The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Liquids for pre-ferments & soakers?

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Liquids for pre-ferments & soakers?

What kinds of liquids have folks used for pre-ferments (poolish, most likely) or for soaking grains? I've tried kombucha (very nice; just need a little bit), milk kefir (made a poolish with this for the Christmas stollen; yummy!) and of course beer (the DH's home-made ale). I'm wondering about different fruit juices (citrus? pineapple? apple cider?), different kinds of tea (black, green, flavoured) or other things. Maybe tomato juice, for example?

drogon's picture
drogon

flour, water and a teaspoon of my sourdough starter to make an overnight poolish ...

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

While I agree with Gordan and have pretty much only done the same, but I don't mean to discourage you from the experiment.

And tho I have been reprimanded by debrownman (via King Arthur Flour) that a poolish is from commercial yeast and a levain is from a starter, there will be no argument from me on the matter.

However, I think your daring could be a worthwhile endeavor (particularly with DH's brew).

There is the matter of citrus, pineapple, tomato and apple cider possibly being acidic enough to throw the starter off. There are enzymes to think about as well, particualy with the pineapple.

I've heard that the caffeine in the tea is an active component in the Kombucha re-generation (but I don't know that for sure).

But they sound like fun experiments to make.

So, now we know you are Kefir inclinded as well. Home brewed (from 'kefir grains' as well)? Careful, this will only lead to more questions.

When you refer to Kombucha and Kefir, are they the only leavening agent or is your recipe a hybrid with yeasts from other sources?

Regardless, sounds like a fun persuit.

dobie

 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Yep, brew my own kefir as well (again, much, much cheaper than buying it!). The kombucha was used (only a bit of it) in the soaking liquid for the bag-end bread, so not too much of it ended up in the final bread. That was a naturally leavened bread. The bread made with kefir was a rich Stollen made with commercial yeast (the kefir was used as the liquid in the poolish).

Interesting to this topic of levain versus poolish; commercial versus wild yeast: I make two breads - one with an ale and yeast poolish, the other with a fresh, ripe levain. The rest of the ingredients (bread flour with a bit of whole wheat flour and salt) are pretty much the same and the dough is about similar hydration. But they are two very different breads taste wise. And the texture, while lovely on both of them, is also quite different.

So, maybe if I try fruit juices, they should only be in the final dough, not the pre-ferment? I wonder what the acid would do...

dobie's picture
dobie

LL

Last things first, I would agree to start with the fruit juices in the final dough first. Just to establish the norm. But I wouldn't hesitate to then add such to the poolish or levain afterwards. Just to see the effect. Particularly regarding the affect of the acid content.

I don't yet brew my own kefir (but it's on my short list). Yet, I know that the store bought concoction of Kefir is not the same thing as home brewed, or at least it doesn't contain sufficient yeast (if any at all), that I could grow up a proper starter from it. I wonder if the real thing (from proper 'grains') would do so?

I have built a starter/levain from only Kombucha and white flour and have had it successfully raise a dough by itself (in a short time, I might add). I am very curious as to whether or not Kefir brewed from true grains could do the same thing.

For anyone who might be confused, Kefir grains are much the same as a Kombucha SCOBY, and it does not refer to 'grains' as in wheat or such that one might mill, but rather the 'starter' mother or Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (if I have that right). They're just called 'grains' for whatever reason. Just thought I'd throw that in.

LL, when you discuss the differences between bread of otherwise similar ingredients, I understand. It is amazing how any one little shift can so effect the outcome.

Compared to the Ale and Yeast poolish, is your 'fresh, ripe levain' from a 'standard' sourdough starter: also is that what you meant earlier by 'a naturally leavened bread? I just want to make sure I understand correctly.

Anyway, it's all very curious stuff, and if nothing else, proves there is more than one way to raise a dough.

I'm looking forward to your future experiments.

dobie

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hi dobie. Sorry, I missed the questions you had in this post. First, I think kefir grains are called grains because they resemble little rubbery bits of cauliflower, rather than that single rubbery disk that a kombucha scoby forms. They are edible I understand but I try not to eat them. The neighbour's chickens love them though (and also the kombucha scoby, cut up)!

When I talk about "fresh, ripe levain" I mean a starter made with wild yeast (S. Exiguus rather than S. Cerevisiae). I keep mine in the fridge and feed it with water and bread flour. When I refer to the "fresh, ripe" kind I mean it has been fed recently and left out to the soft, pillowy, bubbly stage when it floats when mixed with water. It is not particularly sour and I don't use the term 'sourdough' because my customers think of really sour bread when they hear that term. I use the term "naturally leavened" to refer to bread made with a wild yeast starter rather than a commercial, dried yeast (in the starter or the dough). Hybrids use both. It's difficult to find the right terms that mean the same thing to everyone, as is very evident on the discussion on this site!

dobie's picture
dobie

LL

Pardon the scattered response (in no particular order).

Thanks for your definitions of starter and fresh, ripe levain. I do the same as well and refer to them as such. But everyone's different, so I had to ask.

I agree, that particularly with a fresh and ripe levain (depending on treatment), a 'naturally leavened' bread is not necessarily 'sour' in perception.

Customers? I do remember you saying you have a micro-bakery, but please elucidate. I am very curious as to what and how.

Having never laid hand nor eye directly on Kefir grains other than by pics and vids, I would still have to say that rubbery bits of cauliflour seems an apt description. Someday soon, I will get my hands on some.

And, oh, how I wish I still had chickens to enjoy such delicacies. But I would have to either keep them penned up (which I won't do) or seek permission (with bribes of eggs of course) from my neighbors, to have them roam free. Maybe someday, if I get my nerve up (with the neighbors).

A few years back, I lived on a 32 acre farm right on the face of a main road, right outside of town, and more than once had a concerned citizen actually stop their car and knock on my door to let me know that my chickens were loose and on the road. Of course, I thanked them for their good will.

Well, they weren't on the road (nor did they cross it), they were just feeding on the other side of the picket fence near the shoulder of the road. I lost a few to Fox, but never one to traffic. Not so dumb afterall. Sorry if that's a little off topic.

And thanks LL for the clarification.

dobie

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I have a little neighbourhood micro-bakery. I started baking bread seriously a year ago, and as there are only the two of us at home now, and there are so many kinds of bread to bake, I asked a bunch of friends and neighbours if they would buy bread from me if I baked it regularly. I had a bread-tasting party so they could check out the kinds of things I was baking and the answer was a resounding 'yes'! I bake twice a week for a growing mailing list of people.

Then in May I started selling my bread at a little farm stand a few blocks away. This enterprising person is a SPIN farmer (small plot intenstive; she 'farms' in 10 neighbours' yards) and sells her produce at a stand set up in her driveway on Saturdays. I was the bread lady. The farm stand closed at the end of September so I took the leap and opened a little (6' x 8') shop in my garage. My hours are currently noon to 4 PM on Saturdays but I hope to open more days a week in February when I finally retire for good from my consulting work. If you are on Facebook you can check out "The Lazy Loafer" for more info and pictures!

I would like some chickens but don't really have the room, having turned most of my yard over to veggie and fruit growing. The chooks would eat it all! :)

dobie's picture
dobie

LL

Thank you for the details. That is very inspiring.

Yeah, I don't do facebook or any of the rest of it. Real life is intrusion enough.

If I didn't learn so damn much here, I wouldn't even be on this forum.

dobie

wally's picture
wally

Happy New Year, Gordon!

Adding sourdough starter to flour and water will give you sourdough, not poolish. Poolish is generally an equal mix (by weight) of flour and water with a small percentage of bakers yeast (.07% to .1% If using IDY).

The distinctine "nuttiness" characteristic of a poolish based dough cannot be replicated with sourdough/levain.

wally

 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Oh yes, I agree. See my response above regarding the taste difference in two of my breads, one with poolish and one with fresh levain.

drogon's picture
drogon

From a technical point of view you may be right, but I see a pinch of IDY as being the same as a teaspoon of my starter when making an overnight poolish.

What I get with 200g flour, 200g water and a teaspoon of my sourdough mother out of the jar in the fridge, mixed then left overnight in a cool place is no-where near a levian/production sourdough starter that would subsequently raise the resulting dough after adding it into the bulk of the flour and water for the dough the following morning. Well it might but without the 7g of IDY I've just added into it, it would take all day and I'm making baguettes for peoples brunch...

This is my daily baguette mix and I do not call them raised by a natural levian (or even sourdough) as they're not - they are raised by commercial (organic) yeast. (The only other bread I currently make with this process is ciabatta)

-Gordon

Arjon's picture
Arjon

Hybrids are on my "to try soon" list, so I'm wondering... what's the hydration % of your final dough? 

drogon's picture
drogon

My baguettes come out at about 62%. Which may seem low, but it works for me with the flour I use. Here is the recipe:

overnight poolish - 200g bread flour + 200g water. Dip the mixing stick into my jar of starter to pick up a little bit of it, or add in a pinch of dried yeast. Mix well and leave covered overnight. Don't expect too many bubbles, etc. in the morning.

In the morning - 540g bread flour, 260g water, 8g salt, 5g dried yeast plus the sponge. Totals ~1200g of dough which has 740g flour and 460g water -> 62% hydration.

Mix/knead/leave covered for about 45 minutes, divide into 4 x 300g lumps, pre-shape into logs, rest, shape into baguettes, leave to prove in linen couche - 1-2 hours, transfer to loading board, slash, steam oven, load into oven (220°C) steam oven again, bake ~25 minutes.... Remove from oven, listen for singing. Smile :-)

My usual bread flour has 12% protein/gluten in it.

I don't consider this to be hybrid though - it's an old fashioned technique of making up an overnight sponge/poolish to enhance the flavour and texture of the final bread. My own (admittedly non-scientific) experiments have shown that the end result is about the same using natural vs. commercial yeast, but people tell me the one made with a drop of sourdough has a nicer taste than the straight yeast one.

-Gordon

dobie's picture
dobie

Gordon

I think sometimes too much is made over what leveaning agent is employed. I use them all on a whim, and am looking to expand my repetoire.

There is a big difference between 'on a whim' and 'people are waiting' baking. There's not too much bitching and moaning if I am an hour or two late (on a whim). I'm sure that would be different for you.

I know I might get drummed out for this thought, but there is nothing Holy about any leaven, including sourdough. I think we (I) sometimes lose sight of that.

Levain or poolish, Active Dry, Instant, SD or Kombucha (maybe even Kefir), it's mostly about the time hydrated. Each have their own nuances that can be coaxed or not, but the end result (hopefully) is fairly close the same.

While I find some flavor enrichment with SD, so I do with any leaven. I think the most important thing is quality and type of flour and the amount of time hydrated (all other things being equal).

One of the main attractions of SD to me, is the fact that it's wild. Historically wild. It connects me to times before the commercialization of bread and yeast (and obviously goes back a long ways in time).

As I'm sure most everyone here knows, it is quite possible to make a bread from a SD starter which has little if any perceptible 'sour'. At that point, is there any real advantage to its use? I don't think so. But it's fun to do so. But it's just 'fun' at that point.

I think your points are well stated. Your baguette recipe is nearly exactly what I use, as is your process. The only difference being that my hydration is boosted about 3-4% which is probably due to the differences between UK and US flours available. Hydration too, is not Holy (altho it can lead to Holey, but that's another issue).

Listen for singing? Hmm, I hadn't thought to, but I will this afternoon.

dobie

Arjon's picture
Arjon

I appreciate the detailed reply. It will give me a starting point from which to have some fun experimenting in the new year. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Oh yes, the singing is the best part! It makes me smile too... :)

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

stuff in bread - as long as you stay out the auto parts store when you are shopping for bread ingredients..  So what ever liquid you want to put in soakers, scalds, levain. poolish, starter or bread dough is fine with me but some don't work well in high amounts.  High proof spirits don't work well if there is very much of it used, since they kill off the wee beasties in large amounts - but they are fine for rehydrationg dried fruits etc.

Beer, fruit juices, grain soaking liquids, ciders, yogurt, citrus juices, have all worked out well for me - some even taste pretty good after the bread is baked too:-) 

It is fun to experiment and try out new things, methods and ingredients

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Thanks dabrownman, it's good to learn from all your experience with these things! I'm thinking of trying apple juice, to soak some dried apples and maybe a bit of grain (barley? Quinoa?), then more apple juice in the dough with poppy seed and a sweetish, nutty kind of flour (barley? or?).

LL

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

where the entire dough liquid was apple cider. It hardly had any taste in the bread.  App;e juice is so mild I wouldn't expect it to have any apple flavor either - except being sweet.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Hmmmm, good to know. I wonder what might kick that up a bit? Soaking the dried apples in it would help, but maybe it needs something else too. A bit of apple butter or apple jelly in the dough? Or boiling it down to a concentrate (too much work!) Maybe the SD black rye bread was too strongly flavoured itself for the apple to shine through.

bboop's picture
bboop

I save/ freeze/ and use potato water, pasta water, milk, buttermilk, yogurt. Not so much in a poolish but in bread baking. 

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Oh, good thinking on saving the potato and pasta water. So much goodness in cooking liquid! The potato water would likely make the dough softer too.

LL

sindlero's picture
sindlero

Hi

Will linen dish towels substitute for couches?

Thanks.