Bread. Bread is beautiful, bread is kind, bread is delicious. The aroma that freshly baked bread makes fills and warms the heart, from the crackle of the crust, to the tender and airy, or dense and rich, structure of the inside of a loaf. Breads has been evolving for centuries. While the tradition of breaking bread has lasted, the varieties and techniques used to bake bread in different cultures all over the world have been constantly evolving. In modern days, bread has taken on a “cult-like” aspect. Bread has become modernized and is now often made with dry or fresh yeast for convenience. Using these new types of yeast has allowed bread makers to develop new techniques to make doughs such as brioche and yeast-leavened doughnuts.
Let’s not forget about our sourdough friends (and others alike)! Sourdough techniques date back to prehistoric times and ancient civilizations, when grains were ground by hand. The method of naturally leavened breads came from a happy accident: someone from long ago accidently left dough (just water and flour) over night and came back to a risen dough the next day. Since then, natural yeast, ferments, and levain have become popular in the culinary industry.
When I first discovered the technique of creating bread using a sourdough starter, I was fascinated, and decided to give it a shot. Round one, which was just all-purpose flour and water, didn’t turn out so well. After a few (ok… it was a lot) more attempts, I decided to ask a pro. My chef at the time suggested using moldy apple juice as the liquid. I thought he was out of his mind, but I wanted to try it anyways. While this method allowed the starter to come alive, my bad starter parenting skills ended that quickly.
Naturally leavened bread is essentially another life form. Thousands of years ago, who would have ever thought we would have adopted a method for making bread that involves keeping something alive? Once you have begun your starter, monitoring and regular feedings are necessary (yeast loves to eat those starches and sugars) in order for it to ferment and develop that sour, slightly acidic, signature taste many sourdoughs take on. Bread is life, literally.
by C-CAP Student Jessica Eng