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Barm is the foam or scum formed on the top of a fermenting liquid, such as beer, wine,[1] or feedstock for spirits or industrial ethanol distillation. It was used to leaven bread, or set up fermentation in a new batch of liquor. Barm, as a leaven, has also been made from ground millet combined with must out of wine-tubs[2] and is sometimes used in English baking as a synonym for a natural leaven.[3] Various cultures derived from barm, usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae, became ancestral to most forms of brewer's yeast and baker's yeast currently on the market.

Other uses[edit]

In parts of North West England and Yorkshire, a barm or barm cake is a common term for a soft, floury bread roll. Chip shops offer chip barms consisting of chips in a bread roll. They are also known as "chip butties" in some areas. Other areas describe such a roll as a "bap", "bread bun", "bread cake", "batch", or "blaa". These names are also used for yeast-leavened bread and do not imply the use of barm leaven.

In Ireland, barm is used in the traditional production of barmbrack, a fruited bread.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Barm" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 407.
  2. ^ Botham's of Whitby. "The story behind a loaf of bread".
  3. ^ Reinhart, Peter (1998). Crust and Crumb. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 1-58008-802-3. Reinhart derived the term from his training under Monica Spiller.