Friday, December 17, 2010

Lager Yeast Bread

The Bread Maiden is confident enough to admit when things go wrong.


This is one of those times. But don't worry; this story has a happy ending.

To begin with, some background:

Lately Mr. Bread Maiden has been experimenting with different alcoholic libations, supplying Bread Maiden with different kinds of yeast leading to different flavors in her bread.

The carboy on the left is mead, a type of beer made from fermented honey. Mr. Bread Maiden used something called "lager yeast," or "champagne yeast."

According to Wikipedia, lagers are made with Saccharomyces pastorianus yeast, a close relative of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is a slow-acting yeast.

Once the mead was decanted into beer bottles, I took some of the drudges on the bottom and mixed them with flour and water to form a starter.

Then I waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened.

I twice attempted to revive the starter, dumping half and feeding it once a day. It made no difference. The slow-acting lager yeast was even slower than Bread Maiden had anticipated.

Unlike the monks who first brewed lagers, Bread Maiden is able to rely on modern conveniences to speed the process.

Commercial yeast (horrors!) was finally added on day three and the starter was combined with AP flour and water in a 1-2-3 ratio to form a nice loaf.

So it turns out lager yeast doesn't work well in bread. At least, not as well as ale yeast, and not as a stand-alone rising agent. Still, I could detect a slight honey flavor, and the coloring was lovely.

Also, if you missed it, scroll back up to the last picture. I was busy and let Mr. Bread Maiden score the loaf for me. He added his own flourish to the top.

While not a total failure, my experience with lager yeast demonstrates the need in bread-making for flexibility and willingness to experiment to see what works.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cider Bread & Big Changes *UPDATE

Bread Maiden apologizes for her long hiatus from blogging. So much has happened in the past six months and she hopes that as the dust settles she will post a little more often.

Bread around the Bread Maiden household has been pretty routine- I've gotten into the habit of making my standard 1-2-3 sourdough, sometimes mixing it up with a wheat or multigrain loaf. But while those are great breakfast breads, they aren't very exciting.

However, the bread I am telling you about now IS kind of exciting.

But I need to provide some background first.

Since moving back to the DC area from Austin (big change #1), Mr. Bread Maiden has been canning, preserving, and fermenting like crazy.

This is Mr. Bread Maiden fermenting mead. What is mead? This is mead.

Crazy, huh?

Here is a picture of mead on the left, and hard cider on the right.

Cider is where I come in.

As you may remember from previous posts, yeast is used in many things, and can come in many forms.

And yeast that has been used in beer or other fermented drinks can be used in bread as well, after some prep work. Once the fermentation process is complete, the yeast settles on the bottom of the vessel. After the beer has been transferred from the carboy to bottles, the leftover yeast can be collected and stored, as it is here in the top tupperware.

Here is a picture of a pure beer yeast starter (on the right) and a starter that has been fed and discarded a few times (on the left).

This week Mr. Bread Maiden bottled his cider and had cider yeast left over. I checked online to see if anyone had heard of using cider yeast in bread. I found this but nothing else.

So I decided to give it a try.

I threw a few tablespoons of the cider yeast into a glass jar and mixed in 100g of all-purpose flour and 75g of water. Then I left it to rise overnight, discarded most of it, fed it again, and waited another night.

By this time it was quite lively.

I threw it into my 1-2-3 bread.

That is where it sits now. Given the bubbliness of the starter, I'm confident that it will rise, at the very least.

I guess I should probably update when I actually bake this thing.

Meanwhile, I have the pleasure to report our Big Change #2:

We are expecting a Baby Bread Maiden in early 2011!


Ok, and we're back with the results of the cider bread.

This is a picture of the bread rising after a few hours and one stretch-and-fold.

You can see more of the rise here:

The bread was divided into two loaves for the final rise.

I threw my dutch oven into the oven and preheated it at 450 degrees. Then I baked the loaves one at a time after scoring them in my usual pattern. I baked them for 30 minutes with the dutch oven lid on, then 15 minutes with the lid off.

Here is what came out of the oven:

This is one damn beautiful loaf.

But how does it compare to a normal 1-2-3 sourdough loaf in terms of color, oven spring, holey interior, and taste?


Comparing the cider starter loaf on the left and normal sourdough on the right, the color was about identical.


Once again, the cider loaf and the normal loaf were about the same size and shape.


No real difference here. The holes in the loaves are about the same in size and frequency.


No, this isn't a picture of the cider loaf. But you can't go too long on a blog entry without a picture.

The taste was really the only difference Mr. Bread Maiden and I could identify. While the cider loaf came out of the oven with a distinctive "sharp" smell, it had a milder taste than my normal sourdough.

Bread Maiden's parents, who tend to not like very sour sourdough, really liked the cider loaf.

This taste difference might not be directly a consequence of using cider vs. regular wild yeast starter. It could have more to do with the fact that the cider starter was much younger than my normal starter, and that I started the loaf in the morning and baked it the same night, instead of letting it go for longer fermenting time in the fridge.

So, what's the verdict? I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the cider starter after my grand cider bread experiment. It's enough just to keep one starter going, much less two. And the cider starter may get more intense over time, which makes the taste difference less of an issue.

If you like the idea of experimenting with other types of yeast in your bread but don't have cider yeast, don't despair. There are TONS of other yeasts, including yeast from fruit! Check out this very helpful website.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Dinner

The Bread Maiden's bread was featured in Food Dilettante's blog!

Food Dilettante is a friend of mine from grad school. She is a fellow lover of food (as the name shows) and we got together with several friends for an Easter dinner full of delicious food and merriment

To read the post, click here!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Foe no more: Rye Bread, Part III

Some of my older readers know that rye and Bread Maiden have something of a fraught relationship. It has been documented here: Rye Part I and here: Rye Part II

I was ready to give up hope. The loaves didn't rise and the spices gave it a funky flavor.

Also, they just looked really unappealing.

However, I decided to give it one last try. Peter Reinhart has a recipe for rye bread in his newest book, Artisan Breads Every Day.

Now, this is not 100% or even 50% rye flour. It's about 20% rye flour. But it tastes good. And sometimes that trumps purity snobbery.

The thing I like about Reinhart's ABED book is that he seems to have learned a lesson from WGB and now his recipes make enough for two loaves. However, one thing I dislike is that he has taken the water/flour ratios out of the book so you can't scale up or down the recipes yourself based on hydration.

And as you know, I love bread math.

Peter Reinhart's Soft Rye Sandwich Bread

Rye Starter
56.5g starter (Reinhart keeps his at 66%, but I used my 75% starter)
213g rye flour
170g water

all of the rye starter
383g water
28.5g molasses
56.5g vegetable oil
7g instant yeast
680g bread flour
28.5g cocoa powder
17g salt
1/4c minced fresh onion
2 tbl poppy seeds

1. mix rye starter together and let sit for 6-8 hours covered.

While you're waiting for the starter to activate, you can take a look at Mr. Bread Maiden's new project, homemade sauerkraut, currently stinking up our kitchen.

2. mix together the molasses, veg oil, yeast, and water.

3. chop up the pieces of rye starter.

4. Let the yeast mixture sit for a few minutes, then pour over the rye starter pieces. Mix on lowest speed to soften the starter.

5. Add the flour, cocoa powder, poppy seeds, salt, and onions. Switch to the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for about 4 minutes.

6. The dough will want to ride up on the dough hook, so keep pushing it down. When it looks about like this, let it rest for five minutes.

7. After five minutes, mix on medium-low speed to make a smooth, tacky ball of dough.

8. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for a bit on a floured surface.

When it starts looking good, put it in a well-oiled bowl to rise for another 90 minutes.

Looking good!

9. Prepare at least one piece of parchment paper with rice flour. Partition out two equal sized loaves.

10. Form one into a ball and place on the parchment paper.

11. Sprinkle some of the rice flour on the top of the loaf to prevent sticking. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and let sit another hour or so.

12. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you're using a dutch oven, put the cold dutch oven into the oven to warm it up.

13. Score your loaf and put it in the warm dutch oven in the oven for 25 minutes with the lid on, then 25 minutes with the lid off.


Verdict? Really really tasty. You can definitely taste the rye, even though there isn't much rye flour in it. The poppy seeds and onions help add flavor too.

The onion pieces made funny little air pockets, which helped it not be so heavy like other rye attempts.

One downside is that this really isn't a breakfast loaf, which is when Mr. Bread Maiden and I usually eat bread, usually slathered with butter, jam, or peanut butter. This bread likes to be eaten without accompaniment. It goes well with soups though.

All in all, I would definitely call this a success! The mission for 100% and 50% rye flour breads just never resulted in very satisfying loaves for me. Maybe I did them wrong, or didn't like the taste, but this Reinhart Soft Rye Sandwich bread is very tasty and sometimes that is enough for me.

Go make these! Now!