In this video we’ll be making one of my new favorite breads, an Eastern European style brown bread. This bread has a unique, complex flavor that comes from the addition of coffee, molasses, fennel seed, caraway and balsamic vinegar, just to name a few (oh yeah, did I mention the cocoa powder?).
This is one of those breads that really benefits from the use of a sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast because of how natural yeast responds acid. Commercial yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, doesn’t like super acidic environments. In fact, it’s most comfortable between a PH of 4-5. Its natural cousin (Saccharomyces exiggus) thrives in acidic environments, which is why sourdough bread (in the sense that it tastes sour) is actually possible.
So in this video, we’re not only using the natural sourdough starter to add depth of flavor to the brown bread recipe, but it is also better suited for the task of leavening, as compared to its commercial counterpart, because of the added acidity derived from the coffee, balsamic vinegar and molasses.
Methods and Terminology
If you are unfamiliar with the methods and terminology used in this recipe, please review the podcasts and videos listed in the related section below.
Alternatives To Using A Poolish Starter
This recipe benefits from the use of a sourdough starter because the natural yeast is much more resilient to acidic bread doughs (created in this recipe by the addition of vinegar, molasses and coffee). If you really don't want to use a poolish starter, mix the sponge ingredients together the night before as instructed in step one above, but add an extra 50g of bread flour and 50g of water along with 4g of instant or active dry yeast. Allow to ferment overnight and continue recipe as instructed.