Millet Sourdough

Millet is a golden yellow seed that takes on a light, fluffy texture when cooked. It can be used in a variety of ways (including being the main ingredient in most bird seed mixes…) but in bread it gives a warm colour and a deep, almost corn-like flavour to the finished loaf. Millet comes in a variety of forms; millet flour, hulled millet, millet flakes and whole millet. For this recipe, I have used hulled millet, soaked overnight then cooked and cooled slightly before using in the recipe. On one of the loaves, I also added a coating of millet flakes to give extra crunch to the crust.

Cooked millet
Cooked millet

Millet sourdough makes 2 loaves

  • 200g hulled millet, soaked overnight
  • 200g rye starter @ 100% hydration
  • 350g strong white flour
  • 400g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 450g water
  • 20g salt
  • millet flakes, to coat (optional)
  1. Drain and rinse the millet, then cook in double the volume of water for around 20 minutes until soft and fluffy. Drain, if necessary, and leave to cool for at least half an hour.
  2. Combine all ingredients except the millet, mixing thoroughly. Autolyse for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the millet and knead for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer to an oiled bowl and bulk ferment for 4-5 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Divide and shape the dough into two rounds. Rest for 5 minutes, then reshape into rounds and place into bannetons well floured with rice flour.
  6. Proof for 1 and a half hours.
  7. Preheat oven to maximum. If you have one, place a pizza stone or baking stone on the middle shelf. Place an empty baking dish on the bottom of the oven.
  8. Turn out the first loaf onto a well floured bread peel or the back of a baking sheet. Score, then slide into the oven (if you do not have a stone, bake directly on a floured baking sheet). Pour a cup of boiling water into the baking dish at the bottom of the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 240˚C and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate loaf, reduce heat to 210˚C and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  9. Cool on a wire rack, repeat with the remaining loaf.
Slashed loaf ready to bake
Slashed loaf ready to bake
Finished loaves, one without flake crust (left), one with
Finished loaves, one without flake crust (left), one with
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Bag end sourdough

I have mentioned the state of my pantry before, a couple of times in fact… I have a bad habit of buying a lot of different kinds of flour, grain, and other bread related ingredients and then using all but the scant end of a bag, which proceeds directly to the back of the shelf. Following on from the previous bread, which was an attempt to use up a half bag of buckwheat flour, I decided to make a “throw-everything-at-it” loaf to clear even more space. This time, I managed to clean out an assorted seven bags and jars, leaving my shelves sparkling; for a week or so at least.

This unglamorous sounding bread contains a grain soaker of bulgur wheat, rolled spelt grain and wholemeal oats. The combination could be replaced with any number of whole grains and ingredients, including rice, quinoa, amaranth, or whatever else is lying around. It all tastes good. The overnight soak is important for many of these ingredients to begin enzyme activity, increase flavour and, in some cases, remove saponins. It also allows for the grains to be used in the loaf without pre-cooking, which adds both to the nutritional content and the texture.

sourdough
The colour comes from the spelt, and texture from the additions of bulgur wheat and whole grains

The bulk of the loaf comes from a combination of spelt flour and barley bran. Again, this could be replaced in equal amounts by any combination of flours, but bear in mind that the gluten content of flours is different, as is the way in which they absorb liquids, so you may need to adjust the water content until the texture feels right. I made three small loaves – two in loaf tins and one boule – but these quantities could also be used to make two larger loaves.

Bag End Sourdough makes 3 small or 2 large loaves

  • 200g assorted whole grains (I used 50g bulgur wheat, 100g rolled spelt and 50g oats)
  • 200g water
  • 400g rye starter at 150% hydration
  • 500g water
  • 800g assorted flour (I used 100g barley bran and about 350g each of wholemeal and white spelt flour)
  • 20g salt
  1. The night before baking, combine the grains and 200g water. Refresh the starter at the same time. Leave overnight.
  2. In the morning, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Autolyse for 30 minutes.
  3. Knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and is able to stretch without tearing.
  4. Bulk ferment for 4-5 hours, until the dough has almost doubled in size.
  5. Divide and shape the dough. Divide into two or three portions, shape each into a rough ball and rest for five minutes. Shape into the final desired loaf.
  6. Rest for 1-2 hours, until visibly risen.
  7. Preheat oven to max. If using, place a Dutch oven on the middle shelf.
  8. If baking n a Dutch oven, bake at 240˚C with the lid on for 30 minutes, then 230˚C for 15 minutes with the lid off.
  9. If baking loaves, bake at 220˚C for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 180˚C and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Two small loaves shaped from the same dough and baked in 600g loaf tins
Two small loaves shaped from the same dough and baked in 600g loaf tins
boule
The crust on the boule is noticeably different to that of the loaves due to the different baking technique used

 

I have submitted this post to http://www.wildyeastblog.com/ ; let’s hope that it gets a few people interested!

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.