.  This stuff was the consistincey of a milkshke or thinner.  I have a couple questions:


1. is this stuff necessary in every batch- even baugetts and such?


2. What exactly is the purpose of it- what do i gain by using it?


3. is there a simple reciepe to getting this liquid made?


4. Is there a way to store this for the averge joe that dodent necessarily want to spend all his waking hours babysitting a starter- in other words- can i make some and keep it without a lot of work.


5- bit off topic- how do you get a blistery crust?  sorry if in wrong forum :)


 


Thanks for your help- I am just terying out this bread making stuff and want to be able to make simple-good breads- nothing too fancy or with too many steps if possible!


 


thx


Dan

Chuck's picture
Chuck

The bread universe splits into two large parts: the "wild yeast" world and the "commercial yeast" world. (You may know the "wild yeast" world by other terms such as "sourdough" or "starter".) Each has its own specializations, stong points  ...and possibly onerous requirements. One could (pointlessly:-) argue about which world is "better" forever.


Both worlds are well represented here on TFL. Each world is internally complete: if you choose to live in the "wild yeast" world, there are ways to make most everything -even baguettes.


Some bakers choose to stay entirely (or at least mostly) in one world or the other, while many other bakers move back and forth between the two worlds all the time.


Some bread books stay entirely in one world or the other, often not even clearly acknowledging that another whole world exists. Other bread books are mostly in one world but devote a chapter or two to the other world. And you may find a bread book that moves back and forth between the two worlds so often it leaves you breathless.


It sounds like your instructor was firmly in the "wild yeast" world. You can choose to do the same  ...but you don't have to. You could move into the "commercial yeast" world instead. There are still ways to make most everything, and quite well too. And you can avoid the pitfalls of "starter" (but you'll avoid all the fun of "starter" too:-).

MichaelH's picture
MichaelH

Those are good points.


Michael

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

1. is this stuff necessary in every batch- even baguettes and such?


Only if you want to reproduce his results.  Check into: Poolish Baguettes that use instant yeast.


2. What exactly is the purpose of it- what do i gain by using it?  It's a flavor preference thing.


3. is there a simple recipe to getting this liquid made? 


Um, yeah.  Sourdough takes a few weeks but... (did the French guy give you any starter?)  you could use a Poolish method instead.


4. Is there a way to store this for the average joe that doesn't necessarily want to spend all his waking hours babysitting a starter- in other words- can i make some and keep it without a lot of work.  


Like in the fridge?  Sure you can.  Keep in mind it's living and has a few demands but yes, once the starter is working, it is rather easy to maintain w/o too much fuss.


5- bit off topic- how do you get a blistery crust?  sorry if in wrong forum :)


Blistery crust comes from retarding the dough but not always.  Long ferments will also give that crust.  It is typical of sourdoughs.    


Nope, you're in the right forum although it might fall under levain baguettes, no big deal...  :)   Use the site search machine to look up Poolish Baguettes for some ideas at getting around the levain.

Cleatus's picture
Cleatus

thx for the responses- sorry about the delay!


 


one more question- so i make the dough-and a pretzle dough, and the stuff just keeps springing back- i try to roll it out and its very difficult to get to stay rolled out- springs back.


thoughts?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

cover with a damp towel and let it rest 10 -15 minutes and then try again.  The gluten needs time to relax after stretching.  You can do this several times until you reach the dough length you desire.  I tend to line them up in rows and after working the last one, return to the first one to continue.  If short on counter space, a few trays can be helpful. A thin cotton towel run under the water and tightly wrung makes a good cover while ropes relax.