The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Josh's Sprouted Wheat Levain w/ Barley and Rye

varda's picture

Josh's Sprouted Wheat Levain w/ Barley and Rye

Lately I've been so focused on baking what I know consistently and well that I haven't tried new things.   Fortunately I am still a regular browser (if less frequent commenter) on TFL and there is a lot of new out there.   Josh (golgi170) has been posting one interesting bread after another, and I haven't had a chance to start let alone catch up.   Yesterday I decided to try his Sprouted Wheat Levain, that of the beautiful ear.    When I first saw this, I wanted to make it, but lacked the flours he used:   sprouted wheat and barley.   As these things happen, first one and then the other made its way into my cupboard.   No excuses.   Time to bake.  

Not only the flours were new.   Just about every bit of Josh's methods were new.   I resisted the urge to revert to Hamelman methodology and just kept doing the new things even though I was mystified.   More on this shortly.

But first the taste.  Short story:  very good, very interesting, very sour.

Now a bit longer story.   This is a loaf with a kick to it.   If that were all, I wouldn't have been happy.   In addition to the sour, there are subtle undertones.   Furthermore, the crumb has a moist texture that is very pleasant and the crust is light and crisp.   Delicious.  Unfortunately we cut into the loaf so soon that the cut is a bit ragged in the picture above.   Hope you get the idea anyhow.  

Now back to the methodology, formula, etc.   First difference for me at least, is that one of the interesting new flours went into the starter instead of final dough.   I usually let my starter be what it is (that is 67% hydration all white) and then make modifications elsewhere.   Here the starter is built with sprouted wheat flour which then is not introduced into the final dough.  

Final dough calls for malted bread flour.   I haven't been able to lay my hand on that.   Instead I used my usual KAAP.   The ingredients include malted barley.    Does that count?  

Second, a complex mixing protocol.   Long autolyse, then mix in starter, then salt, then after development add in some withheld water and mix again.  

Next two French slap periods.   Ok.   I'll admit it.   Here is where I bailed.   No way was I going to slap that wet dough around.   Instead I put it back into the mixer for a few seconds, at half hour interval, twice.  Half hour later, did stretch and fold in bowl.   Half hour later, stretch and fold on counter.   I think I got decent dough development, so hopefully that wasn't such a big deviation.    

Next long counter ferment - 4 hours.   Why so long?   Won't it over-ferment?   No I guess not.   And yet, my urge was to cut it short to 2.5 hours given the long retard ahead.   But I didn't.  

Josh says 8-12 hour retard.   Here my schedule got away from me, so I did 15 hours.   Perhaps less sour if I'd been able to get to it sooner? 

Then bake at very high temperature, for 50% shorter than usual.    Eeek.   Why so hot?   Why so short?  But really lovely crust came out of that.  

So with all that, different, delicious bread.   Can't argue with that.  

And did I get Josh's beautiful ear?   No such luck.   A tame, even open.   Maybe next time.  



dabrownman's picture

Josh has been working on his method for a while and I too have been watching.  Your bread is very, very good Varda but you should have been punished more for not doing the slap and folds :-)  Great blistered crust and that crumb is one the 'Crumby Baker' is famous for around here - A tag Lucy respectfully gave you.  Nice going!

It may be tangy but I'm using Josh's methods, up to 3 slap and folds but feeding the levain the 25% sifted out portions, retarding that for 1-2 days.  No bulk counter ferment - just 24 hours in the fridge shaped - then 1 hour on the counter to sort of warm up before baking - even more sour - With a rye sour starter and home milled  whole grains a very healthy, if sour bread results.\

Never baked with sprouted flour before so will have to make some and see how different it tastes. 

I'm guessing some day Josh will have his own bread book published.

Happy baking Varda

varda's picture

Hey DA,   Yes, interesting.   I haven't been using home milled lately or home sifted.   Back to that some other time I guess.   This bread is even better on the second slice.   Can't wait to see what it tastes like tomorrow.   Pat Lucy on the head for me.   That is if that doesn't violate her contract.   Thank you.  -Varda

mrfrost's picture

For the record, the KAAP fits the listed specification of "malted bread flour (11.5% protein)" almost exactly.

KAAP is malted, 11.7% protein ± .2%.

varda's picture

Mr. Frost.   I thought so, but wasn't sure.  -Varda

trailrunner's picture

Stepping outside your comfort zone...mebake did the same this week !  Everyone exploring new things.I am in the midst of a rise with a lot of about sticky sloppy dough...I can only hope that it retards and stiffens up some so I can get it out of the floured baskets. 

You did great. I bet the sour gets more interesting as the days go by. I haven't used my sprouted flours are an inspiration. c

varda's picture

Hey TR,  Need to keep the new things coming to keep both me and my customers happy.   Threw out a few experimental loaves this week.   My test kitchen isn't always a happy place.   Good luck with that spelt loaf.   And do use the sprouted flours.   They just add something new and very good.  Thanks for the encouragement.  -Varda

isand66's picture

very nicely done Varda.  You don't need ears to taste good bread  now do you?? :)

I like to try different methods every once in a while as well so it was refreshing to read about your foray into Josh's techniques.  It is amazing how a few slight changes to time or method can really change the final outcome of a bread.

Great looking crumb and crust even if it is hard of hearing...


varda's picture

I'm intrigued by the sprouted flour and barley flour.   The crumb on this is so moist and I'm sure that has to do with the sprouted flour.   I am supposing that the barley leads to the interesting (and good) taste.    This formula only uses a small amount.   Would like to try a higher percent.   Thanks so much for your comments and commiseration.  -Varda

isand66's picture

You're most welcome.  I have used the sprouted WW from KAF but did not notice any great improvement like you have.  I actually bought a strainer cap for a mason jar so I can try sprouting my own grains but have not gotten around to it yet.

Hope your market is still going strong.

If you want to try something different for the market I would suggest you try the date bread I made last month.  Not to be full of myself but I would say it was one of my favorites I have made to date (ha..ha..Ha)!  It really had a great flavor profile and nothing too funky that your customers would object to.

Look forward to your next post.


bakingbadly's picture

Still a beautiful loaf, even without the pronounced ear.

Some of the techniques you mentioned are also unfamiliar to me but that's what experimenting is all about. Each tweak is another bread variation to explore.

Happy baking,


varda's picture

I suppose this is a pretty tame experiment given what I've seen you try.  It's a lot funner when you experiment and then have something good to eat afterwards.   Thanks so much.  -Varda

SylviaH's picture

Looks like the sprouted flour's are having an interesting effect besides being...delicious!  

I always enjoy seeing what your whipping up in your kitchen : ) 

A happy baker makes for happy customers.  


varda's picture

Hey Sylvia,   Well whatever that sprouted wheat is doing, the bread is fresh and good day two.  I'm using Arrowhead which is I think the one you used for a recent bake.   Thanks for commenting.  -Varda

Mebake's picture

This is one handsome loaf, nonetheless Varda! The crumb and crust tell tales about the outcome. You did a good job.


varda's picture

I really like this bread and plan to make it again, perhaps a bit less sour the next time.   I'm also encouraged by the sprouted wheat and barley flours.   They both seem to add a lot.   Thanks Khalid.  -Varda