I baked the Seeded Sourdough recipe from The Perfect Loaf. I didn’t get the oven spring that I should have because I tore the skin on the dough when I was pre-shaping. I was having too much fun and did too much during pre-shaping, there was no need whatsoever to try to get it as perfectly round as I was doing. Silly mistake. Unfortunately that meant that when I unloaded the dough from the banneton, I kind of flattened more than it should have and of course, it didn’t get the rise it should have as well. Fortunately, I read the fermentation well enough and the crumb and crust are both to my liking.
Ingredients for 750 g loaf (not including seeds)
296 g bread flour
62 g semolina
29 g whole wheat flour
301 g water (reserve 44 g for mixing later)
8 g salt 1.41 tsp salt
55 g levain
16 g flax seeds
16 g toasted dark sesame seeds
5 g fennel seeds
22 g raw sunflower seeds (not roasted or salted)
Zest of one lemon
Levain build for 750 g loaf
20 g starter
20 g whole wheat flour
20 g bread flour
40 g water
1. Levain – 9:00 a.m.
Build the liquid levain (everything listed in the Levain Build section above) in the morning and store somewhere around 75-78ºF ambient.
2. Autolyse – 3:00 p.m.
Mix flour and water (reserve 100g water for the mix, later) in a bowl until all dry bits are hydrated. Cover bowl and store somewhere warm (around 75-78ºF) for 2 hours.
3. Prepare Seeds – 3:10 p.m.
After you’ve mixed your autolyse, prepare the seed mixture. Turn on your oven to 350ºF and let it preheat while you measure out all the called for seeds.
Once your oven is preheated spread the dark sesame (only these) on a quarter baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Keep an eye at the end of this to prevent any burning. Remove and set somewhere to cool.
Set a kettle of water to boil on the stove. Once it’s just about boiling pour 150g of hot water (not boiling) over the flax seeds in a bowl and let sit to cool. Once this water is cool to the touch, mix in the cooled sesame and fennel. Let this mixture soak until called for in the bulk fermentation step.
Note that I didn’t incorporate the raw sunflower seeds into the water soaker, you could do this if desired.
4. Mix – 5:00 p.m.
By the time we will use the seed mixture they will have absorbed the entire 150g of water they were soaking in. Knowing this, you should expect the dough to be a little slacker later in bulk when the seeds are incorporated as they start to release a little water into the dough. To combat this we will build additional strength in this dough at the start.
Add the 55 g levain to the top of your dough and using some of the reserved 44 g water wet your hands and mix the levain in thoroughly.
I chose to do slap and fold for about 5 minutes, just until the dough starts to show signs of a smooth surface and it’s catching some air. If you aren’t comfortable with slap/fold method or don’t like it, you can do stretch and folds in the bowl until your dough tightens up and slightly hard to stretch out and fold over. Medium development.
When finished mixing, sprinkle the salt on top of the dough and use the remaining water to help dissolve. Pinch through a few times and fold the dough over itself to help incorporate.
Transfer dough to a tub or thick-walled bowl for bulk fermentation.
5. Bulk Fermentation – 5:10 p.m. to 8:50 p.m.
At 76-78ºF ambient temperature bulk fermentation should go for a little less than 4 hours. Keep an eye on the dough, for me, fermentation was moving rather rapidly and the dough became extremely puffed up (see preshape photo below).
Perform a total of 4 sets of stretch and folds during the bulk, spaced out by 30 minutes. If the dough feels extremely slack to you at the end of the 4th set, do another set for a total of 5. After the fourth or fifth set of stretch and folds let the dough rest for the remainder of bulk. Keep an eye on the dough nearing the three to three and a half hour mark during bulk fermentation, it will rise quite a bit and could rise up all the way to your plastic or towel covering your bowl. It helps to use a larger sized bowl for this dough!
After the second set of stretch and folds (1 hour into bulk) add in the seed soaker and zest of two lemons (optional). (I think I’ll add the seeds and lemon zest during the second set of folds layering them in portions during each stretch and fold). I’ll typically do my folds, spread the seeds evenly on the top of the dough and then with wet hands massage it gently into the dough. Fold it in thoroughly
6. Divide & Preshape – 8:50 p.m.
Dump out the dough from your bulk container onto an un-floured work surface. Pre-shape the dough into two round boules and let rest 20 minutes uncovered.
I want to warn you that the dough can be very sticky here at this point. Use plenty of flour on your hands and rely mostly on your bench knife to bring the dough into two taut boules.
7. Shape – 9:10 p.m.
To coat the outside of your loaves with seeds (optional) as I’ve done, lay out a towel next to the shaping area that’s covered with a seed mixture. Take equal parts raw black sesame (don’t use the toasted ones, these will bake in the oven on the outside), flax and fennel, and mix together in a bowl. Spread this mixture out in the center of the towel evenly into a thin but cohesive layer. I didn’t include sunflower seeds in this mixture as I prefer the look of this bread with only small seeds on the exterior — personal preference. After the dough is shaped we will quickly roll the top of each batard or boule in this mixture.
I prefer to shape these as a batard, as follows:
- Flip pre-shaped round
- Fold bottom up to about halfway
- Fold the left side over to about 3/4 to the right
- Fold right side over to cover left
- Stretch top up & away from the center and fold down to about half (you’ll now have a “letter”)
- Grab a little of the dough at the sides near the top and stretch it over the center so the dough crosses. Imagine lacing up a shoe where you first grab your laces and cross them over
- Repeat 3 times from top to bottom (the result will look like a laced up shoe)
- Take the bottom and gently roll the dough up to the top and try to seal it slightly when done rolling
For more instruction on how to shape this dough as an oblong loaf, see my post on how to shape a batard (with video!).
Once you’ve shaped your dough lightly spritz the top with a water mister, this helps the seeds stick to the exterior. Then, using your bench knife scoop up your dough and invert it so the seam side is facing up onto the towel with the seed mixture. Roll it around gently to coat and then transfer seam-side-up to your final proofing basket.
Coating the outside is a little hectic at first, but you get the hang of it after a few tries.
8. Rest & Proof – 9:15 p.m.
Cover your baskets with plastic and then retard in the refrigerator at 38ºF for strictly 10 hours. Even at such cool temperatures this dough can quickly overproof so keep an eye on it in the fridge in the morning. By the morning my dough was very gassy and had risen quite a bit in the fridge.
9. Bake – Next Morning: Preheat oven at 6:15 a.m., Bake at 7:15 a.m.
Preheat oven for one hour at 500ºF.
Scoring this bread can be difficult because the seeds form a hard crust on the outside. Get the blade into the dough and move quickly down to make a score. If the blade slips out of the cut just continue where it left off and keep it going.
To make a double-score as you see below, make two straight, vertical slashes on the top of the dough. The top one starts near the top-left of the dough and goes down halfway, the second one starts a little higher than where the first one left off and goes down straight almost to the bottom of the loaf. To visualize this hold your two index fingers out in front of you so the tops of your fingers are at the same height. Then shift your right hand down until your right fingernail lines up with your left finger’s middle joint — your two scores are the entire length of your index fingers.
Bake the loaves at 500ºF for 20 minutes, then remove the steaming pans from inside the oven. Turn the oven down to 450ºF and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes until done to your liking. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 1-2 hours.