Monday, August 01, 2011
New Month - New Bread
It was difficult to bake bread for a while since the Bread Baker's Dog died but this past weekend it seemed like the reluctance had vanished like the early morning fog that has been keeping our temperatures so moderate.
The sourdough starter gets fed regularly even when I don't bake but it seems a shame to actually toss out the 'toss off'. When I fed it on Wednesday I took that cup of old starter and put it in a bowl, then added a cup of flour mixed with a cup of water. It sat out on the counter a couple of hours, then sat covered in the fridge until Saturday morning when the notion to bake bread pushed at me again. Once that enriched starter warmed up a bit I added another cup of flour and water mixed and let it sit for a couple of hours on the counter, again, until I had time to begin making the dough described below. You could probably start with a cup of active sourdough and add 2 cups flour mixed with 2 cups of water, let sit 2 hours and begin the dough the same day. I like to give the mixture time in the fridge to develop flavor, but it does stretch the recipe out to at least a couple of days.
One of my favorite ways to create bread is to start with a cooked and cooled grain and some sourdough starter and just go with it. This time around I cooked up some spelt, using a cup of Bob's Red Mill flattened whole grain flakes. Spelt absorbs a lot of water naturally. By cooking the grain first you get that water into the grain so that it doesn't come out of the water used to create the bread dough, plus the grains softens a bit. Just be sure to let it cool down so it doesn't mess with those yeasties. Since I had some stone-ground whole wheat flour from the Bale Grist Mill, too, I used 2 cups of that and two cups unbleached bread flour. This was a lean bread with no added butter, oil, eggs or dairy.
A little more than half of the dough went into a nice braid and the rest had about a half cup mixed seeds kneaded in...I love seedy bread...and was then shaped into a loaf.
Both were delicious! The braid probably was allowed to rise too long, or else it had amazing oven spring because the middle sort of blew out, messing up the braid a bit. Both were delicious while warm and both made great toast. I had some of the seedy bread for lunch today with peanut butter, mayo and bananas and it was super good!
You can substitute your favorite grain for the spelt...oatmeal works really well and so does mixed grain flakes...by cooking it the way you would for breakfast cereal, then letting it cool. If it lumps up try to break the lumps up before adding to the sourdough starter mixture. You can also use a different grain for the whole wheat flour if you like. As always, pay attention to the dough, letting a cup or so at a time of flour incorporate as you go so that you don't add too much. If in doubt, use less flour than you think you need rather than more than you think you need. The yeast will thank you with a nice artisan crumb.
I'm sending this over the Yeastspotting, Susan of Wild Yeast's weekly yeasted bread collection. If you love yeasted baked goods you will love Yeastspotting...check it out!
Stone-ground Whole Wheat Sourdough with Spelt and Seeds - makes two loaves
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups water, divided
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup spelt flakes
1 tablespoon honey
2 1/4 cups bread flour (white, unbleached)
2 cups stone ground wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
spray cooking oil
1.2 cup mixed seeds (poppy, sesame, flax, sunflower, etc)
1 teaspoon water
seed for the top (optional)
In a medium bowl combine 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with 1 cup of the water and whisk until smooth. In a larger bowl, whisk that mixture into 1 cup sourdough starter until fully combined. Let the mixture sit out, uncovered, on the counter for 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to three days.
Remove the mixture from the fridge, uncover and let warm up. Whisk to combine the more liquid part with the more solid part. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with 1 cup of the water and whisk until smooth. Add this mixture to the mixture that was in the fridge and whisk to combine well. Let the mixture sit out, uncovered, on the counter for 2 hours.
While the sourdough mixture is sitting on the counter, put the 1 1/2 cups cereal water in a small pot. When it comes to a boil, whisk in the spelt flakes. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a pot lid, and let cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sourdough that has sat for 2 hours at room temperature, the cooled cooked spelt (be sure to break up any lumps that formed in the cooled cooked spelt before adding to the the sourdough mixture),and the honey. Stir with a spoon to combine.
In a large bowl or measuring cup combine the bread flour, stone ground whole wheat flour, and salt. Stir 1 cup of this mixture into the bowl with the sourdough mixture until combined.
Place the stand mixer bowl with the sourdough mixture into the stand mixer and attach the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture a cup at a time until there is only about a cup left not added. Be sure the flour mixture is incorporated into the dough before add the next cup. Now start adding the flour mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. The dough should be all the way up the dough hook and starting the clean the sides of the bowl as it kneads. Continue to add the flour mixture as needed , but add less flour rather than more if in doubt.
Let the machine knead the dough for 5-8 minutes once all the flour has been added. Then turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand another few minutes. Dough will be satiny but not smooth (due to the spelt).
Use spray oil to oil a large bowl or rising container. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Turn to coat the ball completely with oil. Cover (I use a shower cap or plastic wrap) and let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in bulk about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured board. Use a bench scraper or knife to divide the dough in two.( I had one part slightly larger than the other so that I could make a good sized braid and a smaller loaf.) Punch down to de-gas. Return one piece of dough to the rising bowl or container.
Shape the first piece of dough as you like. To make a braid, divide the dough into thirds, roll each with the palms and fingers spread to make a rope about 14 inches long. Line the three ropes up on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Starting in the middle, braid the strands as you would hair. Turn the baking sheet and braid the other half. Tuck the ends under, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.
To the second piece of dough add the seeds. My favorite method is to pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, sprinkle about 1/2 of the seeds over the dough, then roll up like a jelly roll. Fold the ends of the roll toward the center and then flatten the dough again into a rectangle. Sprinkle on the rest of the seeds, roll up jelly roll fashion again, then knead the dough for a minute to distribute the seeds. Flatten the dough one more time and shape into a loaf. Place in a greased loaf pan and let rise, covered, until doubled in bulk and the pan is filled with dough. Usually the loaf will rise over the top of the pan in the oven (oven spring) so I bake it when it has reached the rim of the pan.
If you like you can coat one or both loaves with egg wash. I also added some poppy seeds on the top of the seedy loaf and decided to not wash the braid since I liked the floury look of it.
Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F. oven for about 55 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, or when instant read thermometer is about 200.
Let baked bread cool on a rack. If you can resist cutting into the bread until it has cooled somewhat. The lovely fragrance of yeasted bread makes it difficult not to gobble it up right away but the texture is much better when it is cooler.