A newcomer, starting by saying I'd like to "custom-design" a loaf: I hope that won't be off-putting. My flour is (perhaps) a bit odd, so I want to use good ideas from here/there to get the best one can from this flour. The wheat is hard red spring. Protein analysis (grower told me) is a bit low for the variety, just under 12.5%.
I'd like a sour taste slightly relieved by sweetness. Gotta have the onion.
My levain is in good shape. I've forgotten when I started it - possibly 20 years ago, probably a mix of commercial wheat & rye flours. I want to use levain only. While I have both dry and fresh "wet" yeast, I feel more at home using levain only.
I'm not pushing my Whisper Mill to grind to maximum fineness (to avoid overheating the flour).So the product is a bit coarse, but finer than cornmeal. I'm sieving the flour, removing perhaps 1/3 of the bran.
Ingredients (all carefully weighed except as noted):
700 g wheat flour
1/2 c levain (60%hyd.)
onion (chopped) 1/2 c
flaxseed 1.2 c (c/w only as much water as it will absorb)
I've had lots of failures. But there's one constant that keeps me trying: the taste is always super!
Process so far. In mixing bowl, thin levain with some of the water. Add remaining water and all flour. Spoon mix. Rest covered 1/2 hour. Mix hard @ minimum speed in my old mixer with doughhooks. Add remaining ingredients except salt and mix more.
Next morning (after overnight, covered, in fridge): warm it up thoroughly. Add the salt and mix it in well. Covered, @ warm room temp, rest 5 (or more) hours to rise.
Then knead it and put into oiled bowl for second rise. After again kneading, and making two pieces, put into (what I think are) correctly-sized bread pans. In electric oven @ 100F., pan rise for close to 3 hours.
Finally, slash the loaves & put them back in (only warm) oven, and start the heat to 400F. A second thermometer left in oven verifies temperature.
I'm getting less oven spring than I'd like, the finished loaves are too dense, and getting the interior baked seems to take a very long time. My dough hasn't passed a windowpane test yet. I could still be underworking it.
It seems to me that if I can work this process out, switching to 1/3 rye shouldn't demand much adjustment.
Last note. Once only, I added about two cups of whole wheat berries softened in a sugar/water solution. Those loaves were super, only over-dense.
I'll be grateful for any comments that may move me toward that happy sweet spot. I'm addicted to homemade (beer, wine, Gravadlachs, brined/smoked meat, etc). And I'm pretty sure I teethed on homemade bread lo-ong ago.