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Fruit juices, beers and dairy products in starters (Part 1)

with 5 comments

Many liquids can be added to sourdough starters. Apart from water, the most common are probably fruit juices, beers and milk products. All of them contain natural sugars that might hasten the fermentation and also lead to a better crust color. Milk contains fat, which may soften the dough and lower gas retention. What about vitamin C – a substance which is known to strengthen gluten. Is it still effective when added with apple juice? How does the flavor and the aroma of the bread change, what are the effects on crust and crumb, how do juices and dairy products affect dough stability?

Answering these questions seems to be out of reach for me, but it is interesting to experiment with different products and look at the effect on the finished loaf. By the way, there are many recipes making use of interesting liquids in The handmade loaf written by Dan Lepard (even cucumber pickle juice).

This is a loaf made with apple juice and yoghurt. I have made this bread before a couple of times. Obviously, it is very hard to comment on improvements over recipes that use water only. I think it has a crispier crust with a more balanced flavor; even burnt bits taste malty and good. The crumb has a more pronounced aroma and feels very moist. Maybe I am chasing ghosts here or just feel like experimenting.

Next will be a raisin-rye loaf with malt beer.

French wheaten rye


  • 60g strong white flour
  • 60g rye flour
  • 75g low-fat bio yoghurt
  • 75g bio applejuice
  • 10g (1 tsp) mature rye sourdough, hydration: 100%


  • 120g warm water
  • 220g strong white flour
  • 50g rye flour
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 3g fresh yeast
  • Sourdough

Bulk fermentation: 1.5 hours.
Final fermentation: 1-1.5 hours.
Bake-off: Bake for 10 minutes at 240°C and for further 30-35 minutes at 200°C.

Source: A variation on a recipe found in: Dan Lepard, Richard Whittington: Baking with passion.

Written by theinversecook

22 October 2007 at 01:08

5 Responses

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  1. My only experience is using mashed raisins (previously softened in hot water)in rye starter. The crumb was really colorful and tasted very good. With or without adding anything to your starters, your breads look always very nice!

    Mercedes Fernandez

    22 October 2007 at 13:06

  2. @ Mercedes: Thanks a lot; oh, the blessings of modern digital photography.

    About the raisins: Interesting idea. Maybe that’s how a local bakery make their excellent rye-raisin, I like to buy once in a while. The crumb looks darker than usual. I will try this in the next loaf. Regards. Nils.


    22 October 2007 at 15:44

  3. […] Edit, 23 March 2009: In case you’re wondering about the apple juice, please see a former post about ‘French Wheaten Rye’ from the book ‘Baking with passion&#8… […]

    • Hi,
      I am so glad to have read this post! I was just browsing Dan’s book and looked at that recipe and wondered what the bread would look like and here I see it in your post. Thank you so much for sharing. I can see that you also love breadmaking. I will definitely come back to you. ALl the best. Aga


      26 May 2011 at 23:17

      • Hi aga,
        it is a great tasting bread, the book is wonderful. Hope you’ll have fun making the loaf.



        29 May 2011 at 13:22

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