Wild Rice Sourdough - The Bread That Ended The Cold War
If you know the facebook group "Baking 101", you might also know Danny Klecko's blog "Last American Baker". Klecko's posts are whimsical and often very funny, and he seems to snort them out joyfully and without any effort (unlike one envious baker whose name I will not disclose).
Now and then he puts a recipe in one of them, as a "teaser", to lure you into his world, even when you think you already overdosed on facebook. This happened to me when I followed the link with the intriguing headline: "The Recipe That Ended The Cold War".
Klecko describes how 20 years ago presidents Reagan and Gorbachev held a peace summit in St. Paul, his city. And the bakery, where Klecko worked at the time, was formally requested to supply a bread that the two heads of states could break, as a symbol of peace.
The job went to Klecko, to create a loaf that would please a Russian while being quintessentially Minnesotan/American.
After sweating plenty of blood and tears, and many prayers to his "Polish Jesus", this was what he came up with:
Danny Klecko's Wild Rice Sourdough (3 loaves)
2 1/2 tablespoon yeast
2 3/4 cups water
1 1/3 cup brick starter (this refers to a mysterious Polish contraption, made of rye, bread flour and potato flakes)
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoon vinegar
2 1/4 wheat flour
6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup bran
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup cooked wild rice
So far so good. But now it comes:
Bake at 400-450º F for close to 30 minutes.
Quite a temperature range! Klecko's comment: he would like a crustier bread, baked at 450ºF, but many home bakers might prefer 400ºF.
I asked Klecko about the low amount of salt. He admitted to having "moved the salt content around a bit to pacify cry baby Americans that wouldn't eat the bread because they felt the salt content was too high."
Wild rice, expensive, but very tasty
So I set out to metrically "remaster" the recipe, figuring out the starter, and calculating the amount of uncooked wild rice that would yield 1 cup of cooked rice with as little leftover as possible.
Since the technique should include my preferred overnight fermentation, I found that I could safely reduce the amount of additional instant yeast.
Like Reagan and Gorbachev, we would have been willing to end the war, ANY war, hot or cold, after tasting this wonderful bread. Slightly nutty and very moist, and, with the wild rice speckling the crumb, beautiful to behold.
Here is my version of this historically important bread, down-scaled to 2 loaves:
WILD RICE SOURDOUGH (2 loaves) (adapted from Danny Klecko's "Last American Baker")
43 g rye sourdough starter (100% hydration)
53 g rye flour
74 g bread flour
80 g water
144 g water (for cooking)
37 g wild rice, rinsed and drained
440 g water (95 F )
5 g instant yeast
all cooked wild rice (including any remaining water)
500 g bread flour
192 g whole wheat flour
20 g wheat bran
16 g salt
26 g balsamic vinegar
13 g molasses
13 g honey (if you like it sweeter)
In the morning, mix all starter ingredients at low speed (or with wooden spoon), until all flour is hydrated (1-2 minutes). Knead 2 minutes at medium-low speed (or by hand), let rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for another minute. Cover, and leave at room temperature.
After cooking the rice absorbs more water while it cools
In a small pan, bring wild rice with water to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Leave at room temperature, the rice will absorb most of the water.
In the evening, prepare final dough. Dissolve instant yeast in warm water. Add to all other ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix at low speed for 1 - 2 minutes (or with wooden spoon), until all flour is hydrated. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Sourdough, ready for action!
Resume kneading at medium-low speed (or by hand) for 2 minutes, adjusting with more water, if really needed (dough should still be sticky). Knead for another 4 minutes. Dough should still be somewhat sticky.
Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and pat dough into a rough square and fold it like a business letter in thirds. Gather into a ball and place it, rough side down, into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover, and leave to 10 minutes.
After the last fold, the dough goes in the refrigerator
Repeat this stretching and folding 3 times, with 10 minute intervals. After the last fold, place dough in lightly oiled container (I divide it at this point in two equal portions,) cover, and refrigerate it overnight.
Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.
Overnight the dough has almost doubled
Preheat oven to 450ºF/232ºC, including steam pan and baking stone.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape dough into 2 boules or bâtards and place them, seam side up, in bannetons. Proof for 45 - 60 minutes, or until they have grown 1 1/2 times their original size (Finger poke test!).
The bread has grown 1 1/2 times its original size
Transfer breads to parchment lined baking sheet (or bake directly on baking stone.) Score them crosswise.
Crosswise slashes give the breads a nice pattern
Bake breads for 20 minutes, steaming with 1 cup boiling water. Remove steam pan, rotate loaves 180 degrees, and continue baking for another 15 - 20 minutes. They should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom, and register at least 200º F/93ºC (instant thermometer.) Leave them in switched-off oven with door slightly ajar for 10 more minutes.
Remove breads from oven, and let them to cool on wire rack.
So we might all thank Danny Klecko for the recipe that brought the Berlin Wall tumbling down. This bread tastes so good that it's easy to believe that it put Reagan and Gorbi in such a mellow mood that they couldn't help but end the Cold War!
Completely updated post 5/27/13