Once you bake a few loaves, you may decide to explore other recipes. Mix and match flours to explore which flavor profiles you like best.
My go-to bread recipe is a basic, lower hydration (read less water) dough that’s easy to work with. Every once in a while, I get the urge to experiment with other recipes just to see what they’ll taste like.
Last night, I made a loaf with 400 grams of bread flour, 25 grams of dark rye flour, and 75 grams of einkorn flour. You’re familiar with bread flour and rye, but you are less likely to know einkorn, which is the oldest known species of wheat. The flour is soft and silky and imparts a rich, nutty flavor to bread. It’s also supposed to be easier to digest by people who are sensitive to wheat. (It’s not gluten free, though.)
Here’s the ingredient list:
- 100 grams levain
- 400 grams bread flour
- 75 grams einkorn flour
- 25 grams rye flour
- 15 grams sea salt
- 350 grams water
A Slightly Different Process
The process for this loaf is a little bit different from the foundational sourdough. There are four important differences, but they’re all pretty simple.
- Instead of waiting to mix in your levain, which is the medium by which you introduce yeast from your sourdough starter into your dough, you will add it right away when you combine the flour and water.
- The amount of time you will let the dough rest, called the autolyse, before adding salt is shorter–just 20 to 30 minutes rather than an hour.
- After adding the salt, you will stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes until you preshape the dough. Typically, you will only stretch and fold the dough only three or four times, but with this recipe you will do it seven or eight times before preshaping.
- The initial baking temperature will be higher than my other recipes–490 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s it. With those changes in mind, let’s get started.
MAKE YOUR LEVAIN
Start building the levain about eight hours after feeding your starter, after it has gotten bubbly and risen to its peak. The surface of the starter will have a slightly domed shape to it.
In a clean wide-mouthed jar, plastic container, or bowl, mix together:
- 40 grams of starter
- 40 grams of whole wheat flour
- 40 grams of bread flour
- 80 grams of water
Stir it up until the flour is all mixed in. Cover and let sit on the counter.
Sloppy Baker’s Tip: A chopstick is an ideal tool for stirring up your starter or levain.
It will bubble and rise just like your starter. I typically let the levain rest for 6-8 hours, but some bakers use it in as short as 4 hours. Keep an eye on it. When the surface is slightly domed, just like your mature starter, it’s ready to use.
MIX TOGETHER FLOUR, WATER, AND LEVAIN
Mix together three kinds of flour with water and levain. Combine:
- 400 grams bread flour
- 75 grams einkorn flour
- 25 grams dark rye flour
- 100 grams levain
- 350 grams of room temperature water
Mix the dough with a well-washed hand until all the flour is incorporated. It may take a few minutes of mixing. Don’t leave any flour on the bottom of the bowl. The result will appear more moist than some other sourdoughs you may have made; this is due to a slightly higher percentage of water in the recipe, but also because einkorn doesn’t absorb water as easily as modern wheat flours.
Let the dough rest 20 minutes. I like to set a timer so I don’t lose track of time.
After 20 minutes of resting, add 15 grams of salt and 25 grams of water. Use your hand to incorporate the ingredients, repeatedly squeezing or pinching the dough until the salt and water are incorporated.
WORK THE DOUGH
Once you’ve squeezed and pinched the dough to incorporate the salt and water, it’s time to start activating the gluten in the dough.
- Reach down the side of the bowl, grab a bit of dough from the bottom, pull it up, and fold it over the top of the dough. Think about it as giving your dough a wedgie.
- Turn the bowl a little, reach into the bowl, grab a bit of dough from the bottom, pull it up, and fold it over the top of the dough.
- Turn the bowl a little and repeat.
Repeat this process until the dough is smooth and elastic. After 30 or 40 wedgies, the dough will feel thicker and smoother in your fingers.
The dough will ferment, letting the yeast do its work, for four hours.
STRETCH AND FOLD THE DOUGH EVERY 30 MINUTES
After 30 minutes, complete a stretch and fold. Then repeat every 30 minutes throughout the 4 hours. You’ll notice the consistency of the dough changes as you go. It will be less sticky and feel thicker in your hands each time you stretch the dough because the gluten is developing. After the last stretch and fold, the dough will look smooth and pillowy. You may also see a few small air bubbles on the surface.
PRESHAPE YOUR LOAF
Spill the dough onto the bench and preshape it into a round. Flour your hands. Using slightly cupped hands, turn the dough without lifting it from the surface. As you turn the loaf, pull it gently toward you across the counter. The goal is to shape the dough into a round loaf shape with a little tension across the surface of the loaf.
Let the loaf rest on the counter uncovered for 30 minutes.
SHAPE THE LOAF
Once your loaves have rested on the counter for 30 minutes, lightly sprinkle the top of the preshaped loaves with flour. Flip the first loaf so the floured side is down.
To shape the loaf, gently grab the edge of the dough closest to you and pull it toward you. Fold it up and over so it covers about half the dough.
Grab the right and left edges of the dough. Stretch the sides out. Fold the right side over the top. Then fold the left side over the top.
Finally grab the edge farthest from you. Stretch it away from you and the up and over the top, like you’re sealing the envelope. Gently roll the dough toward you, as if you’re rolling the envelope over so it is seams down.
Using cupped hands, turn the loaf in the same way you pre-shaped the loaf–turning it and gently pulling it across the counter toward you to create tension along the surface of the loaf. The resulting loaf will be smooth on top, but have a bit of a navel on the underside.
PLACE LOAF IN A MEDIUM BOWL
Line a 3 quart bowl with a lint-free dish towel. Sprinkle a little flour or rice flour on the towel to keep the loaf from sticking when you place them in the bowls.
Sloppy Baker’s Tip: Even with a floured towel, when I baked this loaf, the dough was sticky enough that it clung to the towel a little bit. Be a little more generous when sprinkling the flour.
Very carefully, pick up the loaves and place them navel-side up in the bowls. Place each bowl inside a turkey roasting bag, making sure to keep enough air in the bag so it doesn’t rest against the dough. Seal the bag with a twist tie or rubber band.
Put the loaf in the refrigerator for 12 hours to prove (ferment and rise).
Place your dutch oven or other oven-safe covered pot in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Let it heat for 30 minutes.
When the oven is ready, remove your loaf from the refrigerator.
- Stretch a sheet of parchment paper tight over the bowl and turn it over on the counter so the bread is resting on the paper.
- Using a sharp knife or lame, cut a line across the top of the loaf. This slice will act as a vent for the bread as it rises.
- Spritz or brush a little water over the surface of the loaf.
- Remove your pot from the oven and carefully place the parchment and bread in it. Cover with tight fitting lid.
- Bake 20 minutes covered.
- Lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
- Uncover the pot and bake another 20-30 minutes.
After 40 minutes of baking, check your bake. When the loaf is a dark caramel color, remove it from the oven and pot and allow to cool on a rack for at least three hours.
SLICE AND EAT
Using a good serrated knife, cut a healthy slice for yourself. The crust and crumb are more delicate than some other loaves we’ve made. The crumb is soft and tastes creamy and slightly nutty.
This recipe is a new favorite for my family. Even as I tried writing this blog, they’d interrupt to ask me to slice another piece for them.