Tonight I Begin


Tonight I will start the process of making fermented bread tomorrow. My starter is growing on top of my refrigerator. I have five pounds of self-ground wheat to work with. I have a plan.

Tonight I will create my leavening.

The night before baking the bread, make a leaven. In a glass bowl, combine the whole-wheat and all-purpose flours with the water. Add 2 tablespoons of the starter and mix thoroughly. Cover with a towel and leave out overnight in a draft-free spot.”

Excerpt From: Michael Pollan. “Cooked.” iBooks.

The idea here is to test the strength of the starter and at the same time create a very vigorous colony of wild yeast and bacteria, which will do the double duty of leavening my fermented bread. See, yeast alone can only eat sugars. But, bacteria and yeast in concert can eat starch, gluten and the sugars created by converting starches. The final product in the oven will be almost exhausted of these things, and they will have been converted into materials that are easier to digest. It is exactly like the idea behind fermenting cabbage or vegetables. Fermenting makes foods into super-foods. I want some bread super food.

There is another job for tonight, to pre-soak my flour.

The night before baking the bread, “soak” the whole-grain, all-purpose, and rye flours: In a large bowl, combine the whole-grain, all-purpose, and rye flours with 850 grams of the water, mixing with a spatula or by hand until there are no lumps or patches of dry flour remaining. (A recommended extra step: In the case of the whole-grain flour and the rye flour, pass them through a flour sifter to remove the larger bits of bran; reserve the larger bits in a small bowl for use later.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out overnight in a draft-free spot. The reason for this step is to thoroughly moisten the whole-grain flours before the fermentation begins; this softens the bran (making for a more voluminous loaf) and begins the breakdown of the starches into sugars (deepening flavors and color).”

Excerpt From: Michael Pollan. “Cooked.” iBooks.

The logic behind this step is to actually begin the process of sprouting the grains. Even though they are busted into a zillion pieces the chemical machinery is there. When soaked seeds sprout and the very first thing they do is activate the process that converts their starches into sugars for the new plant to live off of until a shoot breaks out into the sunlight, where the plant can make it’s own sugar. Doing this eight hours before I add yeast then gives my yeast something to dine on immediately as well. This works so well that you have to add salt to the mixture just to keep it from happening TOO fast. If it happens too fast then there is not enough gluten structures to trap the gas bubbles in the bread, it gets away, and then the loaf is heavy and dense. As Pollan notes in his aside, sifting the wheat will keep larger bits of wheat bran from cutting up the gluten as you knead and bake. I will sift before I wet. My first loaf will have the best possible chance.

This process works so well at eliminating starch and sugar in the bread that a known problem with sourdough bread is gray loaves after baking. There just are not enough proteins and sugars left in the product to undergo caramelization or the Maillard Effect during hi temperature baking. This is a symptom of bread that we can eat. Not enough sugar or starch to brown means not enough to cause a large insulin reaction to the bread. I simply cannot wait to test this out in my own body.

I am depriving myself of all carbs from yesterday until Saturday evening when I eat this bread. By doing so I will know by my body’s reaction to it whether or not there are sufficient carbs left in my fermented bread to make me gain weight. I am hoping that by eating bread with a meal that includes insoluble dietary fiber (green leafy veggies, for instance) that there will be no noticeable insulin effect.

Tune in Sunday!

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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