Thursday 29 November 2012

Sourdough Loaf With Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds

I was quite pleased with my previous effort at baking bread. Especially with getting past my own fear of trying something new or different. And I am getting withdrawal symptoms!

So the decision went to making a sourdough loaf with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I consulted my copy of Classic Sourdoughs, Revised by Ed and Jane Wood for ideas. The normal recipe requires all-purpose or white bread flour, but I opted for one cup of rye which I used for the starter, then added two cups of brown bread flour to this. Some salt followed, along with the ¼ cup each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I used the seeds raw, as per the recipe. I made bread, using sweetcorn before, which was edible but not really something you want to do often. The taste does not warrant the effort. Better to make a corn loaf with some maize flour added, then use the sweetcorn as an addition.

In this case I think that I am on relatively safe ground, having a recipe for a loaf with sunflower seeds. I have also seen other recipes on the internet using the same mix of seeds that I am using. There seems to be a division of thinking about whether to roast the seeds before using or not. I sucked a thumb and decided to go the raw way. Simply because I feel lazy today.

The starter was made by decanting some of the first wash mix of my sourdough, then adding a cup full of rye flour. This was left on the work top for six hours. Once it started smelling like a live sourdough and developed some extra body, I mixed the dough.

On the topic of washing, it is something I do to the sourdough every time I use it. Take it out of the refrigerator and let it thaw. Then add normal tap water to the top of the container. Stir the mix to get proper dilution, then decant 80% of the contents. I used some of this for the starter, the rest went down the drain. This gets rid of 80% of the acid and the populatiomn. But the gene pool is intact, so the sourdough grows back merrily in the less acid habitat that you just created. The 20% of the sourdough that is left gets fed with some rye flour and a little additional water, then sits and develops a new population, after which it goes back in the refrigerator to lie dormant until my next baking exercise.

Back to the loaf. The starter basically got the same treatment, except the starter got more rye. I need a large population to leaven the loaf. I also added two dessert spoons of brown sugar to the starter. Hopefully this will make a difference to the end result, where the seeds may not be overly sweet.
The loaves were baked at a temperature of 180ºC/350ºF for 40 minutes. Remember I have a fan in the oven and get a more even temperature gradient. If your oven does not have a fan, up the temperature by 15-20 degrees. I had the usual little pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to generate some steam.

The last rise of the loaves in the pans did not look to good but I persevered. As expected, the loaves did not rise much in the oven (very little oven spring.) I was very worried by now, wondering what had gone wrong.

The loaves came out the oven promptly after forty minutes. The longer baking time was to allow for the thicker dough. The loaves sounded nice and hollow to the knock and had a very crisp and firm crust.

After another twenty minutes' worth of cooling and developing the crust, I cut the first loaf. My fears were immediately allayed. The crumb had nice uneven fermentation holes and was nice and elastic with a slight moisture. The fermentation holes were also large enough for me to feel more positive about my effort. I was very worried that the dough had collapsed. This dough was mixed specifically a bit soft and moist. This experiment is a success, but with a lesson or two learned. I think to use a bit more fine flour (white bread flour). This lot had very little fine flour and I suspect that this gave rise to leakage of the fermentation gases. Also, the dough may have been a bit on the moist side, rather like dough for a baguette. This may not work well with a coarser mix of flour.

Other than the above, there are now regrets. The bread came out exactly to the taste and form that I intended, except for the rising.
And the seeds in the crumb makes for a wonderful taste experience. I shall do this again!

This post also linked to Yeastspotting! 

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12

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