This sourdough uses a method from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice to increase the fermentation time, resulting in a more complex flavour and a well developed crumb. The method involves using cold water and an overnight fermentation, and I have added an extra proofing stage to help with the irregular, aerated crumb.
I shaped this batch of dough into 6 rough baguettes, two of which I cut into “épi” or “wheat” shaped loaves. This amount could be made into two free form loaves or three small tin loaves.
Wholemeal Spelt Sourdough
200g rye starter at 100% hydration
500g cold water
600g wholemeal spelt flour
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Rest for 20 min, then stretch and fold for 5 min.
2. Rest for 30 min, then stretch and fold a dozen times. Repeat this step twice more.
3. Refrigerate the dough in a bowl, covered in cling film, overnight.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge and rest at room temperature for two hours.
5. Divide the dough into 6 portions. Rest for 5 min, then stretch the dough out into rough baguette shapes. The dough is quite wet and slack, so either flour or water your hands and the work surface. Place each baguette onto baking paper on a baking tray.
6. Preheat oven to max. Proof loaves for one and a half hours. Slash baguettes just prior to baking.
7. If making épi, cut into the dough with a pair of scissors almost parallel to the surface of the dough. Swing the cut piece away from the dough but be careful not to cut all the way through. Repeat the cut, moving along the baguette, in roughly 8cm gaps.
8. Bake for 10 min, check and reduce temperature of necessary. Bake for a further 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
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.
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.
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.
50g rolled spelt grains
50g rolled wheat grains
25g red quinoa
200g water at room temperature
400g rye starter at 150% hydration
400g white baker’s flour
400g wholemeal spelt flour
all of the soaker
Two nights before making the dough, refresh 50g of rye starter with 100g rye flour and 150g water.
The night before making the bread, mix the soaker ingredients and cover. Refresh the starter with 100g rye flour and 150g water.
The morning of making the bread, mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Autolyse for 20 minutes.
Stretch/fold the dough 10 times, rotating the bowl. Cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat three times.
Stretch/fold the dough 10 times every half an hour for three hours (six times). Cover and leave the dough for one more hour.
Divide and shape the dough, and place into bannetons extremely well-floured with rice flour.
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.
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.
Repeat with the remaining loaf. Cool loaves on a wire rack before slicing.
This recipe was the first I created by myself, based on what I had learned from books such as Peter Rhiehart’s The bread baker’s apprentice, and the first book on sourdough I bought, Wild Sourdough by Yoke Mardewi.
It came about from a desire to explore different blends of flour and baking techniques, and to move away from some of the rigid recipe instructions I had been following and towards finding a method that would work for me.
It remains my go-to bread, and there are usually a couple of slices lurking in the freezer. It is also a good use of my rye starter: I had been finding that my starter did not always give the best results, especially with some of the Rhinehart recipes which call for large amounts of ‘barm’ or wet starter. Once I started playing around with this recipe, however, I found that I was able to control the flavour and rise of the loaf with much less wasted starter.
There are a number of reasons that many sourdough recipes call for large amounts of starter, most of which is discarded. A large volume of starter loses heat more gradually, and is therefore more reliable and predictable. A starter with a high hydration (more water) will produce a loaf that is less ‘sour’, because of the lower amount of acetic acid produced, and some prefer this. In my experience, however, these high hydration starter recipes call for a lot of feeding and throwing away of excess starter, which seems wasteful. They are also often geared around commercial bakeries, and I don’t think that the home baker needs to be too concerned about the fine details all of the time.
So, for this bread at least I’ll stick to my stiff, recently fed starter. If I begin with a tablespoon of starter, feed it 2 nights before baking with 100g each of flour and water, and repeat 1 night before, then I find I end up with enough for this recipe plus enough to stir back into the jar in the fridge.
Barley and wheat bran miche makes one large miche or boule
230g rye flour starter, fed at least 8 hours before with 100g flour and 100g water
75g barley flour
25g wheat bran
400g strong white bread flour
Mix ingredients in a large bowl and rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is elastic, smooth and no longer sticky.
Bulk ferment (first rise) the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, covered with cling film, for 4-5 hours or until doubled.
Tip out and shape into a boule. Proof in a well floured banneton or lightly oiled bowl for 2 hours, or until the dough is risen.
Preheat oven to maximum with a pizza stone on the middle shelf (or an upturned baking tray). Tip the dough out onto a floured bread peel or upside down baking tray and slide into the oven onto the stone. Bake for 10 minutes at max then turn the oven down to 210°C and bake for 35 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.
It is also possible to retard the dough overnight in the fridge. After shaping, place into a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight. The following morning preheat the oven and bake straight from the fridge.