Unfortunately, I don’t manage to bake sourdough loaves nearly as often as I would like to. Admittedly, these breads are a labour of love and require some planning. The making and baking process itself is not too bad, but just getting the dough ready requires a few fairly lengthy periods of rest and proofing in between the individual steps. Over the past few months the day job just didn’t allow me to engage in this more time-intensive kind of baking very often. Having said this, though, the effort is absolutely worth it. This weekend I managed to reinvigorate my sourdough starter that was waiting patiently in the fridge and then baked another variation of rye bread with sourdough. This bread is made of three components, as described below: the sourdough, a pre-dough involving a very small amount of fresh yeast, and also a ‘soaker’, making the bread particularly moist. As most of the flour used for the bread is left to absorb liquid (water) overnight, the bread is not in danger of becoming dry, as all the moisture is ‘locked’ in the flour and seeds. The addition of a few spoons of walnut oil, as well as a small amount of coriander and caraway seed spicing, underlines the bread’s rustic flavour and appearance.
For the sourdough (my PREVIOUS POST describes how to make your own sourdough starter)
140 g wholemeal rye flour
140 ml lukewarm water
30 g sourdough starter
Mix these three ingredients in a bowl, cover with cling film, and leave to rest in a warm place (28 – 30 degrees are ideal) overnight or for about 12-15 hours.
For the pre-dough:
100 g wholemeal wheat flour
100 ml lukewarm water
2-3 g of fresh yeast
Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water, mix in the flour, cover with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature (the room does not need to be heated) overnight or for about 12-15 hours.
For the ‘soaker’:
150 g wholemeal rye flour or coarsely milled rye grain
100 g sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds, or walnuts (or a mixture), dry-roasted in a pan
230 ml lukewarm water
15 g salt
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature or for 12-15 hours as the pre-dough above.
When all three components are ready to go (the sourdough and the pre-dough should have increased in size and should look bubbly and light) put them all in a bowl. Don't forget to keep a couple of spoons of the sourdough as your starter for the next bread! Then add the following:
250 g plain flour
2 tbsp walnut oil (can be replaced with any other oil)
½ - 1 level teaspoon each of finely ground coriander seeds and caraway seeds (I use a pestle and mortar)
If you have one, leave your food processor to knead the dough for at least 7 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand (it’s a bit sticky) and a friend told me that he gets his bread maker to knead his sourdough, which also works. Leave to rest for about 20 minutes in a warm place.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with wet hands, quickly knead and fold into the desired shape. This dough is fairly sticky, so I usually bake it in a tin, which is easiest. If you are brave, you can leave it to rise in a floured bread proofing basket instead and turn it out onto a baking sheet before baking.
|This is the dough after 60 minutes of rising. It roughly doubled in size.|
Leave to rise in a warm place for about 60-90 minutes. Preheat the oven to the highest temperature possible. 250 degrees are ideal. When the bread has visibly increased in size, score the top with a sharp knife or razor blade. Spray some water into the oven (this improves the bread’s crust) and enter the loaf. Bake at the highest temperature for 20 minutes then gradually decrease the temperature to about 190 degrees to finish off. The overall baking time is about 60 minutes.
When the bread is finished, wrap it in a clean tea towel and leave to cool before eating (if you can, wait until the next day before cutting it). It keeps fresh for at least 5 days and also freezes well.