Sunday, July 9, 2017

DIY -- yeast

WHAT is THAT you ask.

That is my first batch of home-brewed yeast with no little packets. See the bubbles?  They're just like the ones you see when you feed flour and warm water to the yeast from the little packets.

There are websites with the formula but basically, you need:
1 cup rye flour
1 cup warm water
1 very clean glass bowl
1 very clean spoon
4 days
On the first day, you mix 1/4 of the flour and water. You don't need to beat it smooth.
Leave it uncovered overnight.
Each of the following days, you stir the mixture smooth and add 1/4 cup each flour and water.
It might have a skin when you take the next step but just stir that into it.
On day 3 you should see bubbles when you start stirring.
On day 4 you should have bubbles of different sizes.
Some websites say repeat step 2 each day for two more days. Whatever.

I use rye flour because it naturally has more sugar in it than wheat flour and that makes it a better growth medium. You can smell this sweetness as your rye bread bakes, and it's the reason you don't need to add sugar or honey to rye or pumpernickel bread but you do to white. It's also why your rye whisky has that sweet little kick at the end.

Here is the end of the second build from this starter. It's about two inches deep, having nearly doubled in size. I made the dough with 1 cup warm water, 1 TBSP caraway seeds, and 2 cups bread flour to start with. Oh yeah, and salt. Tastes horrible without salt. It came out to about the same amount of dough as in the book recipe which DOES use packaged yeast in the starter..

             BEFORE                                                                        AFTER

This stage is called "proofing" because it's the evidence that your yeast is still alive and kicking. I let them rise a half hour before shaping and an hour after shaping. I scattered sesame on the bottom of the pan and cornmeal on the "tops" of the rolls.

I used a 400 oven for 20 minutes with a broiler pan on the bottom rack and I put in 8-9 ice cubes during baking. Here are the baked rolls, all dozen of them, and a photo of one cut open to display the fine texture of the inside.

I ate one of these halves with butter. It was just what it should have been, tender with a chewy crust. Had the other at night with some cheddar cheese. Froze six of them and kept the others in the fridge to make SURE they wouldn't go bad.

This starter was so active that I made sourdough pancakes next day because the starter was trying to climb out of the jar after a night in the fridge.

This past week I took the jar of starter out of the fridge and started feeding it again. Thursday I put half of it back in the fridge and used the other half to build sour and make dough. Here's how the dough looked after one rising. The bowl is about as deep as the width of my hand. I'd say that was a pretty fine batch of starter.

Clockwise from top right are 4 sourdough doughnuts with powdered sugar, 4 bagels, 4 hamburger rolls, and 4 hot dog rolls. Other options were to take out  1/3 of the dough for pizza, and make a loaf with the rest.

This is cheaper and more reliable than the packaged yeast because you don't have to worry about expiration dates as long as you can get flour to feed your starter. (You also get back whatever fridge space you used for the strips of yeast packets.) The side benefit is that if the power goes off, don't worry about your starter staying active. Just get yourself a couple 10-pound casks of flour and start selling your baked goods.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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