Pin It
Favorite

Bread Science 

by Ann M. Colford


Bread develops its light, airy texture thanks to fermentation and the development of a protein in flour called gluten. When yeast, a microscopic plant in the fungus family, meets a warm moist environment -- say, a bowl of tepid water -- it begins to reproduce rapidly. The hungry little yeasties feed off the sugars and complex carbohydrates in flour and release alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 gets trapped within the strands of gluten, giving the dough its characteristic rise. When the risen dough is baked, the heat of the oven kills the yeast and burns off the alcohol, and the fluffy porous structure that we know and love remains.


The earliest bread-bakers didn't have access to packets of standardized yeast; they relied on capturing wild yeast. Various strains of yeast have been cultivated for their consistent behavior and are now readily available to both commercial and home bakers. But sourdough breads still rely on wild airborne yeast or cultures that have been passed down through generations. Fortunately, we don't have to relearn ancient hunting skills to stalk the elusive wild yeast, nor do we need any exotic equipment. All it takes is some flour and water and a little bit of patience.





Marty's Spokane Sourdough Starter


Mix two cups of unbleached all-purpose flour with two cups of warm (but not hot) water. Stir vigorously, then let the bowl sit uncovered on the kitchen counter. After a few hours -- or maybe a few days, depending on how much yeast is in the air -- you should begin to see bubbles, a sign of fermentation. Next, begin feeding the culture three times daily, stirring in equal amounts of flour and warm water each time. In the morning, dump out all but a cup or two of the starter mix, then begin the feeding schedule again. After about three to four days, your starter should be ready to use in baking.


To keep starter dormant but alive, place it in the refrigerator. Revive it by bringing it to room temperature and feeding it again for a day until it is frothy and lively once again.





Publication date: 06/03/04

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Game Changer
  • Game Changer

    Since Condon became mayor, Jan Quintrall has been responsible for some of the biggest changes in the city of Spokane — and some of its biggest controversies
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • In Contempt
  • In Contempt

    A Spokane judge rules that the mental health system has willfully failed to follow evaluation deadlines
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Never Again
  • Never Again

    Washington state lawmakers push reforms after last July's murder-suicide; plus, Spokane's police ombudsman is leaving
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
A T. Rex Named Sue

A T. Rex Named Sue @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 4

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ann Colford

Most Commented On

  • Let Us Breathe

    Spokane joins national protests over the failure to indict white officers for killing black civilians
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation