Weekend Reclamation Project – Back At It
The goal: A simple, 100% wholegrain, sourdough bread that I can make on an after-work weeknight schedule.
I've tried a variety of approaches. As is so often the case, simpler seems to be better. On past attempts I was making things harder than they needed to be and the bread suffered. This time I refrained from making any radical changes to the method and focused on a few details, trusting more to feel and less to thinking (and by thinking, I mean over-thinking... and over-thinking, and over-thinking).
Flour. I switched from a WW bread flour that sounded good but just didn't feel right to a combination of Bob's Red Mill organic WW and Heartland Mills whole white wheat, about a 50/50 mix. The dough felt better right from the start.
Hydration. It needed more, so I gave it more. I was resisting this earlier to keep the math simpler (I know, I know, but it seemed like a good idea at the time) and to keep the loaves from going flat, but the bread wants what the bread wants.
Salt. Again, I ignored the math and reduced the salt because I was tasting too much of it in previous versions, even though the same amount worked fine using traditional methods.
Steam. This method tends to produce a heavy crust so... less steam!
Fortune smiled on me and I managed to bake a couple nice loaves of bread. It still isn't quite at the level of a one-day, Saturday sourdough, but it will certainly get me through when time is tight. I plan to try this method again without any changes, and a result worth repeating must be a good sign.
The Method - for 2 loaves
Evening 1 - Starter Build - 335g WW flour, 250g water, 100g WW starter @ 75% hydration. Mix 3-4 minutes. Ferment @ room temp overnight, refrigerate the next morning.
Evening 2 - Final Dough - All starter, 500g Whole White Wheat flour, 200g WW, 2 tsp sea salt, 600g water. Cut up starter and mix w/ dry ingredients. Add water and mix until incorporated. Knead 5-7 min wetting hands as needed. Rest 5 min. Knead 2-3 min. Ball and refrigerate in closed container immediately.
Evening 3 - Proof and bake - Gently stretch dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick or less and place on floured board. Cover with plastic wrap and let warm 1 hour. Shape gently and proof 2 ½ hours. My microwave functions as my proofing box. It starts about 70F and will get to about 80F after 1 hour - this helps a lot.
Bake on preheated stone 500F for 5 min w/ steam. Reduce heat to 460F and bake 45 min. Place on cooling rack and go to bed.
Percentages (give or take, if you find fault with my math I don't want to hear about it, it's a work in progress [the math as well as the bread] =)) WW flour 52% / White WW flour 48% / Hydration 81% / Salt 1.6% / starter is approx. 35% of finished dough weight.