The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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Srishti's picture


This week I made some 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Nut & Seed Torpedoes with walnuts, hazelnuts, flax, sesame & pumpkin seeds:

and Some Sourdough Whole Wheat bagels

I don't think I'd ever like the taste of non-sourdough bagels anymore!!! :)

JMonkey's picture

Now, I'll grant you, whole wheat soybean bread garnished with sunflower seeds sounds like a parody of something you might find in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. And, in fact, you won't find it there.

Well, not with the sunflower seeds, anyway. The original recipe calls for sesame oil and sesame seeds. My daughter's preschool doesn't allow peanuts, sesame or tree nuts (one of her friends there is deathly allergic), so I had to go with sunflower seeds. Yes, it sounds like 70's health-food hell, but truly -- I kid you not -- this sandwich bread is delicious. The flavor is very warm and it keeps for a long, long time.

I love The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Her book taught me how to make light whole-wheat bread; without it, I'd still be churning out high-fiber doorstops. But that doesn't mean I don't think her recipes can't be improved. She's a bit light with the salt (in grams, at least -- the volumetric measurements are on the money), for instance, so I generally add a tad more to bring it up to the 1.8 to 2 percent range, and I almost always add a pre-ferement of some sort.

One other thing to remember -- if you're using cups, Laurel has a very heavy hand. Forget fluffing up the flour and spooning it in the cup. Dig deep and let it settle.

Here's how I made this bread:

The Night Before

Take 3/4 cup or 150 g raw soybeans (roughly 2 cups cooked) and cook them overnight in a slow cooker in plenty of water. If you're brave, let them simmer in a big pot with lots of water overnight -- I'm not that brave. In the morning, mash up the soybeans well.

Mix 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour with a pinch of instant yeast and 1.25 cups or 280 g water. Cover and let it ferment for 10-14 hours. By morning it should be full of bubbles.

The Next Day

  • 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour
  • 2.5 tsp or 17 g salt
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 1.25 cups or 280 g water
  • 1/4 cup of sesame or other oil (I used canola)
  • 2 Tbs lightly toasted sesame seeds (I used raw sunflower seeds)

    Break up the pre-ferment into a dozen pieces and mix it with all the other ingredients except for the seeds and the soybeans. Knead the dough until you can stretch a piece of it into a thin translucent sheet without tearing. This should take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, or 300 to 600 strokes. Once the dough is nearly fully kneaded, flatten the dough and spread half of the soy pulp on top. Fold the dough up, flatten again, and spread out the other half. Knead until all the pulp is well incorporated. Then, form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rise. When it's ready, you'll be able to poke it with a wet finger and the dough will either not spring back, or will do so very slowly. Divide the dough, form two loaves, roll the loaves in the sunflower seeds and place into greased pans. Cover and let them rise until they crest above the edge of the pans. Slash the loaves as you like, and then bake at 350 (with steam, if you like) for about 50 minutes. NOTE: Laurel directs readers to do two bulk rises and then shape. Since you've got a pre-ferment, I don't think another bulk rise will do much for the bread, but feel free to experiment.

    Soybean bread wasn't the only thing I made this weekend, however. I also attempted a sourdough pizza using the no-knead technique. The dough was 1/3 whole wheat, 1/3 white bread flour and 1/3 semolina, with salt and olive oil. It was pretty wet -- about 72 percent hydration -- and had about 15% of the flour (whole wheat) in the starter. I let it sit, unkneaded for about 12 hours, folded it, and then put it in the fridge for the afternoon.

    Here's the first pizza. Turned out less than OK. Crust was chewy, not crispy, and the flavor was far too sour. The second pizza? Let me just say I'll never forget to re-flour my peel when making two pizzas EVER AGAIN. I had to set the oven on "clean" the mess was so awful, and, in the process of incinerating the mass of cheese, dough and tomato sauce that remained cemented to the oven floor, it set off my smoke alarm at 3am.

    I also tried to get the no-knead thing right for whole wheat: All whole wheat flour, 85% hydration, 1.8% salt, 15% starter innoculation. 12 hour rest, fold, shape, place in a well-floured (but not well floured enough) banneton and proof for 3.5 hours at 82 degrees F. Bake in a cloche, hot.

    Behold! The super sour pancake!

    But I wasn't finished. I still had about 1 cup of starter left over, and didn't want to throw it away. So I decided to make Sourdough Blueberry Muffins. The only changes I made to the recipe behind the link were to use a whole wheat starter, use whole wheat pastry flour and add 1/4 cup milk to get the right consistency. Not bad at all! Very light and not super-sweet with a simlar sourdough undertone to the sourdough waffles I made the week before. So the weekend turned out ... about 50%. Which I'll take -- maybe next week i'll get the no-knead whole wheat sourdough right. Sigh.

    Here's the muffins.
  • Floydm's picture

    This was the best I could come up with:

    sourdough pan loaf

    A loaf of sourdough sandwich bread, slightly gummy and poorly shaped but edible.

    I am humbled. Baking on foreign soil is very difficult.

    Back to my home kitchen this weekend.

    kevroy's picture

    ...who do we see about becoming professionals?

    It took a frantic amount of organization, physical labor and nagging, lots and lots of firm, polite, incessant nagging to get everything done. There was wiring and plumbing and drywall, there were floors that needed reinfoncing, a foundation that needed shoring up. Floor plans had to be drawn up for Labor and Industry codes that needed addressing and inspecting, not to mention health codes with their ensuing inspections. There were work benches and walls and shelving to be built, painting, paperhanging and restoration of the beautiful but crumbling mullioned windows that made the shop what it was.

    Equipment was purchased and installed, most of it used, most of it needing some special attention. We spent the final week doing basic prep work and overseeing the removal of several dead and dying trees.

    In fewer than ninety days from the time we closed in the real estate and business loan we removed the "coming soon" sign, turned the lights on and clicked the key in the lock to open the door of our bake shop.

    Nothing happened.

    Floydm's picture

    Hmmm... yes, well... baking on the road seemed like a good idea.

    My starter made it fine, but I guess I didn't really think about how many little things I take for granted in my home kitchen. Yes, I knew I was going to be without a baking stone or my lame, but those were the least of my problems. Not being able to find a warm enough spot in the house for the loaves to rise enough set me back a bit. Not being able to find semolina flour or regular corn meal (only course ground) didn't help either, and I was unwilling to damage someone else's iron skillet to make the necessary steam, so the crust was going to suffer. But it was the oven that set me back the most. Well, that and the smoke detector, which screamed like a banshee as soon as I opened the door to put the bread in the oven (I guess they don't turn their oven up to the max as often as I do). In the end, the bread got tossed out. The bread may have been salvageable, but after airing out the house for 20 minutes to get the smoke detector to stop I wasn't in the mood.

    I'm chastened. If I try to bake again this week I'll bake something simpler in a loaf pan.

    mountaindog's picture

    This weekend I made the Thom Leonard boule again (actually 2 smaller boules), but this time made a darker loaf where 30% of the total flour was whole wheat and a little rye. I imagine this combo of flour is more in line with what a Poilane loaf is like. My husband called me from Paris the other day to report on the Poilane loaf he tasted while there, saying it was not really a dark whole wheat bread, rather the crumb was a medium to light color, with even, small to medium holes, not huge holes. He of course diplomatically told me that he likes my bread better, and does not see what the Poilane fuss is about :-)

    This week's batch of 30% whole wheat Leonard boules came out very flavorful and the crumb was very light with a nice amount of more even-sized holes, the crust was nice and crispy and chewy. I used my white 100% hydration starter rather than the rye I usually use. The best experiment with this batch is that I used white rice flour to dust my bannetons with, as Merrybaker suggested a while back - what a difference! The proofed loaves slid right out using very little flour, so my crusts were nice and brown - thanks Merrybaker for the tip!

    I also made the Pane Siciliano from BBA but using my white 100% hydration sourdough starter rather than yeast, which demegrad inspired me to do. I was worried it would not rise well because I actually used very little starter to make the pate fermente, only about 30 g or so - that was all I had on hand after making the levain for the Leonard loaves. I was suprised to see the pate fermente rise very quickly, so I guess it liked all the extra food. For the final dough, I made it very wet and slack, and I used demegrad's shaping instructions which worked well. They came out very good - great crispy crust, nice semolina flavor, and not at all sour but you can taste something there from the starter. This one will definitley go on my rotation of favorite bread recipes.

    The flavors of these two breads are a nice contrast to each other. The two Leonard boules are on the left/back - note the lack of excess flour this time on the crust thanks to the rice flour. In front are two of the Pane Siciliano. My Siciliano crust, although nicely blistered and crisp, is not as shiny as others who made this. I think because my dough was so wet, I had flour on the counter to shape it, and some remained on the crust, dulling it a little despite spraying lightly with olive oil before proofing. No matter, it tastes great and still looks nice - makes a great gift.

    Here is a shot of the crumb for Pane Siciliano.


    Also, I had mentioned awhile back about my neat bluestone oven setup that I really like, here is a shot (yes, my oven really is that frightfully dirty, guess it's time to clean it). These stones cost me $6 each at my local stoneyard that sells native Catskill bluestone, and they live in the oven, since they work well in evening out the heat for anything I may be cooking in there. I notice my breads are all browning much more evenly all around than before I had these in place, but this may not be worth the effort or make much difference for other bakers, depending on what their ovens are like.

    All in all a good weekend of baking...practice makes each batch come out better.

    Floydm's picture

    We're housesitting for my parents up on Puget Sound for the next few days. Before leaving, I fed the pets, watered the plants, and, of course, fed the starter. While doing so it dawned on me that I could take a pinch along and try baking something up here; homemade sourdough would go great with the fresh seafood (like the clams we picked up on the way up). I figure if the pioneers could keep a starter culture alive for weeks on a wagon train, I could keep one alive for four hours on the interstate, eh?

    It'll be interesting to bake in another kitchen. No baking stone, no scale, an unfamiliar oven. I'll definitely blog the results.

    kevroy's picture

    I tried a new ciabatta roll today using a liquid levain starter in my sponge. I flavored it with a little fresh lemon peel, extra virgin olive oil, and chopped parsley. The idea was to keep it from interfering with other foods but still stand on it's own. Mission accomplished as far as that went, but the inside didn't have a nice open cell structure. The crust was nice and crunchy without being hard, though.

    Earlier in the week I made a Kalamata olive sourdough with fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. The secret to this bread, I found, is that less is more. Previous attempts at this bread were so odiferously pungent my poor wife got dizzy from the smell! I cut the olives an herbs in half and ended up with a nicely flavored loaf that only gave my wife a headache.

    Abigail's picture

    Yesterday I made Rose Beranbaum's Cracked Wheat Bread, everything went well until I slashed the risen loaf, which promptly subsided to half the size. I baked it and now I have another paving brick. What can I do to prevent this happening again.

    Srishti's picture

    Hi all,

    I think it was about time I shared some pictures of some of my disasters (which are increasingly getting better.)

    12/02/2006: Whole Wheat. These breads are kinda sourdoughs... I starter only sat for 3 days, I do remember there were some bubbles, but I doubt it was a fully functional starter. Despite of that loaves rose a lot when proofed overnight and had a tremendous oven-spring! (At that time I didn't know what the terms proofing and oven-spring meant ;) The crust was a bit dry but the loaves were good and kept a long time if I remember right. You can see the "tunnel where the baker (that would be me) sleeps" as Peter Rinehart would say. Ha.....

     01/11/2007: Whole Wheat. My first NYT No-knead bread. Yeasted and whole wheat. Beautiful and crisp crust. No-holes in the crumb though :-(  Though I think that is the best looking bread I have ever made. I like baking in the covered lay pot which you can see in the background.

     01/14/2007: Whole wheat. Yeasted. with flax and sunflower seeds and rye flakes. I think the dough didn't develop enough gluten maybe because it wasn't wet enough, and oh, I tried doing Jim's slap and fold (French fold) on this one, which was not so good on this wet, crumbly textured, seeded dough. It wasn't so bad, No holes though. You can see I am complaining about No-Holes.... But I know whole wheat is infamous for that.

     01/19/2007: Whole Rye + Whole Wheat + a cup of white bread flour. Ok, I started making an all rye starter but with the ever increasing volume, and me hating to dump half of it every time, On the 3rd or 4th day of starter I threw everything (2-3 cups) really wet rye levain in the bowl with 3 cups of whole wheat and started kneading it... It was sooooooooo sticky, and I was afraid it wasn't going to rise, I mixed 1/2 tsp of yeast with white and kneaded that in. and baked the whole thing after a few hours.... Well it was so strongly rye.... It was quite good! No holes, of course.

     01/22/2007: All white ha ha Well, now I really wanted to make something from BBA. So here are some French baguettes and epi's. All white and yeasted....made with pate fermente overnight. And guess what, No holes again. It didn't taste like much either.... So I don't think I'd doing any white baking anymore.... except for cakes, cookied etc. I feel better on the real stuff.

    01/26/2007: Sourdough Whole Wheat NYT No-knead I finally made a real starter from SourDoLady's Orange Juice starter and so I named him OJ. So here is the first creation from OJ. A no-knead whole wheat, sourdough bread baked in my favorite pot :) which I baked today. It was nice and sour and really moist and flavourful. I put in 2 cups of wet whole wheat starter with 2 cups whole wheat flour and a cup of water + flax seeds + freshly tamari roasted sunflower seeds, mixed it up and let it rise for 16 hours, folded it and benched it a couple more hours. It turned out really well, and even had traces of holes in it... Yoo Hoooo.

    So that's all the pics I have so far... I'll keep posting them here and keep youall updated.

    Thanks again to all Floyd, SourdoLady, Jim..... amd so many others



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