Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sourdough Starter and Bread Adventure: 6 George’s Seeded Sour

It had been a month since I’d last used my starter. Is it weird that I’ve gotten to where I worry about it and whether or not it might be getting bored? To make sure it would have a lot of fun for this round of baking, I chose a bread that relies entirely on the starter for its leavening. No additional commercial yeast was added as it sometimes is with the other breads I’ve been baking. Once again from the Breads from the La Brea Bakery book, this seeded sourdough was named for the head baker who developed it. It’s a multigrain bread but isn’t dense or heavy, and it’s crusted on top with a combination of seeds. The use of quinoa, millet, and amaranth is what made me want to try this. It sounded like a delicious and healthy mix of grains, but I began this recipe, as I do all bread recipes, with uncertainty, fear, and hope.

This was a two-day preparation. At the end of day one, the dough was to rest for seven hours, so I planned for that refrigerated resting time to begin just before I went to bed. First, a sponge was made with starter, milk, whole-wheat flour, rye flour, and white bread flour. That was left for three hours. The sponge was then combined with quinoa, millet, amaranth, poppy seeds, and more bread flour. All of that was mixed in a stand mixer with a dough hook, and then sea salt was incorporated. The dough was a little sticky, as it was supposed to be, but it was easy enough to knead it on a floured surface. After kneading for a few minutes, it began its seven hour chilled resting time.

The next morning, the dough was removed from the refrigerator and allowed to come to room temperature. It was then cut into two pieces which were left to rest for 15 minutes. A combination of amaranth, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, anise seeds, and fennel seeds was spread on a baking sheet. Each piece of dough was to have been formed into a football shape. Yes, I know what a football ball is. However, I failed a little at this shaping step, and I’m going to blame this on the fact that I have no interest in the sport of football. Maybe in my mind, the shape of a football is a little longer and thinner than regulation size. The shaped or mis-shaped loaves were then spritzed with water from a water bottle and rolled in the seeds, and I had no problem with with that step. The seeded loaves then sat, top-side down, on a baking sheet topped with a floured cloth with some of the cloth pinched up between the loaves to keep them separated. They were covered with another floured cloth, and then all was slid into a plastic trash bag where they proofed for three to four hours. I really hoped this would be the only time these loaves would see the inside of a trash bag.

The usual oven technique was used again here. It was heated to 500 degrees F, spritzed with water, the loaves were removed from their trash bag shroud and slashed on top, they were slid onto a baking stone with a peel, and the oven was turned down to 450 degrees F. In the next five minutes, the oven was water spritzed two more times, and then the loaves were left to bake for 20 minutes. They had become well-browned on the bottom in that time, so I moved them up to a middle rack for the final 10 minutes of baking.

My finished bread was nicely burnished and well-crusted. As I mentioned, they were longer than a football and therefore not as tall as they might have been. I fretted for a couple of hours, with a complete lack of confidence that the inside would seem right, while they cooled. Then, finally, I picked up my bread knife and with a here goes nothing, I cut into a loaf and was pleasantly surprised. Just as the bread had been described in the recipe’s intro, it was lighter than most multigrains. The inside was moist with a fairly open texture. I tasted a slice and understood right away why Silverton raved about using this bread for a turkey sandwich. The flavor of the grains and the sourdough with the crunchy crust would make this a fantastic sandwich bread. I was so proud of my starter and what it had achieved, and I’m curious what wonders it will produce next.

I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.


29 comments:

  1. Lisa, this is fabulous looking bread. Love the crumbs, so perfect!

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  2. Mmmm...I love sourdough. That's the next bread I want to try to attempt. Yours came out with a nice crisp crust with a deliciously chewy center. Yum!!

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  3. nice crust and the air holes looks so perfect...

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  4. I luv all the ingredients you used in this recipe. The kinda bread I am craving for!

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  5. MMMMM...what a lovely looking bread! I love the crust!

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  6. I love sour dough but I don't have the courage to make them just yet. Yours looks wonderful! Great use of ingredients.

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  7. What a lovely and delicious seeded crust. They turned out wonderful!

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  8. That is my favorite type of bread - one with lots of seeds and things to keep my mouth busy. I love how yours turned out.

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  9. It looks awesome. Luv the seeded top, gorgeous.

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  10. I can get La Brea bread (in London of all places!) - but your seeded breaded looks so much better than theirs! I love how its totally smothered in seeds and the sliced bread shows how perfect the texture must be.

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  11. Oh wow! I love La Brea bread, but this puts their bread to shame! that is gorgeous!

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  12. I am very impressed by your use of amaranth! GREG

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  13. What a beautiful bread! I admire anybody who make their own sourdough. I am still at the yeast level, but maybe someday I'll venture into that territory :D

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  14. seems to me like this certainly belongs among some other seriously well-made breads--it's lovely! when so much time and devotion go into something, it's only fair that it be delicious. :)

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  15. What a gorgeous loaf! So pretty and appetizing with all those sedds!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  16. I didn't know your blog, but you have wonderful breads here! And it surely looks good, I'll be visiting often!

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  17. Yes, what Ben said. :) I envy people who can make this unpredictable thing called sourdough work the way they want it to. I have not been able to do that. Quite frankly, I am terrified of it and what it can do to my emotional well-being. Too many failed sourdough breads .. I haven't quit, though, and, in fact, seeing beautiful bread like this helps build my courage.

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  18. Too cute! I love that you worry that your starter might be feeling neglected. :)

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  19. I know quick breads have a lot of appeal, but I still prefer the taste of the ones that take long... maybe it's just that the effort that goes into them makes them taste better ;)
    Lovely bread!

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  20. This reminds me that I need to wake up our starter and get busy. My friend has an insanely good sourdough recipe on his blog; let me know if you want the link.

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  21. How lovely with all those seeds and yet still light and full of holes.

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  22. Looks like a very hearty, healthy bread. You're great with the baking.

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  23. Such a wonderful combination of seeds and grains! And so thoughtful of you to think about how to keep your starter entertained :)

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  24. Would never expect such an open crumb with heavily seeded bread. It must've smelled great while baking.

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  25. Lovely loaves and great crumb!

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  26. Thanks Lisa; nice post, nice photos, great looking bread! I just tried this recipe and also had difficulty with the shaping. Have you tried again and do you have any suggestions or new ideas?

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  27. Anonymous: I haven't tried this bread again yet. I think my problem with the shaping was that I pulled the loaf out too long causing it to be too thin. Next time, I'll leave the dough in a more compact shape. Good luck with your bread!

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