Wholegrain and millet sourdough

In the last post, I experimented with the amount of sourdough starter, and the effect that it had on the final taste and texture of the loaf. This time around, I decided to completely overhaul my usual method for sourdough, and try something new – a firm starter.

firm_sourdoug_starter
A firm sourdough starter, cut up and ready to go into the dough

Usually, I use between 20 – 40% of starter, made from a 1:1 mix of rye flour and water (for an explanation of the %, see my previous post on baker’s percentages). I find that this “100% hydration” starter give reliable results, but, as I’m always interested in finding out new methods, I decided to give the firm starter method a try.

The process began by converting my usual starter to a white flour starter – basically, feeding it with white instead of rye flour. The initial mix was actually wetter than I usually use: 130g of water to 100g of flour, making a foamy and light batter. This, as explained below, was finally built up into a firm dough, briefly kneaded, and then left overnight before beginning the bread.

Wholegrain sourdough dough
The dough with flecks of yellow millet

The bread itself rose very well (for one loaf, it rose too well, leading to an unsuccessful loaf that I will be writing about later!) and, after retarding overnight in the refrigerator, baked into a great looking loaf with a golden crust and light, open crumb.

wholegrain_millet_sourdough
The finished loaf – wholegrain and millet sourdough

Wholegrain and millet sourdough – makes 3 small loaves

Firm starter

  • 250g white plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 450g white starter at 130% hydration

Dough

  • 650g firm starter
  • 200g wholegrain flour
  • 50g millet meal
  • 450g white plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 19g salt
  • 420g water at room temperature
  1. This recipe takes a few days to plan ahead – I refreshed my starter with white flour on Wednesday, built it up to about 250g on Thursday, and made the firm starter on Friday. Mix the wet starter and flour together, and knead for several minutes to combine. Refrigerate the starter, covered, overnight.
  2. Cut the firm starter into pieces, and add the remaining ingredients. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Place into a bowl and bulk ferment for 4 hours.
  3. Divide and shape the dough into 3 small boules (at this stage, I shaped into one small and one large loaf – the large loaf, it turned out, was a bad idea…). Place boules into floured bannetons. Proof for 3 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate, well covered overnight.
  4. On the morning of baking, take the first loaf out of the fridge and preheat the oven to maximum with a lidded cast iron pot (“Dutch oven”) on the middle shelf. Bake the first loaf for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 15 with the lid off. Repeat with the remaining loaves, removing each from the fridge whilst one is baking.
  5. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.
proofing_doughs
The risen dough (including the large loaf which later proved to be a bit tricky…)

Throughout this post I’ve mentioned a loaf that didn’t quite work. For reasons I’ll explain in a later post, the large loaf that is in some of the pictures did not come out very well – the interior was fine, but the exterior was pale and not very well crisped up. Trying out new methods sometimes gives disappointing results, but the small loaf came out very well!

wholegrainmilletsourdough
The small boule, which came out at about 500g. Great colour, taste and texture

Red quinoa sourdough

Cooked quinoa gives a slightly nutty taste and a chewy texture to this bread, and using red quinoa specifically gives the loaf a dramatic colour. I have used quinoa in sourdough breads before, but never in this quantity – the finished loaf is peppered with quinoa throughout the crust and crumb.

Mix thoroughly before autolysing
Mix thoroughly before autolysing

This is another high hydration loaf that benefits from the “stretch and fold” method of kneading. The quinoa adds a little water to the mix too, but shouldn’t be a problem as long as it is worked in with the rest of the ingredients.

Soaking the quinoa
Soaking the quinoa

Red Quinoa Sourdough makes 2 large loaves

  • 250g red quinoa, soaked overnight, cooked and cooled
  • 400g rye starter at 150% hydration
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 400g wholemeal flour
  • 20g salt
  • 650g lukewarm water
  1. Refresh the starter at least 8 hours prior to mixing, or overnight.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Autolyse for 20 minutes.
  3. Stretch/fold the dough 10 times. Rest in the bowl for 10 minutes, then repeat this process twice more.
  4. Stretch/fold every 30 minutes for the first three hours of the bulk ferment (6 times in total).
  5. Rest for a further one and a half hours.
  6. Divide the loaves and shape into rounds. Rest for 5 minutes, then shape and place into well floured bannetons. I flour my bannetons with rice flour. Flour the loaves well and place into plastic bags.
  7. Retard in the fridge overnight.
  8. The day of baking, preheat the oven to 235˚C with a ‘Dutch oven‘ (le creuset style pan with lid) on the middle shelf.
  9. Bake the first loaf straight from the fridge: turn the loaf out onto a well floured bread peel or the back of a baking tray. Remove the Dutch oven carefully, and take off the lid. Slide the loaf into the Dutch oven, replace the lid, and place back into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and a further 15 minutes with the lid off.
  10. Repeat with the remaining loaf.
  11. Cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.
The finished loaf
The finished loaf
Red quinoa studded crust
Red quinoa studded crust
The interior of the loaf is also filled with quinoa and tastes fantastic
The interior of the loaf is also filled with quinoa and tastes fantastic
And the best way to use the bread is...
And the best way to use the bread is…

 

multigrain loaves

Multigrain sourdough

Whole, soaked grains add a fantastic flavour and extra nutrition to a loaf of bread. Over the weekend, since we were running low, I decided to make two large loaves of sourdough with a range of different grains and seeds thrown into the mix.

soaker
Spelt, wheat, polenta, quinoa and linseed ready for an overnight soak.

In order to get the best out of the grains, both in terms of flavour and digestibility, an overnight soaking is required. I timed this loaf to be baked on the same day of mixing – no overnight retardation. This meant that the starter needed refreshing a couple of days before, and on the night before at the same time as mixing the soaker. I also wanted to push the hydration of this loaf up to give it a lighter texture, so I increased the amount of water I normally use both in the starter and the loaf itself. In order to develop the gluten in the dough, I have used the “stretch/fold” method of kneading. Whilst the timings may seem a little over the top (a quick knead every ten minutes, then every half an hour) it is really very easy and does a fantastic job.

dough_in_bannetons
The (very wet) dough proofing in well-floured bannetons.

This loaf uses a combination of rye flour from the starter, and wholemeal spelt and white baker’s flour for the dough. The rye and spelt give an excellent flavour and colour, whilst the white flour lightens the texture further – something which can occasionally be an issue in wholemeal multigrain breads.

Soaker

  • 50g rolled spelt grains
  • 50g rolled wheat grains
  • 50g polenta
  • 25g red quinoa
  • 25g linseed
  • 200g water at room temperature

Dough

  • 400g rye starter at 150% hydration
  • 400g white baker’s flour
  • 400g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 650g water
  • 20g salt
  • all of the soaker
  1. Two nights before making the dough, refresh 50g of rye starter with 100g rye flour and 150g water.
  2. The night before making the bread, mix the soaker ingredients and cover. Refresh the starter with 100g rye flour and 150g water.
  3. The morning of making the bread, mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Autolyse for 20 minutes.
  4. Stretch/fold the dough 10 times, rotating the bowl. Cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat three times.
  5. Stretch/fold the dough 10 times every half an hour for three hours (six times). Cover and leave the dough for one more hour.
  6. Divide and shape the dough, and place into bannetons extremely well-floured with rice flour.
  7. Proof for two hours at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 240°C with a Dutch Oven (Le Creuset style cast iron pot with lid) on the middle shelf.
  8. Upturn the bread onto a well floured peel. Carefully remove the Dutch Oven, remove the lid, slide the loaf in, replace the lid and place in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 15 minutes with the lid off. Reduce temperature to 230°C if the loaf looks too dark.
  9. Repeat with the remaining loaf. Cool loaves on a wire rack before slicing.
multigrain loaves
The finished loaves. The contrast of the rye/spelt and the white rice flour gives the loaves a dramatic look. The cracking on the top is from the rising of the bread, not from scoring.
cracked_crust
There is enough leavening power in the starter to force these cracks.