What do you think of when you imagine your favorite holiday flavors?
This bread has some of my personal faves. Insert all the cozy feels now!
When it comes to sourdough though, I have decided I don’t want to guild the lily. It takes THREE days for these babies to be on your table from when you start your levain to baking and cooling. That’s a lot of effort and the ultimate practice in patience for me.
There is already so much to manage with keeping your dough’s temperature, hydration, fermentation rate etc. in line. It’s too easy for me to want to push the hydration while also adding tons of ingredients. You can just end up with a big mess. Through much trial and error, I have realized how much I need to reign in my desire to go overboard.
I like to be able to taste all the flavors from the flours and my lovely starter doing its job. When you add too much to it, not only do you miss out on those subtle flavors, you can also risk ruining your dough by overloading it.
There is much to be said about simplicity when it comes to bread. And one experiment at a time rather than attempting too much change at once. So now, I usually opt for simple add-ins… some nuts, herbs, maybe dried fruit, olives (my fave), roasty garlic.
Mmm. I’m the happiest bread nerd.
Mix together in a small bowl, cover and store in a relatively warm place for the night.
200 grams active levain (float tested: see below)
900 grams white bread flour
100 grams whole wheat flour
700 grams warm water, plus 50 grams (divided)
20 grams salt
315 grams walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
180 grams dried cranberries (I refreshed mine in hot water so they plumped up a bit)
Grated zest of 2 oranges
Check your levain by doing the float test to see if it’s ready! Stick a blob in a cup of room temp or slightly warm water. If it floats, it’s ready!
Mixing: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a scale, weigh out your first water and add the levain. Mix until dissolved. Add your flours and mix with your hand until you have a shaggy dough. Cover, and allow to autolyse for 20-40 minutes. Sprinkle over the salt and extra 50 grams of water. Pinch the salt and water into the dough, giving it a good mix by hand, and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a wet bowl scraper.
Bulk Fermentation: I find it very useful to read over the general dough developing process in the Tartine Bread book. They explain it very clearly. Essentially, you will do a series of 6 turns over 3-4 hours depending on the temperature of your room and dough. Typically I do the 6 in the first two hours (every half hour) and let my dough rest for an hour untouched before pre-shaping. Mix in your add-ins during the second fold.
Shaping: When ready to pre-shape, turn out your dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the top of the blob with a little more flour, and divide into two. Pre-shape each into a semi tight round, cover with a dish towel and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes. Then shape your loaves and place them in floured baskets, bowls or bannetons! 😀 Mine go straight into the fridge for an overnight cold proof.
Baking: Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and heat your dutch oven for at least 20 minutes. Cut 2 pieces of parchment into rounds, and grab your lame, some semolina or corn meal and a peel. Sprinkle the surface of your first loaf with semolina/corn meal (what will be the bottom), and turn out onto the parchment placed on the peel. Score your loaf as desired, place into your dutch oven, lower the temp to 450 and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, and bake for another 20-30 to desired color. I noticed these loaves needed a little longer. Allow to cool on a rack before slicing. Bring the oven back up to 500, and reheat the dutch oven. Repeat the process with the second loaf.
My starter Kip and I have been through quite a lot of loaves in his 3 years. Some absolutely delicious beauties and some totally disastrous uglies as well that still taste good. But hey, that’s how you learn! 🙂