10 lb Or more of organic whole -part of the 10 lbs.)
-wheat flour (to surround 1/2 c To 3/4 cup unchlorinated
-the desem -water at room temperature
2 c Coarse stone-ground flour to -about 65 to 70 degrees F.
-go into the desem (can be
Put your 10 lbs. of flour in a container that is more or less as deep
as it is wide. A very strong paper bag of the proper dimensions, an 8
quart bowl, or a bucket all work well.
Take about 2 cups of flour and mix it with 1/2 cup of water. Add more
water (or flour) if necessary to make a dough ball that is stiff but
not an absolute brick. Knead it for a few minutes, make it smoothly
round, and bury it in the flour. It should be completely surrounded
by flour at least 3 or 4 inches in every direction. Smooth the top of
the flour, and cover the cantainer to keep out insects and other
intruders. Store at between 50 to 65 degrees, not over 70 degrees at
any time, for about 48 hours.
SECOND DAY: Maintain the temperature-no need to disturb it today.
THIRD DAY: The top of the flour may show a split or crack. Things are
happening! dig out the dough ball and, if there is a dry crust, cut
it away with a sharp knife. Then cut away enough more so you’re left
with half the amount you started with. If no skin has formed, just
cut the ball in half-and throw the other half away. You now have half
a ball of dough. With clean hands slowly work 1/4 cup of pure water
into the dough to soften it.Knead in one cup of flour and add more
water or flour as necessary to restore the ball to its original 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: Repeat what you did yesterday. By now the desem should
have a slight fragrance of fermentation to it-fresh-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: Repeat what you did yesterday.
SIXTH DAY: Today, instead of discarding half the desem, soften the
whole thing with 1/3 cup of water. Add 1 cup of flour. Add more water
or flour as necessary to get the usual consistancy. This time do not
bury the ball but store it in a closed nonmetal container. A glazed
crock is perfect, but a glass or plastic container will work also.
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: Soften the entire desem with 1/3 cup water and add 1 cup
flour to it. adjust the consistancy so that you have a medium stiff
dough-slightly softer than on the previous days. Knead about 10
minutes or 300 strokes. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts, rounding
one part and returning it to its container in its cool storage place.
Combine the other 3 parts and cover. This combined three-quarters
will be the starter for the bread you prepare tomorrow. Leave it to
ripen overnight at room temperature, preferably at 65 degrees but not
over 70 degrees. The smaller doughball is your desem, which will
provide the starters for future bakings.
The next portion of this adventure will be on baking bread with the
From “The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, A Guide to Whole-Grain
Breadmaking” MM format by Mary R.