It is 4:45am on a quiet and cool Sunday morning. I am taking my time … a cup of tea while listening to the birds. I can smell mangos on the table next to me.
Nat and I packed a lot of effort into yesterday. The yard work is done, and in between all the mowing and trimming necessary after summer rain I managed to put a few loaves of bread through the oven.
Have you ever stopped to think about a grain of wheat? I am slowly learning the scientific terms and descriptions … but my brain is not really wired that way. What I am slowly starting to appreciate is that these little grains are really packets of life. I don’t stop and take the time to think about this enough. They hold all that is required to germinate … just needed is the right balance of moisture and warmth.
For the baking this weekend I wanted to take a step beyond sprouting into the world of malting. During the week I sprouted wheat, rye and barley grains. After drying (kilning), I gently roasted the grains in search of flavour and colouring, not diastatic power or enzyme content. The house smelt amazing during this process …
… I now wanted to try them freshly milled in bread … and it turned out Nat’s parents were staying with us – to offer them bread is the perfect excuse to bake.
I decided upon the sourdough formula from Richard Bertinets book Crust. This formula was probably the first I knew off the top of my head. I have made it so many times in all sorts of weather with every flour combination imaginable. It is a 75% hydration dough with 25% of the total flour being pre-fermented in a stiff levain. With this amount of pre-fermented flour you need to pay attention to the ripeness of the levain builds as they have a big impact on the final dough.
Included in this I combined roasted wheat and barley malt flour at 5% of the total flour. I have been racking my thoughts on a way to best describe the aroma and taste of the roasted malt flours. I can’t. There is malt flavour in the roasted barley but also stronger rich dark toasted overtones, especially when combined with the malted wheat.
The difference was apparent as soon as I combined the ingredients. You could smell the malted flours and see them streaked throughout the autolysing dough.
On Saturday morning I took the risen bread from the fridge and allowed it to come to room temperature before filling the waking house with the aromas of fresh bread.
In the end I think the roasted malt flours did more for the colouring than flavour. The blistered crust is packed with colour and caramelized flavour while the crumb is a little darker but I find it hard to pick a noticeable difference in the overall flavour. I thought this strange after the difference I had sensed in the mixing stages but with a crumb so soft that we struggled to cut it without serious squashing and squeezing – it was deemed a delicious success.
Sunflower and Sesame wholesome wholemeal
I have noticed how much I missed using the mill after last weeks bake of ciabattas and brioche. I somehow felt disconnected from the bread I was making. It all tasted great but it wasn’t ‘wriggling with life’. I missed the planning and preparation, the smell of freshly milled grains … oh and the eventual endless cleaning I seemingly produced. The vacuum and I are getting very well acquainted.
I pictured bread with freshly milled grains and roasted malt flour packed with seeds. Instead of an endless variety of seeds I paired two - sesame and sunflower. The aromas of these lightly toasted seeds complimented the roasted malt wheat flour bringing a richness and depth to this wholesome bread.
Total dough weight (minus mix-ins)
Desired dough temperature 24°C
Levain build – 8 hrs 18-20°C
Starter (not included in final dough)
Flour (I use a flour mix of 70% AP flour, 18% fresh milled wheat, 9% fresh milled spelt and 3% fresh milled rye)
Freshly milled wheat flour (Four Leaf biodynamic grains)
Roasted malted wheat flour
Sesame seeds lightly toasted
Sunflower seeds lightly toasted
+ Sunflower seeds for coating
- Autolyse flour and for one hour. (hold back 50 grams of water)
- Meanwhile lightly toast sunflower and sesame seeds until golden and allow to cool.
- Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
- Gently mix in seeds until combined.
- Bulk ferment two hours with one stretch-and-fold after the first hour.
- Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape. Spray the outside lightly with water and roll in untoasted sunflower seeds.
- Final proof was one hour at room temperature (25°).
- Bake in dutch oven for 10 mins at 250°C then 10 mins at 200°C. Remove loaf from dutch oven and bake a further 20 mins at 200°C.
After a day of mowing and raking, it was magic to stop and savor a slice of this while still warm. To top it off – a scraping butter. Sigh …
The Four Leaf milling grains lend their typical golden hue to a soft crumb packed with seeds. The sesame is subtle and appears in the background on occasions to remind you of their presence while sunflower seeds are the champions – from the tender bite in the crumb to the roasted crunch on the crust to the final enjoyment of picking at fallen seeds on the plate.
All the best,