Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flax and Sunflower Seed Whole Wheat Bread

Of the bread baking books I’ve read, they all tend to stick to techniques and recipes for fermenting, proofing, shaping, and baking bread dough of various types. Each one offers a slightly varied approach or unique tips for these processes. I just recently read my review copy of Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread, and there was something different and kind of ingenious about this bread book. After all the the interesting tips and information about making a wild yeast starter and crafting dough and the different types of breads and how to bake them, there’s a section full of suggestions for using day old bread. Seeing several dishes made with bread made the thought of having a house full of home-baked loaves even more delightful. The various, seasonal kinds of bruschetta, sandwiches, uses of breadcrumbs and croutons, and the delicious photos of all those things give you one reason after the next to bake more bread. So, I just had to decide which bread to make first. The beginning of the book is devoted to describing how to make a basic country loaf, and then all of the other breads are some sort of variation on it. I was distracted at first by the brioche dough and the beignets made from it, but I chose to begin with a whole wheat bread packed with flax and sunflower seeds. If you don’t have a sourdough starter in your possession, Robertson suggests a simple enough way of making one, and he recommends feeding it with half white and half whole wheat bread flours. My starter is always fed with white bread flour, so I began by separating some starter and feeding it with the recommended mix of flours for a day before beginning this bread dough.

There were two key elements to the bread making process in this book. One of those was the baking method which I’ll explain more below, and the other was the goal of achieving a not so sour taste in the bread by only using a scant tablespoon of the mature starter when making the leaven. The night before the dough was to be made, one tablespoon of starter was mixed with warm water and white and whole wheat flours and left at room temperature until the next morning. For whole wheat dough, the leaven was then added to more warm water, all-purpose flour, and whole wheat flour, and it was mixed and left to rest for about an hour. Robertson explains that a whole wheat dough requires a longer rest after mixing that a white flour dough. After resting, salt was added, the dough was transferred to a clean bowl for the three hour bulk fermentation, and it was left until the turning began. Every 30 minutes, the dough was folded or “turned.” For the flax and sunflower seed bread variation, one cup of sunflower seeds was toasted, and one cup of flax seeds was soaked in boiling water. I would have expected the seeds to be added with the salt before the bulk fermentation began, but instead they were added after the second turn or one hour into it. Now, soaking the flax seeds causes them to become a little sticky and mixing all those little seeds into the dough takes a bit of squeezing and folding and mixing by hand. That seemed like a lot of working of the dough at that point of the bulk fermentation, so I may try adding them earlier next time. The next steps involved dividing the dough in two and giving both pieces a bench rest, and then each piece was shaped into a boule, rolled in one cup of raw sunflower seeds, and placed in bowls lined with towels that had been coated with all-purpose and rice flour for the final rise. I placed mine in the refrigerator for about twelve hours before baking. And, the baking involved that other interesting technique I mentioned. Rather than introducing steam in the oven with a spray bottle of water or by pouring water into a pan placed on the oven floor, a cast iron pan with a lid was used. The pan was heated in the oven with its lid, the dough was placed in the hot pan and carefully slashed, the lid was placed on top, and the bread began baking at 450 degrees F. After 20 minutes, the lid was removed, and the bread finished baking.

Because this was a rather wet dough, the lidded cast iron pan captured all the steam escaping from the dough as the bread baked and resulted in a crackly, crisp crust. My only disappointment was the lack of the open, holey crumb that I saw in other breads in the book. I suspect that was due to the bread being dense with seeds and the working of the dough in getting those seeds into it. Still, it was a nutty, flavorful bread that worked perfectly for sandwiches or simply toasted and slathered with butter. Now, I have more bread to bake so I can turn back to that last chapter of the book with all those ways of using it.

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


36 comments:

  1. I like the sound of that book! it's one of several bread cookbooks I've had my eye on for a while.
    I'd love to sink my teeth into that loaf!

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  2. That bread looks beautiful!!! Love the pictures!

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  3. I would love this cookbook. I have never worked with started yet. You bread is really nice.

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  4. A splendid loaf! So healthy and tasty.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. That is a beautiful loaf! I think I will bake bread today, thanks for the inspiration!

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  6. Such a healthy loaf! so reminded me of how long it has been since i bake my own bread!

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  7. Flaxseed is so healthy and I must start using it more often. The bread looks wonderful.

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  8. What a perfect loaf, you are so skilled!
    *kisses* HH

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  9. this loaf is so beautiful and sounds pretty healthy! you did an excellent job:)

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  10. Oh Lisa, your bread looks so pretty, hearty and so tasty. Beautifully done!

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  11. Nothing is better than home made bread.. :) Cause in bakeries they usually use such things to save money.. :S

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  12. Is there anything better than the smell of baking bread?! I bet this is wonderful! I need to get my hands on this book! :)

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  13. Couldn't have said it any better. 'there really is nothing nicer than the smell of baking bread wafting through the house' is there. This looks so wonderful Lisa :)

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  14. Beautiful bread. One of my goals for 2011 is to make more bread myself !

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  15. I adore these nutty, grainy loaves, Lisa. Now that my kids are gone, I don't make bread nearly enough. This book looks marvelous and might just be the temptation I need!

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  16. Such a gorgeous bread, I love the sunflower seeds here!

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  17. Lovely loaf! I'm still trying to get French bread shaped to my liking but this looks like a good one to try when I move on. I like the addition of the seeds. I haven't yet achieved a very holely crumb either. I'm wondering if it also has something to do with the wheat flour. I read that Tartine has their flour ground to their specifications. I wonder if the wheat flour they use is much finer? I used King Arthur's wheat flour. Have you tried Richardson's Farms flours?

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  18. Shelley: I've had luck once with a very holey crumb. The flour could be the culprit, but I think it has a lot to do with not working the dough and the water content. I always use King Arthur. I haven't tried Richardson's, but I think I've heard it's somewhat coarse.

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  19. The recipes I've seen for sourdough starters say to feed it at the same time every day, but I'm worried that my schedule will make that extremely difficult. Would it ruin the starter to feed it on a 24 hour cycle *most* of the time, but occasionally go off schedule, for example feed it in the evening instead of the morning?

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  20. Matt: I only feed my starter once a week or the day before I plan to use it. I store it in the refrigerator between feedings, remove it and let it come to room temperature, feed it, let it sit at room temperature for about 24 hours, then put it back in the refrigerator if I'm not using it that day. You can definitely arrange a feeding schedule to whichever days and times you choose!

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  21. my bakery makes a poppy, flax, and sunflower seed bread that ROCKS my world. this looks like a winner too!

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  22. I always find bread making tricky.Your post certainly solved some of the confusions.Love the color of crust from baking.

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  23. you make some seriously amazing bread! If you decided to open a bakery you would be sold out every day! Love that bread and the crust is amazing~

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  24. How you tempt us with a shot of the slice covered in butter! My mouth started watering instantly! :D

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  25. Love this artisan bread. THis looks really super, perfect crumb and crust.

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  26. I bought that book months ago and just feel like I don't have the brain space to sit down and digest all that is in there. It is such a beautiful book though - I need to set aside some bread time. Gorgeous as always, Lisa!

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  27. Whenever I'm in the store, I always reach for the loaf that's covered in seeds. I just love the texture and crunch they add. One of my fave kinds of bread.

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  28. The bread looks really wonderful.

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  29. I love, love, love Tartine bread. I think some of their other bakery items are hit or miss, but the bread is so good! Baking the bread in cast iron is such a great idea...Your seeded bread looks amazing.

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  30. It's gorgeous, I'm so impressed! The first picture with the melting butter is making my mouth water :)

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  31. What a gorgeous bread with all those sunflower seeds! The way it's baked reminds me of the NY Times no-knead bread. I have all kinds of ends of bread I've been freezin - my Mom has been cranking bread out almost everyday for a month now. This book sounds great for giving me ideas - aside from making croutons and bread pudding!

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  32. Love the interesting recipe for this beautiful loaf! The texture and the seeds used in it makes it a perfect loaf for a healthy breakfast. Good to have come to this lovely site.

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  33. Wow Lisa, this looks amazing. I love bread with texture and whole grain and this one is just perfect color and texture.

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