Thursday, March 4, 2010

Flemish Desem Bread Starter

I have long been interested in using a desem bread starter. The Lima Bakery in Belgium is reputed for being the source of this method of baking. To those unfamiliar with this kind of bread starter, just know that it has some very specific purity issues in order to be made. First and foremost being absolute pure wheat that is cold milled into flour, preferably less than a week old and absolutely free of any mold or bacteria. It is very very hard to find such flour. In fact, if you don't mill your own flour it would be almost impossible to find. Not only milling your own flour...but hand grinding it at a cold temperature. However, I have been determined to make it. I think the reason being, I wanted to know for myself that it could be done! Not just done by others, but by me!

I read about it first in the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book (Random House 1984). The way it was described as being a, " sophisticated flavor that never bores or wearies, but rather draws ever more enthusiastic appreciation:the bread keeps well and digests comfortably." It is made using just three ingredients! This pure flour, pure water, and pure salt. To me it sounded like the manna from heaven. So I set out to find wheat that would work, a mill, and the ideal temperature location to make the starter. It has taken me well over seven years of "off and on" trying new wheat varieties. Finally we have a winner. Thank you Wheat Montana! Pure and pesticide free, hand ground cold milling...and two weeks later...we have the starter.

It was a lengthy process too. Burring the dough in the pure flour one day at a very steady temperature. Removing the crust.

Feeding it more flour. Burying it again.
Repeating that several times over several days and not knowing if the dough would even raise bread. It's crazy.

This is what it looks like now. I think I shall keep it. I will name him George.

More detailed directions to come. Just know...we are very happy with little George.
He has raised several loaves of bread so far. I think we're finally on track.


Tracey said...

Welcome to the world George!

Gourmified said...

That's crazy! I second Tracey's Welcome to George!

Chef Tess said...

The best thing about Tracey's that she is the one who finally hooked me up with the wonderful wheat. I agree with you both. Welcome sweet little George! May you live long enough to be called old King George!

mlebagley said...

Seriously, no yeast?! wow...and it has only worked with the Montana flour? So that would not make yeastless bread an alternative for food storage...unless George already 'lived' at your home, right? Hmmm..

Chef Tess said...

Yes. No yeast, just the natural wheat. It has been said that real natural wheat has similar yeast growing factors to wine from natural grapes...just wild yeast. Crazy stuff too.