When the yeast runs out – Pâté Fermentée

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In Covid-19 lockdown, our supermarkets shelves are empty of yeast amongst other things, and I am down to my last half jar of active yeast. So I have embarked on a journey of discovering how to keep a yeast starter growing. I am going to try two methods. One is a wet yeast starter, feeding it once a week, and the second is saving dough and working it into a new batch of bread. I just wish I started this last week, before getting close to running out!

This is part 1 of 2 – this one is all about how to make Pâté Fermentée – which I quickly learned is a ball of dough saved to be reworked through the next batch. See this link for a great thread of comments – http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/59429/reserve-piece-dough-starter). The only downside is the shelf life in the fridge could only be about 3 days. So today I was making hot cross buns, and so for a laugh I saved a small ball of dough, wrapped it in cling film and popped it in the fridge. Next time I make pizza dough or bread, I will save a regular ball to try making a whole loaf from.

So a couple of days later, here I am making hot cross buns again, but this time I did a half batch just in case my little yeast friends didn’t cooperate. I cut up the ball saved from the other day, and added it to my dry ingredients, then added the warm milk and whisked egg. I mixed it all up, and then did a workout kneading the dough for a good 5 or more minutes. Now it is in a warm place, and I am hoping it will rise. The dough feels right, so we will see if we can breathe life into it!

My little ball of saved dough from a hot cross bun batch.
Springy and very tasty hot cross buns made from Paté Fermenteé! My ‘couldn’t-be-bothered-ness meant there were no crosses and no glaze, but they disappeared just as quick!

This is an interesting thread about using bread dough as a starter for your next batch, with no extra yeast needed. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/55656/my-first-steps-beauty-pate-fermentee

I saved a ball of dough from a pizza night, and the following day I worked it into a loaf of regular bread. I cut it up and added it to all the other regular ingredients and kneaded very well…lots of kneading…family-taking-turns kind of kneading! It took a very long time to rise, (a good 3-4 hours in a warm place) but made a nice loaf of bread. Not as springy as a loaf made with fresh yeast, but still very nice with butter, sliced tomato and salt and pepper!

To keep the chain going, I saved a ball of dough from that loaf, and a couple of days later tried to make another loaf, it was slightly less springy and took much longer to rise, and so I figured the life of the yeast was dwindling. It was a great experiment however! In conclusion, I think if I was making bread every day or even every other day, I would have had better success at keeping the yeast alive.

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