Medieval Style Bread Part 2

Only a few days later, and I already have to update the post.

On Yeast:

I’ve been doing some research into yeast and have come to the conclusion that I am using way too much yeast in this dough.

Small amounts of yeast will reproduce rapidly given the right stimulants.  So, if I decrease the amount of yeast, but let the sponge work for longer (a few hours instead of 20 min) then the resulting yeast will be stronger, and I won’t need to use as much.

Some people seem to recommend using 1 tsp of yeast in a sponge to get the same effect of a normal 1 tbsp.

I am thinking 1 1/2 tsp, or 1/2 a tbsp instead.  It’s a little more, but this should work.  My plan is to make the sponge in the morning, let it grow all day, then make the dough in the evening and let it rise all night, then make the bread the next day.

A very medieval system.

Also, apparently whole wheat flour will feed the yeast better than white.  So I’ll be increasing the ammount of whole wheat flour for this run.  If it comes out too much like whole wheat bread I’ll adjust it, but since the other flour is all white it should achieve a nice mix.

And finaly, since I want the salt to affect the yeast, I’ll add it to the sponge just before mixing into the rest of the dough.

Regarding Ovens:

Though my plan of using a baking stone and a broiler pan with water should produce a similar effect to that of an old style oven, apparently if I put a wet terracotta pot over the loaf it will be more effective.  This is a good idea, but I don’t think I’m going to do that the first time.  Maybe the second.

Regarding Ale Barm:

First the disclaimer: I am not doing the first batch of bread with ale barm.  But I will be doing a future one with it.

Ale yeast seems to need maltose to grow, which means that making a sponge from the barm is a bad idea, unless I have malt.  I can probably get some from Uilliam (where I’m hoping to get the barm).  It looks like if I feed the yeast both ww flour and malt (barley preferably) it will make a perfect sponge.

The original recipe used 1 1/3 tbsp of barm.  That’s not a lot.  So I think what I’ll do for that is use 1 1/3 tbsp of the barm in the water I’ll be using, and 1 or 2 tbsp of malt, and the ww flour.  That should combined to make my sponge.  Then I’ll continue the recipe as shown.

Now, some places say that I should wash the barm.  Apparently you can have some of the lees (called trub) in the barm.  By using ale barm rather than beer barm I shouldn’t have much trub, as Ale top ferments, which means that the barm can be taken from the top.  Beer on the other hand bottom ferments, which means that the yeast is mixed with the lees (trub) at the bottom.

I take the barm and put it in a mason jar or other glass container (sanitized).  Cover with plastic wrap, put a rubber band around the top and put it in the fridge for an hour.  Take it out and decant the top part of what is there, that’s the yeast.  What has sunk to the bottom is the trub.  If it didn’t separate well, add some distilled water to it and let it sit another hour.

The real question is if I even need this step with ale barm, since it’s from the top.  But apparently it removes some of the ale bitterness from the bread.  So I’ll do it.

New recipe:

With all of this I should have a new recipe, both for with yeast and for with barm.

Yeast Bread

  • 4 cups flour (1 c ww, 3 c wh)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Take 1 1/4 cups warm water and put it in a small bowl, add 1 1/2 tsp yeast, and slowly add 1 cup whole wheat flour, stirring, let rest out covered lightly (linen perhaps) for a few hours
  2. In a larger bowl put your 3 cups white flour
  3. Once the yeast mixture starts bubbling add 1 tsp salt, stir and add it to the middle of the flour and mix it together
  4. Kneed 8-10 minutes
  5. Put back in bowl and cover
  6. Let it rise until doubled may take up to 12 hours
  7. Punch down, form into loaves, let rest for 20-30 min
  8. Preheat oven to 450 with baking stone and broiling tray in
  9. Slide loaves onto baking stone
  10. Pour 1 cup water into broiling tray
  11. Bake for 30 min or until crust is browned and firm

Barm Bread

  • 4 cups flour (1 c ww, 3 c wh)
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 1/3 tbsp washed ale barm
  • 1 or 2 tbsp malt (barley)
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Take 1 1/4 cups warm water and put it in a small bowl, add 1 1/3 tbsp ale barm, and 1 or 2 tbsp malt, and slowly add 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, stirring, let rest out covered lightly (linen perhaps) for a few hours
  2. In a larger bowl put your 3 cups white flour and 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  3. Once the barm mixture starts bubbling add 1 tsp salt, stir and add it to the middle of the flour and mix it together
  4. Kneed 8-10 minutes
  5. Put back in bowl and cover
  6. Let it rise until doubled may take up to 12 hours
  7. Punch down, form into loaves, let rest for 20-30 min
  8. Preheat oven to 450 with baking stone and broiling tray in
  9. Slide loaves onto baking stone
  10. Pour 1 cup water into broiling tray
  11. Bake for 30 min or until crust is browned and firm

 

I’m going to try the yeast version on Friday with luck.  I’ll post how it goes, and hopefully some pictures (my blog needs pictures).

3 Replies to “Medieval Style Bread Part 2”

  1. I have been using fresh ale barm to make bread every week for two years, selling at local markets around Ezeter, Devon. I have discovered quite a bit about its use from books and blogs, but they are no substitute for experience. I am happy to share what I have learnt, and exchange ideas on recreating old styles of bread.
    I do use fresh barm as a substitute for bakers yeast in some sweeter breads but mostly I make an overnight starter; 1 part barm, 3 parts flour, 5 parts water.
    The barm works well with most flours but seems to react particularly well to Rye and Spelt. I haven’t tried it yet with Barley flour, my next experiment perhaps.
    The overnight method removes the necessity of washing the barm, though my personal taste for beer means that I enjoy a hint of hops in the finished bread.

  2. I’d love to hear about your successes and failures regarding it.
    Although the original recipe seems to want you to use fresh barm, I feel that a sponge would be a more reliable method. The reason I’m thinking barley is that when it malts (just starts to sprout) it has a very high maltose content, and apparently ale yeasties like maltose a lot, so it should encourage greater growth of the yeast.

    I’m trying to keep most of the beer taste out of the bread for now, mostly because the recipes I’ve found from the 1500s seem to prize a bread that isn’t sour. So they would probably not have had our 100 year old sourdough cultures like we do, but rather would have made a new starter each week if they’re using that, or use washed barm to decrease any bitterness or sourness.

    Rye also has a high maltose content, but I didn’t know about spelt. That’s good to hear, as west coast wild yeast aren’t a big fan of spelt, so I was wondering how I was going to do that one when I get to it.

    I’ll be getting the barm from a friend of mine who makes his own beer. Where do you get it? I’ve heard some people say that you should mix at least two different strains for the best bread.

    Also, Exeter is awesome. I spent a week in Tiverton a few years ago and loved it. The library at the Exeter Cathedral is one of my favorite memories from that trip.

Leave a Reply