Saturday, July 17, 2010

whole wheat with grains and seeds

I want my daily bread to be a healthy whole grain, and I like seeds and grains in it for texture. What's available here commercially is disappointing. First, almost all of them have sugar/honey/syrup added. I'm fiercely opposed to this, not just on principled grounds (which I am), but also because I can taste it immediately. I've been able to find a relatively satisfactory bread but you have to hunt around town for it, and it ain't cheap. So I decided to bake my own basic bread, which is what got me started baking bread again.

Now that I've baked a number of good all purpose flour sourdough breads to get my feet wet, it was time to get down to business.

  • sourdough starter (220 g)
  • bread flour (300 g)
  • whole wheat flour (300 g)
  • water (300 g)
  • roasted sunflower seeds (70 g)
  • soaker (total 170 g before soaking)
    • flax seed ('cause they're good for you)
    • buckwheat groats ('cause I hadn't even seen them before and I was curious)
    • wheat berries ('cause I love their texture)
  • salt (10 g)
the night before: 
I feed my sourdough starter as usual, with all purpose flour.
I add a small pinch of salt to the soakers, cover it with water, and let it sit for about 14 hours.

I strain the soaker, in all its gel-like gloopiness from the flax seeds.
I combine in the bowl of my stand mixer everything except the salt, and mix at lowest speed for about 2-3 minutes. That soaker doesn't want to incorporate.
I let it rest for 30 minutes.
I add the salt and mix for about 4 minutes on the second-from-lowest speed.

This dough may seem to be 50% hydration, but it isn't when you take into account the water that comes with the soaker. I debated whether I should add a bit more water, but it looked OK to me after the mixing:

bulk fermentation:
I let the dough rise for 45 minutes, and then do that magical stretch-and-fold thing. (I still have trouble grasping the fact that this is better than kneading.)
I let it rise for another 45 minutes.
After 90 minutes, I'm not sure that it has risen enough so I give it another fold and let it rise for 30 minutes more.

I pre-shape the dough into two balls and let them rest for 15 minutes.
I still haven't gotten myself a new set of bannetons, so I decide to proof them on the couche.
I shape one ball into a boule and the other roughly into a batard shape, and place them on the well-floured couche.
I give it an hour. They rise minimally, so I give it another 40 minutes.
At that point, the fear of too much sourness strikes and I decide to bake them.

OK, now this is why I need to get me some bannetons. I'm not the world's most coordinated person anyway, but the feat of getting the loafs from the couche to the peel is daunting. When there is more than one loaf on the couche, I usually have trouble rolling the loaf straight from the couche onto the peel. So I wonder about what I can use as a flipping board, get lazy, and decide to roll it onto my arm, and from there to the peel. Arrgh. It's amazing how laziness can trump good sense. I wanted to apologize to my loaf, which now was a bit deflated and a bit warped.

I slash the top of the loaf (in vain, it turns out), and spray the top with water.
I slip the loaf onto the baker's stone in the oven preheated to 500 F, turn it down to 450 F, bake for 15 minutes, turn it down once more to 425 F, and bake another 15 minutes.

There was very little oven spring and no grigne. This loaf didn't look sexy. I put it on the cooling rack and turned to the second loaf.

I decided to bake the two loaves separately, because I knew getting the second loaf on the peel would take additional juggling while the first loaf was in the oven, and I didn't want to disturb the first loaf while it was trying to rise (ha!).

I reheat the oven to 500 F. This means that the second loaf proofed almost 40 minutes longer. Curious to see what that will do.

I slip the second loaf into the oven. When I'm back in the kitchen to turn the oven down to 425 F after the first 15 minutes, I realize that I forgot to turn it down to 450 F when I first put it in. So it had 15 minutes at 500 F. Jeeeez, how could I?!! Well, of course I can, because I've burnt even soup.

I turn the oven down to 425 F. Then I think maybe it should go lower still, and I turn it down to 400. I give it 10 minutes, then I turn off the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.

I'm heartbroken, because the top crust looks really burnt. I know some people think you can't overbake bread (Clavel, Silverton), but that's not my taste.

However, this loaf has much better oven spring than the first one. I mean, it actually has oven spring. Was it the extra proofing? Or the crazy baking temperature. I dunno.

the morning after:
Ooooh, anticipation. I decide to try the unburnt loaf, and it tastes really really good. I toast one slice for breakfast, it's magical. I'm so so happy.

I compare it side-by-side to my commercially baked multigrain, and no contest, mine wins hands down. But look at the crumb.

How come it looks so good even though there was no oven spring? It's moist, chewy, with a rich earthy taste, and barely sour. So the loaf that doesn't look promising on the outside turns out to be super on the inside.

One flaw in the concept. Although the wheat berries are beautifully chewy inside the crumb, the ones that ended up on the surface of the loaf are hard and sharp. Unpleasant. I have to figure out a way to avoid that. In the meantime, I'm focusing on finding a good way to shave the burnt top crust of the second loaf to feed to my dogs.

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