Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Big Healthy

Whole grain wheat. Buckwheat. Sunflower seeds. Sourdough starter. Slow proofing. All this makes for some interesting and healthy bread.

First step, the night before: mix some whole wheat flour with some buckwheat flour, add some sourdough starter and water, but no salt. Mix well, and place in the refrigerator.

The next day, roast some sunflower seeds, add to the mix along with more whole wheat flour, a bit of bread flour, some salt and more water. Knead well, until you can do a windowpane test with the dough - stretch it into a flat sheet between your fingers without tearing. The dough should be a bit sticky and supple. Don't worry about the soft, sticky dough - as long as it more or less holds its shape as a ball (instead of collapsing/melting) you should be fine.

Set the thing in a bowl to proof, until it doubles in volume.

Punch down, form into a ball , turn out into a basket lined with a couche well coated in flour with the pretty side down. Let it proof some more.

When it looks large and fluffy, transfer it to a cornmeal coated peel and slide it onto a hot stone in an oven preheated to 500°F. Carefully squirt some water on the sides of the oven, or if you want to be really careful, into a heavy-duty sheet pan. This creates steam that helps the loaf rise.

Bake about ten minutes at 500°F, then lower the heat to around 450°F and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes to develop a wonderful, thick crust. Watch the loaf occasionally to make sure it's not burning.

When it's ready - the interior will test about 205° F - place the loaf on a cooling rack. Eat it any time after it's cool.

This loaf, being whole grain and full of nuts, should taste great and give you lots of fiber and vitamins in the process. It's kind of like drinking a rich, dark beer compared to that light diet stuff.

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