Friday, October 10, 2008

Mash-based Seed Culture

This week I spent time making Peter Rheinhart's mash-based seed culture.
Mash is a partially cooked whole wheat flour and water mixture that partly gelatinizes the starches. This is then successively mixed with more whole wheat flour and water over 5 - 6 days, in a similar fashion to creating a sourdough starter. The final is a mother starter at 75% hydration that can be used directly in making a whole wheat loaf. This is a wonderfully vigorous starter as seen in this photo.

Today was
bake day. Last night I finished refreshing the mother starter and made a whole wheat soaker. This is a mix of whole wheat flour and milk at 87% hydration. It is covered and left at room temperature over night. The starter and soaker are combined with a little more flour, brown sugar, salt, oil and yeast. Peter Rheinhart describes this as his 'epoxy' method because you are mixing essentially equal quantities of two pre-doughs, just like mixing an epoxy adhesive. The photo below right is the soaker just before combining.

The final combination felt good after kneading - no added flour or water other than a small amount of flour used for dusting. Rising went well and the dough was split into two 2lb loaves. A second rising in the pans, then into the oven they went.

Here's the finished product, just out of the oven. Not as much oven spring as I get with the multi-grain bread, but to be expected as this is a 100% whole wheat where the other has some regular bread flour. Tried one piece, tight crumb but good texture. So chalk up another success.