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Masa Mater’s formula (after this, nothing secret)

Manel Porcar is a microbiologist and amateur baker. He has worked in several laboratories in Spain (Valencia, Pamplona), USA (University of Berkeley) and France (Institut Pasteur). He leads the Biotechnology group of I2SysBio, a mixed center of the University of Valencia and CSIC. Its specialty is the search for environmental microorganisms with industrial application.

He has been making bread at home for a decade and is the alchemist behind Masa Mater, the mass powder with selected natural microorganisms.

If you’ve come to this blog, you’ll probably know, but just in case we make it clear: sourdough is a symbiotic crop (i.e. bugs that live together) of yeasts and bacteria that has been used to make bread since the night of time, and was replaced not so long ago by the bland industrial yeast (yes, that of the gas gas station bread , but also from many bakeries).

The world’s best bakeries, however, use sourdough instead of industrial pressed yeast,and hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world – among us – have developed their own sourdough to make bread at home.

Making sourdough is not complicated. There are hundreds of tutorials on the Internet, but basically it consists of making a paste with water and flour and letting the microorganisms of the latter colonize the dough and fill it with bubbles. It is necessary to have patience, because it takes several days (you have to make the famous daily soft drinks, which consist of discarding part of the dough and adding more flour and water), because the result is difficult to predictable (it can be contaminated with undesirable bacteria, and this does not smell good), and because it is preserved with some difficulty. If you don’t make bread every day and/or go on vacation, you’ll need to store the sourdough in the fridge. But on your return from Cancun, you won’t be able to take it out and make bread without more, but you’ll have to make some refreshments again (days) before it’s ready. That’s it, if it hasn’t been ruined…

 

formula masa madre

 

Those of us who have made Masa Mater have conventional sourdoughs in our fridge, and in no way do we reneging in this wonderful way of making bread. But we have other jobs and we don’t want to be always keeping an eye on the clock, the fungi that contaminate our dough or that it’s not ready when we want to make a bread. That’s why we thought it would be great to be able to make a great sourdough bread, but quick and uncomplicated. That “look, tomorrow I want to eat a natural bread, rye, raisins and nuts”. And we started thinking about how to make something come true that, until now, was impossible.

 

There was, until today, no “instant” sourdough. All that is on the market are actually two large food groups: “inactive” sourdoughs (i.e. dead sourdough extracts, which give flavor but do not raise bread, unless they carry added industrial yeast), and “starters”. The latter are usually “real” mother masses, in the sense that, in addition to flour, they contain living microorganisms. However, they are at such a low concentration that starters are not able to ferment bread directly, but need several soft drinks daily before they can be used to make bread.

Our idea was simple but daring: to create a mass of mother powder, with a lot of natural microorganisms in a high quality flour, so that it could be added to a mixture of flour, water and salt, and make bread directly (with a long fermentation in between, that is).

 

We did hundreds of tests

We combined dozens of natural microorganisms isolated from sourdoughs, until we find the combination that – in all our tastings – won by beating. A floral touch of Lactobacillus plantarum over here, an acidic pinch of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis over there, a milky note of Lactobacillus brevis and the aroma of a wild strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. That’s Masa Mater: a combination of natural microorganisms selected in the form of a mass powder and ready to use.

To make sure that the microorganisms arrive alive and kicking into your home (and your oven), they have undergone freeze-dried, which consists simply of freezing them at very low temperature and then subjecting them to a vacuum, thus completely dehydrated even if they remain active, ready to take action as soon as you mix them with the rest of the ingredients. That is why it is advisable to keep your Masa Mater envelope in the fridge: this way the microorganisms will keep their activity and the flour will retain its freshness for months.

 

Masa Mater does not pollute, you do not have to “refresh” it, always give a bread of the highest quality and does not fail. You can take it on a trip and make bread anywhere you have an oven. You can make bread every day or go weeks without it. He’ll wait for you. You can mix it with strength flour, baker, wholemeal, or combine any of them. You only have to adjust the amount of water to your liking.

As for the fermentation time, it’s not short, frankly. But that’s where all the flavor of good bread develops. That’s why we think sourdough should have the exact formula for bread to rise in our sleep. In summer, put your mater dough at the last minute and finish it the next morning. In winter it starts a few hours before (or bakes a few hours later). Remember: most of the process will happen while you sleep. You rest, that your bread of mass mater is made – practically – alone.

 

We are so sure that Masa Mater will fall in love with you that after our SECALE we will draw a range to make very varied breads, with spectacular flours and ingredients, and all of them will share the unique quality of sourdough. The usual natural sourdough, with all its properties, but easy and fast. That’s Masa Mater.

Why hadn’t it been done before? Good question.

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