Baking bread is one of the most satisfying ways to flex your culinary muscles. And the best part about it is that it will undoubtedly all get eaten! Too many sweet bakes, desserts and treats go half eaten after they’re made due to the new healthy eating craze sweeping the nation. Making a sourdough loaf is certainly no harder than making a normal loaf of bread and the resulting loaf has a completely unique taste. For a full rundown on how-to bake with sourdough look here.
This Sourdough is made by soaking both the rye flour and the toasted seeds in boiling water. The effect of the boiling water is that it lets the grains soak up more of the liquid and expand to a greater size. Some say it aids digestion, but really it is a half-step to fermenting as they would have done in the past. Using soakers in a sourdough loaf almost seems unnecessary as the starter itself is fermented. I included the soakers for flavour, moisture and some heat to help along the natural yeasts.
Before starting this loaf you should know it will take several hours to make and it is best to start the day before or very early in the morning of the same day. It all depends on how active your starter is.
What you will need:
85g rye flour
50g seed mix, toasted
425g strong white bread flour
350ml cool water
oil for kneading
How to do it:
1. Start by placing the rye flour and toasted seed mix into separate bowls. Add about 50ml boiling water to the toasted seed mix. To the rye flour add enough boiling water to make it into a very thick paste that still holds its shape.
2. Place the starter, flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add in the soaked rye flour, still warm, then drain most of the water from the seeds and add them in too. Whilst mixing, either in a mixer or by hand (I always use hand because 1. it’s more fun 2. you can control the mixing better and 3. you get a better feel for how the dough works), slowly add the water until you have a soft sticky dough that holds its shape. You may not need all of the water or you may need more, it all depends on the environment and the ingredients.
3. Coat the worktop with some oil (any unflavoured is fine) and place the dough onto it. Knead for about 5-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth, soft and doesn’t spread out a lot when left alone. Place into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a teatowel and leave the dough to proof until double its original size. This will take anything between 5-12 hours depending on your starter. Mine is very active and took 5 hours to rise. Do not rush this proving as this is where a lot of the flavour develops.
4. After the dough is double in size remove it from the bowl onto a well floured worktop. Knock back the dough (punch the air out) and cut off about 1/5 of it. Divide the off-cut in two and roll into two equal length sausages about 30-40cm long:
Shape the remaining dough by rolling it tightly to fit into the basket or tin. Place it directly on top of the plait:
5. Proof again this time or about 1-3 hours or until the dough is double in size.
6. About 15 minutes before the dough is ready preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan and place a baking sheet/tray into the oven. Mix some semolina and flour in a separate bowl.
7. When the dough is ready take the sheet/tray from the oven and dust with the flour mix, then place the risen dough on top. If the plait looks as if it has gone don’t worry it will reappear! Throw some water into the bottom of the oven to create steam and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature by 20°C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes. The bread is ready when it is well browned and makes a hollow sound when tapped. Cool for about 1 hour but if you can’t wait there really isn’t anything better than having warm bread fresh from the oven!
See the plait has reappeared! The resulting loaf has a fantastic sour note to it with a hint of the deeper rye flavour coming through at the end. The seeds provide a nice texture and the mix of them each bring about their own small explosion of flavour. The first 5-10 minutes of baking are when the crust will either become hard or soft depending on how much water is added. 2 minute intervals to spray on water lets the crust absorb it and become hard without losing too much heat.
It has an open irregular crumb structure. I love cutting my bread open to see the crumb structure and always look out for larger holes dotted throughout.
All in all I really enjoyed this bread, both the baking and the eating! It’s definitely one to be made again. I hope you give it a go!
Thanks for reading again,