16 August 2013

Yeast, Fermentation and Raising Children

I absolutely love the smell of yeast! In my previous posting, I shared my passion for baking bread the artisan way.

One of the highlights of baking bread is the measuring of the fresh, crumbly yeast, then pouring the lukewarm water over it and watch how it dissolves in the water.  

I’m fascinated by yeast and it’s role in the bread baking process.  Yeast is unquestionably the key ingredient in making bread, through the fermentation process.

There are two distinctive phases during the fermentation of dough made with only flour, water, salt and yeast, with no added sugars:

During the first phase the yeast ferments the naturally present sugars in the flour, which can be directly and easily assimilated;

The second phase corresponds to the fermentation of a specific sugar in flour, called maltose, through the action of some enzymes, the amylases. 

The amylase enzyme split starch into much simpler sugars, called maltose. With the help of another enzyme of yeast, maltase, the maltose is then split in the most simple sugar, glucose. 

It is only then that the glucose can be transformed into carbon dioxide and alcohol. 

The two main ingredients responsible for the characteristic light and airy texture in bread.

Interesting when sucrose or glucose (sugar) is added to the basic ingredients to bake bread, they are directly fermented before maltose (phase one), which means in such a dough mainly sucrose and/or glucose are consumed by the yeast. As a result maltose, naturally available in flour, is not consumed as effectively and the bread doesn’t have a distinct characteristic sweet taste, due to only partial consumption of the maltose.

I also noticed something else. Being over 40 I struggled big time with insulin resistance when consuming starch, and then specifically bread. Since I’m baking our bread with only flour, water, salt and yeast, with no added sugar, I started to loose the weight I struggled to do for two years, after three miscarriages. It just might be due to consumption of all the maltose in phase two of the fermentation process. Transforming the maltose into carbon dioxide and alcohol, which evaporate during the baking process.

When thinking of yeast as the driving force behind fermentation and how it allows a dense mass of flour and water to be transformed into a well-risen loaf of bread, which nourish and satisfy us humans, it is not surprising that there are more than 31 passages in the Bible on yeast, of which 7 are in the New Testament. These passages are either parables by Jesus or comparisons by Paul on yeast and it’s spiritual meaning.

Sadly, as much as I am fascinated by yeast, in the Word of God, yeast is symbolic of sin. When taking into account how only a small amount of yeast can have such a crucial effect on dough, it is no wonder Jesus warns us about the effect of only a little sin (leaven) in our lives. 

Some time ago we had an incident with one of our children. For years she was participating in an extra mural which she enjoyed tremendously. Unfortunately over the past year I noticed she became more and more unsettled each time when she got home. The group with whom she practiced was very much into the world with dating and immorality. It become extremely disturbing to her, especially since she boldly declare not being into dating. She knew only a little leaven will soon leaven a whole lump and evil company corrupts. After much prayer she made the decision to stop this specific extra mural. Though it was very difficult and she was sad to stop it, it was worth to throw out the old leaven.  And God was faithful. He gave her something amazing in return. I’ll share about that in another posting soon.

Over the past few months I not ONLY baked perfect, well developed bread. I had quite a bit of failures, too. Most of the time it was because the fermentation process wasn’t in a perfect controlled environment. The fermentation of the dough is very sensitive to temperature. 

Since it is winter and room temperatures are below 20degrees C, I often had to put the dough in warmer areas. My home doesn’t have sunny rooms, so the only place was in a slightly warm oven. But often, when I was distracted, I didn’t control the temperature of the oven as well and the yeast was exposed to too high temperatures, resulting in over fermented bread. 

This just confirmed to me the reason why we’re homeschooling our children. We want to let our children mature in a controlled environment. Children are very much sensitive and receptive to influence, positive as well as negative.  Very much the same as baking bread and controlling the fermentation process of bread. Once the bread goes into the oven, you cannot go back, change the ingredients, make corrections in the ratio or make adjustments to the resting times and temperatures. And as for the quality of the yeast you used, it is only after the bread comes from the oven that you realize the yeast wasn’t fresh.  We have only this one time to raise godly children. 

We have only this one life-time to raise them in a safe, loving, positive learning atmosphere. 

We have only a few years to teach them about God and His creation. 

The Bible is very clear about the influence of bad company. I traced over 50 verses here.

God reminds us in Deutoronomy 7 to teach our children diligently when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise up. Sounds like a full time job.

Just as I have to plan my days for baking bread and cannot leave my home, but have to stay busy in and around the kitchen, I cannot raise Godly children as a part time job.

Obviously this will ask for commitment and time investment.  As there is quite a difference in buying shop bread, and the time investment in baking an artisan bread, there is tremendous amount of time, effort and sacrifice in homeschooling my children and raising them with the intention to become Godly men and women for God’s glory!  In a culture where everyone wants everything to happen instantaneously, we have to remember bearing and raising children is a long-term investment, we must think long term - for the future.  

Dear Mother do you dread the commitment and sacrifice of intentionally raising Godly Children?

As I’m writing the finishing lines of this posting, it is just about time to take a batch of bread out of the oven! Oh! I wish you can smell the aroma of freshly baked bread, which fermented for just the right timing in just the right environment. It took time and effort from my side. I intentionally direct my effort to create nice bread. 

I don’t need to remind myself that the reward on raising Godly children for God’s glory will be even bigger, if I intentionally turn my focus on God, His ways and His plans for our family.

With much love

07 August 2013

Dough in the Master's Hands and Bread Making

While we were in Knysna earlier this year, for our annual vacation, we paid a visit to Île de Païn on Thesen Island. Master pastry chef and chocolatier, Markus Färbinger (an Austrian) and talented chef Liezie Mulder (a South African) opened Île de Païn in December 2012 and it was the first artisan, wood fired oven bakery in South Africa. Their breads, from the baguettes and ciabattas, to their signature “companion’s” are imbued with boldness and character, as well as ethereal quality. 

While having amazing hot chocolate and choosing from a variety of decadent chocolate pastries, we learned they have a bread making DVD.  

Obviously we bought the DVD and I embarked on the journey to learn how to make Artisan bread dough and since then my bread machine is not making bread anymore. 

I absolutely love the feeling of working bread dough through my fingers. 

Some of you may have read my posting, I don’t want to be like chocolate. Since I’ve written that posting, we discovered I have very warm hands, yet another reason why I just don’t have the gifting to work with chocolate, unless the chocolate needs a little heat. It’s quite the opposite when working with bread dough - it is to the benefit of the dough when you have warm hands.

The one basic bread dough recipe, which I make from 50% refined spelt flour and 50% stoneground spelt flour makes about 1.8kg of dough, which can be moulded and shaped into a whole range of bread variations. We’ve tried Pan Bread, 


and Artisan loaves or ‘hearth’ loaves, which is my favourite and now our basic bread for every day.

The dough making process itself takes 3 to 3½ hours and another 1½ hours for final rising and baking. Remember during much of this time, I’m not necessarily physically engaging with the dough.  I have plenty of time in between to attend to all the other things which surround me.

They call this method the artisan way of baking bread, and for a reason. It is amazing to experience the fermentation of the dough in between resting periods. While watching the DVD, Markus Färbinger, who was born into a family with a tradition of wood-fired heart baking going back four generations, in Taxenbach, you can “hear” and see the dough developed into the different stages. 

When I started to do it myself, I could hardly control the excitement of feeling, smelling and experiencing the dough! 

We all know the picture of God as the potter and we the clay. Since I’ve started baking bread the artisan way, I like to think of God as the Baker and me as bread dough in His Hands, working and shaping me into life-giving bread for the hungry people He sends across my way.

The first step in making the dough is to accurately weigh the flour, water, fresh yeast and salt.

After sifting the flour 

and making a well in the flour, you gradually pour in the water, then the yeast and then the salted water into the well, and using one hand only, blend the water and flour slowly to form a paste. 

I absolutely love this. It brings back childhood memories of playing ‘kitchen-kitchen’ when I was still a little girl in my parents’ back yard in the sand, baking mud cakes. After all the flour is completely blended into the mixture and the dough is shaped into a loose ball, it’s placed into a large bowl brushed with olive oil. 

Just before covering the dough with a cloth, the temperature is measured. It should be between 23 and 24 degrees C.  

As I worked the dough, at least 3 batches, twice a week, to provide bread for my family of ten, I got a spiritual picture of encouragement from the Lord.

God will never expose me to Temperatures of refining beyond what I’m able to bear.

Every time I measure the temperature of my dough, I’m reminded that He will never expose me to temperatures of which I’m not capable of handling.
1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,"
1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Interesting Note:
When the dough temperature is too high, let the dough rest in a cool area or place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to bring the temperature down. If dough is too cold, allow to rest in a warm place. 
Higher temperatures leads to dough rising faster, lower temperatures slows it down.

I can trust the Lord to know exactly what temperature is needed to let my faith develop for His glory.

With much love

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