Monday, October 22, 2012

Bacteria, it's what's for dinner

When it comes to my friend Robin, sometimes I feel like "monkey see, monkey do." I usually like to march to the beat of my own drummer (read: I am not a follower), but Robin inspires me a lot with her self-sufficiency and the things she does, and I want to be just like her when I grow up sometimes. ;)

When she started using natural yeast to bake - which saves on buying yeast - it sounded so cool, I wanted to try it too. 

First, I bought the book:
Then I waited patiently for my free dried yeast from the authors to arrive. Luckily, Robin came to the rescue again by giving me one of her happy starts! 

This is what it looked like when I went to feed my pet start for the first time:
Despite the book calling for proceeding slowly and with caution, within the week, I wanted to try out a recipe. Nobody said I was patient. I chose the easiest beginner recipe, no knead bread, and mixed it up:
I fed the start again after I used a portion of it for the dough above.
And I stuck the dough into the pans:
It turned out very sour and dense and, well, meh because I'd run out of whole wheat flour:
So I power-fed my starts to make the dough sweeter, and then I attempted "Adam's Bread" with a combination of white AP and WW flour. The loaves came out darker due to the WW flour and therefore, IMO, much prettier:
the yeast was alive with the sound of screaming...okay, no screaming
The only problem was that for whatever bizarre reason, the bread tried to crawl out of its container while in the oven. (The other loaf did too, but you can't see it in the photo.) Creepy.

The bread turned out sweet and, while it had lots of little air holes, was also on the dense side. Not quite the bread we're used to, but it was tasty enough that I was encouraged to keep going and keep experimenting for a while longer.

There are some health claims about natural yeasts. I've not done my own research on it to confirm or deny such claims. I only wanted to use natural yeast for the fact that you can keep a start going (like a sour dough biga) ad infinitum so you don't ever have to buy yeast again for bread-making. Any questions about health claims should be directed to the authors of the book.

Do you think you might try bread-making with natural yeast? I think this is something best suited to those who have patience and attention to detail, neither of which are my strong points, as I've mentioned earlier.

Update: no one in our family likes the flavor, the texture, or the denseness of any of the 7 recipes I've tried in the book, so I'm giving up. If any of you would like to try it, though, I'd be happy to mail you my book for free. First person to ask me for it gets it. :)

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be." ~ Douglas Adams