A measures of the amount of water added to flour to achieve a desired dough consistency. The higher the protein content of a flour, the more water it will absorb.
An organic acid produced by bacteria in the sourdough culture during the fermentation process. The presence of acetic acid helps to gives sourdough its characteristic acidic tang.
By-products of the fermentation process, these aromatic compounds contribute to the flavour of sourdoughs.
Forms the outer layer of the endosperm of wheat and other grains. A source of enzymes which aid in the digestion of the endosperm.
A tool used to measure the flexibility of dough. It does so by inflating a thin sheet of dough with air until the dough ruptures. The results from this test indicate the most suitable uses of a flour.
A class of enzymes that catalyse the hydrolysis of starch to form simple sugars.
A chemical that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules or compounds. In the body antioxidants can protect cells against damage by free radicals. Examples include vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene. Antioxidants are found in foods such as wholegrains and leafy green vegetables.
An oxidising agent. Used by some bakers as a flour improver or dough conditioner to strengthen gluten and produce a loaf with greater volume and a finer crumb. Also used as an additive to dried yeast where it helps to produce the acid environment favouring faster yeast action.
A measure of a flour’s mineral content. The higher the ash count, the more minerals are present in the flour. This results in a stronger dough, and bread with a higher nutritional value and a better colour.
A stage in bread making when flour and water is mixed and left to rest, prior to making a dough. During this phase, enzymes in the flour begin to break down starch and proteins to form simple sugars and gluten, resulting in a dough that is easier to work with and a loaf with a better crumb and rise.
Used as a dough conditioner to produce and airy and chewy loaf. Banned in the EU and UK for use in bread making.
A convention used by baker’s in which ingredients are expressed as a percentage of the total amount of flour. This allows recipes to be scaled up or down easily. For example, if a recipe calls for 1000g flour, 600g water, 2g yeast and 10g salt, it can be written as 100% flour, 60% water, 0.2% yeast and 1% salt.
Generally these baskets are made from cane, wicker or wood pulp. It is used to support the sourdough dough during the final prove.A banneton gets better with age. A brand new banneton is effectively ‘green’ and it needs conditioning before it is ready to use. I think that Bannetons work best with a thin build up of moisture and flour which needs to be worked in to all its nooks and crannies.
The idea is to put a permanent layer of flour onto the banneton so that it adheres to the fibres. On first use, you can lightly mist the new banneton with water then dust with flour and tip out the excess the day before first use. This is the beginning of your flour and moisture build up. After three regular uses of a banneton you can expect it to have build up a coating retain a dusting of flour and this facilitates easy release of your dough. Continue to liberally flour the banneton every time you use it.
Banneton maintainance is key to keeping and building a coating. You should never ever wash the banneton or get it wet. Traditionally a baker would put it in the warmth of the sun to dry, and in the bakery in France we store them in the window, but we aren’t always as lucky here. In the absence of sun simply put the banneton is a warm dry environment to dry, such as above the oven. Once dry knock banneton on side of table to release flour and use a dedicated stiff brush to remove excess flour. Bannetons should be stored in a dry place away from odors. A well conditioned and maintained banneton will serve you well for many years to come.
You can buy these in the shop.
To increase hydration and get a more open crumb it is best to add more water just a little bit at a time. The technical term for this is what the French call called Bassinage. We don’t have an English direct translation for, but it means water that is worked into the dough in small increments during the bulk fermentation.
It is a very traditional technique, but what is really important to remember is that the ” eau de bassinage” ( the water) is removed from the total water in the formula.
So if you have a total of 800g of water in the formula with 50g bassinage they you will mix 750g of the water in initially with the flour then add the 50g in gradually at the later stage during the bulk fermentation stage.
A batard is a loaf shaped like a baguette, but much wider and shorter.
It has tapered ends and is slashed diagonally and baked using exactly the same method as the baguette.
For home bakers one of the things we recommend to students when baking batards, is to bake in something that helps to retain the steam, such as an oblong baker.
A rest period after pre-shaping the dough. This allows the gluten to relax and makes the dough easier to handle during the final shaping.
A bleaching agent added to flour. Has been linked to lowering the nutritional value of the flour. Banned in the EU.
A leaven made using water, flour and a small amount of commercial yeast. The consistency is the same as normal dough. The mixture is allowed to ferment for 24 hours then added to freshly made dough with, if necessary, more yeast.
A classic, rounded loaf. The name comes from the French for ball.
The nutritionally rich outer layers of cereal grains.
A flour improver used to strengthen the dough and get a better rise. Use of bromate is banned in a number of countries.
The fermentation stage immediately following the mixing and kneading of a dough.
Occurs as a loaf bakes at high heat. During caramelization, sugars on the surface are oxidised, causing the crust to brown and develop more flavour.
A small piece of dough kept from a previous bake and used as a leaven for the next.
A linen cloth used to support the dough during the final prove after it has been shaped and prior to baking.
Describes the pattern of holes inside the baked loaf.
A sourdough starter made from whole wheat flour and used to make a Flemish style sourdough loaf.
A carbohydrate which forms on the surface of the loaf during baking, adding colour and flavour to the crust.
Made from sprouted barley, which is then dried and ground. Enzymes in diastatic malt convert starch in flour into sugars to feed the yeast, and help to give a better rise and browner crust during baking.
An additive (enzyme, oxidising agent, emulsifier or reducing agent) used to alter the characteristics of dough and improve the quality of bread.
A tetraploid species of wheat (Triticum durum) which is high in protein and gluten. Also known as semolina.
An ancient wheat species (Triticum monococcum) that has been in cultivation for thousands of years.
Einkorn : the most ancient type of wheat. This is a diploid, meaning that it contains two complete sets of chromosomes, one from each parent. It has not been hybridized or modified. Like most the heritage flours, it is incredibly flavoursome. Rich, nutty and sweet. I love to blend this in to our loaves. Whilst it has low gluten levels it is still high a good source of protein, iron, dietary fibre, thiamine and a number of B vitamins. It also contains a significant amount of powerful antioxidant lutein with higher antioxidant levels than durum and bread wheat. Einkorn wheat has never been hybridised and has remained unaltered for thousands of years, which allows people with gluten sensitivity to eat wheat without adverse reactions.
An interesting read is this study on The Nutritional Properties of Einkorn
A property of dough which allows it to regain its shape after being stretched. A strong dough is elastic but not very extensible. See also ‘Extensibility’.
A tetraploid, tall-growing wheat species (Triticum dicoccum), originating in the Fertile Crescent around 10,000 years ago. Also known as Farro.
Makes up the largest part of a grain and provides the food source for the germinating plant. The endosperm contains carbohydrates, protein, iron and some B vitamins. White flour consists only of the endosperm.
A dough made with butter, sugar, eggs or oil. Enriched doughs are softer and richer than those made solely with flour, water, salt and yeast. Examples include brioche and hot cross buns.
Exopolysaccharides (EPS) are complex sugars (polysaccharides) which are secreted mainly by sourdough lactic acid bacteria during the long slow fermentation process. In addition to natural polysaccharides present in cereal grains flour and dough, sourdough bacteria are also involved in production of polysaccharides on sourdough fermentation. Exopolysaccharides can also be considered as source of fibre.
A property of dough which allows it to be stretched. See also ‘Elasticity’.
A measure of the percentage of the grain that is made into flour during the milling process. Flour with a higher extraction rate has more of the bran, germ and outer layers of the endosperm in it. Whole wheat flour is 100% extraction, white flour around 72%.
Sourdough starters are a symbiotic relationship between lactic acid bacteria and yeast. So you will find different find both yeast and lactic acid bacteria. There are three categories of of lactic acid bacteria, based on the kind of acids that they produce.
In bread making they The LAB (Lactic acid Bacteria) ferment sugars are already in the flour and that have been broken down by enzymes to produce carbon dioxide and acids
These organic acids both flavour the bread and facilitate the biochemical processes that contributes to the enhanced nutritional profiles of sourdough bread. Based upon how they ferment carbohydrates, lactic acid bacteria can be categorised into three main types.
- Homofermentative lactic acid bacteria.
- Heterofermentative lactobacilli
- Facultative Heterofermentative LAB
Facultative Heterofermentative LAB is the kind that can either produce different end products such as lactic acid, acetic acid and carbon dioxide similar to heterofermentative bacteria or only produce lactic acid depending on the type of sugars available for fermentation.
Damp grains may germinate prior to milling, resulting in poor quality flour. The Falling number test indicates the amount of sprout damage by measuring enzyme activity in a wheat sample.
Equipment for measuring the rheological properties of dough as it is mixed. A farinograph measures development time and the stability of a dough during mixing.
Fermentation occurs when the yeast and bacteria in dough convert carbohydrates (simple sugars) to carbon dioxide and alcohol. A process that causes gas bubbles to form and has a leavening effect on the dough. By-products of the fermentation process give flavour to the dough.
A phenolic phytochemical found in the cell wall of plants. One of the most abundant phenolic acids in plants and an antioxidant.
Dietary fibre is a term that is used for plant-based carbohydrates that, unlike other carbohydrates (such as sugars and starch), are not digested in the small intestine. It also includes other plant components like lignin. As dietary fibre is not digested in the small intestine it reaches the large intestine or colon where they either contribute to the bulking of stool or are broken by down by gut microbes to release short chain fatty acids.
A technique for aiding gluten development in a dough. The dough is tipped out onto a work surface and folded in thirds, like a letter, turned through 90o and folded again before being returned to the bowl.
An atom or molecule with at least one unpaired electron. Free radicals are highly reactive, seeking to acquire electrons. They are known to cause cell and DNA damage in the body and have been linked to the ageing process as well as a number of degenerative disorders.
Enzymes extracted or purified from microscopic moulds
The part of a grain that, given the right conditions for germination, would sprout. The germ has a high fat content, and is usually separated out during milling because its presence reduces shelf life in flour. The germ contains vitamin E, minerals and protein. Whole wheat flours contain wheat germ.
A protein in wheat and other cereals needed for the formation of gluten. Gliadin provides extensibility in dough, allowing it to stretch. See also Glutenin.
A protein found in wheat and other cereals, needed for the formation of gluten. Glutenin gives dough its elasticity, causing it to spring back into shape when stretched. See also Gliadin.
Freshly milled flour that has not had time to oxidise
What is the Gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome comprises of the trillions of bacterial species that inhabit our gut, mainly the large intestine. In the last decade, the gut microbiota has emerged as an important factor in the development of a host of metabolic syndrome (such as obesity) and other chronic diseases (such as diabetes, IBD, Cardiovascular disease etc) through its interactions with dietary, environmental and genetic factors. Several studies have highlighted the profound effect diet has on modulating the gut microbiome. These mainly include prebiotics that act as a food source to bacterial population such as fibre and polyphenols and probiotics that help ‘seed’ beneficial bacteria into the gut which include a host of naturally fermented foods such as yogurts, cultures cream and butter, kimchi, kombucha etc. In order to maintain a healthy diverse population of bacteria in your gut it is important to include a wide array of both pre and probiotic foods as part of your daily diet.
Varieties of wheat with a high protein and gluten content, making them especially suitable for bread making. Usually grown in areas with colder climates.
In sourdough starters you have yeast and lactic acid bacteria. There are three types of lactic acid bacteria, based on the kind of acids that they produce. The LAB ( Lactic acid Bacteria) ferment carbohydrates and produce carbon dioxide and acids.
These produce organic acids that flavour the bread and facilitate the biochemical processes that contributes to the enhanced nutritional profiles of sourdough bread.
Heterofermentative means ‘different’ or mixed end products. They produce both lactic acid, acetic acid and carbon dioxide (CO2) as by-product . They predominantly produce acetic acid, which is the ones that we recognise as vinegary flavour.
See also Homofermentative lactobacilli & Facultative Heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria.
Flour with an extraction rate between whole wheat (100%) and bread flour (70-75%).
In sourdough starters you will find both yeast and lactic acid bacteria. There are three types of lactic acid bacteria, based on the kind of acids that they produce. The LAB ( Lactic acid Bacteria) ferment carbohydrates and produce carbon dioxide and acids.
These produce organic acids that flavour the bread and facilitate the biochemical processes that contributes to the enhanced nutritional profiles of sourdough bread.
Homofermentative LAB (homo meaning ‘all the same’) refers to the end product of fermentation, which is only, or ‘all’ lactic acid, they also produce carbon dioxide (CO2) as by-product . Lactic acid is the flavour that you might recognise as tasting tangy like yogurt.
For more on bacteria in sourdough see Heterofermentative lactobacilli & Facultative Heterofermentative lactic acid bacteria.
The ratio of water to flour, expressed as a percentage. For example, a dough with 600g flour and 400g water has a hydration of 67%.
Describes a substance which absorbs water from the surrounding environment.
The brand name of Khorasan wheat, an ancient grain with a rich flavour.
Organic compounds formed when fat is metabolised in the body.
The process of working dough by pressing, folding and stretching to ensure even distribution of ingredients and to develop gluten.
The process of knocking excess air out of the dough after the bulk prove. This makes for a more even texture in the bread.
An organic acid produced by lactic acid bacteria during the fermentation process.
A tool consisting of a handle with a straight or curved blade, used to score the top of a loaf just before it is baked.
A French term for a culture of naturally occurring yeast and bacteria that can be used to leaven dough.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly though incorrectly referred to as “bad” cholesterol because they deliver fat molecules to cells specially within blood vessels such as arteries. The deposition of fat within arteries could eventually block major arteries such as those that serve the heart and therefore drive the progression of heart disease.
The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar – it occurs when certain foods are heated or stored, and changes their flavour and colour. It’s this reaction that causes bread to brown when toasted and steak to colour when seared.
Produced by allowing barley grains to germinate, then dried quickly before a plant develops.
A substance necessary for metabolism.
A large, rounded loaf made popular by the Parisian baker Lionel Poilâne.
A method of making bread which eliminates the bulk fermentation by using high-energy mixing to speed up gluten development. It is used by many large bakeries because it allows loaves to be made in a much reduced time.
A malt product which has no enzyme function and is used mainly to add flavour and colour to bread products. See also Diastatic malt.
Mixes using a fork to turn the dough while the bowl remains in a fixed position. See also Planetary mixer.
Acids produced by the naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria during fermentation.
The increase in loaf volume during the first few minutes of baking as the heat of the oven speeds up the yeast’s production of carbon dioxide.
During the mixing of a dough, oxidation causes bonds to form which increase the strength of the gluten. Too much mixing or kneading (really only possible with a mixer) can lead to over oxidation, causing the flour to become bleached and the finished loaf to lose flavour.
A natural process occurring after flour is milled causing the flour to whiten and the gluten-forming proteins to strengthen.
A portion of dough made ahead of time and left to ferment, usually overnight and at a cool temperature. The term is French and means fermented dough.
The purest wheat flour, ground from the centre of the endosperm and with a very low ash content.
A board (usually wooden) used by bakers to move loaves into and out of the oven.
Carbohydrates in flour which absorb large amounts of water. Rye flour contains a higher proportion of pentosans than wheat flours. Pentosans also reduce the rate at which a baked loaf stales.
The outer seed coat of wheat and other cereal grains.
An acid contained in the endosperm of grains which reduces the availability of some minerals to humans during digestion.
Mixes using a rotating dough hook while the bowl remains in a fixed position. See also Oblique mixer.
Polyphenols are phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring compounds that are what give plants their colors and help to protect them from various stress that they might face in nature, such as high levels of sunlight. Many research studies suggest that consuming these plant Phytochemicals, including polyphenols, is good for you as they are antioxidants.
A pre-ferment made using a mixture of flour, water and commercial yeast. Usually has a consistency that is more like a batter than a dough.
A portion of dough made several hours before the final dough and allowed to ferment. There are a number of preferments used in bread making. See also Biga, Chef, Pâte fermentée, Poolish, Sourdough starter and Sponge.
Folding and loosely shaping dough after the bulk fermentation. This helps to build structure in the dough.
Probiotic bacteria are found mainly in fermented foods, a sourdough starter when it is alive is a probiotic. There are many studies that promoting a positive health image of probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt and kefir for example.
Fermented foods contain living microorganisms (bacteria), however there are many questions about the ability of the probiotics to survive and become active when entering the consumer’s gastrointestinal tract. The general consensus is that probiotics, when consumed as part of a fermented food are beneficial.
The final rise of the dough after shaping.
A white bread baked in a Pullman pan which produces a long, rectangular loaf to provide uniform slices for sandwiches.
A traditional dense rye loaf, slightly sweetened with molasses.
Slowing the rise of a dough by reducing the environmental temperature, usually by putting it in the refrigerator, to improve flavour and/or control the timing of the bake.
The study of how materials deform when a force is applies. The rheological properties of a dough are mainly determined by water absorption.
Flour milled from rye (Secale cereal) which has a higher nutritional value than refined wheat flour.
German sourdough culture.
Cuts made on the surface of the dough just prior to baking. Scoring controls the expansion of the loaf in the oven and creates a distinctive pattern on the baked loaf. See also Lame.
Folding, rolling and sealing the edges of dough to produce the final shape of a loaf. After shaping, the dough may be placed in a tin or proving basket to help retain the shape during the final proof.
What are Short Chain Fatty Acids and how do they influence our overall health?
The end products of dietary fibre fermentation by the gut microbiota are short chain fatty acids (SCFA), mainly acetate, propionate, and butyrate and they are important for various physiological pathways that take place within our bodies. Short chain fatty acids also help in the regulation of intestinal tight junctions which are the initial instruments of defence for our immune system. The epithelial layer (outer layers of intestinal cells) are connected by structures called tight junctions which firmly adhere adjacent epithelial cells to one another forming a seal that prevents macronutrients such as proteins and other ions to escape from within the intestinal lumen into our bloodstream without a screening process. Normally, when things are all functioning correctly in our digestive process, the fully sealed tight junctions ensure precise control over which macronutrients are passed through the epithelial cells from our intestines into our bloodstream (I tend to think of them as being like bouncers at a night club door). Short chain fatty acids also form important flavour compounds in the sourdough process of bread-making. Two main short chain fatty acids that contribute significantly to the flavour of bread crumb are 2-methyl-propanoic acid, 3-methyl- butanoic acid.
Wheat varieties with a low protein content (around 10%). These wheats produce flour which absorbs less water and develops less gluten.
So what is a starter?
A culture of naturally occurring yeast and lactic acid bacteria, obtained by the fermentation of flour and water. by refreshing this this pot with flour and water we culture this community of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria in it, and in managing an optimal levels of microbes we can use it to inoculate flour and water to make bread.
At the sourdough school we use the starter to make a leaven with. This helps to build higher levels of microbes for more open crumb sourdough.
Flour ground from an ancient variety of wheat (Triticum spelta).
A mixture of flour, water and natural or commercial yeast that is allowed to ferment prior to making the final dough.
A grain that has been allowed to germinate before being used. Sprouted grains are lower in starch but higher in other nutrients than unsprouted.
Flours milled using a traditional method between two horizontal stones. Stoneground flour is generally considered to be higher in nutrients.
100% extraction flour which is also known as strong white flour.
The colour actually depends on many factors including the kind of grains and the milling process.
A set of three or more bread tins strapped together in a line.
A technique for strengthening gluten in a dough without too much mixing or kneading. Especially useful for high hydration doughs.
Slowly raising the temperature of an ingredient that is sensitive to heat.
The temperature at which yeast is killed as the loaf is baked. This is 55-60oC (130-140oF).
A hybrid of wheat and rye, combining the yield of wheat with the disease resistance of rye.
A heavy, dark German whole grain bread.
A flour milled from white wheat, which has a lighter and milder flavoured bran. White whole wheat is made from the whole grain, including the bran, germ and endosperm, unlike traditional white flour which is milled from only the endosperm.
Wheat varieties that are sown in autumn for a crop the following year. The majority of wheat grown in the UK is winter wheat.
A single celled organism that converts simple sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation.