Honest bread - 100% whole-wheat desem bread and some country bread
The idea of honest bread and its making found its way into my thinking over the weekend. I find myself slipping more and more into this way of baking. Using less but wanting more from it. I didn’t bake any differently to past weekends yet I felt more connected and relaxed throughout the process. The slightly cooler temperatures certainly helped both my peace of mind and the resulting bread. The kitchen felt less frantic.
I haven’t been pushing the envelope. Just practising consistency while noticing and adapting to the subtle differences the change of seasons is bringing. Perhaps this might be seen as boring or lazy … nevertheless I enjoyed it thoroughly and it keeps us well fed.
I baked two small batches of 100 per cent whole-wheat desem bread and country breads  on the weekend. This will feed the family during the week and left us with a loaf to take away on a picnic to a country market in the northern New South Wales town of Bangalow. We had the best handmade organic doughnuts while wandering through the markets. One of the country breads was given to Nat’s parents on our trip home to help ease their struggling brought on by home renovations.
I have been trying a new method of milling where the flour is constantly stirred and moved around in the bowl as it falls from the mill. I want to disperse the heat as quickly as possible and noticed a definite improvement in the time it took for the flour to cool. Whether this translates into the final bread I really have no idea. Any ideas? I sifted the wheat flour for the country bread as normal and retained the bran for coating the desem loaves.
100% Whole-wheat Desem
Total dough weight
Desem starter build – 10 hrs 18-20°C
Freshly milled organic wheat flour
Freshly milled organic wheat flour
- Mix desem starter and leave to ferment for 10-12 hours at 18-20°C
- Mill flour and allow to cool to room temperature before mixing with water (hold back 50 grams of water) and autolyse for a minimum of one hour.
- Add levain to autolyse then knead (French fold) 5 mins. Return the dough to a bowl and add salt and remaining 50 grams of water and squeeze through bread to incorporate (dough will separate then come back together smoothly) then knead a further 10 mins.
- Bulk ferment two and a half hours with three stretch-and-fold 30 mins apart.
- Preshape. Bench rest 20 mins. Shape.
- Final proof was for 1.5 hours at 24°C
- Bake in a preheated dutch oven at 250°C for 10 mins then reduce temperature to 200°C and bake a further 10 mins. Remove bread from the dutch oven and continue to bake on a stone for a further 20mins to ensure even browning.
I am continuing to expand the desem starter with one build straight from the fridge and as the overnight temperature continues to cool the desem starter is achieving a more controlled fermentation and sweeter aroma by the following morning. I have been looking forward to this kind of weather all summer and it is so nice to not have sweating dough racing away from me into a sticky mess. I even had to increase proofing times by an extra half-an-hour for this bake.
For an aesthetic change to previous desem loaves I baked these without slashing in a dutch oven after coating them in bran sifted from the country breads. I was really surprised with the increased oven spring … quite possibly the best I have had with this form of bread.
The most telling tale that the cooling temperatures are affecting the bread came with the cutting and tasting. Nat took a bite and then looked at me and asked quite seriously, ‘Have you added anything else to this … it tastes sweet?’ Not only does it taste sweet, but you can smell the sweetness in the kitchen while slicing through a loaf. The crust is delicate with the bran coating adding a crunchy contrast to the soft crumb within.
So far we have eaten it with Nat’s special ‘sick soup’, with honey and ricotta, toasted with peanut butter, with plum jam, with apricot jam … and the list goes on and on.
Happy baking all ...