Baking with Desem for Sourdough September

It’s that time again when we spend a month thinking about sourdough bread even more than we do the rest of the year. Sourdough September is the annual celebration of all things sourdough from the Real Bread Campaign and this year we’re joining in with a little experiment:

Desem (pronounced DAY-zum) is a style of sourdough starter popular in Belgium. Unlike the “standard” method of leaving the starter to mix with bacteria and yeasts in the ambient air, the Desen method buries the starter in whole wheat flour so it can only develop with organisms in the flour itself. Every so often it peeks out, which means it’s feeding time again.

Desen sourdough ball in a tub of flour

Day 1: The original ball of dough, placed in a bed of wholemeal flour and covered.

Desem sourdough ball peeking out of the flour

Day 3: The dough is growing, feeding on the surrounding flour and peeks out to say hello.

Desem sourdough ripped open to show the air holes from microbial activity

Day 3: Inside the ball of dough you can see how active the yeast and other microbes have been. This was fed and and returned to the covered bed of flour for a few more days.

The starter is now seven days old and we plan to bake some test loaves this week, learning how it behaves and how to work with it. This will take a while for us to get right so don’t expect to see Desem loaves on the shelves for a few weeks, but we’ll keep you updated here.