Sourdough bread again

14 September 2010 § 5 Comments

Yesterdays bread turned out much nicer, than the bread before. I added more rye and less spelt, this time. While it was rising I added more water because I had the impression that the dough was to stiff but then I had to add more flour, too… The bread is very good. Good crust, light interior.

The sourdough has not been in the fridge yet, because I am baking at 3 days interval at the moment. This time though I had a very sour, vinegary starter and I feared that the bread would be too sour, but it turned out wonderful. Dark and light 🙂 I have the impression that the sourdough matures. This time I poured out all of it to bake, for continuing I used the dough that was stuck to the walls of my glass container. It is plenty enough. I have not washed the glass since the start, on the top part of the glass the dough is dry. I guess that I could use it as reserve in case my sourdough dies one day, I have to do this soon though if I don’t want it to get moldy (or mouldy??).

Next time I’ll try the dish towel method for forming the loaves.

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Sugar-water kefir

12 September 2010 § 14 Comments

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Close up of sugar-water kefir by fabrivelas on Zooomr
This summer I got some sugar-water kefir crystals from the South of France. They have been living there for years of spring water, brown bio sugar and figs. The batch I got have been continuing eating the same ingredients apart from the water which is filtered tap water and mostly rapadura instead of crystallised sugar. I also like to give my kefir ginger, which it seems to like very, very much.
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Sugar-water kefir with cent coin by fabrivelas on Zooomr
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Sugar water kefir in strainer by fabrivelas on Zooomr
As you can see, kefir is not very difficult, it supports a metal strainer contrary to information found elsewhere on the web. The largest crystals that I have seen so far are the size of a little larger than a cent.
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Close up of 5 grains of sugar-water kefir by fabrivelas on Zooomr
In 24 h the amount of kefir doubles on good days. It is quite impressive. The taste of kefir crystals is rather neutral.
This is how I keep the kefir:
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Storage of the sugar-water kefir by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Sugar-water kefir (tibi) forms on the leaves of the Opuntia cactus (orig. Mexico) as hard granules (Lutz, L.: Recherches biologiques sur la constitution du Tibi. Bull. Soc. Mycol. France 15, 68-72 (1899), and Stacey M. and Youd, F.R.: A note on the dextran produced from sucrose by Betacoccus arabinosaceous haemolyticus Biochem J., November 1938; 32(11): 1946–1948.

These two references seem to be the only ones referring to the origin of the sugar water kefir (tibi) grains which seems a bit strange given the age of the publications. I cannot recall seeing tibi on my grandmother’s Opuntia when it was still living (1990s), but I did not really look for them either.

German resumée of the Lutz article:

Lutz, L., Recherches biologiques sur la Constitution
du Tibi. (Bulletin de la Societe Mycologique de France. 1899.
p. 68-72.) 

Unter „Tibi" versteht man kugelige, durchscheinende, wie gekochte
Reiskörner aussehende Massen, die sich in Mexico auf den Opuntien
finden. Sie variiren von der Grösse einer Erbse bis zu der eines
Stecknadelknopfes. In zuckerhaltigem Wasser rufen sie Gährung hervor;
es entsteht ein wohlschmeckendes leichtes Getränk.
Bei der mikroskopischen Untersuchung zeigen sich die Tibikörner
aus Bacillen, Spirillen und Hefen zusammengesetzt. Wenn das gegohrene
Getränk eine Zeit lang ruhig steht, so bilden sich an der Oberfläche
Zoogloeen, die aus Bacillen und Spirillen bestehen. Es ist nicht
schwer zu sehen, dass beide nur Entwickelungsstadien einer Art sind,
indem die Spirillen bald in Bacillen zerfallen. Zur Isolirung der Organismen
empfiehlt es sich, das Getränk zu benutzen und zwar sind flüssige Cultur-
medien geeignet. Indessen hat Verf. die Isolirung auch auf Kartoffeln
durchgefĂĽhrt.
Man erhält dann einen Kapselbacillus, der sehr variabel in der
Grösse ist (von 1,5 bis 3,3 µ Länge). Die Spirillenform kann die
Länge von 250 — 300 µ erreichen. Der Bacillus ist obligat aërob und
wächst leicht im Tibigetränk, auf Möhren, Opuntia und Heuinfus.
Dagegen wächst er schlecht in Bouillon. In neutraler Raulin'scher
Nährlösung wächst er ebentalls. Von festen Substraten zieht er
Kartoffel vor und Gelatine mit den oben genannntee FlĂĽssigkeiten.
Der Bacillus ist beweglich, producirt kein Indol und färbt sich nicht
nach Gram.
Die Hefe lässt sich leicht in flüssiger oder auf gelatinirter
Raulin'scher Nährlösung züchten. In Möhren und Opuntiainfus
wächst sie ebenfalls. Kartoffel und Möhren sind zusagende feste Nähr-
böden. Die Sporenbildung gelingt in einer Lösung von Candiszucker in
destillirtem Wasser. In jeder Zelle bilden sich vier abgerundete Sporen,
die leicht wieder auskeimen.
Um die ursprüngliche Symbiose in den Körnern wieder herzustellen,
verfährt man so, dass man in Möhrenabkochung den Bacillus impft.
Nach einigen Tagen zerreisst man durch heftige Bewegung des Cultur-
gefässes die Bakterienhaut und impft die Hefe ein. Es bilden sich nun
Körner, indem die Bacillen die Hefezellen einschliessen. Durch vor-
sichtige Zuckerzufügung lässt sich der Process sehr lange fortsetzen.
Beide Organismen vermögen zusammen die Gährung einzuleiten und zu
unterhalten, während einer allein es nicht kann.
Es ist wahrsclieinlich, dass beide Organismen neu sind. Bevor
Verf. aber eine definitive Beschreibung giebt, stellt er weitere Unter-
suchungen über ihre Eigenschaften und die von ihnen erzeugte Gährung
in Aussicht.
                                                       Lindau (Berlin)
(from a summary in: Beihefte zum Botanischen Centralblatt, Cassel, vol 9 (2), 1900, Verlag von GebrĂĽnder Gotthelft.)


Lutz writes also in 1906 about the symbiotic associations of saccharomyces Radaisii here is a summary of his article:

Lutz. — Associations symbiotiques du Saccharomyces Radaisii (Bull. Soc. inje. l906, p. 96). 

Le Tibi, dont on se sert an Mexique pour obtenir une liqueur fer-
mentée, est constitué par des masses sphéroïdes dont le centre est
occupé par le Saccharomyces Radaisii et la périphérie par le
Bacillus Mexicanus. Le rĂ´le de ce bacille consiste uniquement
à préserver contre le contact de l'air le Saccharomyces, qui est un
organisme anaérobie. 

L'auteur a, en effet, réussi à opérer une symbiose analogue en
associant ce Saccharomyces au Bacillus subtilis. Ce dernier bacille
enveloppe de toutes parts le Saccharomyces qui, ainsi préservé
contre le contact de l'air, végète et fonctionne comme ferment. 

La seule différence importante que l'on constate, suivant que l'on
emploie l'un ou l'autre bacille, est le développement, avec le Bacil-
lus subtilis, d'une odeur marquée rappelant la groseille. Ce « bou-
quet » peut d'ailleurs être extrait par agitation avec de l'éther et
Ă©vaporation du solvant. 

Dans un précédent travail (1), M. Lutz avait déjà constaté que le
Saccharomyces du Tibi, cultivé sur divers milieux sucrés, pousse en
aérobie et ne produit aucun dégagement de bulles gazeuses; qu'au
contraire, en milieu gélatine (bouillon do carotte gélatine placé
dans une étuve à 30°, de manière à conserver l'état liquide), ce
Saccharomyes produit une fermentation active. 

Le rôle des deux organismes du Tibi est ainsi expliqué. En
culture aérobie, la levure vit aux dépens du sucre ou de toute autre
matière carbonée : l'oxygène lui vient abondamment de l'air et elle
n'a nul besoin de brûler le sucre pour s'en procurer. En culture
anaérobie, au contraire, elle fait fermenter le milieu et décompose
le sucre pour y puiser l'oxygène nécessaire à sa vie. 

Rappelons Ă  ce sujet que d'autres ferments (Saccharomyces) vi-
vent en symbiose avec des Bacilles, par exemple celui du KĂ©phir
{Rev. mycol, XIV,161, du forment de la bière de Gingembre
(XV,33) et celui du Leben d'Egypte (XXV, p. 55). (1) Lutz. Nouvelles recherches sur le Tibi. (Bull. Soc. mycol. 1899, 157).

from REVUE MYCOLOGIQUE JANVIER 1906 (28th year, number 109).

Breakfast, 11 September 2010

11 September 2010 § 3 Comments

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Bread by fabrivelas on Zooomr
Breakfast was delicious today. Yesterdays bread worked our really well. It is really tasty. I am amazed that the natural yeast present in the environment helping in the sourdough can work even better than the commercial brewer’s yeast. Maybe there are so many spores around here in Belgium because of all the beer brewers everywhere?
The bread is not very sour at all. This is probably due to the amount of spelt flour used. It is very light, the crust is not hard, it is perfect. I only have to work on the looks now.
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Bread by fabrivelas on Zooomr
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Bread by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Sourdough bread (4)

11 September 2010 § 2 Comments

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Second sourdough bread fresh from the oven by fabrivelas on Zooomr
Another bread. This time I used more water. I had again about half a litre of sourdough and mixed in a bit more than half a kilogramme of spelt flour. This time I added about 50 ml of water, too. The dough was much softer and stickier. I therefore used a mold for fear that the bread would run away. I let it rise for about 2 hours (like last time), formed the bread, and let it rest for another 45 min, on top of the oven which I already lit, so that some warmth was aiding the rising before I put it in the oven. It smells again very good with some acidity, but I expect the taste to be less acidic tomorrow again, like last time. Keeping the sourdough going from 3 days ago to now worked well, it is already up and bubbling again with the rest of the flour from the bread making and some rye flour. I am not sure, yet, if I’ll put the dough in the fridge now or if I continue, because in 3 days I’ll have to bake again, anyway 🙂

But the bread has some faults, the crust is broken.
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View from above by fabrivelas on Zooomr

and another view.
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view from the side by fabrivelas on Zooomr

The bread looked like this before rising.
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before rising by fabrivelas on Zooomr

and after rising.
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after rising by fabrivelas on Zooomr

when putting in the mold:
45 min before the oven

This is my sourdough in the farinarium starting again:
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Sourdough by fabrivelas on Zooomr

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Sourdough close-up by fabrivelas on Zooomr

No-knead breads

9 September 2010 § 6 Comments

One day I would like to try these no-knead breads from
The New York Times and a sourdough version from Sourdo.

Sourdough bread (3)

9 September 2010 § 1 Comment

After my first sourdough bread attempt yesterday, I immediately started a new batch, feeding the little sourdough that was left in my glass with more water and organic stone-ground rye flour milled on a Dutch water-mill (Vajra), so that I can bake another bread this weekend.

The smell of the sourdough is really wonderful now, it still smells of apples but with much more depth. It makes me want to eat it just like that. When I finished the bread yesterday I scraped the remaining spelt flour that was left on my baking surface together and put it with the new batch of sourdough, hoping that this contamination would not harm the dough. It turns out now that it was not critical, so far.

The spelt flour I use is from the Moulin artisanal at the farm Bare in 5190 Balatre, Belgium. This is one of the 80% spelt flours that I use regularly for yeast breads.

I was just browsing the web looking for other experiences with sourdough where I saw a proving basket. I remember seeing some old proving baskets gathering dust at my parent’s place. I guess I need to take one of them next time I visit.

These are the websites I used so far for my sourdough preparation:
The original idea came from my Swedish friend: who pointed me to the blog Paindemartin. Further investigation led me to the German Adler Mühle. Good instructions with photos and lots of information can be found at this US (?) site. More details I found at a Belgian lesson for bread making which got information from the Belgian association of manufacturers and importers of products for bakery, pastry, chocolate and ice cream (unifa) which also has links to pastry and chocolate. The French have a forum for bakers at Boulangerie.net with lots of detailed information for making large amounts of breads. A German baker offers some advice at Sauerbrot (sourbread). Some German site, Bäcker (bakers), has lots of information about sourdough. The text there was written by Mirko Driller, who has his own site. Finally there is a German amateur forum having information about everything sourdough.

Sourdough bread (2)

8 September 2010 § 4 Comments

The bread is ready. I formed it into a loaf and it kept the form. I did not want to stay up until midnight tonight and put the bread in when it was not quite double the size, it looks very much like my yeast breads and has a fluffy consistency. The saltiness is right for my taste and the acidity, too. It has a pleasant nutty flavour.

I have a gas oven, however, with no indication about the heat and with the heat only coming from the bottom. It is quite tricky to get the heat right, and it took me a while to get it for yeast bread. For my sourdough bread I still need to practice because the crust is quite hard and it is a bit pale on the top, but good at the bottom.

After cooling down I had the bread for breakfast, and it was even better than when it just came out of the oven. It is fine-grained with a good density, but better than many commercial organic breads. I also only use whole rye flour and 80% (local Belgian method to quantify the wholeness) spelt four.

The description of flours can be quite confusing. Every country seems to have their own system of describing the strength of flour. In Belgium has 2 systems, one for professionals and one for the consumer. For the professional it consists of 2 numbers, one indicating the protein content from 10 to 13% and one the ash content. For the consumer there is just a percentage of wholeness.
I found a comparative table of the Belgian method for the description of wholeness and the ash ratio, the French type system and the German type system:
and here:

approx. US name grain extraction [%] in Belgium (France/Germany) type (France/Germany) ash [%] in France (Germany)
whole meal 100 (90-98/<80) 150/1600 > 1.40 (1.21-1.80)
first clear flour 85 (85-90/<80) 110/1050 > 1.00 to 1.20 (0.91 to 1.20)
high gluten flour 75 (<73) 80/812 > 0.75 to 0.90 (0.64 to 0.90)
white flour 65 (78) 65/630 (spelt) > 0.62 to 0.75 (0.70)
all-purpose flour 55 (75/<60) 55/550 > 0.50 to 0.60 (0.51 to 0.63)
pastry flour 45 (67/<40) 45/405 < 0.50 (0.50)

The German system adds one decimal to the French system. Ash means that if 100 g of flour is burnt, there will be 0.450 g of ash left for type 45 (French) flour with the tolerances mentioned in the table it can also be seen a mineral content of the flour.

More info and a conversion table to US flour types can be found on Wikipedia and from a vegetarian in Germany who has some more information.

Here are two photos of the remaining bread.
First sourdough bread, or what is left
“First sourdough bread, or what is left by fabrivelas on Zooomr

Another view
Another view by fabrivelas on Zooomr

(Looking at photos, have a look at shutter speed and iso and pixel noise of these photos. They should be available on the zooomr site. There is camera shake, but it was very dark when I took these photos and the camera is very, very old!!!)