Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wholemeal sourdough with cereals and seeds

I started out with the idea of making one of those dense, seed-filled 'German' loaves, but somehow things changed along the way. First off, I came back with a bag of mixed cereal flakes from my local wholefood store (oats, wheat, barley, rye, malted corn) and some sunflower seeds, together with a bag of 'semi-wholemeal flour' (whatever that means). Then I opened the fridge and found my wonderful starter staring at me reproachfully, so I ditched the idea of using instant yeast and went back to sourdough. And finally I cast around on the net for recipes but didn't find anythng I liked, so decided to adapt my own. Surprisingly enough, it came out quite close to my original intention: dense and moist without being heavy, and packed with flavour.

Makes 2 medium-sized loaves


100g mixed cereal flakes (see above)
200g warm water

200g sourdough starter (60% hydration)
200g wholemeal flour
200g white flour
300g warm water
10g salt
50g sunflower seeds

  1. Weigh the cereal flakes into a bowl, cover with 200g of warm water and set aside. After 10 minutes, strain the cereal flakes in a colander and squeeze out any excess water. Measure 300g of warm water into a large bowl, add the sourdough starter to it, break the starter into very small pieces and mix thoroughly so that there are no lumps. Add the wholemeal and white flour, strained cereal flakes, salt and sunflower seeds to the wet starter mixture, and mix very well with a spoon until it comes together.
  2. With the dough still in the bowl, stretch and fold it, leave to rest for 15 minutes (placing the bowl inside a plastic bag), then stretch and fold three more times, leaving a 15 minute interval each time. Put the bowl back inside the plastic bag and leave to rest for an hour.
  3. Oil two medium-sized loaf tins very thoroughly. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Flatten each piece out into a rough rectangle, then form into a loaf by stretching and folding into the centre. Once you have a nice loaf shape, transfer to the tin. Repeat with the other piece, then place the tins inside a large plastic bag and leave to prove for about 4 hours at room temperature, until doubled in size. (See photo.) An hour before your loaves are due to finish proving, set the oven to 240oC.
  4. Remove the loaf tins from the bag, slash the loaves  lengthwise with a sharp knife or lame, open the oven and spray it with plenty of water, transfer the loaf tins to the oven and close the door. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 220oC, and bake for a further 25 minutes until the loaves are nice and brown. Remove loaves from oven, turn out of tins and leave to cool on a wire rack. (See photo.)

dough with cereal incorporated

shaped loaves in tin

risen loaves ready for oven

baked loaves

I really enjoyed making these. I've spent a good few months mastering my sourdough and learning how to work with wetter dough (high hydration, for us bread techies), and it was very satisfying to be able to apply what I've learned by coming up with something quite different. The underlying dough is the same, but I changed the type of flour, added cereals and seeds, had to come up with a pre-soaking technique and baked in tins to create a denser loaf. I was worried it would all end in disaster, but the end result, though I say it myself, was a triumph! Hurrah. (And now back to that translation whose deadline just crept a bit closer while I was skiving off in the kitchen.)

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