Desem, Day 3
This is the continuation of my accounts of making desem bread, which is made with just flour, water, salt and nothing else. It's somewhere between regular baking and a science project.
The desem has been incubating for 2 days since it was born. I take the pot up from the washing machine room and open the lid.
Hmm, the X marked on top of the smoothed flour hasn't budged at all. This means that the desem hasn't quite activated yet. This is probably because we've had a cold, dry spell these past couple of days. The flour feels cold to the touch, not a good sign.
I dig out the desem. It's formed quite a hard crust - no wonder it didn't expand or anything.
No need to panic yet though. I'll try to compensate. I cut away all the dry crust, and a bit of the dough inside until I'm left with about half of the original dough. The cut away stuff is thrown away. I put the remaining dough in a ball, and add 1/4 cup of water. It's quite hard to soften the dough - it's gummy. Later on the texture of the desem will change quite a bit. If it grows as I hope, that is.
The dough softened, I add a cup of fresh whole wheat flour to it. The flour feels quite gritty, which means it's very dry. I add a bit more water by dribbles, to incorporate all the flour. I think I ended up adding another 1/4 cup or so. I knead the dough so that it's a bit softer than before, and re-bury it in the incubator, topping it up with a bit more whole-wheat (always the same organic kind) flour. I smooth out the top and put another X mark on it.
Now where to put it...the washing maching room is obviously too cold right now. So, I'll put it in the tiny room (more like a largish broom closet) where the freezer and the boiler are. This is also unheated but unlike the washing maching room it's insulated, so it's a bit warmer.
The desem in its incubator-pot will now rest again for another 24 hours.