Friday, January 19, 2007

The Seed

Here is a variation of the starter recipe that I originally posted many months ago. Use this to create the "seed" for creating a larger starter, or pre-ferments such as a biga, poolish and such.

Pre-ferments are starters with varying degrees of water content and flour blends. In Peter Reinhart's book the Bread Baker's Apprentice, he uses commercial yeast in his pre-ferments. Instead I subtitute a starter, or my homemade yeast, (a variation of Elizabeth David's Spontanious Barm from English Bread and Yeast Cookery) for the commercial yeast.

Eventually I will include the recipe for the Spontanious Barm, but I am still working on it with the pre-ferments.

Leaven Recipe modified from
The Handmade Loaf
by Dan Lepard

Notes on Flour: I use organic flour for most of my bread. You can also substitute all purpose flour for the bread flour, or use whole wheat flour with success.
Notes on recipe: I don't bother using weight measures for such small quantities, and I also don't feel that starters are such an exact science. But I like the addition of raisins, although I do not believe they are necessary to create a natural starter, they just introduce different yeasts, enzymes and bacteria to the starter.

Day 1
1/2 cup water at 20 C
2 rounded tsp rye flour
2 rounded tsp unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon organic raisins

Mix all the ingredients in a 750 ml jar, (3/4 quart jar). Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 2
1/4 cup water at 20C
2 rounded tsp rye flour
2 rounded tsp bread flour

There won't be much happening that you can see, but don't worry, the yeast is getting busy in there. There may be water on the top and sludge on the bottom and this is fine. Give it a good stir, add the above ingredients, water first, (giving it a good stir before adding flour), cover and let sit 24 hours at room temperature.

Day 3
1/2 cup water at 20C
4 rounded tsp bread flour
4 rounded tsp rye flour

The raisins are now going to be smooshy and giving off a brown colour - this is all good. You may see a trace of fermentation forming on the top of the mixture - or not. Not to worry, just add the water and flour as said above, cover and let sit the 24 hours at room temperature.

Day 4
1/2 cup water at 20C
3/4 cup bread flour flour

You should be able to see evidence of fermentation, froth and bubbles will be forming. It won't be all that smelly yet, that comes with age. Stir, then remove 3/4 of the starter and discard. Add water, stirring well, then strain the raisins out of the soupy mixture, discard the raisins. Wash the mason jar, (not necessary, but I like to), pour the liquid starter back into the jar and stir in the flour. Cover and let sit 24 hours.

Day 5
1/2 cup water at 20C
3/4 cup bread flour

The starter should be bubbly, and you will smell a little sourness. Remove 3/4 of the starter and discard. Stir in the water, then the flour. If you like you can add a little more flour to make a thick dough like levan. It will take longer to rise and fall. Let sit 24 hours at room temperature.

Day 6 Onwards
Take the lid off the jar, and you will see the mixture bubbling. Each day, as you remove some leaven for baking, replacing it with the equivalent amount of flour and water, the aroma of the leaven will become stronger and more sharply acidic.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think this seed thing is going to hit toronto quite soon. m.Anchovy was talking about it tonight...he's quite intrigued by the raisins.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous simmyb said...

I'm definately going to give this a go soon. I've just read Elizabeth David's book and I've learnt so much from it. Cooked my bread in an upturned bowl on Sunday as she suggested and it was nice - better crust for one thing. I blogged about it if you want to see.

2:14 AM  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

yeah, I'm going to try it's like alchemy and I can't resist.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous pseudobaker said...

So is a seed like a sourdough starter? There are so many terms out there - I'm starting to get confused!


9:26 PM  
Blogger Underground Baker said...

I know pseudobaker, its nuts about the terminology, and I really shoudn't use it, except the more research I do, the more terms there are.
But I like the idea of a "seed". One could, for that matter, think of the commercial yeast that is used in a biga, sponge or poolish as the "seed". I am just trying to make mine like it would have been made before commercial yeast was introduced.
Am I making sense?

11:25 AM  
Blogger Underground Baker said...

mister anchovy,
the raisins are supposed to introduce certain yeasts that are attracted to that fruit that are traditional to bread making. Just as the barm from beer is also another traditional yeast source.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous pseudobaker said...

After day 6, can I put the seed in the fridge? I started this 2 days ago and don't want to take it with me on vacation...

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently started making my own bread using a bread machine my mom had and hadn't used in forever. Out of fun I figured how much it cost me for ingredients and found that yeast cost the most. That started me wondering how yeast was "made" I did a google search for homemade yeast and found this site. After reading through everything I now have several questions. I thought it might be bad form to post them all and was wondering if I could contact someone with them?

9:48 AM  
Blogger Underground Baker said...

Sorry to be so late in answering, I've been away and a slacker - bad combination!
Pseudobaker, yes, put the starter in the fridge. Hope you had a good trip.
Anon - I don't think it is in bad form to post questions at all. That is the whole idea for my blog, a kind of info-resource center for baking questions. If I don't know the answer I have great fun in trying to help find it. So, fire away, but perhaps ask them up at the most recent post, even if it seems to be about frozen cow hides in pick-up, and I will gladly help if I can.
Hope to hear from you soon.

9:18 PM  

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