BAKERS LINGO - ABC from Autolyze – Yeast

BAKERS LINGO - ABC FROM Autolyze – Yeast



This is when our culture starter is lively and active! The activation time happens once we have fed our starter and it is fully activated at its highest point. After this the starter will have run out of fresh food and start falling again. So we want to catch our starter at the peak of its activation point!


In some recipes, this step is where the flour and water are mixed just until combined and allowed to rest before adding salt, culture or any other extras. This is where the flour can absorb the liquid added and become more flexible without much kneading work from our side.

The natural enzymes are also immediately put to work here once flour is in contact with water. The enzymes work to soften the dough. As mentioned, this simple combination of flour and water is done before any kneading is introduced, thereby improving texture of the bread and having less kneading time.

Finally, the enzymes produced during this phase break the starch in the flour (these complex carbohydrates) down into simple sugars which will feed the yeast in the sourdough starter.


Bakers Percentage

Bakers calculate everything from the flour. Thus the flour amount is 100% and everything from there is calculated from there. Thus a 70% hydration loaf is referring to the flour as 100% and the liquid components as 70% of that. If the flour is 350 grams, then the liquid components would be 245 grams.  

Bulk Ferment

This step is the first fermentation period of the after the mixing of flour, water and dough. The bulk fermentation generally takes place at room temperature. This step may be listed as proofing, rising, or bulk fermentation in a recipe but is always the first period of fermentation and a timeframe should be given in the recipe.



The outside of the loaf of sourdough bread. Darkening the crust helps keep the crumb (see below) moist and tender as well as giving the loaf a distinct nutty taste. I suggest darkening the crust more rather than a lightly baked crust. Experiment!


The inside of a loaf of sourdough bread. Often based on the size of the holes produced by the carbon dioxide or the moisture (or lack thereof) in the loaf.



A real traditional sourdough is #flourwatersaltyeast and nothing else. Of course we can get creative and add more components. Dough is referred to before baking.  

With a higher hydration a dough becomes a batter is generally not able to be kneaded by hand but rather scrapped or whipped and scooped – sourdough pancakes anyone?



The ability of a dough to hold its shape or return to its original shape after a fermentation period. Elasticity is dependent on the level of protein or gluten in the flour as well as the amount of fermentation that has occurred. Doughs can lose their elasticity if over-fermented- this is when the dough gets sloppy and gluey and has risen to its fullest potential and then fallen again. Also, low-protein flours like rye do not produce as much elasticity as higher-protein flours. Elasticity is critical to the final shaping of the dough and, if diminished, will result in a dense loaf unable to trap carbon dioxide.



The process of adding flour and water to the sourdough starter to keep it active and healthy. This is usually done at least once per day, if the starter is kept at room temperature and baked with often. For starters kept in the refrigerator, it only needs to happen maybe once a week or even every other week just to keep it alive. Consider drying some or freezing some or giving some to a friend to ensure you have a backup!


The main constituent of bread, derived from ground grain. Depending where you live in the world there are various types of flour depending on the grain and the grind.

If you are curious and are not sure, comment below or send me a message!



A mixture of two proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and einkorn. Gluten gives traditional breads their elasticity, trapping carbon dioxide in the networks that we make that makes the bread fluffy and light.



A layer of liquid that sometimes accumulates on the top of the sourdough starter. It contains lots of ethanol alcohol and looks grey-blue-brown-black-ish. Don’t worry - It can be poured off just before a feeding to rid the starter of any off flavors.

Tip! > if you drink the hooch, you will have the worst hangover in your life!


The ratio of water to flour in a sourdough starter or bread dough. The hydration is calculated by dividing the total amount of water by the total amount of flour. I always keep my starter at 1:1 ratio. When this variable stays constant, I can then play with and evaluate the other variables in bread baking. i.e. flour types, water, adding oils, nuts, seeds, temperature, rising time etc! so many variables! Time to play!



The process of flour hydration and gluten development through movement and warmth of our hands. By stretching the dough upon itself and working our hands in the dough the gluten is activated and a smooth, elastic dough develops over a period of 5-15 minutes or I often do it for two-songs-worth.



The bacteria present in many fermented foods that produce lactic acid which gives sourdough bread its characteristic sour. Lactobacilli also work to raise the bread through the production of carbon dioxide, a by-product of the fermentation process.

Leaven / Levain

Another way to say ‘sourdough starter culture’. It is our active piece of bacteria and yeast we use to expand with more flour and water to create larger quantities of sourdough!


Maintaining a Starter

Caring and feeding a sourdough starter in order to maintain its health and fervor. Because a sourdough starter is alive with bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms, starters need regular feedings and temperature considerations in order to stay alive and healthy.

Always have your starter out of the fridge and well-fed before baking and in the fridge to hibernate.

Mother Culture

Another term for a sourdough starter.


Oven Spring

If you see this in recipes, it is referring to the final spring and rise of the dough in the oven. This is when your slashing will take its desired shape.


Pastry Flour

A fine wheat flour generally lower in protein content than all-purpose or bread flour. In German, this is often called Type 440 or even 400. This also means much of the mineral content has been taken away from the flour. The results are often super fluffy and with a tender crumb like in our croissant, pie crusts, pancakes, and muffins.


This is the final rise of the bread before it sees the oven. I do mine in the fridge overnight for a slow, controlled rise that allows for more flavor to build. This happens after the final shaping. i.e. I put my bread basket directly in the fridge covered in a bag. 


Quick Breads

Breads that are usually leavened with chemical leavening agents such as baking soda or baking powder.

Try using sourdough as an addition or instead for a deeper flavor and more nutrition. You can decide to allow for a period of fermentation, or not. 



The in-between steps in bread baking. Allowing the dough that you just created to relax and allow those bacteria and yeasts to start working and allow water to be absorbed in the flour.  This happens at room temperature.



Just before baking, taking a sharp knife or razor to cut the outside of the dough to ensure a controlled rise of the bread. You can make a square, triangle, or even beautiful flora designs.


Bread made from a natural leavening agent known as a sourdough starter. Sourdough is made tangy by the lactobacilli present in the sourdough starter – see below!

Starter / Starter Culture / Sourdough Starter

Also called pasta madre or Herman. A simple mixture of flour and water used to leaven bread that contains bacteria, yeast, and organic acids. These bacteria and yeasts are present from the flour added as well as the air that it breaths as sourdough cultures are aerobic (breathing!)

You can start your own by adding equal parts flour:water daily until you see bubbles forming, or acquire one from someone who has one! Mine is now 153, named Cornelius. J


A method of working our dough to create networks of gluten strands in our dough that help trap in the bubbles and gas that develops to give us super fluffy bread!

This method is often used in high hydration doughs (wet doughs). The concept is to take a corner of the dough, fold it upon itself, rotate the dough, and repeat. Each network of gluten strands that are created sets us up with a good dough for rising up and getting a nice consistent crust.



Yeasts are a component of the sourdough starter culture. They are taken in from the air, as sourdough is an aerobic (breathing) ferment, as well are present on the grains we add to the starter. Yeast are responsible for making our lovely bubbles in our breads as they eat the sugars from the flour! 

Complete and Continue