Five Grain Levain from Hamelman's "Bread"
I went looking for a recipe that would use up some whole wheat and bulgar grain I accidentally mixed up. I did not find that recipe (yet), but I did stumble upon this variation on Hamelman's Five Grain Levain posted by MadAboutB8 on her blog recently. Thank you Sue! As a result, I got distracted into this recipe, but since I had no sunflower seeds I substituted some raw pumpkin seeds we had in the cupboard. I used Pendleton Mills Power (bread) flour, with home-milled hard white winter wheat for the whole wheat flour. I used steel cut oats and BRM Flax Seeds. The home-milled flour is always thirsty, so I ended up adding about 15-20 gm of extra water to the mix to get a good hydration level. Everything else went according to Sue's recipe adaptation. I did not retard this dough so I did include the yeast, but I only used 1/2 teaspoon (the formula calls for 1 tsp) because I seem to have explosive luck with instant yeast. This bake was no different in that respect, and the dough came along right on schedule, even in our cool 67F-68F temperatures.
I made two round loaves, shaped in willow baskets. I baked them sequentially in my La Cloche at 455F. As you can see below, one loaf got away from me just a bit and over proofed a bit when the kitchen warmed up while the first loaf baked.
The loaf in front is the slightly over proofed loaf, which I sliced for the crumb shots. While clearly over proofed from external appearance it did not seem to suffer at all internally.
The crumb in this bread is moist and tender, and has excellent flavor. It is not at all heavy, which I feared after soaking all the seeds and whole grains for 16 hours. My wife mentioned, three different times, how much she likes this bread. That's a new record, so I know this bread has made a good impression.
I continue to really enjoy the results that my La Cloche clay baker provides. It has helped this bread to have a nice thin crust that is crisp yet chewy, and (IMHO) very appropriate to this bread. It makes it a little hard to slice evenly though with the crumb so tender. Here is a closer look at the crumb of this bread.
I expected the seeds to be more pronounced, but I was pleased to find that there is a homogeneous flavor that the seeds do not dominate. Instead of any mouthful having a single prominent flavor there are any number of small individual bursts of taste from wheat, bulgar, oats, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, crust. It tastes great and made a fine accompaniment to a robust beef stew.
This bread has moved Hamelman's "Bread" to the top of my birthday/father's day gift list. If only half the other formulas in the book are as good as this one (in it's original form), it will keep me busy for a long time.
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