Making the Desem Starter for No Yeast Bread
It takes two weeks to develop a desem. Now we know why this type of bread is so expensive in the bakeries. A lot of time is invested but not a great deal of work. We will outline the step by step process for a 2 week period to get the desem going.
First Day (Saturday perhaps)
Put your 10 lbs. of flour in a container that is more or less as deep as it is wide. A very strong brown paper bag, a very large bowl or a big bucket, all will work. Take about 2 cups of the fresh milled Whole Wheat Flour and mix it with 1/2 cup of unchlorinated water at room temperature. Add more water (or flour) if necessary to make a dough ball that is stiff but not an absolute brick. Knead it by hand for a few minutes, make it smoothly round, and BURY it in the flour. It should be completely surrounded by flour at least three or four inches in every direction. Smooth the top of the flour, and cover the container to keep out insects, and/or other intruders. Store at between 50 to 60 degrees F., not over 70 degrees F. at any time, for about 48 hours.
Second Day: Sunday
Maintain the temperature----no need to touch it today.
Third Day: Monday
The top surface of the flour may show a split or crack. Things are starting to happen. Dig out the ball and, if there is a dry crust, cut it away with a sharp knife. Then cut away more so you're left with half the amount you started with. If no skin has formed, just cut away half the ball--keep one half and throw the other away. You now have half a ball of the dough. With clean hands, slowly work 1/4 cup of pure water into the dough to soften it. Knead in one cup of lour and add more water of flour as necessary to restore the ball to it's orginal size and stiffness. Knead it smooth, round it, and bury it again in the container of flour. Smooth and cover the flour, this time for 24 hours at the same cool temperature.
Fourth Day : Tuesday
Repeat what you did yesterday. By now the desem should have a slight fragrance of fermentation to it. It should smell a little like sprouting wheat. If yours doesn't have this aroma make it somewhat softer this time by adding a little more water.
Fifth Day : Wednesday
Repeat what you did yesterday.
Sixth Day: Thursday
Today, instead of discarding half the desem, soften the whole thing with 1/3 cup of pure water. Add 1 Cup whole wheat flour. Add more water or flour as necessary to get the usual consistency. This time do not bury the ball but store it in a closed container that is not metal. A glazed crock, a glass or plastic bowl or bucket would work great. Just make sure there's room for the desem to expand a little. If the container is glass, the lid should not fit airtight.
Seventh Day: Friday
Soften the entire desem with 1/3 cup pure water and add 1 cup of whole wheat flour to it. Adjust the consistency so that you have a medium stiff dough--slighly softer than on the previous days. Knead about 10 min. Here is where you can use your Bosch Universal dough hook to reduce the time. If you put the desem dough in your machine you will need to let it knead about 2 min. The dough should be slightly softer than on the previous days. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts, rounding one part and returning it to the container in its cool storage place. Combine the other three parts and cover. This combine three quarters of the dough will be the starter for the bread you will prepare tomorrow. Leave it to ripen overnight at room temperature, preferably 65 degrees F. and not over 70 F, The smaller dough ball is your desem, which will provide the starters for the next bakings you do.
Our next post will give you the details and recipe of turning the desem starters into delicious no yeast whole wheat bread.