Babcia’s Bread experiment, part 2; the beginning

Photo heavy post ahead. πŸ™‚

Okay, here it is! My very first attempt at slowly recreating my grandmother’s bread, with her use of “old dough” yeast that she kept stored in flour in between baking day. (Part 1: the story)

The first goal is to create the bread dough yeast starter, and for that, I need to make a yeast bread.

Here are the ingredients.

Water, yeast, salt and flour.

That’s it!

I used Kosher salt, as I figured that was more like what my grandmother had available to her.

For a 2 loaf recipe, I used 2 cups water, 2 tsp salt, about 2 tsp yeast, and between 5 and 6 cups of flour.

The yeast is my “cheat”. Back in the spring, when everyone started panic buying, yeast was among those things that became hard to find. One of our local grocery stores now not only stocks lots of the usual big name brand or two, but a wide variety of brands and types of yeast. When I spotted a “sourdough” yeast, I grabbed a packet, just to try it.

Since some of the dough from this batch will become the “mother” of future batched, I thought it was appropriate to use it.

The ingredients list is interesting. Both wheat and rye is used.

If you’re wondering about the sorbitan monpstearate, this is what I found:

“Sorbitan monostearate (abbreviation SMS), or Span 60, is an emulsifier esterified from sorbitol and stearic acid with the European food additive number E491. This ingredient is mostly used in baking yeast by improving the activity of instant dry yeast when the yeast is rehydrated before use.Β “

Speaking of rehydrating…

For the 2 cups of water, I boiled it first, because I have doubts about our well water. We really need to get the water tested, but a full test is really expensive, so… boiling it is.

I measured out half a cup of water into another measuring cup to rehydrate the yeast. I could have done it in the full 2 cups, but the half cup cooled down to a safer temperature for the yeast faster.

The inclusion of rye in this really changes the colour!

I let it proof for 5 minutes. I don’t know if I should have proofed it longer – I have recipes that call for anything from 5 to 15 minutes. It’s bubbled up, though, so I decided to go ahead.

While it was proofing, I mixed the salt into about 2-3 cups of flour. Without a wood bread bowl, I decided not to use a plastic one, and tried “dump your liquids into a well in the flour” method.

That looks…


The next while was spent with very messy, sticky hands, incorporating the rest of the flour and water in.

Thankfully, my daughter came down to give me a hand, adding the flour and water as I kneaded it in.

Once it was all mixed in, I kneaded the dough for about 15 minutes.

I may have used too much flour. I’ll have to keep that in mind for next time.

I did notice a difference in texture from my usual bread. Although I kneaded the dough until it felt smooth and satiny, it never looked smooth.

In fact, the longer I kneaded, the rougher it began to appear!

So I went by feel rather than appearances when it came time to set it aside for a first rising.

It went into an oiled plastic bowl, turning to coat all sides with oil. After covering the bowl with a tea towel, it went into a warm oven to rise.

Earlier in the day, I had prepped a baking stone and was curing it with oil in the oven. The oven was off but still warm; prefect for proofing the dough.

Once it was in the oven and rising, I set a timer to check it in an hour while my daughter started a batch of French bread. Checking it at an hour, I decided it needed more time, by my daughter’s bread was rising by the, too. So I took the bowl out and put my daughter’s dough in the warm warm oven, and set my timer for another hour.

This is the dough, after 2 hours.

After turning the dough out to prepare the loaves, I had to make sure to do that most important part.

Collect a dough egg! πŸ˜€

This humble little lump of dough is what it’s all about.

Into our flour canister it went!

I almost forget to get a picture before burying it!

My other daughter labeled the container for me.

She is a hoot! πŸ˜€

The ball of dough will now dry out until the next time we bake this bread.

After dividing the dough, I decided to form it into round loaves.

By this time, my daughter’s loaves were in the oven.

Where she forgot to take out my curing baking stone.

So they got to have their second rise on a normal baking pa, instead.

In kneading and shaping the dough, once again, the dough got rougher rather than smoother! You can really tell in the one of the left.

I then left them to rise, checking them after about half an hour.

My daughter’s French bread was done well before my second rising was done!

The ended up needing another hour of rising time.

The baking stone had cooled down quite a bit by then, but was warm enough that I transferred the loaves over, and I think that residual warmth helped them rise even more. The above photo was taken just before they went into a 400F oven.

All done!

I am not sure how long they took to back. I set my timer for half and hour, then kept peaking and resetting the time for another 5 minutes, over and over. I think it took about an hour to bake.

I was quite impressed with how much the loaves rose in the process!

The next part was the hardest.

Waiting for the loaves to cool down!

For all that the loaves rose so much in the oven, they still felt surprisingly dense. I was also a bit surprised by how fine a crumb there was.

I taste tested one piece plain, one with ordinary butter, and one with a garlic herb butter.

I’m having a hard time describing the flavour. It was certainly tastey, but I think I was picking up the rye flavour in the “sourdough” yeast. It did have a “sourdough” tang, but one that is quite different from any sourdough we’ve made ourselves.

The sponge was soft, yet toothsome. The crust was crusty enough to be a good chew, but not so crusty as to cut up the mouth (something I have issues with, when it comes to most “crusty” breads).

The plain slice was tasty, but the buttered slices definitely were better. With no fat in the bread itself, the butter really brought out the flavours that were more muted in the unbuttered slice.

All in all, this very plain, very basic bread was a success.

It is, however, just the first step in the process. It’s purpose was to provide us with some dough to reserve for the next batch. Every batch of bread we make using the bread egg now sitting in the flour canister will be another step closer to recreating my Babcia’s bread.

While my grandmother did her bread baking once a week, we will probably make our first batch using the bread egg in 3 or 4 days.

I am really curious to see how it will look when we fish it out of the flour, and how the overnight soak will turn out! For a first time use, I don’t expect the flavour will be much different, but who knows? I’ve never done this before! πŸ˜€

The Re-Farmer

2 thoughts on “Babcia’s Bread experiment, part 2; the beginning

  1. Pingback: Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part 3: reconstituted, and more of the story | The Re-Farmer

  2. Pingback: Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part five: I killed it! | The Re-Farmer

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