Although I haven’t posted recently about baking bread from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I’ve definitely been on a bread baking kick. Maybe it’s due to the cold weather. More likely it’s due to the fact that I’m tired of mediocre baguettes from the grocery store. You really can’t beat fresh bread and I will never be one of those people on a no carb diet. It just ain’t happening. I decided it was finally time for me to try making rye bread. I thought it’d be a straightforward task. Aaah, but The Bread Baker’s Apprentice seems to think otherwise. (And who am I to judge?) A loaf of rye bread takes, approximately, 7 days to make. It involves a starter (the barm). And, of course, the starter requires a starter (the seed culture). But you can make more than just rye bread from the barm.
Following the recipe in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, starting the seed culture is a four day process. On each day you add some liquid (unsweetened pineapple juice on days 1 and 2; water on days 3 and 4) and some flour to the results of the previous day. Some days you even throw away half of your seed culture. While it’s supposed to begin fermenting and increase in size somewhat day to day, my seed culture didn’t really seem to do too much. You can see the progress my seed culture made, day by day, in the photo above.
After those initial days are done, the barm is created using some of the seed culture as a starter. Again, while my barm didn’t seem to ferment as much as I would have expected, it did show some life. The important points are to feed and rest the barm.
The key to the seed culture and the barm is simple: patience. While it takes roughly a week to bring the starters to fruition, there’s really very little you have to do each day. But what you can do with the finished barm — such as any variety of sourdough or rye breads — certainly makes all of the patience worthwhile.