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Unexpected effect of baking soda

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nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Unexpected effect of baking soda

As as apprentice sorceror I feel obliged to make some experiment, once in a while :-)

This time around the object of my study was sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). I prepared a poolish with 10 gr of rye starter, 60 gr of white flour and 60 gr of water with 0.6 gr of bicarbonate dissolved within. The poolish doubled in the usual amount of time, but contrary to the usual it had a thicker consistency than when I prepared it (generally it's much thinner).

Next I made a biga with 10 gr of rye starter, 60 gr of white flour and 30 gr of water with 0.3 gr of bicarbonate dissolved in it. After 10 hours the biga had doubled and it hadn't minimally teared nor lost consistence.

Even the taste of the preferments was completely different: acidity was completely absent, as expected. They were totally tasteless.

In short: bicarbonate seems to have completely stopped the proteolytic activity typical of rye starters, even at that very low (0.5%) concentration.

I wonder if this is due to

-reduced acitity (pH 6.1 in the poolish), but protease should still work even at such a neutral pH as far as I know

-some impurity in the soda? Maybe some trace of ordinary sea salt? Sea salt is known to block protease.

-some real protease-blocking property of baking soda?

At the current state of things it seems that baking soda could be used to permit longer fermentations.

I'd really like to read your opinions.

  Nico

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hi, Nico

Sodium Bicarbonate is a strong alkaline compound, i.e. it will neutralize acids. By neutralizing acids, you are giving your dough a extra fermentation lifespan, as acids will degrade protein factions, and cause it to degrade and collapse.

The result, obviously, as you've noticed, a matured dough with no perceptible flavor.

Interesting, Nico!

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

that soda was so much alkalinic. I thought it was a bland anti-acid, but ... good to know! I guess that in sweet doughs where the taste of the fermentation doesn't really matter a lot this addition may make the difference between a success and a failure, do you agree?

What effect would it have, instead, on the consistence of the crumb of a bread, in your opinion?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Nico you have made me wonder what would be the case if you added a similar amount of vinegar instead. Watching the state visually would the biga develop even more flavor and aroma? That would be good to know, yes:>)

Eric

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

that I'll do the test!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Nico,

Have you ever made Crumpets?

See:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/15953/crumpets-and-muffins

You make the batter using a ferment, then let it down with a bicarb solution just prior to processing.

Very best wishes

Andy

 

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

Hi Andy,

I had never seen nor heard of crumpets before. Interesting, really a curious kind of bread. I guess they probably feel a  bit chewey? How does soda affect the consistence of the bread?

A friend told me that -as I guessed- the sodium ion does affect some proteolytic enzymes. Maybe this is the reason why both salt and bakind soda seem to preserve so well the structure of my doughs containing my rye starter.

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Nico,

I had no intentions of hijacking the thread and turning it into a crumpet fest; my apologies for leading the thread off topic.

The recipe I posted was there merely to illustrate an example of a rare formula which uses both a ferment and baking soda.

The combination is rare precisely because of what you have identified regarding enzymes.   However the real key is that gas generation with bicarb is instant, whereas yeasts take time.   So using both side by side as leaveners is rarely compatible.   I posted the crumpet formula as a rare example of the 2 being compatible.

Best wishes

Andy

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

There's always something good to learn! Thread hijacking is not a concern for me.

StuartG's picture
StuartG

Never heard of crumpets before .... oh my oh my ... please do try to correct that by making a bunch.

Hot toasted crumpets, in winter, slathered in butter and honey on a cold day are food of  the gods/exquisite comfort food.

The following link is for a very simple recipe - strong recommendations to try them. http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2010/01/sourdough_crumpets_with_natural_starter.php

All the best

StuartG