Sourdough Multi-Grain Bread

This bread has a mild flavor and toasts beautifully. Because the sourdough flavor is not too pronounced it is also good for sandwiches. You can vary the mixture of flours to suit your personal tastes. I like the bit of crunch that the corn meal gives it. This recipe makes three medium loaves. I wrap two in heavy duty aluminum foil and freeze them until I need them.

A note on measurements: it is nearly impossible to achieve consistent results baking bread by volume—only gravimetric measures are accurate enough. (The weight of a cup of flour can vary by 10% or more.) Digital kitchen scales are very inexpensive today and every serious cook should own one. For making bread I much prefer to use metric units because they are more precise. Even those not familiar with the metric system can use it by simple setting the scale accordingly. 

Ingredients

 

“Fed” sourdough starter

200 grams

¾ cup

Warm water (45°C, 100°F)

350 milliliters

1½ cups

Sugar

20 grams

1½ Tablespoons

Dry milk powder

35 grams

½ cup

Active dry yeast

5 grams

2 teaspoons (1 envelope)

Butter at room temperature or oil

45 grams

3 Tablespoons

Unbleached white bread flour

450 grams

3 cups

Whole wheat flour

100 grams

1 cup

Rye flour

100 grams

1 cup

Fine corn meal

50 grams

½ cup

Salt

15 grams

2 teaspoons

Method

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, combine the sourdough starter, warm water, sugar, milk powder, butter or oil, and the yeast on medium speed. Change to the dough hook then add the flour and salt. Knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add more flour a bit at a time until it does. Knead for a further five minutes.

At this point I like to weigh the dough to make dividing it later more accurate.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Form the dough into a large ball, place it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature. Note that a long rising at a lower temperature yields a more finely-textured bread.

At the end of proofing punch down the dough and divide it into three equal portions. Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans dusted with the cornmeal or semolina. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 2 cm (1 inch) above the sides of the pan. Do not over-rise because you want a slightly dense bread.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

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