The Fresh Loaf

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Real barm bread

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Real barm bread

I'm blessed in that I have a husband who not only washes dishes, but also makes excellent beer and wine. A couple of days ago he was mopping up the 'warm' cupboard after his beer primary foamed over. I handed him a small bowl and spoon and asked him to skim some foam of the top of the beer for me - real barm!

After sitting for an hour or two the bowl of barm had subsided to a murky, foamy puddle of about 2 tablespoons in the bottom of the bowl. Then the adventure began...

I added some flour and water and mixed it up. I didn't measure, but it ended up about the consistency of a 100% hydration starter when you first mix it up. I then literally watched it rise!

After 10 minutes...

After 20 minutes...

After an hour and 45 minutes...

It filled the jar just before 2 hours. The dome collapsed slightly just after this.

I then stirred it down and took off 100 grams for a new build. This one had 100 grams of barm starter, 200 grams of water, 100 grams of bread flour, 50 grams of whole wheat and 50 grams of coarse rye flour. I then added water and bread flour to what was left in the jar and let that go again. It doubled after 2 hours and eventually filled the jar again.

Once the starters were risen and bubbly again I made dough with them. The white dough was 100% bread flour, 68% water, 29% barm starter (100% hydration) and 2% salt. The multigrain dough was 71% bread flour, 29% whole wheat flour, 68% water (note that I later added a bit of water), 29% multigrain barm starter (100% hydration) and 2% salt.

Beautiful silky dough! I did a few stretch & folds, then put the dough in the fridge overnight (and half the next day; I was busy making dough for the shop). When I had time I folded and shaped the dough into boules and into baskets to proof for a couple of hours. I had a certain time in mind to bake it (I was baking a bunch of different things) but when I poked it to make sure it was ready it poked back! This stuff is strong like ox and had a huge amount of push left! I had to bake it though, so onto peels, scored and into the oven. Five minutes at 475F, then about 20 minutes at 425. Finished temperature was about 204F inside. Fabulous oven spring!

I cut the multi-grain loaf today. I was very pleased at the crumb - fairly open and very moist.

And the great thing is - no sour! Basically this is just S. cerevisiae without the bacteria that make sourdough sour, so it makes a sort of 'sweet' starter. I'm interested to see how it keeps in the fridge, and whether it later develops any additional characteristics. Next time I will also cut down the percentage of starter to about 20% of the flour.

Next adventure - bread made with the sludge from the bottom of the beer primary!


dabrownman's picture

Egyptian timeshas been made with barm.  Very fast, super rise, no sour and sort of sweet.  Just what most folks and bakers have wanted in their bread for thousands of years.

If you cut back the starter to 5 g piece and feed that 30 g of WW and 20 g of water every 24 hours for two days, then divide in half and make a bread with half and then do the 2 days of feeding again with other half , in 5 days the barm starter will have developed a sour note as the LAB become established in the mix.  In a couple more days you will have a barm SD mother.  You cam do the same thing to potato or corn based which yeast starter too.  Doing these things is what makes bread baking fun!

The bread looks grand and has to be way better tasting than a poolish one.  Well done and happy baking.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

Thanks for the info, dabrownman! It will be fun experimenting now with the barm starter and with the yeast 'sludge' to see what develops.

Actually, my poolish bread tastes pretty good too, because the liquid in that is the home made ale! :)

Bread1965's picture

What a great story.. and an even better looking bread! It makes me want to start making beer just for the barm! I should probably look on kajiji for someone that makes their own home made beer and offer a swap! :)

Great post.. thanks for sharing! bake happy.. bread1965

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I don't know where you live, but if there are any craft breweries in your area they might be willing to part with some barm too (though you only need a little bit). Or try a 'You brew' kind of place, if they allow customers to brew on premises.

leslieruf's picture

looks very good! yum.....

Rube Goldberg's picture
Rube Goldberg

Wow! What beautiful bread. Thanks for sharing.

Ru007's picture

bread related things i've ever seen! Wow!! 

Beer really is just liquid bread :)

The loaves look great too. Must be yummy. 

Thanks for posting this.

Happy baking.

PalwithnoovenP's picture

The super quick rise in the jar is amazing! Is the yeast in the beer a "domesticated" one?

Beautiful bread too. You're really blessed!

yozzause's picture

Most likely that the yeast strain is not S cerevisiae which is bakers yeast strain. Brewers and wine makers have a host of different yeasts that they utilise, some just known by numbers others with quite fancy common names that do have some interesting characteristics, I was using one just recently for a Ruby Porter  called Devils 1/2 where the yeast provided preferred a fermenting temperature of 18 - 20 degrees which is considerably lower than S cerevisiae where 28 degrees is its ideal.

Home brew shops are certainly an interesting place to find some of these different yeast to try. Good luck with your future further experiments

regards Derek

Donkey_hot's picture

This is beautiful... And now, I want to go to the kitchen and start mixing the starters, instead of my other plans.:)

Jim-Chi's picture

That is some beautiful bread!

I aspire to get that kind of lift, I have built a wonderful, foamy starter that jumps on command. It's like a pet. I want to see it work some magic and create a loaf as lovely as yours.

Thanks for the inspiration. I am so going to try this.

I am wondering... How much starter do I you keep around? What hydration does it have?


Abe's picture
Abe (not verified)

How did I miss this? I'm very surprised at how quickly the preferment rose, looks so active and bubbly. You can see it's gonna make lovely tasting bread. 

Barm bread fascinates me just like sourdough. I do have questions like did barm bread always behave the same way as barm bread today as beer must've been naturally fermented before the advent of commercial yeast just like sourdough?

Does this taste like a yeast bread or does the barm impart more flavour?