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MAKINGDESEMWHOLEWHEATSOURDOUGHBREAD:

APrimer

JonathanKandell,TucsonAZ
kandell@gmail.com
CreatedApril2006,LastmodifiedApril,2014

Desemisadelicious100%wholewheatbreadmadewithwater,salt,andnatural
starterandthatsit.Ibakemanyotherbreadsbutkeepreturningtodesemasmybasic
weeklyloaf.ThetermdesemisFlemishforlevain,and,infact,thebreadissimilarto
theFrenchPainauLevainandPain
Poilne
.Althoughmadewithnaturalyeastsand
microorganisms(i.e.sourdough),desemdoesnottastesourandisnotatalllikeSan
Franciscobread.

Somefeaturesofdesembread
Thetasteofpurewheatishighlighted.
Itremainsmoistwhileusingnooil,andstaysfreshlongerthancommercially
yeastedbread.
Therawbitternessandheavytexturefoundinmanywholewheatbreadsare
mellowedinthenaturalyeastprocesswithouttheneedtoaddwhiteflour,gluten,
orconditioners.
Thenutritioninherentinthewholegrainisbrokendownintousableformbythe
microorganisms.


MASTERFORMULA

(Formulaassumesyouhavestoragestarterinfridge.Forthefirsttime,seeCreatinga
starterbelow.)

Synopsis
:Asmallpieceoffirmstarterisexpandedbyafactorofthreeseveraltimesuntil
theresenoughdoughforaloaf,andthenitsbaked.

1loaf
Knead20m
Ferment4h
Proof1.5h
450@20m+350@40m.

1.Activateafirmlevainforthedayofbaking:

Morningofthedaybeforebaking:
Thefirstbuild:
2Tstoragestarter,1/3cwholewheatbreadflour,2Twater.
[25g/47g/24g][about65gtotal]
Takeagrapetowalnutsizedpieceofstoredfirmstarter(alsocalledthe
Chef
)fromthe
fridge,about2T.Breakitintosmallchunksinacoffeemug,addin2Tofwater,andlet
sitforaminuteortwo.Addin1/3cupofflour,mixwell,formintoaballkneadingafew
secondswithyourfingers,andletsitfor812hoursatroomtemperatureinacovered
mugorothersmallcontainer.

Eveningofthedaybeforebaking:
Thesecondbuild:
Addtothefirstbuildfromabove:1cwholewheatbreadflour,6T
cwater.[144g/50g]
Justasabove,breakupthefirstbuildintopiecesinasmallbowl.Thestartershould
looklikeakitchenspongeinside.Addinwaterandletsitaminuteortwo.Addin1cup
flour,mix,formintoatightball,kneadingabit,andletsit812hoursovernightcovered.
Whenfullymaturethissecondbuildisknownasthe
Levain
.

Morningofdayofbaking:
2.Storenextweekschef:
Beforecontinuing,removeawalnutsizedpiecefromthe
levain
touseasnextweeks
chef
.Mixitwithalittleflour,formintoatightball,coatin
flour,andstoreona1inchlayerofflourinasmallclosedjarintherefrigerator.

3.Mixfinaldoughandknead:
Insummer:~3cwholewheatbreadflour,11cwater,2tsalt,48Tflaxseeds,
adashofhoney,molassesormaplesyrup(optional).
Inwinter:~2cwholewheatbreadflour,c1cwater,1tsalt,48Tflaxseeds,
adashofhoney,molassesormaplesyrup(optional).

Ifyoudpreferamoreconsistentsize,youmayinsteaduse3cflourallyearandvarythe
amountofstarterinstep1withtheseason:
3cwholewheatbreadflour,11cwater,2tsalt,48Tflaxseeds,adashof
honey,molassesormaplesyrup(optional).
Insummer,add1cstarterfromstep1.(Roomtemp7090F)
Inwinter,add11cstarterfromstep1.(Roomtemp6080F)

Knead:
Kneadbybreadmachine:
Myfavoriteway.Breakuptherestofthesecondbuildofthe
starterfromaboveintoabreadmachinepan.Addinwater,letsitafewminutes,addin
wholewheatflourandsaltinamountsspecifiedabove,flaxseed,and(optionally)adash
ofsweetener.Runonthedoughcyclefor20minutes.

Adjustthewateradashatatimeuntiltheballhasthecorrecttexture.Ideallythefinal
doughballwillbefirmbutquitesoftifpressed.Youcanfermentrightinthemachine
pan.

Byhand:
Mixeverythingbutthesalt.Afterhalfanhour,addinsaltandkneadten
minutesbyhand5minutesatatimewithafiveminutebreakinbetween(i.e.5minutes
ofkneading,a5minutebreak,finishingwith5moreminuteskneading.)

3.BulkFermentation:
4hours
Inabreadmachinecontainer:
Afterkneadingturnoffthemachineandletsitundisturbed
inthebreadmachinepanfor4hoursatroomtemperature(65F80F).

Inabowl:
Letsitinacoveredbowlatroomtemperature(6580F)for4hours.Ifthe
glutenisntfullydeveloped,stretchandfoldthedoughatimeortwoonthehour,forma
ball,andreturnunderbowlforremainderoftime.(Youstretchandfoldbypressing
thedoughflatandthenpullingbothendsuntilitreachesitsmaximumstretchwithout
tearing,foldingthelongendsbackoverthemselveslikeyourefoldingaletter,and
tuckingintoreformintoaball.Rotateandrepeat.)

Retardthedoughifnecessarytoallowthefullfourhours.Attheendoffourhoursthe
doughwillhavegrownsomewhatandbejuststartingtomove.

4.ShapeandProof:
about1hours
Formintoatightball(boule)andplacefreeformonparchmentpaperatopapeel,and
letsitcoveredbyabowlforabout1hours(giveortakefifteenminutes)atroom
temperature.

Whenyoubakeyouwantthedoughtobenearmaximumheight.

Toformtheboule:Flipdoughoutofcontainerupsidedown(soskinisagainstcutting
board)andgentlyflattenintoarectangle.Foldthecornersintothecenteroverlapping
likeapinwheeltocreateacircle.Flipoverandbeginrotatingandtuckingundertocreate

aspherewithatightskin.Useonehandtorotatethedoughwhiletheothershovesthe
bottomunder,graduallytighteningtheskinlikeaballoon(seephotobelow).

5.Bake:
about60minutes.
Thisisthehardestparttoimpartinaformulasinceeveryovenisdifferent.Youwill
likelyneedtoadaptwhatIsay,butherearesomeguidelinesfrommyownovens.Youll
notethatinallthemethodsyouwantsteamandintenseheatatbeginningfollowedby
mellowdryheatfortheremainder.

GasOvenwithsteam:18minutes@450Fthen40minutes@350F
Startingfromacoldoven,carefullyslideparchmentanddoughintoovenatopapizza
stone.Placeaboutcupwaterinacastironpanonbottomofoven.Turnonat450F
andbakefor18minutes.Doaquickpeektoquellyourcuriosityandcheckonthecrust
(itshouldbenicelybrowned),andthenbakeanother3050minutesat350Funtilthe
crustisanorangebrownandthebottomhasmuchdarkbrown.

ElectricOvenwithsteam
:
10minutes@450Fthen50minutes@350F
Preheatovenandstoneto450Fforatleast20minutes.Slipbreadanditsparchment
ontostone,addabouthalfacupofboilingwatertoacastironpanonashelf(weara
glovesoastonotburnyourhand).Bake10minutes,thenturndownheatto350Ffor
theremaining4050minutes.(InmyovenIneedtoputtheironpanabovethebreadto
shieldthetopburner.)

ElectricOvenwithaclocheordutchoven:19minutescovered@450Fthen3444
minutes@350Funcovered
Preheatovenandstoneto450Fforatleast20minutes.Ifusingclochepreheatwiththe
stone.Ifusingdutchoven,preheatpotandlid.Ifusingpyrexorstainlesssteelbowlas
yourcloche,thereisnoneedtopreheatit.Slideordropbreadontosurface/pan.Cover
andletsteamundercoverfor1520minutes,thenbakeuncoveredat350Fforthe
remainderofthetime.

6.Coolandstore
Afterlettingsitanhourormore,cutloafinhalfandfreezehalfinafreezerbag.Storethe
restcutsidedowninabreadbox,neverinfridge.Itwillstayfreshfourtosixdaysat
roomtemperature.Ifyoudontownabreadbox,storecutsidedowninaziplockbag
whichisturnedsidewayssoitsopenedontheside.Defrosttheotherhalfintheclosed
bag,thenstoreasabove.


Formingaboulewithtightskinbyrotatingwith
onehandwhiletuckingunderwiththeother.

UNDERSTANDING

Manydesembakersgrindtheirownwheattogetbetterflavorandfreshnessbut
storeboughtflourismorepracticalformostofus.Howeversincedesemisjustwhole
wheatandwater,itiscrucialthatyourflourisfresh.
Ifyourflourdoesntsmellsweet
fromfreshgermorifittastesbitterevenintheslightestyourflouristooold.
Staleflour
willmakealifelessloaf.Unfortunately,wholewheatflourgoesbadinseveralweeksat
roomtemperature.(Alot,ifnotmost,ofwholewheatflouryoupurchaseatreputable
marketswillbestaleevenwithintheexpirationdate.)Buyfromastorewithrapid
turnoveranduseyourtongueandnosetotest:freshgermsmellssweetandfruity,and
doesnothaveabitteraftertasteinyourthroat.Whenyoufirstaddfreshflourandwater
forbuildstheodorofsweetgermshouldemanateiftheresnoodoryourflouris
probablystale.Storeyourwholewheatflourinthefridgeorfreezer.Flaxseedtoogoes
stalequicklysostoreitinthefreezer.(Theaboveformulaassumesyouarestartingwith
coldingredients.)

Youwilldiscoverhowhydratedyoulikeyourdesem.Theruleofthumbis50%water
toflourbyvolume(orabout70%hydrationbyweight).Soforeach1cupflouruse
aboutcupofwater.Youllnoticethisapproximateratioisutilizedatallsteps:forthe
starter,forthebuilds,andforthedoughitself.(Technicallythechefisfirmerthan
dough,around50%hydration,andthefinaldoughisbetween6585%.)

Amorehydratedloafwillbemoisterandlighterhavemoreairholes,butwillalsobe
squatter.Alesshydrateddesemwillbefirmerandtaller,withatightercrumbandabit
drier.Youlllearnwhichyouprefer,oryoucanbelikemeandadjustwithyourmood.
Youwantthedoughtobefirmenoughtoholditsshapeduringproofbutmoistenoughto
expandandrise.Thiswillcomefromexperience.

UnlikeGermanandSanFranciscosourdoughbread,desemissupposedtobenuttyor
sweet,notsour.
Ideallyateachstageyouwantthestartertobeatitsmaximumrising
powerbutnottothepointitstartstobreakdownglutenandturnsour.
Sincesouringis
directlyproportionaltotime,theruleofthumbwithdesembakingis:
avoid

overfermentationatallcostsevenifitmeansabandoningtheguidelinesabove.(
While
youcancertainlyuseliquidlevains,afirmstartershelppreventoverfermenting.)

Forthefirsttwobuilds,youshouldletthestartergolongenoughitwillbefullofholes
likeasponge,havealighttextureifyourunyourfingerthrough,andafruityslightly
tangyodorandflavor.Thegoodnewsisthatwhileitcanbedisastroustogotoolong
withthefermentorespeciallytheproof,thereismuchroomforerrorinthelevain.A
sourstarterwillbedilutedoutwithfreshflour,andthelevainismostlyjustan
inoculationofbacteriaandyeastsanyway.

Frommyexperience
afourhourbulkfermentisoptimalfortextureandflavor.
Although
almostallaspectsoftherecipeareopentoadjustment,thefourhourcorefermentation
shouldbeheldasaconstantadjustingtheamountofstarter,temperature,and/orsalt(i.e.
everythingelse)asnecessarytoensurethis.Lowertemperature&moresalt=slower
bacterialactivityandviceversa.

Youllnoticethepercentageofstarterinthefinaldoughis1525%insummerand
2533%inwinteryoullseebyexperiencehowmuchstartertousetofermentinfour
hours.Intemperatureextremesyoumayhavetovarythepercentageevenmoretoavoid
overproofing.(Iveusedaslittleascupstarter.)Ifyouvemisjudgedandnoticethe
riseisoutofcontrol,dogotothenextstagesoonertoavoiddisaster.Betterto
underproofthanoverproof:whatyouloseinsizeyoullgaininovenspring.

Whileyouwanttoleaveplentyoftimeforfermentation,thereisnothingmagicalabout
theoneandahalfhourproofthatseemstobeaboutrightonaverageatroom
temperature(giveortakefifteenminutes)togetmaximumriseinthefinalloaf.Feelfree
tovarytheproofasneededtomaximizethefinalloafheightbeforetheskinrips.You
wanttobakethebreadjustshortofitsmaximumproof,soitrisesupratherthanout
whenithitsthehotstone.

Youwillknowyouveoverproofedifthebouleexplodeswiththesurfacecracking
likeanearthquakeduringtheproof,ifthedoughisthinandweak,haszeroovenspring
orevencollapseslikeasoufflintheoven,and/orthefinalbreaddoesntriseandhas
moresourtastethanusual.Theamazingthingisitstilltastesprettydarngood.With
manydisastersIvenevermadealoafIcouldnteat.Thatsthewonderofdesem!

Desembreaddoesnothavethehugeovenspringofwhiteartisanbread,soyoudonot
needtoslashtheloafunlessyouregoinghighhydration.Ifindslashingactuallymakes
theloavesflatter,spreadingoutratherthanupintheoven.Likewise,inmyexperience
thisbreaddoesnotbenefitfromabanneton.Forsomereason,desemtastesbesttomein
itstraditionalshapeofafreeformboule.

Ihighlyrecommendyouleaveagrapesizedbitofchefinthecontainerasinsurance,in
caseyouforgettoremovesomeofthesecondbuildoritgetsruined.(Youwontconfuse
itwithyourfresher
chef
becauseitwillbedarker.)


Bytheway,thereisnothingsacredaboutfirmstarters.Desemtraditionallyusesafirm
starter,andsodoIbutIvetriedapoolishconsistencystarterandtheresultstastethe
same.Sincetheinitial
chef
isjustusedforinoculation,almostanystarterwillworkfor
yourfirstbuild.However,bewarned:liquidstartersaremorefickle,tendtoexplodeout
oftheircontainerandcreateamess,moreeasilyturnsour,andgoflatonyouifyoumiss
thewindowofopportunity.

Ishouldnoteforaccuracythatinitsbasicformdesembreadhasnoflaxandno
sweetener.Feelfreetoomiteitherorboth.Ifindtheflaxthoughunorthodoxaddsthe
perfectnuttycomplementtothewheatandIhighlyrecommendit.Youdontevenhave
togrindtheseedasusual,sincethelongfermentsoftensit.

Useanyflatrimlessobjectasapeel:IusethelidofmyCameronsstovetopsmoker.A
bakingpanwithoutrimalsoworksgreat.Orforthosewithcash:anactualpeel.

Therearemanywaystobakedesemathometosimulateawoodoven.
Gettingthecrust
orangebrownandsomewhatshiny(likethephotoattopofarticle)isessentialtoachieve
therightflavor.
Thekeytothisishighheatandsteamatthebeginning.Ivegiven
guidelinesabove,butthereisnowayaroundthefactyouregoingtohavetoexperiment
foryouroven.Toshowhowmuchitcanvary:Myoldgasovenworkedbestbakingwith
acoldstartwithpanofwateronovenfloor.Mynewerelectricovendemandspreheating
andplacingapanontheshelfabovetoshieldtheloaffromthetopburner.Ratherthan
steamingthewholeoven,youcanalsoexperimentwithanenclosedcontainer,likea
dutchovenorroastingpanlidplacedatopastone.Ialsooccasionallythrowbbqwood
chipsneartheburnerstocreatesomesmokeorusesmokedsalt.

Iveindicatedwhatworksbestformeaftermuchtrialanderroroveradecade.Butfeel
freetousedifferentmethodsandprocedures.IbakeinthehotanddrySonorandeserts
ofthesouthwesternUnitedStatesyouwilllikelydeveloproutinesthatfityourown
climate.PreheatovenUsemoreorlesswaterCoverwithaflowerpotforfirst15
minutesofbakingBakeinalargedutchovenBakeinbreadpansSlash
ChangetheshapeDontuseparchmentpaperAdddifferentingredients.Usepart
whitefourProofinabanneton.Retardfermentationinthefridge.Makeityourown!
PleaseemailmewithmethodswhichyoufindworkforyousoIcansharethem.

VARIATIONS
Traditional
:noflax,nosweetener,justwheat,water,salt
Asiago&BlackPepper
:Addinblackpepper,andchunksofasiagocheeseafter
kneading.Restofrecipeasusual.
Lightdesem,akapainaulevain
:Bakewithsimulatedreducedbranflour:Develop
a1/2coffirmlevainasinthemasterformula.Butfromthatpointoninsteadof
addingwholewheatflour,use300gwhitebreadflour,8gwheatgerm,and5gwheat
bran.(Thisistheequivalenttoallthegermand10%ofthebranofwholewheat

flour.)Optionallyadd30gofanywholegrainflour(e.g.spelt,rye,etc.).Ferment
andbakeasusual.
Germanseeded
.Alongwiththeflaxseed,addalsoasmallcoupletablespoonseach
ofanymixofsesameseed,sunflowerseed,pumpkinseeds,millet.Optionally:lightly
toastseedsandcool.
Walnutsanddriedapricots.
Addfruitsandnutsinlastminutesofkneading.
Apples&Cinnamon.
Duringthelastkneadingaddin255gchoppedapplethathas
beensautedin3Tbutterwith1tcinnamonandcooled.Useabitmoresweetener
thanusual.Bakeabitlowersoitwontburn.
Cider&Apples.
Substituteciderforhalfthewateroffinaldoughaddabout70g
driedapplesintothedoughforfinalknead.Bakealittlelowersoitwontburn.
Saffron:
followstandardrecipe,butaddinatinyamountofwholesaffronleaves.
Poppy
:poppyseed(1/4c)andhoney(3T)
Rummarinatedprunes:
Add1cdriedprunesthathavebeensoakedinrumand
crushedcardamomseed
.
Poilnestylemiche:
toyourusual1cactivedesemstarter(adjustamounttoseason),
add1/2cdarkryeflour,1cwholespeltflour,1cwhiteflour.Makethedoughabit
wetterthanusual(roughlyhalfwaybetweenthehydrationofciabattaandnormal
desem)anduseabanneton.(GoogleimagesofPainPoilneforanideaofthe
hydrationofthisflattishloafanditsbeautifulbutpretentiousslashpattern.)Knead15
insteadof20minutes,onaccountofspeltandrye.Fermentandbakeasusual,though
theryemayspeedupfermentation.

STARTERMAINTENANCE
Theaboverecipepresumesyouhaveastoragestarterwhichhasbeenusedaweekortwo
earlier(i.e.aweekendbaker).Asstarterisstored,adarkoxidationformsontheoutside
andgraduallyformsandslowlymovestowardthecenter.Or,forabrandnewstarter,
youcouldevenseewhitemold.Aslongasyoucancutoffthebadpartsandscoopout
somecleanlightcoloredstarterfromthecenteryoullbefine.Youcanusethattinybit
asyour
chef
andproceedasusual.

Whenthiscleanbitgetstobereallytiny(sittinginfridgeabout3or4weeks)Isuggest
youaddinanadditional(i.e.third)buildoneadditionaldaybeforebaking.Inthe
eveningtwodaysbeforebaking,cutoutajellybeansizedpieceofcleanlightcolored
starterfromthemiddleofthestoragestarter.Addin1/3cupwholewheatflourand2
tablespoonswater,letsit12hours.Useagrapetowalnutsizedpieceofthisreactivated
pieceinstep1oftherecipeinplaceofthestoragestarter.

Asevidentinthebaseformula,unlessIverecentlyrefreshedit,Idontusefewerthan
twobuilds,sincethestarterisalwaysabitdormantfromthefridge.Iveneverhadtogo
abovethreeorfourbuildstotal.(Butofcourseatacertainpointitsjustaseasytocreate
anewstarterfromscratchorutilizeoneofyourdriedchips.)

Ifyouknowyouwontbebakingforawhile,thestifferthestoragestarter,thelongerit
willlastinthefridge.Addingfreshflourtostiffenitupextendsstoragetime.Coating
withdryflourinhibitsmoldifitstartstogetmoistinthefridgeyoucanevenrererollit
ifnecessary.Forreallylongstoragestorethechefinthetraditionalmannerinsulatedby
abunchofflour.

Moreforpsychologicalreassurancethannecessity,Ialsorecommendyoucreatestarter
storagechipsbydryingoutsomestarterflatonwaxpaperorparchment.Youcanstore
theseatroomtemperatureindefinitely.(Iveeasilyreviveddesemchipsthatwereten
yearsold.)

TROUBLESHOOTING

1. Thedoughexplodesduringtheproof.
Thiscomesfromwaytoomuchactivityduringthefourhourproofstage.Itoften
stemsfromyourambienttemperaturebeinghigh,e.g.80s.Youneedtoreduce
biologicalactivityby(inorderofpreference):(a)usinglessstarterinrelationtoflour
inthefinaldough,(b)loweringtheambienttemperature,e.g.bychoosingacooler
roominthehouseorrefrigerateforabit(retard),or(c)usingcoolwater,coldor
frozenflour,(d)shorteningthetimefortheproof,(e)addingmoresalt,(f)decreasing
fermentationtime.

2. Thefinalloafistoodenseandsmall.
Thiscancomefromeithertoocoolanambienttemperaturesornotenoughstarteror
notenoughhydration.Tryanyandallofthefollowing:(a)usingahigherpercentage
ofstarterinrelationtoflourinthefinaldough,(b)alloweachstageofthetwoinitial
buildsenoughtimesothatthestarterisfullyactive
light,airywhenrunfinger
throughit,smellingfruity
beforegoingontothenextstage,(c)pickingawarmer
roominthehouseoruphigh,(d)slightlymorewatersothedoughislooseenoughto
expand,(e)longerproof(morevolume)or,paradoxically,a
shorter
proof(namely:
stopatpointwhereitstartstospreadoutnotupratherthangoingupandout),(g)
lesssalt,(h)adashofmolassesormaplesyrup,

3. Nothingseemstobehappeningduringthefermentationperiod.
Thisisnotabnormal.AlanScottdescribesthesignalfortheendoffermentationas
thedoughstartingtomove.Oftenitisonlyreallyduringtheproofthattheyeasts
hittheirfullstride.If,however,intheendthefinalloafistoosmallsee#2above.

4. Thetasteistoosour.
Uselesspercentstarterforeachofthebuilds,retardinthefridgeabitatvarious
points,fermentinabasementorwinecellar,addmoresalttothebuilds,usedcold
waterandflourandflax,shorterbuilds/ferment/proof.

5. TheloaftastesandsmellsdifferenteachtimeImakeit.
Thisisthenatureofthebeast.Remember,inbakingdesemyouretakingastand
againstcommoditizationandmediocritysodelightinthewaytheshapeandflavors
changewiththeseasons.Ifyouinsistonmoreconsistency,weightheingredients
insteadofmeasuringbyvolume,anduseanelectricproofingchamber.

6. Thecrustnevergetsorangebrownandshiny.
Canbeindicativeofoverproofing,ortoolittleortoomuchsteamduringthefirst20
minutes.Shouldstilltastegood.

7. MystarterdoesntlooklikeakitchenspongewhenIbreakitopen.
Dontpanicitmightverywellstillwork.Ifnot,reactivatestarternexttimeas
directedabovewithextrabuilds.

8. Mystarterhasbeeninthefridgeandhassomemoldordarkspotsonit.
Dontpanic.Sliceoffthebadparts.Aslongasyouhaveajellybeansizeofnicetan
starterleftyoullbefine.Youjustneedtogrowthatjellybeantoawalnut.

DESEMMYTHS
Thereisoneofficialwaytomakedesem
Fact:Readersaresometimesintimidatedbytheveryspecificinstructionsin
LaurelsBreadbook.Nooneisasstrictaboutformulasfor
painaulevain
or
othersourdoughs,andthereisnoneedtobesowithdesem.(SeeNotetothe
DesemPolicebelow.)

Realdesemdoughmustfermentbelow65Fandproofat95Finahumid
environment.
Fact:Thebreadworksfinewhenfermentedatroomtemperature,especiallyinthe
mid70s.Andtheproofworksjustaswellifnotbetteratroomtemperature.

Youmustuseaspecialstartermadebyburyingawheatballinacoldsackofflour
Fact:Youcanuseanywholewheatfirmstarterorevenconvertfromawhite
starter.(seebelow)

Donotusetapwater,itwillkillthenaturalyeast.
Fact:Iveusedtapwater,Iveusedfilteredwater,itallturnsoutfine.

Dontuseiodizedsalt,itwillkilltheyeast.
Fact:Iuseiodizedsalt,Iuseseasaltitturnsoutfine

Youhavetobemeticulouslycleantomakesurethestarterdoesntgetcontaminated.
Fact:Tobefrank,Imsortofdirtyandsoismykitchenanditturnsoutfine.


Youneedtoweighingredientstomakedesem

Fact:Ascaleisfine,butsinceyoullneedtoadjustfortemperaturealittle
anyway,theresnothingwrongwithusingvolumeoreyeballingit.

AFTERWARD:NOTETOTHEDESEMPOLICE
Someaficionadoswilllikelynoticethatsomeoftheaboveviolatesthedogmaofdesem
foundinLaurelsbreadbookandrepeatedontheweb.Asgreatasthatbookis,itsfirm
mandatesaboutdesemhavescaredoffmanypeoplefromaterrificbread.

Accordingtothesesourcesdesemissupposedtouseastarterwhichhasneverseenany
temperatureabove65F.Thislowtemperatureispurportedtoproducedifferent
bacteriathannormalsourdough.IhavetasteddesemmadebyLaurelsdirectionsat
severalbakeries,andamheretotellyouthereisnodifferenceinflavorortexturewitha
starterfermentedatsomewhathighertemperaturesusingtheprocessdescribed.Youare
alsosupposedtoproofat95F.Again,notessentialinmyexperienceeven
counterproductive.(Mychallenge:Trybothandcompare.)

ItheorizetheseguidelinesarosebecauseLaurelRobertsonandAlanScottadjustedthe
recipetotheirclimateneartheoceaninNorthernCalifornia.Iposturetheyneededahot
prooftohavebreadreadyfortheircommercialcustomersaftergettingupat4am.(If
youhappentoliveinthistypeofclimate,Laurelsinstructionsworkfine.)

Tobefair,Robertsoninheritedthetendencyfordogmafromtheoriginatorofdesem
himself,OmerGaevertattheLimaBakeryinGhent,Belgium.(Ivepostedhistext
online,seelinksbelowtakenoteofGaevertsmysticpronouncementsaboutmaking
yourstarterinpineforests.)Butheresthething:YoullnoticeGaevertsinstructions
aredifferentfromRobertsonsandScotts,whicharedifferentfromThomLeonard,and,
inturn,aredifferentthanmine.Ihadafellowwritetomewhosemotherbakeddesem
beforetheageofrefrigeration.Hermethodwasdifferentstill.Inotherwords:
thereisno
desemgospel.

Incontrasttoanyspecifictemperature,Iproposethis:
theimportantthingisyouneverlet
thebreadgosour.
Aslongasyouavoidthat(usingonlywholewheat,salt,and
water),youremakingdesem.

AstutereaderswillnotethatmymasterformulaaboveissimilartotheclassicFrench
painaulevainwithefforttominimizesouring.Infact,Gevaertreferredtodesemas
breadmadeintheoldFrenchmanner.Painaulevaindoesnotcarrywithitthecultof
personality,mythology,andneitherthelorenordogmaofDesem.AllofwhichIthinkis
forthebetter.

JonathanKandell,TucsonAZ2001


CREATINGASTARTER:ThreeOptions
Traditionalinstructionsfordesemstarterfromscratchhavesuchrigidrulesitscaresoff
evenseasonedsourdoughbakers.IfmyPrimerdoesnothingelse,Imheretotellyouits
actuallyveryeasytocreateadesemstarter.

Youcancreatethestarterinanumberofways.Ivedonethemallandtheyallproduce
exactlythesamebread,atleastafteracouplecyclesofbaking:

1. Getsomedriedsourdoughflakesfromsomeone
.Therearemanyordinarypeopleon
thenetwillingtosharewithyou,atnocost,crumbledflakesofdriedstarter.Dont
worryiftheyrenotwholewheatordesem,youcaneasilyconvertanystarterto
wholewheat.(
CarlsFriends
starterisanexcellentfreesource:
http://carlsfriends.net/.)

2. Convertanactivewhitesourdoughstarteryoualreadyhavetofirmwholewheat.
To
convert,simplysubstitutewholewheatflourforyourusualbuilds.Afteracouple
weeksofnormalbreadbakingitwillbeallwholewheat.Ifyourstarterisaliquid
(textureofthickpancakebatter),youneedtoreducethewatercontentsoitendsup
beingfirmlikedough(i.e.50%hydration).Inotherwords,usehalfthewateryou
usuallydoforeachbuild.

3. Makeadesemstarterfromscratch.

Nothinggarnersmorefearintheheartsofnovicebakersthantheprospectofcreatinga
naturalstarterfromscratch.Truthbetold,itsveryeasy.Remember,sourdoughisa
naturalprocessnaturedoesthework.Touseagrossanalogy,its(almost)aseasyas
lettingamoisttoweldevelopmold.

Startfrom1/3cupofwholekernelsoforganicwholewheat.Soakthemovernight,then
drain.Grindinacoffeegrinderormortarandpestleintoamush.(Inmyexperience
mashedorganicwholegrainkernelsworkbetterthanflour.)Formintoafirmball,rollin
flour,andplaceinamugorsmallbowl.Thisfirstballwillbeabitfirmerthannormal
dough.(Ifyouwanttobetraditional,burytheballinwholewheatflouratleastahalf
inchontopandbottombutitsoptional.)Letsitcoveredatroomtemperature,5070F
(mid60sisideal)for24hours.

Digoutball.Throwhalfaway.Itwontlooklikeanythingoccurredthoughyoumay
smellsomeodors.Addinenoughwholewheatflourandwater(2partsflourto1part
water)tobringtheclumpbacktoaveryfirmwalnutsize([halfof:]70gwaterand100g
wholewheatflour).Burythischunkbackintheflour,addingnewflourifneeded,so,
again,thereisatleastahalfinchsurroundingaboveandbelow.Letsitcoveredanother
24hours.Repeatthiscycleuntiltheballstartstohavethetextureinsideofakitchen
sponge.

Atthispointquickentheroutinethrowhalfaway,addenoughflourandwatertobring
backtowalnutsizedpiecetotwiceaday,every12hours.Thestarterisnowconsidered
active.Fromthispointon,youcantreatthewalnutsizedpieceasthe
chef
andbake
theloaffollowingtherecipeabove.(Desemtakesaboutamonthtogetreallygood:It
wontbeyourbestloafbutyouvegottostartsomewhereandthebreadwillincreasein
tasteandqualityovertime.)

Storethestarteratopaninchofdrywholewheatflourinajarintherefrigerator.Coat
thestarterinflourbeforestoring.Replacethelayerofdryflouronthebottomifitgets
toomoistormoldy.Orjuststoreburiedinabunchofflour.Ifthestartergetsdarkspots
orevenmold,sliceoffthepartsandusethecleanpartasyour
chef
.Ifyouletitgoso
longthecenteritselfismoldy,createanewstarter.

Thewholeprocessshouldtakeaboutfourtosevendaysdependingonairtemperature.

Therearemanyotherwaystocreatestartersfoundinbooksandontheweb,andtheyall
seemtowork.Theaboveiswhat'sworkedformeandrequiresrelativelylittleeffort.

Bytheway,youcanusethissametiny
chef
seedcultureasthebasisforanysourdough
recipe.Forryestarter,buildfromthe
chef
withryeflourinsteadofwholewheatfor
whitestarter,usewhiteflour.Andsoon.Forliquidstarteruseequalweightwaterto
flourforeachbuild.(Oneofmyfavoritesistoinoculatexxxchefinxxxwaterandxx
flourfor12hourstocreateawhitelevain.)Inoneortwobuildsyoullhavethestarterof
yourchoiceforanybread.Itsfareasiertomaintainonefreshstarterthanadozenof
differenttypes.

LINKSOFINTEREST

SourdoughDefinitions,
http://www.angelfire.com/ab/bethsbread/sdDefinitions.html
RolfWeichold,ATextbyOmerGaevert,
https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1HSFn73tuYczshxw82z1cGb3g6zGgeiVRTjN_HH2dkQ
IWasJustVeryHungry,Desem,
http://www.justhungry.com/bread/index.html
Laurel'sinstructions:FlemishDesemBread,
http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Flemish%20desem%20breadbaking%20bread%20with%20a%
20new%20desem,%20part%203
FlemishDesemBread,continued,
http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Flemish%20desem%20breadbaking%20bread%20with%20a%
20new%20desem,%20part%204
LaurelRobertson,
LaurelsKitchenBreadBook
,
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0394724348/10420118726396718?v=glance&n=283155
AlanScott&DanielWing,
TheBreadBuilders
,
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/productdescription/1890132055/10420118726396718

Theurlforthisdocumentis

Pleaseemailmewithquestions,suggestions,and,please,tellmehowitturnedout.
JonathanKandell,TucsonAZ,kandell@gmail.com


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