Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mostly Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Such a great success with this recipe! I added a little more white flour to the original recipe, used bread flour, as opposed to all-purpose and added a huge dose of patience. I also used a new starter, from my friend Frankie Pistlekahk. It's a very unassuming starter, no fireworks. But the two recipes I've used it in have turned out perfectly. So, I guess I don't really know which of those factors made for a better result, but I'm not going to argue with it. Here's the recipe:

Mostly Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
*click here for printable version*
adapted from an unknown source
Makes 2 8x4 loaves

Make the sponge:
1 c. sourdough starter
1-1/2 c. hot water (I heat mine in the microwave for about 2 minutes)
2 c. whole wheat flour

The night before you intend to bake the bread, put all ingredients in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk together until thoroughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the oven with the light on (a warm place) for 8 to 10 hours or overnight. The sponge will become very frothy and almost double in volume.

Make the dough:
1 c. warm water (I heat mine in the microwave for about 1 minute)
2 packages (4-1/2 tsp.) dry yeast
2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. white bread flour
2-1/2 c. (or less) whole wheat flour

1 T melted butter OR 1 egg white (optional)
sunflower seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

Remove the sponge from the oven and stir it down. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and stir. Sprinkle the salt over the top and add the warm water. Stir for 2 minutes.

Add the bread flour and the whole wheat flour ¼ cup at a time. Stir until it is completely absorbed before adding the next ¼ cup.

I recommend doing this in your stand mixer with a dough hook--only add as much flour as needed for an elastic, only slightly sticky texture. That may be 1/2 cup less than called for in the recipe. After you have added all the flour you need, cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. After resting, knead the dough on low for 5 minutes, then as it becomes more elastic, turn it up to medium and knead for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle a small amount of flour in as necessary to control stickiness.

If you are doing this by hand, you can stir until it becomes impossible and then use your hands to mix the flour into the dough. Again, only use as much dough as necessary for an elastic and not too sticky consistency. After adding the flour, cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. After resting, knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary to control stickiness

After you have kneaded the dough (by either method), allow it to rest, covered with a damp towel, for another 15 minutes.

Divide the dough in two and form into balls. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Form each loaf by flattening one of the balls by hand into an oval slightly longer than your bread pan (use 8x4 inch pans). Fold the oval in half lengthwise and pinch the seam together. Turn it over, seam side down, to place into the pan, tucking the ends underneath.

Cover the pans with a dry towel and set back in your oven with the light on. Allow to rise until the dough is above the top level of the pans, approximately 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Before baking, if you want a decorative loaf, brush the tops with melted butter, or with egg white if you want to sprinkle seeds and have them stick. Then slash the tops of the loaves with a very sharp knife. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 325 degrees and bake for another 35 minutes. When they are done, the loaves should be brown and sound hollow when you thump them.

Turn the loaves out onto a rack to cool.

The best thing about the way this turned out is that it has a great sourdough flavor and texture, a little chewy, a little, well, sour. It doesn't taste like whole wheat bread, it tastes like a hearty sourdough. It's dense enough to be easily sliced into thin slices for sandwiches, but it's not heavy at all.

I have to say, it's one (or two, as the case may be) of the best loaves of bread I've ever made.

TGIP Rating--Mostly Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread--KEEPER

Next up: Sunday (the 23rd) is National Pie Day, so naturally, I'm making a pie. What kind I make is still the subject of great debate in my house. Seconda doesn't want anything with caramel, but I do. Prima wants a grasshopper pie. I have a decision to make. Help?

No comments: