"All sorrows are less with bread. ”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
So it looks like the last 18 months or so of posts have only been my Instagram crossposts. I think that all my real posts are prefaced by "hey, it's been sooo long since I posted, how weird is that, amiright?" Well, get used to it! You will get what you get and be happy with it, god damn it! How dare you presume to tell me how to run my blog. I was blogging when you were shitting in your diddies, Mr. or Ms. or Mx. Zoomer. Back in my day, you posted on a free webpage from Geocities, or Open Diary, or Xanga, or (pour one out, homies) MSN Spaces. And it was a JOURNAL, not this fancy schmancy weblog shit you youngins call it. (*sorry, that made me laugh since there's no fucking way anyone under 40 is actually using a blog. Tumblr? Sure. But an actual blog, nah.) Any of y'all still have your blogs up? I think John's the only one still in my RSS feed and he hasn't posted in almost a year. Let's get a blog roll going in my comments, bitches.
So Val asked me for a recipe on my Instagram post, so here it is. This turned out really good, but it could have been better. Usually my sourdough bakes are a two+ day affair, but I needed this bread done the same day to make Reubens with homemade corned beef. They were fucking amazing, but not really a real Reuben since I didn't have swiss (I used Barely Buzzed cheddar)and my Russian dressing was more like a Koryo-Saram dressing since I was using kimchi mayo I had leftover from Kenji's Kimchi brined KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) sandwiches as the base. That's a sandwich recipe you need to make too, btw. OMFG.
So if you want to make this taste better, you can reduce or eliminate the extra yeast and just use your starter. But if you do that, you'll need to bulk ferment for a much longer time and do an overnight ferment once you've shaped your loaves.
I had pulled my starter (it's 100% hydration, e.g. 1 part water to 1 part flour) out of the fridge the night before and topped it off with 200 grams of filtered water and 200 grams of bread flour, since I wanted about 240 grams of starter to serve as the levain and I needed some left to throw back in the fridge and some to make a batch of sourdough buttermilk pancakes the next day.
|Look at those bubbles
I was shooting for a 75% hydration level, but I know I miscalculated the amount of water. I still don't know what I landed at, but we'll figure that out here in a sec once I start writing out the recipe. Whatever it was, it was great for this purpose and was super easy to handle and shape and even better, didn't stick to my fucking banneton. JFC, I screwed up last week and put the wrong water in a recipe and it was like a thicc ass batter. That shit stuck to EVERYTHING and I had to hand wash the linen cover to my bannetons. Pro tip--after you measure your water, get rid of the container that doesn't have your measured water.
I'm going to add approximate times, but your mileage will definitely vary. That, I think, is one of the most important lessons I've learned from baking bread--you have to be flexible. Bread will rise when it rises. Although you can speed it up by using commercial yeast like I did this time, haha.
240 grams 100% Hydration, Mature Starter
772 grams King Arthur Bread Flour (KA is my preferred since it's probably the best I can get in the area)
108 grams Spelt Flour
108 grams Rye Flour (both Spelt & Rye are Bob's Red Mill, I think)
10 grams fast rise yeast (eliminate if you want to do a slow proof/ferment)
20 grams caraway seeds
22 grams of fine sea salt
2 Tbsp molasses
650 ml filtered water (or grams) Did you know they're the same for water? The metric system is awesome.
So, since I used 650 ml of water (and had 120 in the starter) it looks like I came in at 69 (nice) percent hydration.
I use water filtered through my fridge since my city likes to heavily chlorinate the water. I was going to say if you don't have a filter, you can leave it out overnight to let the chlorine dissipate, but apparently that doesn't work anymore now that water treatment is done with chloramine. If you don't have a fridge filter, go buy a Brita or something. I saw a generic version at the Walmart last weekend for $9.99.
Like I said, I fed my starter the night before and just left it out on the counter. The temp on my counter is usually in the low 70's, so it's a good spot for a nice, long fermentation. When I'm doing a regular sourdough bake, I usually just do an overnight bulk fermentation on the counter and things turn out great.
11:45 a.m. Autolyse the flour and 550 grams of the water. This just means mixing up your flour and water and letting it sit. I usually go for about an hour. The link above gets into the science and shit, but basically it allows the enzymes in the flour to break shit down a bit and allows your flour to get fully hydrated.
My water temp was about 110 degrees and that was a little too hot. According to the experts, you should be shooting for a dough temp of 78 degrees, but again, I was shooting for a short and fast proof, so it wasn't a big deal. My dough temp was 92.2 degrees after adding the water, so I really should've had my water 15 degrees lower.
Oh, I should note that unless I'm making rolls or something else that needs (kneads, heigh-oh) a long knead time, I do all this shit by hand. Since this bulk ferments for quite a while, even with the acceleration of the instant yeast, you don't need to use a mixer or do any intense kneading. Time and the "stretch and fold" technique will get your gluten developed nicely. Be sure you are really getting everything mixed up well. In the bread I fucked up last week, I was using a spatula to mix (I was making a double batch, so there was a shit ton of dough) and I didn't do a good job. I had lumps of dry flour and it was just a total shit show. Still tasted good, but man, what an embarrassment.
There are several other methods of kneading your dough--slap and fold; coil folding, using your mixer, etc. Whatever works for you is what works for you. You do you, boo.
12:45ish p.m. You should see a difference in your dough now. It should look more relaxed and less shaggy. I failed to take a pic prior to adding the rest of the ingredients in there. This is the point where you'll add the rest of your stuff. Usually it's just your levain and salt and remaining water. But I had some extra shizz for this one, so I heated the remaining 100 grams of water a bit and dissolved the 2 Tbsp of molasses in there and then used that liquid to do a quick proof on the instant yeast.
I sprinkled the salt over the autolysed dough, poured the levain and caraway seeds over the top and poked the entire surface many, many times. I then added the molasses/yeast mixture and pinched/poked/flipped/kneaded the whole shebang until I was confident everything was evenly distributed in the dough.
It's like a giant stress ball. But it sucks if you have arthritis in your thumb. Every squeeze is a bit of agony, but you must endure and sacrifice to make delicious food.
Now you just let it sit and proof for a while. How long depends on the dough temp, the ambient air temp, the quality of your yeasties, etc. Since I had my oven on 300 and was cooking a corned beef, I sat my bucket next to the stove, where the ambient air temp was about 85, so that I would have a faster rise. I've taken to using a post-it note to mark where my dough level is at the start, so that it's easier for me to tell when it's doubled in size.
1:30 p.m. So the next pic really isn't helpful, but that's what it looked like after I did my first stretch and fold (see gif below my pic for how that works--you basically stretch the dough from top to bottom, turn, top to bottom, turn, until all four cardinal directions have been hit.)
|Gif Shamefully Stolen From Hint of Vanilla but I'm not a complete monster, so I didn't hotlink the image and instead have moved it to my own host instead.
Now is the time to shape your dough and get a nice "skin" formed on your dough. You're looking for the tight cheek skin of a 60 year old millionaire. In my case, I normally make boules, since that's the type of banneton I have. I want to start making some batards, but I need some other baskets for that. You'll notice a lot of these links go back to The Perfect Loaf and that's because Maurizio is the fucking man.
|Check out my giant, smooth boules. You want to touch them, don't you?
At this point, if it were a normal sourdough, I'd throw them into the fridge for an overnight+ of fermentation. That's where you get the wang dang sweet poon-tang of sourdough flavor. But since I supercharged this mofo with instant yeast, I just need to do a secondary proof in the banneton.
If I'm doing an overnight fermentation, I put the basket in a big poofy plastic turkey cooking bag (I reuse them because they're not cheap) but since today's bake was going to be fast and furious, I just covered the bannetons with damp paper towels. Which I guess is pretty luxurious during this fucking Covid-19 induced paper goods shortage of 2020. Man, what dickhead science lab fired up the particle accelerator and put us into THIS fucked up timeline? Someone get me a DeLorean so I can get the fuck into the timeline where we have a normal, functioning government and I'm not locked in The Overlook hotel.
While I was playing around with my dough balls, I had an oven preheating for about an hour at 500 degrees and in that oven was an enameled dutch oven. If you are swaggy enough to have an oven with a steam injector, 1) go fuck yourself, but 2) you can just bake your loaves on a baking stone. Us poor folk (not really--I'm doing quite well, thank you) have to make due with our low end gourmet oven in our custom built kitchen and an enameled crock to get some steam powered oven spring.
Carefully pull your dutch oven out of the oven (that sounds weird and I've said "oven" quite a lot over the last few paragraphs. Oven. Of. Ven. Did I get pulled into Gilead? Where's my red robe and white cowl?) and take off the lid. I throw a piece of parchment over the banneton and flip it over, hoping that the loaf stays in place on the parchment. Do your scoring (quick and decisive!) and carefully place the dough into the dutch oven. Put the lid on and then put it in the oven. Drop the temp to 475 and bake for 20 minutes.
|Pre-flip dough and ghetto lame made from coffee stirrer and safety razor. It legit works better than the one paid $3 for.
If you notice, my bottom is a bit darker than I like. I had my bottom rack too far down--I forgot to move it up a couple of notches prior to firing shit up.
This is a fairly mild rye bread. Just enough rye flavor that you know what it is, without punching you in the face. It was great for my quasi-Reuben and good when I ate it toasted, with butter and orange marmalade.