This bread was made from dough with no added yeast and no one is more amazed than I am that it actually rose, and was delicious to eat :-)
The recipe is an "old style" bread, prepared with no yeast other than "airborne wild yeast". I'm not sure if the yeast is floating around the kitchen, or arrived in the flour bag, but it definitely got going and made the starters ferment and the bread rise. It takes four days, and the timing was a little tricky to fit around life. I started it on Thursday night, and then was able to work on it over the weekend, culminating in baking the bread late on Sunday afternoon.
Step 1 - the "chef", initial starter with whole wheat flour, warm water, 1/2 t. milk and a tiny amount of cumin. This initial starter sits for 2 days at room temperature, covered in plastic.
|Start of step 1|
|After two days of sitting|
Step 2 - the "levain". Mix a small quantity of the chef with warm water and whole wheat flour. The traditional method, according to the recipe, is to make a "volcano" of the flour, tear the chef into small pieces and put it in the center of the volcano to soak and soften in the warm water, before mixing everything together into a firm dough.
|the "chef" - you remove the crust and |
use 2 T. of the interior
|Volcano of flour with chef in center|
|The levain before rising|
|The levain after 18 hours of sitting|
Step 3 - Refreshing the levain. You repeat a similar process - small amount of whole wheat flour, some white flour, warm water, and a portion of the levain (in this case, 1/2 cup) torn into small pieces, and use the "volcano" of flour to soak the levain in the water before mixing and kneading in the flour to form a firm dough.
This refreshed levain sits for 5-8 hours (I did this step overnight - it seemed fine to leave it a little bit on the longer side).
The levain is now ready to be used to make dough.
Again, the levain is soaked in warm water to soften (1 1/2 cups of levain - all of it), and then white flour plus salt is mixed in to make the dough. I used the Kitchen Aid with dough hook to do this step - very straightforward. This dough rises for five hours before shaping.
|Dough before rising|
|Dough after rising|
|Dough ready for baking|
Overall, I was really glad I tried this one - I started out with low expectations, so it was fun to see it actually succeed. I also took a small chunk of dough to use as a starter for another loaf - looking to try continuing the experiment and see what happens next!