Mans best friend
Or in a language that more of us will understand, yeast. Yup a true gift from the gods, or from some of them at least. Jehovah on the other hand demanded the death penalty for Jew’s who ate leavened bread at pass over! Serious stuff. I have to say that I find myself being much more of a fan of Demeter, the Greek goddess of the grain and keeper of the seasons. I am here by honouring her with the title, Goddess of yeast.
There are of course many many many kinds of yeast, but the good old saccharomyces cerevisiae is the one that does it for me. Why? Well for a good long time now it has been a couple of amazing things, making bread rise and beer alcoholic, sorry fido, but yeast truly is mans best friend…or do I just not have enough friends?
It was a great week last week in baking school, and it was all about yeast. We had a wealth of information on the subject in to talk, demonstrate and guide us through some of its wonderful capabilities. We started with Claire Monk from the Welbeck brewery, who is not only the brewer extraordinare who donated some of her yeast for our recent brewing here in 11 Creswell mansions (of which I need to post about because the beer was amazing!!!) but is also a rather fab and knowledgable micro-biologist. Not only did claire guide us through all the facts, with the equivalent of the birds and the bee’s talk for yeast, did you know that they can reproduce in a different way when they are stressed, but she also gave us a quiz at the end with the inclusion of such questions as: spell saccharomyces cerevisiae, and I really was doing well up to that point. Come to think of it, we still haven’t heard who won yet, and with beer on offer as a prize, I really should look into that. Claire also very kindly donated some of her beer barm (yeast) for us to have a play with…more on that later.
After this we were very privileged to spend the next day and half in the presence of Luic Ledru of Le Saffre, and Sara Aughton of fermex, who just happens to also be the coach of the english bread world cup, oh we are spoiled. Luic explained yet more information on yeast, which I personally found fascinating, for instance did you know that in the correct conditions .1g of yeast will become forty tons in just ten days, forty tons!
After luic’s talk it was time for action, we quickly made up a dough for some baguettes, knocked up a sourdough culture that comes from a packet, it kind of felt a bit like cheating but given frances strict regulations on what exactly can and can not be called leavin (sourdough) it does seem to answer a need, we made two types of poolish, a half water one and a half flour one (both based on TFW) for some more baguettes the following day, scaled and shaped our current baguette dough, made two brioche doughs for overnight fermentation in the fridge, one with normal compressed yeast and the other with osmotolerant high sugar yeast (which I didn’t even know existed, but is great for use in doughs with a high sugar content) and then baked off our baguettes, a busy after noon. The baguettes were nothing special, but they were not supposed to be, they were as an example of the differences between a quickly made bread and slowly made one, for which the poolish was proving for the next fifteen hours for. Still they were tasty enough back home twinned with some nice cheese.
When thursday came I really felt the we had finally started the baking course proper, that is to say we made a lot of bread. I can’t remember exactly what order in which we did things but we took our two poolish’s and made them into baguette dough’s, we shaped twenty brioche a tet, and pleated the rest, with our sourdoughs we made some pain de compagne and pain au levain doughs. As one would proof, we would shape one, knock back another, shape another it was great. With the compagne dough we also made some walnut and raisen rolls, and the pain au levain dough we made some hazel nut rolls as well. When it came time for the oven, it was also sadly time to bid farewell to Luic and Sara thanks guys for all your help and vast knowledge. The bread was great, all of it, compagne, levain, baguette and brioche, god I miss france, I spent the summer there and plan to move there some time over the few years. This is about as close as it gets and I was very happy for that.
Friday was another great day, while we did not make quite as much bread as thursday we did make some more great stuff, We firstly made a small brioche by hand as opposed to the spiral mixer. It was good practice as this can be a tricky dough to work with, and also with this one we used organic yeast and did not ferment it overnight, just a couple of hours in the fridge. I have to say that while it was still mighty tasty, the overnight brioche was the slightly better one for my palette. And then we were on the case with some of Clares beer barm. Wow is all I can say, we made different types of barm bread, one was a white, with a higher percentage of barm in it, and the other was a blend of white (shipton mills organic No.4) and heritage (doves frarms) flours with a bit less of the barm. The white did ok, but the excess of barm seemed a bit of a hinderance to be honest, it didn’t move to quickly and didn’t spring that much in the oven. The heritage how ever was a totally different story, easy to work with and with lots of spring. And the taste was truly amazing, a deep rich crust with hoppy over tones and very slightly bitter note, the crumb was great not too open or too closed, nice and moist and again with great flavour. And as I found out the following morning, it was also a fabulous toasting bread – highly recommended. Ill dig out the formula some time if anybody wants it, how ever you will need access to a friendly local brewer for the yeast culture.