Walnut Pear Sourdough
Last week a friend brought us a box of Korean Pears (delicious, by the way) and seeing and tasting them, I thought they might make for a really yummy bread. I've never been a big fan of pears, don't like the texture, but I hadn't had asian pears before. The crisper texture, and not quite as sweet flavor was so much better than the pears I'd had previously. The crisper texture also seemed to lend itself better to inclusion in bread, not as likely to get lost. Then it came time for something else to add to the bread, and walnuts seemed like the natural choice. In the future I think I'll consider adding some chunks of blue cheese into the mix as well, but I didn't think some of the intended consumers of the bread would be happy with that.
I also decided to experiment with stenciling a bit with this bread, which was partially foiled by the flour from the couche, but by the time I was baking the third of the three loaves I'd manged to get it working a bit better. These loaves were also a testing ground for what differences using a cloche made. I played around with the slashing on them a bit too, somewhat successfully. The loaves that were baked in the cloche definitely had slashes that opened a bit wider, and somewhat crisper crust. The loaf volume appeared to be very similar, that is likely because they were verging on overproofed from being a little too warm when they went into the fridge overnight as shaped loaves.
I was very happy with how they turned out overall, though. The crust has a nice bite to it, while the crumb is creamy and very moist. The flavor has a lot of depth as well, just the slightest bit sour with some nuttiness and graininess from the rye and white whole wheat flours, yet exploding with bursts of fruity sweetness from the pears and nutty richness from the walnuts.
Walnut Pear Sourdough Recipe
Makes: 1 large loaf, 2 medium, or 3 small loaves (I made 3, just over a pound each)
Time: 2 to 3 days, 2 if you shape and bake the same day, 3 if you retard. First day: Make starter. Second day: Mix final dough, ferment final dough, divide and shape. Third day: Bake
|Bread Flour||8 oz||230 gm||100|
|Water||5.25 oz||150 gm||67%|
|66% Levain||3 oz||85 gm||38%|
|Starter||16.25 oz||465 gm||88%|
|Bread Flour||15.5 oz||440 gm||84%|
|Dark Rye Flour||1.5 oz||43 gm||8%|
|Whole Wheat Flour||1.5 oz||43 gm||8%|
|Water||9 oz||255 gm||49%|
|Pear Puree||4.35 oz||125 gm||24%|
|.25-.5″ Crisp Diced Pears||7 oz||200 gm||38%|
|Chopped Walnuts||7 oz||200 gm||48%|
|Vegetable Oil||1 oz||28 gm||5%|
|Salt||.25 oz||7 gm||1.4%|
|63.35 oz||1806 gm||342%|
- Cream your starter with the water (adjusting the flour and water to accommodate the hydration of your starter) and then mix with the flour, it should just come together into a loose ball. Let the dough sit 5 minutes, covered, and then knead or mix it briefly to make sure all the flour is well incorporated. Leave the starter out to ferment overnight, or until doubled if making it earlier in the day.
- In a large bowl, stir together the salt, bread flour, whole wheat, and rye flours. In another container, mix the starter with the water, pear puree, and oil until it starts to break apart and mix into the liquids. Pour the starter mixture into the bowl with the flours and mix until it just forms a ball. Let the dough sit, covered, for 5 to 20 minutes to allow it to come together.
- Remove the dough from the bowl to a kneading surface and knead briefly, just enough that everything is evenly incorporated. Have about 2-4 oz of flour close by, and flatten the dough out to provide as large a surface as possible. Leaving a border around the edge of the dough, spread an even layer of diced pears and walnuts across the top of the dough. Fold the dough over itself, trying to seal the pear and walnut pieces inside, give the dough another fold, and then flatten it out again and repeat with more pear and walnut pieces. The dough will start getting very wet as you incorporate the pear pieces, this is where the extra flour comes in. The dough will probably be so wet from the pears that it will become harder to get it to stick to itself, so just keep spreading a bit of flour out over the kneading surface. Be careful not to add too much flour though, you want the dough to still be tacky.
- Once you have incorporated all of the pear and walnut (if you are having trouble incorporating everything, you can leave out 1-2 oz of the walnuts, it may seem like a lot in the dough but by the time it has gone through two rises it will be well distributed!) form the dough into a ball and put it in a large oiled container to rise, and cover it.
- After the dough has been rising for 1 hour, give it a stretch and fold. Turn it back out onto your kneading surface (making sure what was the top side in the bowl is face down) and gently stretch the dough out to approximately double length left to right, then give it a letter fold (bring each end in to the center). Repeat the stretch and following fold in the opposite direction (the closest edge and furthest edge). Place the dough back into the bowl, making sure the side that was face down on the counter is facing up again in the bowl. After another hour of rising, repeat this process again. Repeat this once more time after another hour of rising.
- Allow the dough to double, for me about 3.5 hours at ~70°F, remove from the bowl, and gently degas.
- Divide and shape the dough however you desire, I divided it into 3 pieces of just over 1 pound each, and shaped all of them into boules. Round each piece into a ball, and create surface tension by spinning the dough between your hands while applying slight downward pressure. Once each loaf is shaped, place in a banneton, a floured cloth in a bowl, or on a baking sheet. Cover the loaves well, or place inside a food safe bag and leave to rise overnight in the fridge, or on the counter depending on your timing.
- In my case, the loaves in the refrigerator were already close to fully proofed, so I only gave them 5-10 minutes to warm up before going in the oven, if yours are not fully proofed allow them to warm up and proof, probably at least 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 500°F with baking stone (and cloche, if you have one) in place. Just before you place the loaf in the oven, score it in whatever pattern you like. A hash mark (#) or a semi circle on each edge works well. If using a cloche, load the loaf into the fully preheated oven and lower the temperature to 425°F. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the cloche lid, rotate the loaf 180° and continue baking 15-25 minutes until the loaf is a bit past golden brown, and sounds hollow on the bottom. If you aren't using a cloche, lower to 425°F and steam the oven using a plant sprayer or by pouring water into a preheated pan when loading the loaf. Again, bake for 15 minutes then rotate the loaf and continue baking 15-25 minutes until a bit past golden brown. Remove the baked loaf to a cooling rack and let cool at least 1 hour before slicing.
Notes: Asian pears are intended in this recipe, although crisp European type pears would probably work well too. Yes, I realize the character on the top of the loaf is missing the top part of the upper left radical, I accidentally brushed it off when moving the loaf. If you want to make this bread with commercial yeast, in the starter dough replace the levain with an extra 1.8(51gm) ounces of flour, 1.2(34gm) ounces of water and 1/2tsp (.055 ounce, 1.5gm) yeast.
I'm happy this recipe turned out so well for me, it really hit what I was envisioning when I came up with it. Hopefully it will work as well for anyone else who decides to try it.