Sunday, February 28, 2010

Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Loaf (Low-Knead)

This loaf is dedicated to the entire country of Chile, where they bake some of the most marvelous bread (pancito) in the world.  For Chile:

...Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde, 
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo: 
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera...
P. Neruda 

I think that Pablo often wrote in green to symbolize hope.  I would hope that that's true but all of my hope is with the Chilenos right now.   

This loaf was inspired by the recent New York Times article and video featuring Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery.  While this loaf is not NO-knead, it is low-knead with minimal kneading and longer time to rest, rise, and ferment. 

Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Loaf
(Printable Recipe)
1 cup warm water
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
1 cups sourdough starter 
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup wheat bran
½ cup bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
A little oil or butter (to grease bread pan)

First, take your starter out of the fridge.
Proof yeast in 2 tablespoons water and ½ a teaspoon of sugar. 
While the yeast is proofing, combine 1 cup of whole wheat flour with the wheat germ, wheat bran, and bread flour.  Spoon out 1 cup of your sourdough starter into a large mixing bowl.  Add flour mixture, water, yeast (which should be nice and bubbly by now) and stir. 
The dough will look wet.  Let it rest like this for about 15-20 minutes.  While it is resting measure out ½ cup of whole wheat flour and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Mix them together and add to the dough. 
Don’t be ashamed to get in there with your hands and give it a little knead to incorporate it all.
Once all the flour is incorporated, let the dough rise for 3-4 hours.  Take time now to feed your starter and let it work outside of the fridge for at least 2 hours.  When you come back to the dough it will be doubled and you’ll see some bubbles like those throughout sourdough starter.  
Oil a bread pan.  
Flour your surface generously using up to 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour as you knead the dough for no more than 5 minutes.   
After you knead, place the dough into the bread pan and let rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Before you pop the loaf into the oven, slash the top about 1/4 inch down.

I slashed three diagonal lines.. as you can see.

Finally, cook for 40-45 minutes until bread sounds hollow when you tap it with your finger and the internal temperature is 180°F.

This is by far the most sourdoughy sourdough loaf yet!  I think we got a nice sour loaf because of the maturity of our starter and the use of whole grains, which brings out the twang.  

I concocted this recipe entirely in my mind.  This dough turned out as wet as I would want it.  Next time, I will use a little less water -- definitely using the 2 tablespoons of yeast-proofing water from a pre-measured cup of water rather than adding an additional 2 tablespoons on top of the cup.  

The crumb came out super moist.  

Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey say that "a 6-year-old could do it" in the NYTimes video (linked earlier in post).  I believe that not only could a 6-year-old use Jim Lahey inspired methods to bake bread but a 6-year-old should have the opportunity to bake bread.  And said 6-year-old must take part is as many kitchen experiences as are safe and reasonable for the grown-ups facilitating them.  Check out the children's book Everybody Bakes Bread by Norah Dooley.  Learning to cook is cooking to learn.  

- La Saritah

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