Monday, 25 May 2015

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Wow, I feel my sourdough bread journey has been epic so far!  I can't remember making so many loaves of bread in such a short period of time in my quest to successfully achieve a good sourdough loaf.  All my loaves to date have had a different amount of lift but all with very good flavour.  My early loaves were dense and chewy ~ the family loved them but I found the crust too heavy and I knew they weren't rising the way they should.

While some brag that sourdough making is very easy, I  have found that it is a delicate balance of a good sourdough starter; rising times; and kneading methods to achieve the perfect loaf.  On most of the sourdough chat forums, many have experienced the same hit and miss progress while they chased the flavour, texture, and crumb that are considered ideal in the world of sourdough bread.  I know I have far to go, but after many failures with others recipes, I have settled on this combination of my own that has produced a great flavoured sourdough with a beautiful rise of more than double and a very nice crumb.

A sourdough starter fed with pretty much all organic rye flour has given me the most consistent results.  White, whole wheat, or a combination thereof for feeding has ended with a sickly starter smelling of nail varnish.  The starter appears to need more frequent feeding with these types of flours and since I only like to feed my sourdough once or twice a week, I prefer to store my starter in the fridge; keep it to a stiff paste consistency; and feed it rye flour only when I bake or once a week ~ whichever comes first.

This loaf is made without a larger pre-ferment made the night before. I mix it up with a portion of sourdough starter ~ straight out of the fridge ~ first thing in the morning and form it into a loaf at about the 6 or 7 hour mark and then leave it for a second rise an hour or two more.  My recipe will make one large sized baguette or two smaller loaves.  Try making single batch instead of doubling the recipe so you can practice and modify your techniques.  I now only knead my bread using the slap and fold method which is easier to use with wet doughs but also incorporates more air into the dough and has resulted in a much nicer crumb.  This kneading technique was another breakthrough moment for me and I encourage you to try it.  I have provided a link at the bottom of the page should you wish to see it in action.

  • 1 1/2 cups of warm filtered water
  • 1/2 cup of warm soy milk or any milk of your choice
  • 1 Tbsp. honey, maple syrup, or natural cane sugar
  • 1 cup of sourdough starter
  • 2 1/4 cups of white bread flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

In the morning mix the water, milk, honey and starter and blend well.  Next add the white flour and mix well and then finally add the remaining flour and salt.  The dough will be incredibly sticky and you will want to add more flour to it but don't.  Next, turn out the dough on  an unfloured counter and use the slap and fold method of kneading which consists of scooping up the dough on either side; flipping over and slapping it down quickly followed by stretching it toward you with your thumbs; then folding it over  on itself away from you.  Repeat these steps (see link below for more info) for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Make the dough into a ball and place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, then set aside for 6-8 hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Dough after kneading.

When the dough has doubled, gently scrape it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured countertop.  Don't punch down as the idea is to keep as much air in the dough as possible.  Gently form the dough into a square and then fold the dough by 1/3 toward you and press down on the seam with the heel of your hand.  Repeat this fold again on the opposite side bringing the seam to the centre and press down.  Now fold the dough tightly in half and gently roll and shape as desired in a tin or in a banneton/ proofing basket.  Leave to rise again for another two to three hours.

Second rise in my baking cloche.

When the dough has doubled again, bake the loaf at 425F /220C for 35-40 minutes in a bread cloche, bread tin or on a pizza stone. However you choose to bake the bread, make sure the seam side is down for baking.  The baked loaf should  make a hollow sound, when knocked on the bottom, if it is done.
Whole wheat sourdough hot out of the oven. Yes, my scoring
technique needs some work or a much sharper knife!

No comments:

Post a Comment