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Pleasant Hill Grain Baking Glossary
Fermentation, Fermenting – In bread baking, this is a chemical process within dough which begins once at least some of the flour, liquid, and yeast are mixed together with a catalyst (typically an acid). Fermentation will end when the yeast has either run out of complex carbohydrates to feed on, or when the yeast has been killed by heat reaching 104˚ F.
In the fermenting process carbohydrates break down into alcohol and beneficial acids (which rise bread). For this to happen the kneaded dough rests in a covered bowl while the yeast, or a starter culture, activates the fermentation process creating chemical compounds such as carbon dioxide and alcohol by digesting carbohydrates. Until baking, the developed gluten structure holds these newly formed gasses within the bread resulting in dough full of air bubbles. During baking most of the gasses, and all of the alcohol, are released.
Bread fermentation could take a few hours in a warm environment or up to five days if kept cold—the longer the fermentation process, the less yeast is needed, the better the structure of the finished bread, and richer the flavor. Fermentation leavens dough and gives the finished bread a distinctive, slightly sour taste and fine-grained, moist texture.
In addition to the taste and aesthetic appeal to fermented bread the nutrition is also better. Phytic acid (a prevalent acid in grain which inhibits calcium, iron, and zinc absorption, as well as absorption of other minerals) is greatly reduced from grain through fermentation by lactic acid.
In addition to bread, fermentation is also used to make other food such as cultured milk, and kombucha. Through the lacto-fermenting method, dairy products and foods such as sauerkraut and pickled vegetables may be created. Consuming fermented food supplies our body with necessary good bacteria in our gut microflora, specifically lactobacillus acidophilus. It also provides us with necessary enzymes to digest our food more efficiently, and since these enzymes will naturally decrease as we age, it’s good to keep them replenished. Fermented food also helps our body absorb nutrients from everything else we eat. Fermented food develops its own preservation properties so will typically last longer than non-fermented food made without commercial preservatives.
Fermentation Starter – (See Sourdough Starter.)
Fiber – Edible, but indigestible plant matter mainly made of polysaccharides. When we eat fiber the muscles of our intestine are triggered to the involuntary contraction and relaxation pattern, moving the food through. Whole wheat products are high in insoluble fiber. Having a fiber rich diet will keep you healthier and maintain a healthy weight.
Final Dough – All the ingredients of a bread recipe mixed together including pre-ferments and soakers.
First Rise – Rising dough after all ingredients have been combined and kneaded. Time for the first rise will vary, but a doubling of the size of the dough is ideal. The next step in bread baking is to punch it down in order to degas it. After that most recipes move on to dividing and shaping, but some will call for a second and possibly third rise before moving on.
Flaker – A hand crank or electrical machine used to flake soft, whole grain kernels. Flaking grain, just before eating it, lends great health and flavor benefits which come from using freshly and minimally processed ingredients. Flaking oat groats is the most popular use of grain flakers as freshly flaked oats are excellent in raw muesli, oatmeal and oatmeal cookies. (See our .)
Flax/Linseed – Flax plants are grown both for the plant fiber and seed. Flax fiber is used for many products ranging from fabric to soap. Linseed oil is made from pressed flax seeds. To use the whole nutrition-filled seed it’s essential to grind it before ingesting, as humans can’t digest the whole seed and will thus gain nothing from its many health benefits. Flax seeds include high amounts of fiber and lignans (only sesame seeds are higher in lignans) as well as micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Ground flax seeds will go rancid quickly, so it’s best to grind the seeds just before consuming (a smallworks well for this job). Ground flax seeds are a healthy addition to top hot cereal or to mix into sandwich bread. (See our .)
n. The fine powdery meal derived from ground grain or other starchy plant foods, such as nuts and dried potatoes. Wheat flour is the most common kind.
v. to coat a pan with flour before baking a food, such as a cake, and so eliminating the problem of the food sticking to the pan.
Flourless Bread – This bread is made with sprouted grain in place of ground grain. Sprouted grain bread is very high in protein and fiber.
Folate, Folic Acid – This is a form of the water soluble Vitamin B and is prominently found in leafy vegetables, legumes, fruits and yeast. Folate is the natural vitamin found in food, and folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin. Folate helps reduce the risk of stroke and protects the heart further by reducing homocysteine levels in blood. Consuming a high amount of folate may be harmful for those already suffering from certain types of cancer since there’s a possibility that high amounts of folate promote the growth of cancerous tumors; being well aware of the amount a body needs is crucial. Keeping folate well in a diet or taking folic acid supplements is especially important for women who are pregnant, as it greatly reduces the risk of the baby acquiring a neural tube defect such as spina bifida.
Folding – A process of developing gluten in artisan bread. Rather than slamming bread down on the counter, or punching it hard to degas the dough, folding will gently achieve the same affect while promoting strong gluten structure. Folding the dough allows the dough to be developed less while mixing, leaving you with a better tasting finished product. There are a few different ways of folding dough, but the most common is the “envelope” style. In this technique the bread dough is stretched and folded from each side into the center of the dough (sides first, then top and bottom or vice versa). Usually dough will need 2-4 folding steps with a time to rise in between each before the dough is fully developed and ready for shaping, proofing, and baking.