Glossary of Baking terms

Graham beat me to the suggestion, however, I've been thinking for some time that we should start a thread to complie a glossary of baking terms and definitions.

I propose as follows;

Post any terms, including bakers acronyms and definitions that may be relevant and accurate. I will then continue to compile a running list in this post with bulleted points. The term must be stated with a clear definition in this way here:
eg.

  • Sourdough  a mixture of cereal flour/meal and water that harbours dominant endemic populations of yeasts and lactobacillus in a symbiotic relationship fermenting endemic dough nutrients to aerate or leaven a dough typically used for "sourdough" bread.


Ok, I'll accept input into refinement of these terms but your arguement must be supported with fact and historical precedence. When there is consensus, I'll include it in the list. I expect the majority of the terms to be straight forward but there might be some contention with some terms and proper nouns. I'm sure we can get through it over the course of a year? six months? we'll see.

BTW I'll accept discussion about the meanings of relevant words and anything that generally fits in with the purpose of this thread, but please lets not clog this with hugs and kisses type of chit chat, there's plenty of room for that on the rest of the board.

I'll accept your correction (my typing is prone to errors) at any time but since I'm going to be compiling we need to determine who should have the casting vote if a term meaning needs a resolution for acceptance. I't may not come to that, but ....... 

Is there broad agreement on this? Aye or nay?
 

__________________________________________________________________________

I've posted a draft of the table - below - discussed in the thread. However, I've edited this table, removed "sourdough leaven content". Upon objections from the floor it was considered peripheral to a set of sourdough baking terms and definitions. As stated a poll will be conducted in the near future to gauge the support, or lack of support, for these terms. 

DRAFT


Function My adopted terms Definition
Inoculating culture Starter A small portion of mature sourdough used to inoculate or "start" a larger  batch of flour and water referred to as "sourdough or leaven". At maturity the original weight of "starter" is removed to inoculate or start the next sourdough or leaven, hence it is not included in the yield calculations.
Inoculating dough
Sourdough leaven
A portion of the total bread dough flour weight inoculated by a starter to form a mature dough of endemic flora - including but not limited to: lactobacillus, and endemic yeasts - used to aerate and produce bread dough maturity. Sourdough leaven can be a single stage fermentation or multiple stage fermentation to maturity.
Bread dough
Sourdough Leaven Bread dough       

A dough containing all the final ingredients, including but not limited to: sourdough leaven, that is used as the final dough in the bread making process. This dough is baked to form bread.


 

The process:

fermentation
Sourdough leaven fermentation the process of fermenting sourdough leaven is initiated by a polyculture in a natural symbiosis of endemic origin. Typically a mix of lactobacillus and sourdough leaven yeasts. Bakers yeast strains are not deemed typical nor included.


The product Sourdough Leaven Bread Bread of sourdough leaven; does not include any other fermentation other than the endemic polyculture of sourdough leaven from the first to the final stage until entry into the oven.





 


 

177 comments

[quote=jacklang]I see you are of the "muck and magic" school, where something is "natural" it must be OK, and something synthetic is not, despite that the natural has had unnatural manipulation, and the artificial may be nature identical. Just how much manipulation makes it not OK is unclear. Is the use of a dried and processed sourdough culture OK? What if that culture is grown in an synthetic medium, or the flour used comes from non-organic or worse genetically modified wheat?

I profoundly disagree with trying to overburden the term "sourdough" with implications of "natural" or "organic". By all means qualify the term "natural sourdough" or "organic sourdough", but not sourdough itself.

Swelling of pentosans etc is because of the acid environment, and nothing to do with the "natural" origin. There may be a case for defining the the pH of the dough to count as sourdough. How sour is sourdough? pH 4.5? Although I can make a non-acid naturally leavened bread.[/quote]

There's no "overburden[ing]" occuring; I've not stipulated the ingredients must be organic at all, you're reading something that's not there.

My case is essentially that sourdough bread doesn't require adulterating at all. The 'natural' endemic flora of grain provide all that's needed to make sourdough leaven bread, swelling pentosans included. This includes, but not limited to: yeasts, bacteria, moulds, their by-prodcuts such as, Co2 gas, an array of organic acids, enzymes, alcohols, etc. etc. It's all about the 'natural'; grain, water, salt. Sourdough replaces the need for ascorbic acid, or imitative acid cocktails. Why mimic and produce the fake when one can achieve the 'real' thing with sourdough? This should be preserved.

You're attempting to define sourdough bread on the basis that it contain a dough [of your definition]    "...  where the leavening agent is a symbiosis of lactobacillus and maltose negative yeasts,"       and perhaps the silly notion that the        "... final dough has a pH of 4.5 or less"        but, and here the door is ajar, but may also contain ingredient/s that sideline or replace many of the other effects of sourdough!

Interestingly your definition of "sourdough leaven"   "Sourdough leaven is a raising agent whose main action is the fermentation of a symbiosis of lactobacillus and acid tolerant maltose negative yeasts" makes no mention of flour and "is a rising agent".

Your criteria would be met if only the bread dough was aerated/leavened by a lab produced lactic bacteria and yeast with a symbiosis and further, never mind the rest we have adulterants for that because we are able! It's your proposition that needs qualification not the other way around!


[quote=jacklang]
OK for the sake of progress I am happy to:

replace "mother" with "starter"
delete "biga" and "poolish" for now, although I find them useful terms
delete "main" from the definition of sourdough
Add a pH requirement.

The definition of "sourdough" would now be
Sourdough is where the leavening agent is a symbiosis of lactobacillus and maltose negative yeasts, and the final dough has a pH of 4.5 or less.

Add a new term "natural sourdough"
Natural sourdough is a sourdough where the dough contains no synthetic ingredients.

I think that covers all your points
[/quote]


No, it doesn't cover [all] my points. I argue that the term "sourdough" applies and implies, natural, non synthetic, unadulaterated, unaugmented, etc. It's incumbent on you to add to your term with a qualifer if you see fit to augment or allow adulterants in a bread with the label "sourdough"; perhaps "claytons sourdough bread" or perhaps "bread containing sourdough that may be adulterated"?

Yes, " replace "mother" with "starter".
Yes, " delete "biga" and "poolish" for ...." sourdough.

What's wrong with "endemic polyculture"?

What is wrong with "endemic polyculture" is that it is not endemic, and may not be a polyculture.

"Endemic" dictionary definition  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/endemic
Main Entry:
1en·dem·ic Listen to the pronunciation of 1endemic
Pronunciation:
\en-ˈde-mik, in-\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
French endémique, from endémie endemic disease, from Greek endēmia action of dwelling, from endēmos endemic, from en in + dēmos people, populace — more at demagogue
Date:
1759
1 a: belonging or native to a particular people or country b: characteristic of or prevalent in a particular field, area, or environment <problems endemic to translation> <the self-indulgence endemic in the film industry>
2: restricted or peculiar to a locality or region <endemic diseases> <an endemic species>

My sourdough culture is not endemic - it has travelled thousands of miles. Nor is it endemic to particular flour or dough I am using - I introduce it, as do you when you add starter.

It also may not be a polyculture, but could contain just one species of Lactobacillus and one yeast.

Sourdough does not replace the need for Ascorbic acid; they have different functions.

I've not mentioned flour since there may not be any: the Danish make a sourdough loaf containing only cracked rye, and plenty of people make a sourdough gluten free loaf.

For most of the world "sourdough" does NOT imply "natural, non synthetic, unadulaterated, unaugmented, etc" anymore than "wholemeal" does.

I realise everything must look upside down from Australia, but it really doesn't mean that, and nor should it, anymore than it means hand kneaded or woodfired or stone baked or that the baker wears a home knitted jumper, bakes by moonlight and only stirs the bread widdershins.

I can see we will not agree.

Jack, perhaps you should start a seperate list, synthetic and whatever else is in the tower of babble you want to term sourdough? Shouldn't think we wear knitted jumpers, I mean your begining to sound crass and a bit chauvanistic especially with the Oz crowd.


Cheers!

I found the discussion very interesting and stimulating, even humorous in parts.....really, a gentlemanly debate.


"I realise everything must look upside down from Australia ... "

Hail Britannia ... eh Jack?

Tony


As a new sourdough baker in Wales. UK. I want to say thanks to Boris for 'holding the line'to obtain a clear definition of sourdough.
It seems to me people see more clearly when THEY are the right way up!
Thanks,am learning how to post,
Rick,in the upside down UK.
[quote=jacklang] What is wrong with "endemic polyculture" is that it is not endemic, and may not be a polyculture.

My sourdough culture is not endemic - it has travelled thousands of miles. Nor is it endemic to particular flour or dough I am using - I introduce it, as do you when you add starter.

It also may not be a polyculture, but could contain just one species of Lactobacillus and one yeast.

[/quote]
___________________________________________________________________
I'm sure we've been through this before; one last time before we agree to disagree.
 
My sourdough and starters are brim full of what can be realistically considered 'emdemic' flora.  My main starter is born of rye flour, self made in 1992 although in 2001 we've moved the bakery to another building in Sydney, prior to that from 1992 where this starter was first initiated we were housed in one building. Further, I always cycle my starter in my sourdough; its not a separate culture cycled seperately. I'd call that 'endemic'. However, as you do, some bakers keep a seperate starter cycled seperately, which is different to the method I use but in all seriousness the lactics and yeasts that dominate could still be considered 'native' of the substrate you use - grain (no need to quibble over flour or grain). If you've cycled them over an extended time I'd be prepared to say they are indeed natives of your grain and kitchen.

Sourdoughs [are] considered 'polycultures', the likelihood that you'll find [a] sourdough with only one lactic and one yeast, only, is so miniscule it doesn't bear consideration. The exception would need to be strictly controlled laboratory conditions which isn't the norm in bakeries.


[quote=jacklang] Sourdough does not replace the need for Ascorbic acid; they have different functions.
[/quote]

That's just it, there's no [need] for ascorbic; sulphur bonds occur without it, 'naturally'. However, I concede I should have said 'displaced' rather than 'replaced'.

[quote=jacklang] I've not mentioned flour since there may not be any: the Danish make a sourdough loaf containing only cracked rye, and plenty of people make a sourdough gluten free loaf.
[/quote]

Jack, you're splitting hairs needlessly; flour/grain what's the problem? Again, flour can also be considered generic, it doesn't have to be wheat flour does it, but to be 'bread' it must be some sort of flour!

[quote=jacklang] For most of the world "sourdough" does NOT imply "natural, non synthetic, unadulaterated, unaugmented, etc" anymore than "wholemeal" does.
[/quote]

Wholemeal has been in the domain of industrial food manufacture for some time but I'd argue sourdough hasn't been so in Anglo-Saxon countries where it's being [re]discoved by that market segment to whom sourdough represents the antithesis of  adulterated, synthetic, augmented, etc, food. In fact in Australia it has gained ground more rapidly primarily due to those perceptions.

Quintessential sourdough is whole or complete without any need for processing aids, augmenting, or synthetic assistance. That class should be preserved as a benchmark. I repeat, if you or others, want to create a classification for an adulterated, augumented, synthetic aided sourdough, it's incumbent on you and those others to add a qualifying term to designate its true identity apart from unqualified 'sourdough', period!
 
[quote=jacklang] I realise everything must look upside down from Australia, but it really doesn't mean that, and nor should it, anymore than it means hand kneaded or woodfired or stone baked or that the baker wears a home knitted jumper, bakes by moonlight and only stirs the bread widdershins.

I can see we will not agree.
[/quote]

Upside down?! To whom?! Now when is the next Ashes test on?
Now when is the next Ashes test on?  Ouch!

Its not a case of what I think, but what Joe  Average and the rest of the world thinks when they see the word "Sourdough".

The dictionary definition is (this is Oxford Shorter, but Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sourdough  has something similar)

a. Leaven. Late Middle English (MW says 14th century)
b. Fermenting dough, esp that left over from a previous baking, used as leaven; Bread made from this (America Middle 19th century)

None of these well established dictionary definitions say anything about no flour improvers. Nor does custom and practice. Go to any supermarket in  California, or indeed most of the world and buy sourdough and it will contain improvers. Most non-organic  bread flour sold here and in US does, and even in France  the mills, and hence the bakers) make a sourdough flour with additives, such as Moul Bie Camapaillou flour. Prof Calvel (may he be remembered for good) adds ascorbic acid  to pain au levain.

I strongly support your desire and the need for a brand and word that imply "natural" or "pure" or "grain, water, leaven and salt only". Unfortunately "sourdough" is not that word.
[quote=jacklang]Now when is the next Ashes test on?  Ouch!

Its not a case of what I think, but what Joe  Average and the rest of the world thinks when they see the word "Sourdough".

[/quote]

Joe Average in Australia buys sourdough because they expect it to be a 100% natural product. This has a lot to do with the influence of John Downes from the 1970's until now. A majority of sourdough bakers in Australia make sourdough because they enjoy pure process.

More recently, some bakeries in Australia have wanted to use the term 'sourdough' as a way of attracting customers and not as a way to define a hard-earned reputation for natural-leavening process.

Sometimes an 'acidifier' is simply added to a yeast dough and called 'sourdough'. I think that everyone in this debate have agreed that this is not sourdough. However a majority of bread consumers do not have the benefit of reading this discussion and are often no more informed when they buy bread.

In Australia (and NZ) bread packaged in front of the customer does not have to include an ingredient label (the concept being that if a customer wants to know what is in the bread they will ask the person who packaging the bread!).

Of course in reality a majority (95% + ??) of customers do not ask the shop attendent what is in the 'sourdough'. Joe Average simply says "I'll have one sourdough please". This is one reason whythis debate is so critical; because customers are being mislead.

Can we ever expect a majority of customers to ask counter staff "does it contain bread improver?", "does it contain ascorbic acid?", "does it contain commercial yeast?". I don't think so. Therefore we need a reasonable line in the sand out of respect for the person asking for sourdough over the counter.

'Natural' is slightly open to interpretation but at least it gives customers a starting point aligned with the motivation of most sourdough bakers and bread eaters in Australia.

Sourdough bread could be defined in those terms, if trade associations and or consumer associations lobbied the regulating authority.
I would doubt if the mainstream bakers or trade associations would lobby for a change of meaning, overturning at least a hundred years of usage.
I've been involved a little in international standards debates in other fields, and it is a long slow wearisome process, in comparison to which watching paint dry is exciting.

I think you have much more chance in defining a new compound term like "natural sourdough", or an ABA quality mark...

I am not a lawyer but as I understand it, the intellectual property laws, such as trademark and trade description would then work much more for you by establishing a new mark or phrase, rather than trying to re-define or specialise an existing dictionary word.
makes sense. However, since there are no standards for sourdough established in Australia there's no need to "change" or do any "overturning"; we are effectively starting with a clean slate!

 
The problem with the compound term "natural sourdough" is its redundancy.  Sourdough is already natural, as it means naturally leavened bread.  I have a different idea.  The mainstream sourdough bakeries who utilize the various chemical adjucts and non edemic flora and wild harvested yeasts should use the term "non natural sourdough" and get it trademarked, therby freeing the term and practice of sourdough from the schackles of the chemical industry.  Smiley.

Tony




[quote=Danubian]makes sense. However, since there are no standards for sourdough established in Australia there's no need to "change" or do any "overturning"; we are effectively starting with a clean slate!

 
[/quote]

The slate is not clean. Rather floury with bits of old dough adhering to it, in fact. Australians may want to talk to people in the rest of the world.  The word "sourdough" has over 500 years of history associated with it.

I'd strongly advise registering a trademark if you wish to establish it as a quality mark. https://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/ols/tmeform/help/switch/Registrabili...
I doubt you could register the term "sourdough", although some have registered trademarks such as "Sydney Sourdough" (registered but expired) and "Sourdough Sisters".   I see there is a dispute already over ABA as applied to bread, otherwise that might have been suitable.
it's not as bad as you make out; but it's not a foregone conclusion.

[quote=jacklang][quote=Danubian]makes sense. However, since there are no standards for sourdough established in Australia there's no need to "change" or do any "overturning"; we are effectively starting with a clean slate!

[/quote]

The slate is not clean. Rather floury with bits of old dough adhering to it, in fact. Australians may want to talk to people in the rest of the world.  The word "sourdough" has over 500 years of history associated with it.

I'd strongly advise registering a trademark if you wish to establish it as a quality mark. https://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/ols/tmeform/help/switch/Registrabili...
I doubt you could register the term "sourdough", although some have registered trademarks such as "Sydney Sourdough" (registered but expired) and "Sourdough Sisters".   I see there is a dispute already over ABA as applied to bread, otherwise that might have been suitable.[/quote]

Jack, the slate is indeed clean in the sense that there are no, I repeat, no, standards for sourdough bread in Australia. You won't find a definition of sourdough in the [url=http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/Standard_2_1_1_Cereals_v97.pdf]Food Standards Code Aust[/url] or the Baking Industry Associations of each state. What you will find is a conspicuous absence of the word sourdough. If you think that's "rather floury with old bits of dough adhering to it,.." you're much mistaken.

However, yes, and of those 500 years only about 15-20 years - very recent indeed - some corners of the industry have been sticking adulterants into it because they were  mistakenly convinced ascorbic acid was the same thing as naturally sourced vitamin C and sourdough was somehow inferior without ascorbic acid augmentation for 'bigger' and 'better'! There's a growing awareness among consumers that they can no longer trust industry and business association professionals to behave in acordance with the consumers interest and advocacy groups now have clout. 
[quote=Panevino]The problem with the compound term "natural sourdough" is its redundancy.  Sourdough is already natural, as it means naturally leavened bread.  I have a different idea.  The mainstream sourdough bakeries who utilize the various chemical adjucts and non edemic flora and wild harvested yeasts should use the term "non natural sourdough" and get it trademarked, therby freeing the term and practice of sourdough from the schackles of the chemical industry.  Smiley.
[/quote]

This is similar to my arguement; if bakers deviate from the sourdough process it is incumbent on them to define their product with a qualifying term because not everything that contains sourdough is 'sourdough'!

 
The absence of formal standards does not mean that the meaning of the word is not defined for example in dictionaries. Indeed the very absence of formal standards that prohibit such use means it can and is applied to all sorts of breads, including those with improvers in the dough.

 The use of ascorbic acid as a bread improver goes back to at least 1938 (Melville J and Shattock H.T. "The action of Ascorbic Acid as a Bread Improver" Cereal Chemistry 15,201, 1938).

I don't understand your assertion that synthetic (mostly fermentation produced) l-ascorbate (ascorbic acid) is different to "naturally sourced" vitamin C, except possibly the synthetic is likely to be purer.
is one of the reasons we have the current mess. Bread was once an individual creation by the skill of the baker on the natural process. The attitude that bread is a bulking agent has probably always been with us, but it wasn't a broad view, indeed nor possible until industrial bakeries were widespread. Now the pendulum may be ready to swing back the other way.

I'm aware of most of the details of ascorbic acid use; the point is it wasn't in wide usage until much later, and even later than that in sourdough as far as I'm aware.

Jack, I'm tired of rehashing this over and over; you're on your own..... we agree to disagree. If you want to have a clearer idea what I think on this issue or ones relevant to this, search my posts.

However, it might be a good time to update your table of terms and definitions so contributors can see the changes you think are worth including.

Hope the weather is nice in Cambridge and the trout are cooperating!
I missed this boat by several months and maybe it's a dead horse that doesn't invite flogging, but anyway... Also, I'm new to this sourdough making so excuse me if I say something silly, but it would seem to me that there's a lack of logic in JackLang's attempt to define sourdough in an inclusive way - that is, so long as it's pretty much sourdough you can add all sorts of things and it's still sourdough. Now this appeals when you are considering things like caraway seeds, olives and so on, but I still see a problem. Where do you draw the line? Why not add ascorbic acid, why not amphetamines, why not strychnine? If it's mostly sourdough, it's still "sourdough", isn't it. Um...

Even for the benign things (and what are they, when eggs or bits of cheese might be death to an anaphylactic? - excuse spelling), let's think about it. If I bought a "sourdough" and got home and got down my honey and butter, I'd be disappointed if I found that the maker had craftily folded chillied olives into the sourdough so I couldn't see them. I'd like for it to have been called "sourdough with chillied olives", not just "sourdough".

The way I look at it, if you seek to be able to include as many things as possible until just maybe you can no longer call it "sourdough", there is NO way to define clearly that boundary. One man's ascorbic acid is another man's hemlock.

I'd look the other way - what can't you do without, to make sourdough?

I'd say water.
I'd put a culture in there.
Flour? Well, maybe if cracked grain is enough this needs consideration as a broader term that at least includes flour and cracked grain.
Personally I'd add salt. I've made sourdough with less than the recommended salt and man it tasted dull. I think if you made sourdough without salt and gave it to anyone they'd think it was weird, although this could be debated - one man's salt, and all.

Do you need commercial yeast - hell no. Do you need vit c -nup. How about olives, bits of deadly cheese or caraway seeds - nope they are each an extra.

Basically anything else but the simple list, you can do without and is thus an additive.

So if you try and sell me "sourdough", and it's got chillied olives, added yeast, caraway seeds, ascorbic acid, strychnine or cannabis sativa in it, I'd like to think that you were going to label it "sourdough with XYZ", not just "sourdough". Shouldn't I deserve that?

The experience of judging yesterday at an important bread show has reiterated that the content of this thread is valuable.

 

 


OK, I'll bite...

Specifically because?

still holds very true. The Australian sourdough baking terms are muddled and confusing - there's a lack of precision in the language - for manufacturers and consumers. 


OK Boris, just to tease it out, what kind of things did you notice in the judging, that highlighted that?

 

PS What's the bread show called?


OK Boris, just to tease it out, what kind of things did you notice in the judging, that highlighted that?

 

PS What's the bread show called?

Dave, I shouldn't reveal the identity of the show and I won't - besides it's not important; but what I noticed was that the variation of entries displayed in many of the sourdough classes shows an underlying confusion of sourdough terms.

I have to admit, IMO some of the class criteria also fostered this confusion as some of the criteria was confused itself!

 

Dman, that is why i started in with my comments last year because i had just returned from judging the Artisan cup and Vic bread show/ sydney royal easter show. The confusion is rampant and intolerable...also ignorant. If you go back through the thread you will notice it was derailed by the perverse, condescending and obstructive bullishness of a certain member from the mother country...or should i use the "M" word? not to mention the pure slagging of the bogan from nth Q. The relativist stupidity that all comments are worthy was born out in this exercise. As the construction of a glossary is termed "professional" in the forum, it is of no value to have comments from just anybody, especially those who have just found sourdough and think they know it all. Because of that,I would suggest that it is of little value to continue the thread here.From your considerable experience and expertise,simply construct your glossary and publish it. Who needs it is the Australian bread industry...bigtime. I guess seeing we view everything from upside down here in the antipodes, it wont be of any value to the masters of the universe in the UK. But from my recent travels in the UK it is very clear that the Australian practice of sourdough is way ahead of the UK, which is also borne out by Dan Lepards comments.


 

I found this thread following a google search, and decided to join the group. Hope I can make a contribution from time to time.

I work in a retail bakery, mostly scratch, with a crew of about 8 others. Started baking as a teenager in 1964, been full time since '69. Still don't know what I'm doing some times ...

We do a simplified pan au levain that has been well received- not strictly speaking a sourdough, but favorably compared.

I'm looking forward to picking some brains here!

Best to all,

Muff