I've been doing a lot of baking the last few days to help me meditate and leave the worries somewhere else. Baking bread is such an enjoyable, fun, healthy and nutritious thing to do for yourself and your family and/or friends.
Today, I decided to try my hand at a semolina-whole wheat sourdough loaf that was infused with darkly toasted sesame seeds in both the dough and on the crust.
Here are the ingredients, mixed in this order:
- 200 g of starter, roughly 75% hydration;
- 200 g of leaven consisting of 2/3's APF, 1/6 whole wheat; and, 1/6 pumperknickel flour;
[I've had this starter for some time and I'm pretty unorthodox from the scientific baker in that I pour out whatever I think will do the job to keep my starter going, mix in a combo of flours given in the portion listed by volume and mix with spring water till I have the consistency I think works best. It works for me and I like things to be simple, enough said.]
- 900 g of flour, consisting of:
- 650 g of KA Durum semolina flour;
- 250 g my milled whole-wheat flour, somewhat coarse;
- 20 g sea salt - I used Irish herer, but I doubt it makes a huge difference. ( I'm sure open for comments about this);
- 50 g spring water (I actually used this to dip my fingers into to do the S&F's and found I used almost all of the water which became well incorporated into the dough and saved the usual sticky mess I've had at other times.
- Pour the starter in the water, all at room temp, slightly cool; mix the starter so that it almost disolves in the water;
- pour in the whole wheat and mix; by mixing it first with the water, it has a bit longer time to autolyse which is necessary since it is a whole grain product; I usually mix either by hand or use the Polish bread mixer. I injured my right wrist tendon playing tennis a few weeks ago and it still hasn't quite healed so I used the whisk to help ease the pain of mixing and not unduly exerting stress on the ligament.
- Mix all of the flour thoroughly so that there is an even moistness throughout and no dry flour is left on the sides or underneath.
- Let the dough sit for 20 minutes add the salt and seeds and do several strech and folds and moisten your hands so the flour doesn't stick to them. When I stretch and fold I usually use a plastic or rubber dough scraper and scoop it down the large glass bowl that I use to mix with. I then reach the bottom and slip under the dough with the scraper and scoop it up and into the center of the flour. After a while of doing this, the dough starts to get shaped into a boule/ball. I do between 10 and twenty of these, just till the dough feels manageable.
- My other method is a little more tricky and requires some exercise. I use the scraper and go under the dough then lift all of the dough out of the bowl and let the weight of the dough stretch out the flour to about a foot or 18" in length. I then fold the dough over itself as I lower it back into the bowl; rotate the bowl and pick up the dough again so that the new fold is to the side rather than to the top or bottom of the length of dough. Imagine picking up a kitchen towel from a long end, holding it up so that the towel is straight up and down. Then put the dough, or fold the dough, i.e, towel in half as you are lowering it into the bowel. Pick up the towel again, only this time use a side, not the fold, nor the open ends that make up the folded towel. Again, let the dough stretch itself out and when it reaches about a foot and a half in length, fold it again as you put it back into the bowel. I think this procedure helps build structure to the loaf and glutten which is the building block of the structure in the dough. I will do this five or six times.
- Next let the dough rest for 30 minutes, and do the stretch and fold again, rest, do it again in another 30 minutes.. But wait, isn't that the standard litany used by most of the bread makers? Well, that's what I did for months and months, until today when I was kept from doing so by important telephone calls that went on and on and then a client visit. I managed to get two stretch and folds and added 3/4s cup of darkly toasted sesame seeds with the salt and mixed very well to spread the seeds evenly thoughout the mass. Because of complications, I then had to let the dough sit covered on the counter for 5 hours because I just couldn't get to it. I was surprised to find that it was just fine and doing quite well. I did one more stretch and fold, put it in the fridge for two hours, and came back and decided to see if it was really all that necessary to ferment the dough overnight. Well, it wasn't and the taste and complexity of the dough was very nice. But, of course, a true test would be to let it sit in the fridge overnight and shape and bake to see if the taste improves.
Here are the photos. Sorry no crumb shot of the batard because its a gift, but I'm sure the boule is representative. The boule was baked in a round covered clouche for 15 minutes at 525 and then uncovered for 25 at 470. The batard was cooked at 550 on the stone and steam was injected from a garden sprayer on the sides and top of the oven about every 4 minutes for a total of 4 times and the spray was for a duration of about 20 to 25 seconds each time.
This is the resting dough after being pulled from the fridge. You can see there are a lot of sesame seeds in the loaf which contributed to the nutty flavor given by this bread. That, along with the texture and taste created a wonderful combination.
The next shot is a photo of the sesame seeds which were baked in a pizza pan till dark. Be certain to stir them around after you take them out of the oven because the pan will continue cooking them and could burn them. There is an amazing amount of oil in these little seeds. These seeds were saved to go on the outside of the loaf. I must ask what is the best way to affix these seeds to the loaf so that they will stay on the loaf. As I'm cutting the loaf all of the seeds on the outside just pop off. I had a similar loaf at the Farmer's Market in Prospect Park in Brooklyn a few weeks ago and it was divine and the seeds stayed on the bread slice. How do you make this happen? Anyone, please.
The following are the finished loaves and the usual crumb shots. I hope you will try this bread some time, as it is delicious.
I will be the first to admit my batard shaping is woefully lacking.
BTW, that's my jar of starter in the background. Just an old mason jar and when I extracted the starter for these loaves, the jar was at half the level you see. The starter had replenished its growth that I had used in these loaves. I will take about half of this amount, discard the rest or use it to make pancakes, etc., and then mix with spring water to dissolve and add one cup each of AP or BF and WWF which I mill myself from some local hard winter red wheat.
Here are some crumb shots.
The crust was not crackly, but chewy and crunchy, perhaps from the seeds, but it had a good texture for the flours used. There was a nice moistness to the crumb, but not wet or damp. The internal temp was 209 when removed from the oven measured from the bottom of the loaf.
Surprisingly I was eating this bread at 6 pm and had started it about 9:30 a.m. Very easy bread to make, not a wet dough at all, and quite manageable. Just have a good strong starter. I will say this that I'm guessing but I suspect one of my stretch and folds are equal to about two of most other bakers because I really work the dough by letting it stretch from its own weight and fold it over at least ten times, maybe more, just till it feels like it has a good consistency and strength. Then a longer rest, but at least 30 minutes, but I'm not overly concerned if its 45 minutes or 60 before I do the next S&F. I think I should call this my "No Anxiety" bread. It takes care of itself with a little guidance from you. Happy Baking.