I made bread

I made bread

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August 2011
This may be the first time I've used an oven on my own for anything more interesting than heating Hot Pockets.

(I unfortunately couldn't find my white balance card.)

I pretty closely followed this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/basic-whole-wheat-bread-25082

Whole wheat flour, water, salt, commercial yeast, olive oil. I would've preferred to try it without the olive oil, but didn't find a recipe without, and tried to stick pretty close to the recipe on my first ever attempt to bake bread.

I'm curious if the initial proof of the yeast can actually be done in a remotely reasonable amount of time using only water and whole wheat flour. I got no response out of the yeast, even measuring my water temperature, and keeping it in ~80°F in my oven (only turning the element on with everything out of the oven). The first batch probably had at least half an hour. I ended up going with a full packet of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons), as a couple comments recommended, and finally got some response out of the yeast by adding a teaspoon of sugar. This was with packets from two different packages of 3 packets of yeast.

So I was afraid I would have problems with the dough rising. But I didn't. Right on schedule, first rise doubled in about two hours - that was exciting. Second rise in about an hour.

My motivation was food independence. Growing my own grains, grinding them to flour, cooking it into bread, seems like a good idea. All of my food coming from far away is scary.

Along those lines, I had been wondering where people used to get yeast. Turns out you can culture it by just mixing flour and water and waiting, and occasionally feeding it more flour and water. Wild yeast sour dough starter.

I started one last night. About 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, and 3/4 cup of water. Theoretically, this will culture yeast that is superior to commercial / baker's yeast. I haven't yet seen anyone convinced it's possible to start one at my current ambient 60°F, but if starters grow in colder temperatures, and bread can rise in a refrigerator (although slowly), I expect it should work, just take longer. So I'm planning to not remove starter and add fresh flour and water until I see substantial movement, instead of the suggested schedules. I think, at each step, it would be good to wait till it stops rising, and starts shrinking again, before removing 2/3 of the starter and replacing it with fresh flour and water.

Stuff that happens to starters:
Smells like vomit, and increasing size 50% or more, in the early days, means you're growing leuconostoc bacteria, not yeast. All part of the process - makes the mixture more acidic, killing itself off, and making it easier for yeast to grow.
Smells like nail polish remover (acetone) means it's starving - next feeding, keep less starter and / or add more fresh flour and water.
Liquid building up on top (hooch, ethanol) means it doesn't have enough oxygen (it has gone to anaerobic respiration). Seems people pour off the liquid and re-feed at this point, but I think just stirring more often, or a wider mouthed container with better ventilation would help.

Kind of like initial nitrogen cycling of an aquarium, but requiring less patience.

Explanation of why wild yeast cultured from flour and water is better than commercial / baker's yeast. I want to paste the whole thing. Wild yeast makes better food.
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