By Baker/Chef Adam “The Bearded Baker” Majewski.
Welcome back to The Bearded Bakers Masterclass series on bread, in my last entry I went over a bit of history and an introduction on how yeast is a main component in the bread baking process now is a good time to press on to bread itself. When getting into baking bread you’ll need to think about a few different factors which go into making every loaf of bread. Though you don’t need to get much into the science of bread, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of whats going on when baking a semi-living organism. Where to begin, where to begin, well we will begin with the two most important ingredient while baking bread, which are your flour, and your yeast. Why? To start, your yeast first, is the whole bases of what raises your bread and helps with making your bread soft fluffy. Flour, when mixed with a liquid is what creates the breads final structure, and is what creates most of the breads flavor when mixed with well cultivated yeast and fermented. Before moving forward there are two major classifications of yeasts used in most major bakeries, Bakehouses, and pastry stations, these are commercially produced yeast and wild yeast. Both yeasts can be used as substitutes for one another when you have a full understanding of bakers percentages and the knowledge of how both work.
Originally when bread was first developed in Jordan by the Natufians, a proto-agricultural society mostly reliant on hunting and gathering, cereal grains were purely wild at this time and had to be foraged the same way any other fruit, vegetables, and tubers where collected during this period. At this same time bread was not eaten often and when was, resembled Injara, a pancake like flatbread developed in Ethiopia. These flatbreads were used as a celebration food, due to the amount of work which was dedicated just for one food item, and over time these early breads were developed using trial and error creating a base’s to learn from when the agricultural revolution began in Egypt. They used what are now called yeast starters, pitch-able yeasts, sourdough starters, so on and so forth, all of which cultivated and still cultivate wild yeasts. At the point when Egypt began making bread as a part of their daily diet, Egyptians only started understanding what yeast was and its role in making bread, as well alcohol. As this understanding and knowledge grew over time the first, and most widely understood yeast was wild yeast, which was cultivated using what is now known as a sourdough starter in most circles. Over time commercial yeast cultivation was developed hand in hand with the development of alcohol, which was first done by skimming yeast which was produced during the alcohol fermentation process. This type of yeast was and still is called brewers yeast, and most brewers had excess which they sold to bakers. This yeast has similar attributes to current day commercial yeast, but current day commercial yeast was developed to use, and still does, a disaccharide diet and environment to grow the yeast for bakery production. How ever from a dietary stand point commercial yeast has very little to no nutritional value to people yet is a very quick and cheap way to produce yeast for breads, and pastries, as well many other yeast based product. Though commercial yeast has its place from here on I will be teaching through these masterclasses old world techniques which use sourdough starters as the main source of yeast, and how to use commercial yeast as part of natural leavening.
How ever before I continue I must get address a misconception out of the way, this misconception is that commercial yeast is no good for human consumption. This thought comes from the misunderstanding that people think that it is not found in nature, how ever commercial yeast is technically wild yeast and occurs in nature how ever this form of yeast, does not occur in large amounts and if used in whats classified as artisan bread can only be used in small amounts of commercial yeast in order to act as a replacement for yeast lost during bulk fermentation, which will then hold over to proofing and bake off of the bread or pastry. In old world baking you can only add 1/2 a percent of commercial yeast per batch of bread or yeasted product in order to insure you have enough yeast to proof your bread prior to baking.
Now, pretty much, we have covered enough history for now in order to allow us to move on to actually baking. In our next Masterclass we will be specifically learning about creating a wild yeast starter, how to take care of your starter as well using your wild starter to make some of the most delicious bread you can possibly think of.
Thank You and join us next time here at The Bearded Baker Masterclass, Stolat!