I decided to focus on sourdough this month and so did the Mellow Bakers. The first bread on the list for December is a Sourdough Seed Bread. This is a naturally leavened bread. It is made with a liquid levain, and a flaxseed soaker. The flax seeds provide taste, color and nutrition and toasted sunflower and sesame seeds provide a nutty flavor.
I used my apple starter to build the liquid levain. It has become a very mature liquid culture over the past couple of months and I really like using it. I’ve neglected my other two starters so this month I’ll be nurturing them back to life.
This sourdough bread can be baked the same day it is mixed, but to develop the fullest flavor, an overnight fermentation is recommended. I changed the process a bit further to suit my schedule and adjusted the ratio of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds because I didn’t have enough sunflower seeds. I liked the result!
Sourdough Seed Bread
Makes: Two large loaves
Adapted from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
Liquid Levain Build
- 4.8 oz (1 1/8 cups) bread flour
- 6 oz (3/4 cup) water
- 1 oz (2 T) mature culture (liquid)
- 2.2 oz (3/8 cup) Flaxseeds
- 6.7 oz (3/4 cup) water
- 1 lb, 8.6 oz (5 5/8 cups) bread flour
- 2.6 oz (5/8 cup) whole-rye flour
- 2.5 oz sunflower seeds, toasted
- 2.25 oz sesame seeds, toasted
- 11.3 oz (1 3/8 cups) water, plus additional during mixing
- .7 oz (1T + 1/2 tsp) salt
- 8.9 oz soaker (all of above)
- 10.8 oz liquid levain (all of above, less 2T)
1) Building the Liquid Levain: Make the final build 12 to 16 hours before the final mix and let stand in a covered container at about 70 degrees F.
I started the liquid levain about 6:30 am in the morning.
This is the liquid levain after about 14 hours.
2) Flaxseed Soaker: Make a cold soaker with the flaxseeds and water at the same time you build the liquid levain. Cover the container with plastic and let it stand along with the liquid levain.
The flaxseed soaker looks like gelatin after the seeds have soaked for about 14 hours.
3) Mixing the Dough: Add all of the ingredients to the mixing bowl of a spiral mixer and mix on first speed for 3 minutes, adjusting the hydration as necessary. I had to add more water. Even though I used less seeds than the original formula called for, they still soaked up all of the water.
Mix on second speed for another 3 minutes or so. The dough should have moderate gluten development.
4) Bulk Fermentation: 2 1/2 hours. Fold the dough once after 1 1/4 hours or, if the dough needs more strength, fold it twice at 50-minute intervals. This is where I varied the process. It was getting late so I let the dough ferment for about an hour and a half, then I folded it, recovered it with plastic and placed it in the refrigerator to ferment overnight.
5) Dividing and Shaping: The next day, I let the dough warm up to room temperature. This took a couple of hours. Then I divided it into two pieces – about 2 pounds each and lightly shaped the pieces into rounds.
I shaped one piece into an oval and placed it in my 9.5” oval banneton basket and shaped the other one into a round shape and placed it in my 9” round banneton basket.
6) Final Fermentation: The dough can be fermented up to 8 hours at 50 degrees F. or up to 18 hours at 42 degrees F. I had already fermented the dough in the refrigerator overnight so I just let it proof in the baskets for a few hours before baking.
7) Scoring the Loaves: Remove the loaves gently from the banneton baskets onto parchment paper.
Score the loaves using a lame or serrated knife. I experimented with the scoring on the round loaf.
8) Baking the Loaves: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F., with a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan underneath. Place the loaves on the hot baking stone (the the parchment paper) using a baker’s peel or the back of a baking sheet. Fill the steam pan with hot water and close the door of the oven. (I also sprayed the walls of the oven with a spray bottle filled with water about 3 times during the first few minutes.) Let the loaves bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. I removed the parchment paper partway through the baking cycle to make sure the bottom of the loaf was baked through.
9) Cooling the Loaves: Let the loaves cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
10) Enjoy! You can slice and eat the bread before it cools completely, but it develops better flavor if you wait. You know what they say “could things come to those you wait…!” This is one of those times you need to be patient.
I especially enjoy baking bread on the weekends and allowing the dough to slow ferment to bring out the flavor and nutritional properties of the bread.
Over the years, I've become enamored with grains.So you'll find me experimenting using different types of heritage and ancients grains.Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't, but it's all part of the experience.I invite you to join me on this bread-baking journey.
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