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Pleasant Hill Grain Baking Glossary
Lactase – The enzyme which breaks apart lactose into galactose and glucose monomers. As simple sugars we are able to easier digest what were once large sugar compounds. A lack of this enzyme in a body will result in lactose intolerance since lactose is indigestible unless broken down.
Lactic Acid – An acid produced by lactobacilli during the break down of glucose molecules. Lactic acid is developed naturally in fermented bread dough as well as in the souring of milk. The production of lactic acid makes the environment it’s in acidic. Because of its acidity lactic acid has a sour taste which is prominent in sourdough, sour cream, and buttermilk. Lactic acid, along with phytase reduces the phytic acid (a prevalent acid in grain which inhibits calcium absorption, as well as absorption of other minerals) in grain through fermentation techniques.
Lactobacilli/lactobacillus – Lactobacilli is produced through grain fermentation. This is important because it is a type of good bacteria creating an acidic environment within our body’s gut microflora. Acidity within intestines fights infection-causing bacteria. Lactobacilli is a major part of the lactic acid bacteria group because it produces lactic acid when fermenting glucose. Because of its acidity, lactic acid has a sour taste which is prominent in sourdough, sour cream, and buttermilk. The development of lactobacilli also produces phytase—the enzyme needed to break phytate bonds off of phytic acid so our bodies can absorb the nutrients from the abundance of phytic acid in plant-based food.
Lacto Fermenting – Lacto-fermented raw vegetables are cultured vegetables, meaning the already present organisms inside the food are allowed to proliferate. Sauerkraut, kimchi, and sour dill pickles are all forms of lacto-fermentation. Commercially, these packaged foods are pasteurized, but when made at home they can be made while keeping the vegetables raw. Either whey or salt may be used as the fermentation starter. Or, without salt or whey cultured vegetables can still be made with some type of acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar; the acid is needed to prevent spoilage before the lactobacilli take over the preservation. Traditionally, lacto-fermentation was used to preserve vegetable harvests and store food long-term. Lacto-fermented food has many health benefits and are particularly helpful in treating candida. (See our.)
Lactose – A disaccharide sugar mostly found in milk products. It is formed from a galactose molecule and glucose molecule.
Lame – (Pronounced LAHM) French for “blade”. A razor sharp blade set into a handle used to slash/score proofed free-form bread dough just before it’s put into a hot oven. The slits allow the bread to expand in the desired direction. A lame can have a straight or curved blade; a straight blade is best used when slashing the dough at a perpendicular angle and a curved blade is best used when slashing at a shallow angle. (See our.)
Lean Dough – Yeast dough made without enrichments such as butter, milk, eggs or sugar. Lean dough has a fat content under 20%.
Leavening, Leaven, Leavening Agent –
n. An agent used to raise pastries and bread by causing expansion of dough. Yeast, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, cream of tartar and chef creating and/or reacting with air bubbles, steam, and/or carbon dioxide are the most common leavening agents.
v. To add a leavening agent to dough.
Lecithin – A phospholipid which helps maintain good health. Lecithin powder offered by Pleasant Hill Grain is made from raw, natural liquid lecithin—a natural plant product—combined in a proprietary process with soya flour, calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. The result is a highly palatable and nutritious food supplement that contains no artificial colors, preservatives, sugar, starch or animal by-products. Lecithin supports nerve and brain tissue (about 1/3 of our brain and 1/5 of our nerves are made of lecithin) and helps to lower bad-cholesterol levels. (See our Grandma Eloise's lecithin powder.)
Lentils – Versatile and inexpensive small seeds found in legume pods on the bushy lentil plant. Lentils may be used with or without the hull. Cooked with the hull, the lentil will keep their shape; hulled lentils often fall apart when cooked, but are easier for the body to digest and are faster to cook. Lentils are commonly used to add body and thickness to soup; their flavor is good mixed with vegetables, barley, and beef, chicken or pork. Lentils are low in fat and high in cholesterol-lowering soluble and insoluble fiber and protein, like other legumes. Lentils are excellent for cardiovascular health thanks to their supply of fiber as well as magnesium and folate. Having a low glycemic index score, lentils give the body good energy for an extended period of time. Lentils can be bought dried or canned and come in several varieties. (See our.)
Levain – (Pronounced luh-VAN) This is a French word for the natural leavening agent and type of firm pre-ferment originally used in France for making sourdough bread. A levain begins with an active culture (it could use any kind of pre-ferment) and it is then fed over many hours with more liquid and flour. A revived chef being made into dough is a levain. Using the autolyse technique when making a levain has major benefits, such as allowing the bread to be more workable and flexible since a levain is so high in acidity it can be difficult to work with. The autolyse method also helps with the dough rise and work-time and effort called for from the bread baker, for a levain. Compared to bread made from cultivated yeast, bread made using natural leaven has a slightly tangy taste from the lactic and ascorbic acid formed by the fermentation of lactobacilli.