One of the recipes in Jeffrey Hamelman's wonderful Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes that I've long wanted to try is his Sourdough Seed Bread. This is an all-naturally leaven bread that is made using flaxseeds and toasted sunflower and sesame seeds. The latter two guaranteed to infuse the dough with the delicious flavor imparted by the toasted seeds.
In this version I've omitted the flaxseeds: having baked a lot of breads with them I'm turning to more flavorful seeds and away from flaxseeds which impart little in the way of flavor. True, soaked overnight they add nutrients to the bread. But I'm passing on the extra nutrients.
I began by taking my starter from the refrigerator and allowing it to warm up and perk up doing the day. That evening when it was bubbly I added flour and water to make a liquid levain, and then allowed the wild yeast and lactobacilli to work their magic overnight.
The next morning the bubbly mixture was mixed with the seeds, water, flour and salt, and allowed to ferment for two-and-a-half hours, with folds at 50 minute intervals to strengthen the dough. The hydration of this dough is 75%, so it is a relatively wet dough (though not so much as ciabatta dough), but this high hydration is someone offset by the seeds which suck up quite a bit of liquid.
After the primary fermentation was complete I formed the dough into a ball (boule) and placed it in a linen-covered banneton that I floured with a combination of rice flour and bread flour to keep the wet dough from sticking.
For reasons I don't understand, this particular dough required a lot more proofing than is usual, even for a naturally leavened bread. In fact, I proofed this for three-and-a-half hours, and as you'll see shortly in a shot of its crumb, it could have benefited from an even longer proof.
In any event, after the proofing the banneton was covered and placed in the refrigerator for about 20 hours of retardation to allow the levain to work more flavor out of the dough.
The next day I fired up my gas oven and after allowing it to come to temperature and thoroughly heat my oven stone for about one hour, I turned the dough out of the banneton onto my peel, slid it onto the stone and added steam.
It was baked at 460 degrees F for 15 minutes; the temperature was then reduced to 420 and it was baked another 35 minutes.
What emerged was a nicely caramelized boule that weighs about two-and-a-quarter pounds.
I love the dark color and blistering on the surface of the boule that can be seen in the picture on the right!
So, what does this look like once cut into?
And a final close-up of those lovely seeds:
As you can see, with additional proofing a slightly more open crumb would have been achieved.
Still, this bread has a wonderful flavor thanks to the toasted seeds. It will make a delightful sandwich bread and great toast in the morning.
Another winning recipe courtesy of Jeffrey Hamelman.