Starting a Desem – Day 7 and Seasonal Citrus

On the seventh day you don’t rest and neither does your desem. Again add 1/3 cup of water and enough flour to get a medium stiff dough. Knead your dough about 10 minutes, divide it into four parts and return one part to your container in the garage.

The other 3 parts place in a bowl on your counter and cover it with a dinner plate. We’ll begin to make bread with our desem on the eighth day but because it’s still a young desem it doesn’t have much leavening power yet so it will take 11 or 12 hours to rise at this point.

You may choose to make crackers and wait a few more days, or you may choose to make baguette shaped loaves which you can slice thinly into cocktail sized pieces of bread. These are perfect for melba toast or little open faced sandwiches.

I promise to add photos over the weekend! I’ve been in citrus heaven, mad canning for Tigress, year end bookkeeping in preparation for looming tax deadlines and dreaming of spring seeds and additional perennials.

Although citrus is not local (hopefully my potted meyer lemon and outdoor planted yuzu will be productive in a few years!) they are seasonal right now so I’m juicing, freezing, zesting, freezing, canning, salt preserving, gorging, tarting and will soon be lacto-fermenting them.

I remember when I was very young we would always get clementines in our stockings at Christmas and we appreciated them because that was the only time we had them. It’s like that again – now that I finally got my husband to kick his orange juice habit thanks to Rockridge Orchards apple cider and our juicer full of beets and carrots.

One thing about seasonal eating is you really appreciate each thing when it’s in season. You gorge and celebrate it and when it’s gone a new thing fills it’s vacant seat. At the peak of the dark days there are few exciting things to look forward to that can’t be found in the depths of the freezer or pantry.

Right now it doesn’t get any better than this lemon tartfrom Dori Greenspan. We’ve snitched so many spoonfuls out of the tart pans in the fridge that we are out of clean spoons!

16 Responses to Starting a Desem – Day 7 and Seasonal Citrus

  1. So true about the seasonal eating. That’s a hard point to get across to those who cannot imagine a life without on demand/instant access to anything they want, any time, and any place. And yet, the pleasure of the food is enhanced by periods of absence. When the first asparagus spears arrive and the first ripe strawberry, my hunger for them has reached a high peak.

  2. This year we will be eating 90% seasonably, 100% locally raised and as much locally grown as possible. This feels SO good and SO right! :)

    Do you think the lemon tart would pair nicely with your tonnemaker apple quince tall tart pastry?

  3. Auburn that is so exciting! I wish I could have a jar to put all the money we’ve saved into just to show folks that you can spend less eating locally!

    As for the crust absolutely – it’s the one I used. It’s not a super flaky crust because it’s a shortbread one but shortbread and lemon curd were meant for each other. I made little pies of it and there was stone cold silence as everyone took the first bite then looked admiringly at the pies.

    KFG – I’m so looking forward to asparagus and rhubarb! Not so Urban Hennery’s dark days are over March 15 but for me they are really over April 15ish when the first chives, asparagus and rhubarb appear on the scene.

  4. OK, then I’ll make the lemon curd tartlets with your crust in two weeks, for my husband’s b-day. Can’t wait.

    Now that I think about it, I could make torta di ricotta with that crust, too.

    BTW, the other day I tried a rice bread recipe I found online. The recipe calls for scalded milk but the instructions say to use water so I used room temp milk. It also says to bake for 50-60 minutes. I baked for 50 and I got a brick out of the oven. And the dough never became elastic and “shiny” like the recipe says.

    I should’ve run the recipe by you before trying it. Anyway, I’ll paste the link separately otherwise this comment will go to the spam filter.

  5. I am a new follower and would love to know what the recipes that you use for the loaf of bread made with the desem and for the crackers are. I love baking sourdough (and any other bread!) and this seems like a great new experiment. Would you be willing to share? Thanks for a great site to watch!

  6. We used to get clementines in our stockings, too. Only if we were good. Sometimes we did get lumps of coal. Lemon tart–yum!

  7. Hi B and welcome! The desem I started one week ago so if you go back a few entries you’ll find the first one and then hopefully by tomorrow I’ll do one post pulling all the steps together. I baked with it yesterday but it’s still really young so it had a really long fermentation and is pretty sour. I like it and it’s perfect with smoked salmon & cheese & beer but not so much for breakfast toast.

    Julia – I was threatened plenty with the rocks or lumps of coal but never actually got them. That is too funny. I was tempted to do that to my 3 year old this year but couldn’t bring myself to it. :p

  8. I know you are wicket busy and don’t mean to keep bothering you with the rice bread thing but since you never ignore comments, I am assuming that you totally forgot about this and that my separate comment on this thread, with the link, was swallowed by the spam filter.

    However, if you’d rather not comment on this, no problem, just let me know. I’m pursuing it only because you showed interest a few days ago.

  9. Oh crap! Annette, please delete the comment with the link to the rice bread recipe. I just clicked on it to make sure it was still active and my antivirus warned me of a Trojan which was aborted but other readers may not be as protected.

    Damned hackers! :(

  10. Hi Auburn, just deleted it. I’m scanning for viruses right now since someone just commented their norton found 2. Hopefully that was it!

    One of those mornings – preschooler woke up with pinkeye, lost my voice, dog dug under the chicken run and there was a breakout…and it’s not even 10 a.m. yet!

    What was it you wanted to know about the rice bread? I did look at that link and commented somewhere but now I can’t find where. Maybe it was on a different entry.

  11. I scanned mine, too. No virus, thankfully. I hope you didn’t get any either.

    I searched your entire site and couldn’t find that comment either.

    You had said that rice flour is difficult to work with but to let you know if I found a recipe that works.

    Most of the recipes I found called for weird ingredients that I don’t have in my pantry but this one (I’m pasting the whole thing below) seemed quite straight forward in terms of ingredients but it calls for “scalded milk” but then it instructs you to use water? It also tells you to knead and proof twice and bake for almost an hour.

    I used milk and baked for 50 minutes and got a nice brick with overcooked crust and cake-like crumb that didn’t rise at all.

    The recipe says that the dough will turn “shiny” and elastic. It didn’t. It felt like soft play dough.

    So this recipe obviously does not work but why?

    Here it is:

    Ingredients for Rice Bread Recipe

    2 cups rice flour
    1 cup white flour
    1 yeast cake, dissolved
    1 cup milk, scalded
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon shortening
    1 teaspoon salt


    Sift flour while dissolving the yeast in lukewarm water.

    Put sifted flour in a bowl or on a pastry board.

    Dissolve salt, sugar, and fat with lukewarm water and add gently to the flour.

    Put the mixture in a bowl and add the dissolved yeast.

    Mix as thoroughly as possible, slowly adding more water until a soft dough is obtained.

    If dough is too soft to be handled, add more flour; if it is too hard, add more liquid.

    Next, beat and knead the mixture for about 10 minutes until smooth and shining, or until the dough does not stick any more to the bowl, finger, or knife.

    Take the dough and place it in a floured or greased bowl, cover with a floured cloth, and let stand in a warm place (80 to 88 degrees F.) at uniform temperature and away from drafts.

    Let rise until double its original bulk and full of bubbles, or until a slight touch of the finger leaves an impression. This should happen in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    Remove dough from bowl or pastry board and dredge pastry board with flour.

    Lightly flour hands and dough.

    Fold the farther edge of the dough toward the front without pressing the fingers into it.

    With the ball of the hand lightly pressed into the dough, roll it slightly away from you. Make your strokes in kneading light and even strokes. After each stroke, turn the dough a quarter of the way around the board with a second stroke.

    Repeat this, adding a little flour at a time, or water, if necessary.

    The dough, when kneaded enough, will keep its shape on the board and is spongy, elastic, and smooth. It will also have a velvety surface.

    Take the dough and divide it into equal parts, according to the sizes of bread desired.

    Grease pans or molds.

    Fill the pans or molds half-way with the dough.

    Each portion of dough should have an even surface and be smooth.

    Pat the dough well into the corners of the molds.

    Cover with a thick cloth and place where the dough will be warm (80 to 88 degrees F.) as for first rising, until the size of the dough doubles in bulk, about 40-55 minutes. The dough will then begin to follow the shape of the pan.

    Place in a hot oven (400 to 425 degrees F.) to allow it to form a crust and stop rising.

    After the first 15-20 minutes, decrease the temperature to 380 degrees F until the bread is cooked.

    The bread should start to brown at the end of the first 20 minutes.

    An ordinary bread loaf requires from 50-60 minutes for baking.

  12. Hi Auburn, I deleted that comment so hopefully things are back to normal. I found a few files on the server which I cleared out so I’m not sure it was that link or not. But apparentlyIggy Pop looks great naked and chastidy whitehair should clean my teeth. :) I guess that’s the ’00 version of prank phone calls.

    Since the flours in here are all low gluten and the yeast is commercial I’m wondering if it needed a shorter rising period? Did it rise and then fall? Or not rise at all? The milk should have been scalded to make an enzymatically weaker environment for the yeast to do it’s work.

    There isn’t any gluten in this recipe and most gluten free flours contain some type of potato starch for structure. In the absence of that it’s probably critical that the moisture/flour ratio be pretty spot on to provide enough structure and tension to contain the escaping gas. The multiple kneads would help provide tension and structure to the dough.

    This would be a great question for a real baker or someone on a bread forum like KAF or the Fresh Loaf. That would be my two cents, for what it’s worth. :p

  13. The dough rose fine the first time but it never became “shiny” or very elastic. Nothing like my white flour bread or pizza doughs. When I put it in the mold it rose slightly and I wound up with a brick 2 inches tall.

    Interesting what you say about the milk. Does it apply only to this recipe because of the rice flour? Because I’m using cold milk in your fabulous soaked ww bread and it rises fine. Would it rise more/better if I scalded the milk?

    Potato starch… I see. Does xanthan gum have the same purpose, that’s one of the weird (to me) ingredients many of the recipes called for.

    BTW, have you used sorghum flour for bread?

    (Yesterday I made pitas. Half of your bread dough recipe makes 8 of the most d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s-l-y tender pitas. So far, with that dough I’ve made the regular loaves, burger buns, dinner rolls, pizza rolls, sticky buns, stuffed bread and pitas. And everything turned out great. I can’t thank you enough for that, sweetheart. :) )

  14. Hi Auburn, do you think it proofed too long and then fell in the oven? I’m still not getting a good enough picture to diagnose.

    The overnight rise with milk gives the dough enough time to compensate for any slow-rising yeast and works because there is so much structure to the bread from the high protein and fiber.

    If you let the bread overproof that last rise you will get very airy bread that tears when you try to spread butter on it. It’s really a matter of preference. I try to put mine in the oven a little early so that it finishes rising in the oven but the crumb is not too loose.

    Why don’t you make 2 loaves and try to put one in a little early and let the other go longer so you can see the difference? Just be sure to slash the top of the overproofing one or the top crust will lift away and fall off when you slice the bread.

    Xanthan gum is a binder so it helps the low-protein flours to bind better. Otherwise the bread would fall apart like cake does.

    The potato starch keeps the baked goods tender and the xanthan gum binds it together if that makes sense. We are approaching laboratory bread with those ingredients though and moving away from kitchen alchemy.

    I haven’t used sorghum flour for bread since we don’t have any wheat allergies. I am, however, playing around with all spelt bread. Traditionally people would eat a wide variety of grains and not predominantly corn and wheat like we do now.

    I have been making my sandwich bread using 34% hard wheat, 33% rye and 33% spelt and it comes out great. That is the beauty of the grain grinder – whole grains have a long shelf life so I have jars of everything you can imagine and just throw whatever I feel like in the grain hopper.

    Oat/spelt pancakes are so yummy! And oh my the freshness of the cornmeal is indescribable.

    Barley muffins are yummy as a side with soup. Spelt cookies don’t distract from delicate flavors like whole wheat can.

    It’s been fun trying new grains in old recipes.

    I’m so glad you are having fun baking! :)

  15. > do you think it proofed too long and then fell
    > in the oven? I’m still not getting a good
    > enough picture to diagnose.

    It went like this:

    First kneading produced a somehow elastic dough but it had the consistency of soft play dough – when stretched a bit too long, it’d separate.

    First proofing went OK, the dough rose quite a bit.

    Second kneading, the dough felt drier so I added a bit of water as per instructions. Similar consistency to first kneading, maybe a bit smoother.

    Second proofing, in the pan, didn’t rise at all and the top of the dough separated a bit (think of stretch marks).

    > Why don’t you make 2 loaves and try to put
    > one in a little early and let the other go longer
    > so you can see the difference?

    I have and, like you, I prefer the crumb not too loose.

    > I have been making my sandwich bread using
    > 34% hard wheat, 33% rye and 33% spelt and it
    > comes out great.

    Yes, it does! :) I have been using 2 cups of hard or soft wheat and the rest equal parts of rye and spelt. For the pitas I used 60% hard wheat and the rest spelt. Lovely.

    How does your 100% spelt bread turn out?

    Now I want to start using seeds (sesame, poppy).

    Also, I have steel-cut oat that I could mill. Would oat work in your bread recipe?

  16. Hi Auburn,

    I can only guess that it overrose the first rise and the yeast was tuckered out by the second rise. I have no experience whatsoever with gluten free or low gluten cooking.

    My 100% spelt loaves come out like bricks so I’ve finally settled on 50% low-gluten flour and 50% high protein flour. I’m wondering if I used a combination of commercial yeast and wild yeast how that would affect it. Right now I’m busy reverse engineering the pizza dough because we have gone down the wrong road with that one this year.

    Not to lay any blame but the more removed I’ve become from the process the more like chewy bready dough it is. I’m the cracker pizza camp and pizza man is deep dish. Maybe we just need to rotate who makes the dough so we each get our turn. :)

    Oats are great in bread, especially if you add extra molasses or honey! They are low gluten though so don’t add more than 50% unless you want to make it a quick bread. Try making waffles with oats – they are really yummy!

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