Nice Soft Sandwich Bread with Soft, Sweet Crust and No Crumbling
My husband says this is the best bread I have ever made. I think I agree with him. The final loaf weighed about 2.8 lbs.
1 oz whole barley, milled fine
5 oz cold water
Water roux from above
4 oz Greek yogurt
6 oz water
16 oz hard white spring wheat, milled fine
1 cup starter
4 oz hard red winter wheat, milled fine
4 oz rye, milled fine
5 oz water
Pre-soak from above
Pre-ferment from above, minus 1 cup
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
This is the schedule for beginning the evening before a morning baking. Modify as desired to fit your own baking routine. For example, you can probably do the "evening before" steps in the morning and do the baking in the evening.
I use a bench mixer for some of the recipe but everything can be done by hand if you prefer. I do use two identical loaf pans. One contains the loaf and one is used as a cover. Any arrangement which traps moisture in with the loaf will work.
Prepare the water roux by sprinkling the 1 oz of barley flour on the 5 oz of cold water, in a small pan. I use a non-stick omelet pan. Blend the flour with the water until there are no lumps. Heat over low heat with constant stirring until it is thick like hot breakfast cereal, but do not let it simmer or boil. Immediately remove pan from heat and place water roux into a weighed mixer bowl. If the weight of the water roux is less than 6 oz, add enough water to bring the weight back up to 6 oz.
Add the 4 oz of yogurt and the 6 oz of water to the water roux in the mixer bowl. Add the 16 oz of white whole wheat flour to the mixer bowl. Stir with the mixing blade on lowest speed until all of the flour is incorporated into the liquid, or visa versa. The pre-soak will be a sticky mess. Remove the mixer blade and cover the bowl with some kind of plastic cover. I use (and re-use multiple times) a disposable plastic shower cap. Leave the mixer bowl on the counter-top overnight.
In a container which can be closed, combine the 1 cup of starter with the 5 oz of water. Add the 4 oz of rye flour and the 4 oz of red wheat flour, and stir until smooth. Cover and leave on the counter-top overnight. The pre-ferment will be somewhat stiff. If you are unable to stir in all of the flour after making a reasonable effort, add just a little more water.
In the morning, remove 1 cup of the pre-ferment and store for future use as starter. Add 1 tsp of salt to the pre-soak in the mixer bowl. Add the remaining pre-ferment. Use the dough hook on the lowest setting to combine these. In 2 to 3 minutes, the dough will have formed a cohesive mass. Add the 1 tbsp of olive oil and run the mixer for about 30 seconds more. Remove the dough hook from the dough and turn the oiled dough out onto the counter. Knead by hand briefly, to test for lumps. The dough should be wonderfully soft and smooth, and no longer sticky.
Return the dough to the oily mixer bowl, cover, and let rise. Once it has risen, turn out onto the still-oily counter again. Press the dough gently into a rectangular shape appropriate for further shaping into a loaf. Shape the loaf. Place into a greased 9"x5" loaf pan. Cover (I use the same shower cap) and let proof until the center of the dough has risen higher than the edge of the pan.
Preheat oven to 400F. Gently pour 1/4-cup of cold water over the proofed dough, and into the pan. Place the pan in the pre-heated oven and cover with an inverted identical loaf pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F. Remove the second, covering, pan and reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Turn out of pan and let cool.
1. Adding the water roux in the morning did not result in such a nice-handling dough.
2. It may be possible to add the salt the night before, which would prevent forgetting it the next morning. This bread tastes very strange without any salt.
3. Baking at 450F for the first 20 minutes makes for a crisper crust, but the loaf shrinks from its maximum size which is achieved by oven spring. Baking at 400F instead of 450F retains the maximum size.
4. I use a convection oven with a turntable.
5. I plan to make this bread with barley in place of the rye, once my rye flour has run out. It should be possible to substitute any low-gluten grain for the rye. Replace the hard winter wheat with a softer grain, however, reduces the size of the loaf.