Rye Sourdough Starter, and Brett Bread

So, yet another of things I’m experimenting with was inspired by The Mad Fermentationist, namely, Brettanomyces yeast in bread making. I’ve only found two cases online, one by TMF who used it to make some baguettes and the other by a guy who used Brett to make pizza dough.

So a cxouple of days ago, I decided to make a sourdough starter using rye (the most easily fermented type of flour, apparently–all you really need to do is mix it with water and leave it warm, the lactobacillus and the wild yeasts do their thing quite happily, they say) but it wasn’t fermenting, so I added some Brettanomyces Clausenii slurry. Not much, just enough to get the party started.

I am pretty certain that I’m going to try again with a pure rye starter, but I figured I might as well dump some of the Brett slurry into the starter since I had some on hand (I won’t always) and the result has been pretty remarkable: the starter had a kind of foam on the top the very next day, and was bubbling nicely. It has a very nice aroma, too, somewhat fruity and fairly sour. Indeed, I had to discard some of the starter, but was loathe to do so, so I split it and added some of the brine from my sauerkraut (which ferments because of pediococcus, from what I’ve read), as well as some homemade yogurt (with live lactobacillus).

All those nice bugs all working together makes for a very effective souring effect, though to be honest it’s the batch with the natural lacto (from the rye) and the Brettanomyces that I’m finding is the most powwerful starter. It doubled in size the other day, and when I forgot to feed it, I get the impression that the Brett continued to work on the starches  available, as the starter was much liquid in form this evening than it was this morning.

If I can get the starter to work, I’ll probably make some sourdough rye bread for use in making the kvass I want to make in a week or two. However, I’ll probably also make a loaf or two just to eat, along the way. That’d be nice. The starter should probably be resilient enough to spring back from such activity by this weekend, I think.

4 thoughts on “Rye Sourdough Starter, and Brett Bread

  1. I scavenged some bottle dregs from a bottle of boulevard saison brett. Using some “better for bread” flour, which contains malted barley, the culture was quite active. It smells quite funky, quite barnish, and extremely juicy looking. The brett seems to dominate the endogenous yeast in the air and on the flour. It has a prolific odor that neither wife or child finds agreeable. That tells me it’s working.

    1. Wow, that sounds cool… please update me on how the culture does in sourdough fermentations… though I can’t get Boulevard’s beers over here in Korea, I do have some funky brett cultures on hand, including a pretty big sample of Brett I imagine is at least partly still alive, and I was thinking of experimenting with a sourdough-ish bread this week…

      1. So I don’t know how it turned out differently than any other sour dough. I tried several batches. The problem with sour dough is that you never really know just what the hell is going on in it. I don’t know if its some wild yeast, the brett, or some other bacteria currently frothing and fuming in the dough.

        I do know that the first batch I made sucked. Then the second batch didn’t rise. The third batch was extremely sour and it took a while to get started. Total rising time was north of 24 hours. With most active dry yeast, 24 hours is enough to make the yeast fill your garage.

        Whatever the case, the sour dough has a new home in a big jar. I clean its cage every few days by dumping off the thick layer of extremely alcoholic smelling booze that forms on the top and throwing about a 1/4 cup of it away. Seems to readily produce a rather potent hooch on its own.

        Then I add a half cup of flour and half cup of water to the mix. Stir. In about 4 hours, it’s ferementing like mad.

        There’s some sort of evolution of sour dough, like there is for compost. When the culture is still for a while, the acidity and alcohol kill off all but the dominant strain. I have read that is usually Brett when we’re talking about beer. So perhaps the same is true for sour dough.

        Whatever the case, I don’t think there’s any noticable difference. Just take a cup of unbleached, unbromated wheat bread flour that has malted barley as an ingredient. Add one cup of water. Stir well. Leave exposed to outside air for an hour.

        Wait 4 days. You have sour dough.

        1. nn,

          Keeping this short as I’m traveling: thanks for the thoughts. I’ve seen varying reports with Brett; my own one-time experiment went better than yours, I think.

          Ah well!

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