GILDING THE SOURDOUGH LOAF

Two sourdough posts in a row! But this one brings back the subject to its most classic use: a rustic bread made less rustic with a razor blade and a ton of fun. Here is my baby, all dressed up for party!

CLASSIC SOURDOUGH BREAD
(adapted from Anna Gabur)

for the levain:
120g water
40g starter
40g whole-wheat flour
80g all-purpose white flour

for the final dough:
Half of the levain above (about 140g)
375g water
50g spelt flour
150g whole-wheat flour
300g bread flour
10g salt dissolved in 15g water

Make the levain mixture about 6 hours before you plan to mix the dough. It should be very bubbly and active.

When you are ready to make the final dough, dissolve half the prepared levain in water (375g), then add all flours. Save the remaining levain in the fridge for later.  Mix well with your hands until a shaggy dough forms.  Leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add the salt dissolved in the remaining water, and incorporate by folding repeatedly the dough over itself. Now let the dough ferment for a total of 4 hours, folding a few times every 40 minutes. You don’t have to be precise, but allow the full four hours fermentation to take place.

Shape as a round ball and place inside a banetton covered with a cloth and lightly floured. Keep it in the fridge overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.

Next morning, heat the oven to 450F.

Invert the dough on a piece of parchment paper and lightly, very lightly coat it with flour, then rub all over the surface with the palm of your hand. Score the guiding lines according to the desired pattern, use a razor blade to slash the dough with firm, short slashes.

Bake at 450F for 45 minutes, preferably covered for the first 30 minutes to retain steam.  Cool completely over a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I love a rustic sourdough that is left untouched, opens up in the oven according to its own desire, or one that gets a very basic crisscrossed slash at the top to get things started. But I must admit it’s nice to work a little magic on the crust. However, my previous attempts failed to match my expectations. In other words, I had issues to transfer to the razor blade the image I had in my mind for the baked loaf.

A couple of weeks ago I found an online course taught by a gorgeous woman named Anna Gabur on artistic bread slicing. I asked myself, do I really need this? Not sure what happened, but before I could give an honest answer to that question, my paypal account was activated and the online class was playing on my screen. Very odd. Must be a computer virus or something. At any rate, I am very glad this odd phenomenon happened, because I loved the class, learned a lot and was very pleased with the results of my very first attempt. I followed her design very closely, but maybe at some point I’ll feel confident to come up with my own creations (fingers crossed).

Between you and me, I can hardly believe this bread came out of our own oven… I was in total awe when I opened the lid and saw the oven spring, the pattern, the crust starting to get golden. A real baker’s thrill…

I highly recommend that you get Anna’s course if you are passionate about bread baking. You don’t need to make a sourdough, any bread formula will work, as long as it’s not very high in hydration. You need some structure to be able to slash it, so high-hydration formulas won’t work as well. Also, it helps a lot if the bread gets its final fermentation in the fridge, so that its surface is tight and easier to slash. My loaf went straight from fridge to pre-heated oven, it took me less than 10 minutes to finish the slashing, and I bet most people can do it much faster.  You’ll need a regular razor blade that you will hold between two fingers, not using a lame holder. And, according to Anna, one blade should last you for about 5 loaves. It needs to be truly sharp. She makes it seem so easy, it is a pleasure to watch her in real-time making a very elaborate design on the loaf. You can also marvel at all her photos on Instagram.

The bread had excellent taste and crust, the crumb was not super open, but that was expected from a bread with a lower hydration level.

Anna has quite a few articles about bread baking written on her blog, like this one that goes over basics of artistic slashing, and this one that shares her favorite bread formula. If you’d like to sign up for her online tutorial, follow this link.    She lives in Moldova, and often has to adapt her bread baking for the types of flour she can find. I often get a bit upset with “trendy” bread cookbooks that insist you must obtain the flour that was milled 4 days ago under a full moon, otherwise don’t bother making the recipe.   All you truly need is flour, water, a bit of yeast, a touch of salt, and the right amount of passion… Anna’s masterpieces prove this point!

 

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SUNFLOWER SEED KAMUT SOURDOUGH

Inspired by classic recipes around, this bread is for those who love a little texture with their soft crumb, and a very mild sourdough taste. The kamut flour makes the crumb slightly more “creamy” than a sourdough made exclusively with white flour. You can substitute it with spelt, whole wheat, or semolina flour, all will work well in the formula.

SUNFLOWER SEED KAMUT SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100 g sourdough starter at 100% hydration
110 g water, at room temperature
200 g bread flour
50 g kamut flour (or another flour of your choice)
100 g sunflower seeds, toasted
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Combine the flours with the toasted sunflower seeds and the salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix the water with the sourdough starter, dissolving it gently. Add the honey and the yeast, mix to combine.

Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the flour mixture, and incorporate it all using your hands. It will be pretty shaggy, once it’s more or less incorporated, allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead briefly on a surface coated with oil (avoid adding more flour), allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead briefly again, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Knead briefly one last time and let the dough rest for 1 hour.

Shape it as a ball, place in a banetton with the seam side up to rise for 2 hours.

Invert it on a piece of parchment paper, slash the surface and bake in a 450 F oven for 40 minutes, with initial steam.

Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here 

Comments: This recipe makes a reasonably small loaf, perfect for the two of us to enjoy and then freeze a few more slices for delayed bread pleasure. The toasted sunflower seeds have almost a popcorn flavor, do not skip the toasting part because it is a game changer in this type of bread.

A perfect match for this sourdough is a slice of Roquefort cheese. Something about the sunflower seeds meeting the salty and sharp nature of the blue cheese makes it all pretty hard to resist.

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SALZBURG SOURDOUGH

So many months without baking a single sourdough bread! The problem is we don’t eat a lot of bread. One bake lasts us for a long time, as after enjoying a couple of slices, the rest goes straight to the freezer. But I am still quite passionate about bread baking, and have a list of recipes I intend to try. They just sit and wait, poor things. Like this one, from Discovering Sourdough Part II, by Teresa Greenway. In theory, you need a specific sourdough strain from Austria, but I used my good American sourdough, born 9 years ago in Oklahoma, and headed to his teenage years in Kansas. I am sure Teresa will forgive me. But, did you know you can actually buy many sourdough starters from all over the world? Pretty amazing. Take a look at this site. Of course, over a long period of time a sourdough might change and incorporate yeast and bacteria from the new environment, but it’s fun to start from a pure culture born in some exotic, distant place. In the site, they actually dispute the claim that cultures change, but until I see solid scientific evidence it’s all a bit in the air (pun intended).

 

SALZBURG SOURDOUGH
(printed with permission from Teresa Greenway)
(I modified slightly to make a single loaf and use my preferred method of baking)

1 cup Austrian sourdough starter at 166% hydration  (9 oz)
3/4 cups water  (6 oz)
3 oz  evaporated milk
0.6 oz  rye flour
14 oz bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

Mix all ingredients, except salt, just until incorporated and then allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes (autolysis).

After autolysis, add salt and mix dough on low-speed for about 2 minutes. Then let the dough bulk ferment (first rise) for 6 hours or until doubled. Fold it once each hour during the six-hour bulk fermentation. After bulk fermentation, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead enough to gather into a ball.  Shape it into the general shape you wish and then allow the dough to rest for 5 – 10 minutes (bench rest). After benching shape loaves into their final shapes and put them into the proofing baskets, pans, or couche. Cover the dough with plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, allow the dough to final proof for 2 – 3 hours (whenever the dough looks about 1 ½ times its size and is spongy) then turn dough out on peel and slash, cover with roasting lid moistened with water, and bake in a 425F degree oven for 30 minutes. Alternatively, use your favorite method to generate initial steam. After 30 minutes, remove roasting lid, turn down the oven to 400F degrees and continue baking for about 10-15 more minutes, turning halfway for even browning. Bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200-205F.

Take out loaf and cool on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: Inspired by my friend Elaine,  I decided to be a bit more daring and creative with the slashing. Elaine always comes up with amazing patterns on her bread. So I took a deep breath and went at it with a razor blade. I love the way the bread turned out, and intend to keep practicing, as the slashes on top were not exactly the way I wanted.

My sourdough ended up quite assertive this time – it was hibernating in the fridge for a very long time, so I refreshed it and fed it daily for a full week before making the bread. Not sure if that affected the level of acidity, but it was really good. Teresa’s recipes all call for 166% hydration, which is easily translated into equal volumes of flour and water. It is easy because you won’t even need a scale to keep the starter going, simply pick your desired volume, and mix half and half.  I refreshed it using 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. It ends up close enough to 166% hydration. For the final starter, I just made a bit more than needed for the bread, so I could keep it for the next baking adventure.

And once again, we have great bread stored in our freezer, although some members of our home hoped that one or two slices would fall to the floor instead… Or at least a few crumbs…

Teresa, thanks for giving me permission to publish this great recipe!

 

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HAZELNUT BLUE CHEESE SOURDOUGH

I am very excited about this bread, because I came up with the formula myself. Well, that is not completely true, as we all follow the footsteps of more experienced folks. Sometimes a dear Grandma, a favorite cookbook author or celebrity chef (excuse me while I try to control my eye roll, the word celebrity does that to me. Every. Single. Time). Back to the bread in question. I had hazelnuts in my mind and thought they would be wonderful added to a rustic sourdough bread. I also had a small amount of blue cheese in the fridge (Bleu d’Auvergne, to be precise), and decided that they could interact nicely with the hazelnuts in the bread environment.  I used a very basic recipe that did not need any special type of starter.  A little spelt flour for added pizzazz. And there you have it, a sourdough bread to call my own. But I would be thrilled if you make it in your kitchen too…

Hazelnut Blue Cheese Sourdough
HAZELNUT BLUE CHEESE SOURDOUGH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

125 g  sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
250 g water, warm to the touch
300 g bread flour
75 g spelt flour
7 g salt
60 g roasted hazelnuts, chopped in large pieces
50 g blue cheese (I used Bleu d’Auvergne)

Add the active starter to a large bowl, mix it with the water until it dissolves more or less smoothly. Add the flours and briefly do a few kneading moves to form a shaggy mess.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt over the dough and incorporate by kneading lightly and folding the dough on itself.  You can keep the dough in the bowl, or transfer to a surface.  After 20-30 seconds of kneading/folding, cover the dough again and let it sit for 40 minutes.

Add the hazelnuts and blue cheese to the dough and repeat cycles of quick kneading/folding two more times, spacing them by 45 minutes.   If the dough doesn’t seem to have enough strength, incorporate one more cycle of folding. After the final kneading cycle, let the dough sit for 20 to 30 minutes, shape it as a round or oval loaf, place it in a banneton with the seam side up and leave it at room temperature  30 minutes longer. Place it in the fridge overnight, lightly covered with a plastic wrap (oil the surface that will be in contact with the dough).

Remove the dough from the fridge 1 hour before baking, while the oven heats to 450 F. If using a Dutch oven, place it in the cold oven as you turn it on. Invert the bread out of the banneton (the easiest way to do it is over a parchment paper on a flat baking sheet), quickly slash it and place it in the Dutch oven. To generate steam, cover the pan with the lid that you rinsed under the sink, allowing some water to be retained on the surface. Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes, remove cover, and allow it to fully bake (reducing the temperature to 425F if the bread seems to be browning too fast) for about 15 minutes longer.  Remove to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositehazelnut
Comments:  The blue cheese I used was quite strong, and until I tasted a slice of this bread I was quite worried. The smell as it baked was so intense, I thought that adding the cheese was overkill. Well, I was wrong. No need to worry at all. The cheese pretty much melted throughout the crumb, and gave it sort of background of flavor, almost smoky, although it could be the roasted hazelnuts speaking. Hard to tell. I love the way the crumb delicately involved each piece of nut, like little eggs in a nest.  And the taste? Incredible. I had to pat myself in the back for this bread, even if my parents insisted that modesty is one of the most important qualities of a human being. A pat in the back is not that bad, right? It’s  not as if I’m bragging to the world about it… what? Is that what blogging is about?  But, but, but… will you look at this crumb?

CrumbShot2

If that’s not a pat-in-the-back crumb, I don’t know what is… 

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KEN FORKISH’S PAIN AU BACON

PainAuBacon2It’s been a while since I baked a loaf of sourdough bread. A quick browse through my archives proves this sad turn of events: October 13th was my last adventure in the Land of the Wild Yeast. But, with so much going on, trips, busy schedule, I was forced to let my starter sleeping in the freezer a lot longer than I expected.  Finally, the second weekend of December shaped up as a perfect opportunity to resume bread baking. The weekend schedule seemed flexible enough – just a cocktail party Saturday night – and the perfect weather to crank the oven up all the way to 450 F.  Sometimes a tropical being is forced to find positive aspects in outside temperatures falling below 60 F.  I sat down next to our fireplace with quite a few of my bread cookbooks, and went through the very elaborate process of choosing which recipe to work on.  Keep in mind that if I have to dress up for a party, my outfit is decided in 5 minutes, accessories included. But choosing a sourdough bread takes me hours. And I mean  hours  in the strict sense of the term, in which 1 hour equals 360 seconds.  After intense mental struggle, I picked a winner from Ken Forkish’s book “Flour Water Salt Yeast“.   It was worth all the pacing back and forth, the many stick-it notes, and the snide remarks of the husband asking if I needed another couch to spread some more cookbooks. Very uncalled for. Obviously, I can only endure this type of treatment because I am an easy-going, serene, and forgiving human being. PainAuBacon1PAIN AU BACON
(recipe reprinted with permission from Ken Forkish)

Makes one loaf.

for the levain:
50 g mature active sourdough starter
200 g unbleached all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat flour
200 g lukewarm water

for the final dough:
432 g unbleached all-purpose flour
8 g whole wheat flour
343 g water (warmed to about 90 degrees F)
10 g fine sea salt
250 g (about 1/2 pound) bacon, fried to crispy, and then crumbled
1 T reserved bacon fat
108 g of the levain
.
Mix the levain ingredients in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for about 10 hours, until bubbly. In a large bowl mix the flours and water by hand until just incorporated. Cover and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes (that is the autolyse step).
.
Sprinkle the salt all over the flour mixture, then add the levain.  Using wet hands to prevent the dough from sticking, mix the dough by pinching it to distribute the salt. Cover and rest for 10 minutes.
.
Spread the bacon fat over the dough and add the crumbled bacon. Using the pincer method alternating with folding, mix all of the ingredients in the bucket. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it sit for 30 minutes. In the next 2 hours, stretch and fold the dough 4 times, every 30 minutes. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours, until about tripled in volume.

Gently shape the dough into a loose boule. Flour a banneton,  shape the dough into a medium tight ball and place it seam side down into the proofing banneton. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let the loaves proof for about 4 hours, depending on the room temperature.

About 45 minutes before baking, heat the oven to 475 degrees F with an empty covered Dutch oven placed on the middle rack.

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Place a piece of parchment over the banneton with the proofed bread inside, and a flat baking sheet over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and place the shaped boule in the Dutch oven using the parchment to help move it. The paper can stay in during baking.  Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven.  Wet the lid of the Dutch oven, and quickly use it to cover it. Alternatively, you can use your own favorite method to generate steam during baking.

Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then uncover it and bake it for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown.

Cool on a rack completely before devouring it…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  After such a long time away from my starter, I get a little anxious when baking a loaf like this.  I was particularly worried about leaving the dough to ferment at room temperature for 12 hours, something I had never done before.  But, the dough behaved exactly as Ken mentioned in the book.  Take a look at these couple of shots:

Before…
Before

After…
After

A very nice, soft, bubbly dough, quite easy to work with and shape as a boule.
Proofing

One of the things I love about Ken’s book, is that he offers a sample timeframe for all recipes. Just for fun, I include my notes, prepared the night before. On top you see his suggestion of timing, and as I move along, I jot down my actual timing, adapted to fit my schedule. If you have the book, you may notice I actually halved the recipe to make a single loaf instead of two.

Notes(click to enlarge, if so desired)

The subtle smell of bacon while the bread baked was wonderful!  I made this bread especially to share with my youngest stepson and our great friends from Oklahoma who were coming to visit us the following weekend. So, the bread cooled completely over a rack, rested for a day, and the following morning I sliced it and froze the slices, in small packages.  It is a perfect way to have bread as good as freshly baked at a moment’s notice.

Here is the mandatory crumb shot…
CrumbShot

And the slices on their way to the freezer…

Bagged

This was a superb loaf of bread!  In fact, when we served it – alongside a hearty pasta with Bolognese sauce – it was hard to believe that bacon was the only ingredient added. It tasted very complex, almost as if a mixture of nuts were also incorporated into the dough. Salty, spicy, and smoky at the same time.

Ken, thank you for allowing me to publish the recipe for one of the most flavorful loaves of bread I ever made!I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!

maracujaDad and son enjoying a nice passion fruit “caipirinha”…

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LIGHT RYE SOURDOUGH WITH CUMIN AND ORANGE

Where are the virtual fireworks when I need them? After months of neglect, my sourdough starter was brought back to the kitchen! I actually tried baking bread once a few weeks ago, but when I attempted to revive the sourdough “chips” I had prepared, the resulting starter refused to cooperate: it was sluggish, slow, not at all vibrant. This time I went back to my frozen little balls of starter and they jumped right back into action. For my first bread made in the Supernova, I chose a recipe from TxFarmer, who runs two blogs, one in Chinese and another at The Fresh Loaf Forum. She is very creative and always pushes the boundaries of sourdough baking. Without further ado, this is the first bread born in the confines of our new oven…

Orange Cumin Sourdough

LIGHT RYE SOURDOUGH WITH CUMIN AND ORANGE
(slightly adapted from TxFarmer’s recipe)

*Makes 1 X 700g loaf

Levain
68 g  dark rye flour
54 g water
4 g rye starter at 100% hydration

Mix and rise at room temp for 12 to 16 hours.

Final Dough
386 g bread flour
9 g salt
grated orange peel from 1 large orange
fresh orange juice from 1 orange plus water to 245 g
1/2 Tbsp cumin powder
122 g levain mixture

Mix everything except for salt, autolyse for 40 min.  Add salt and knead in a KitchenAid type mixer at medium speed for 4 minutes.

Bulk rise at room temp (~78F) for about 2.5hrs, with stretch and fold  at 30, 60, and 90 minutes.

Pre-shape into a ball, let the dough rest for 10  minutes, then shape and place in a floured banneton for the final rise.

Proof until the dough springs back slowly when pressed. It took me 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Bake at 450F for 40 to 45 minutes, the first 25 minutes with steam. Let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is a bread that screams for a bowl of chili, and that is exactly what I made on a Sunday afternoon.  I used our favorite recipe that simmers on the stove top for hours, but we did not touch it until next day.  That chili is good on the day it is made, but it turns into spectacular the day after.  Plus, what can be better than arriving home from work on a chilly Monday, and have dinner basically ready and waiting for you?

withChili

TxFarmer description of this baby was spot on, by the way.  The orange gives it a slight hint of sweetness, but the sourdough character of this bread is there.  The cumin is the touch of genius that makes this loaf superb with a bowl of chili or any type of spicy stew.  I could not have chosen a better loaf to inaugurate our Supernova!

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

loaf1

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SESAME AND FLAXSEED SOURDOUGH

This  loaf of bread was made on a whim on a busy weekend mainly devoted to the lab. Tired of refreshing my starter and putting it back in the fridge, I decided that – no matter what – we would be having home-made bread on Super Bowl Sunday.  I had to cheat, though. The dough got spiked with some commercial yeast to speed up fermentation. Let’s hope the Wild Yeast Gods will have mercy on me…  😉
boule1

SESAME AND FLAXSEED SOURDOUGH
(inspired by Hamelman’s Bread)

Starter mix:
2.4 oz bread flour
3 oz water at room temperature
1 Tablespoon mature sourdough culture

Soaker:
1.5 oz flax seeds (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup water at room temperature

final dough:
12 oz bread flour
1.6 oz rye flour
2 oz sesame seeds, toasted
5.7 oz water
10 g salt
all the soaker
4.8 oz starter mix (you will have a small amount left)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

Prepare the levain build 12-18 hours before making the final dough. Mix all ingredients and leave in a covered container at room temperature.  At the same time, make the soaker placing the flax seeds with water in a small bowl.  The seeds will expand quite a bit, so use a bowl that will allow that to happen without overflowing.

Next morning, make the final dough by mixing all the ingredients together in the bowl of a KitchenAid type mixer.  Mix on lowest speed for a couple of minutes.  Check the hydration level, adjust if necessary.  Increase speed to medium-low (level 3 of a KitchenAid), and mix for 3 to 4 minutes.

Let the dough ferment in a lightly oiled bowl for 2 and half hours, folding the dough twice at 50 minutes interval. After 2.5 hours, shape the dough as a ball and place in a suitable container for the final proofing.   My bread was ready to bake in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Bake in a 450 F oven for 45 minutes. If baking covered to generate steam, remove the cover after 30 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Whenever I bake a loaf of bread, I go into full scrutiny mode. I stare at the crust,  inspect the edge of the slashing,  and look for small blisters on the surface.  Then, after patiently waiting for the bread to cool,  I cut a slice and start the convoluted process of analyzing the crumb.  Phil knows better and allows me this important “bread-introspection” time before reaching to grab a piece. But, once he senses the green light, it never fails:  “This is good bread”.  Really, this bread is awesome!”   It gives me a thrill… I know he means it, and it puts all my bread scrutiny into perspective.   For instance, I had to stop beating myself up because the holes in the crumb did not organize into the pyramidal shape I love so much.  Oh, well… This is good bread.

IMG_1434
The flax seeds are visible, of course, but the sesame more or less disappears in the crumb. However, the flavor is there beyond any shadow of a doubt, and complements very well the small amount of rye and the hint of sourness.  Everyone watching the Super Bowl loved this loaf, some even preferred to turn the back to the TV and concentrate on it.  😉

Buck2

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting….

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