All In the Name of Flavor

Reader Lou asks, since he lives on the East Coast and has never had any luck making a strong tasting starter, if I have any suggestions for getting more yeasty and/or bacterial flavor into home-baked bread. The first thing I’d suggest, Lou, is investigating some of those sourdough bread flavorings that you can buy over at King Arthur Flour. They contain various acids in powdered form, plus other natural x, y’s and z’s that give bread a more robust taste.

Otherwise, a former commercial baker from New York City that I met over Thanksgiving clued me in to a trick I’d never heard of before. He told me that the Brooklyn bakery he once worked for would produce a “sourdough” by making a thick slurry out of compressed yeast that the bakers would work into the dough during the final shaping. They’d turn the cake yeast into a flavoring in other words. This dude told me that they’d put in so much extra cake yeast in the dough it turned the loaves downright stanky. What a weird idea! But apparently they sold tons of the stuff.

You could try that! Just don’t let the loaves proof too long or the rise will be explosive! Get back to me if you decide to take up the challenge, because I’ll be darn curious.

8 thoughts on “All In the Name of Flavor”

  1. Once again you come up with something I have never heard of before, but it makes sense. When my mother cache died in Florida and I couldn’t get a decent one started I started a new one with brewers yeast I had left over from home brewing (it was a Belgian wheat yeast) . I mixed flour and water with a little bit of sugar into a slurry then added the yeast & let it sit covered with a kitchen towel while it grew. After a good day on the counter it went into the fridge and actually did very well until we moved.

  2. I’m a pastry chef and I’ve found that a great way to get flavor out your sour dough starter is to start it from beer. I use equal parts flat beer and flour to start and then keep feeding it the way you would a normal starter. Using the beer you get all of the fermentation flavor already found in the beer and a slight hoppy flavor depending on how strong the beer is.

  3. Tangentially related via brewer’s yeast – I made a loaf of bread over the weekend for our local SCA cooks’ guild meeting using half a pint or so of yeast scooped off the top of a bucket of fermenting ale. It rose beautifully, and turned out with a very nice, slightly sweet flavour from the barley malt in the beer. I can see why sweet and fancy varieties of bread used to be made that way rather than with sourdough.

    1. Fascinating. I can see I need to spend a little time on bread after the new year!

      Cheer and thanks, Jane!

      – Joe

  4. Another east coast trick is to use the water that you used to rehydrate chopped onion. Add a tablespoon to your starter whenever you’ve made onion rolls. You can also drop in a bunch of washed, dark grapes wrapped in cheesecloth when you are beginning the starter. Leave it in for a week and give it a good squeeze when you take it out.

    1. I’ve heard of that one but never tried it, Linda. But I shall. Thanks!

      – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *