For the last weeks, I've almost ritually been struggling with a bread each sunday.
It started with a harmless post on The Fresh Loaf Blog about Eric Kayser's Tourte de Meule. First it worked out nicely, then I tried to get a more open crumb with the flours available here in Germany.
From there on, things went downhill in many colourful ways.
But, after many attempts and enough (mediocre) bread to feed my neighbours, I have finally managed to stabilize one recipe that works reliably in my kitchen.
One of the things that mostly got me into trouble was my somewhat sluggish sourdough starter. Personally, I think he's a real sweetheart, bubbling and brewing, reliably awakening each time when I pull him out of his corner in the fridge. But apparently, he's a bit on the lazy side. Especially when comapared to the diligent starters of all the other (much more experienced) bakers out here on the net, he's seriously shy of work. I can hardly get the little bugger to raise my bread without some distinct shove by a spoonful of dry yeast.
But now that I know, I can always add some yeast, and for the last few times, it worked flawlessly.
My adapted 'Tourte de Meule' is a sourdough wheat bread with a distinct share of rye. I fell in love with the dark crust and the soft, moist and almost feathery crumb. The technique is untouched, and fits perfectly into my weekend schedule.
While trying the different sorts of flours available here, I figured that 'proper' wholegrain wheat flour totally kills the structure of the crumb I was trying to achieve. And I love, love, love the German type 1050 flour, which is 'dark' wheat flour. It is not quite a wholegrain flour, but flour ground longer so more parts of the shell and seed ending up in the final product, turning it distinctively darker, 'wheatier' yet still very fine.
I experimented with various combinations of flour and in the end just chucked all the complicated ratios and went for 100% type 1050 flour - and tada! The perfect crumb, at least in my eyes.
This has swiftly become my family's favourite sandwich bread, as it is light yet intensely aromatic, with a crunchy crust. It goes perfectly with cold cuts (important in Germany) yet its airy crumb is something close to unheard of here. Try it, it might just be perfect fór you as well, too.
sourdough wheat bread
adapted from Eric Kayser's Tourte de Meule
(makes two medium loaves)
700ml lukewarm water
30g sea salt
200g sourdough starter (100% hydration, 100% rye meal)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
The day before baking, mix the flour with the salt and water until just combined. Leave to rest for half an hour (autolyse).
Add the starter and the yeast and knead until well combined and the dough comes together, about two to three minutes.
Put in a lightly oiled container or bowl and leave to rest for 45 minutes.
As bread baking seems to become a regular part of my kitchen efforts, I have finally invested in two large plastic containers that fit into my fridge just so. They're big enough for the whole dough to fit in at once, with enough room to handle the stretch and folds inside without having to take out the dough onto my counter. A few euros that saved me a lot of cleaning duty.
Do a set of stretch and fold after the first 45 minutes, then repeat three more times after 45 minutes each to a total of four folds.
Leave to dough to rest in the fridge for 20 hours, inside a sealed container of some sort.
Immediately out of the fridge, shape into boules and leave to proof en couche for about two hours, or until the dough stops springing back after being poked.
As I said, my sourdough is rather lazy, so maybe your version will need a significantly shorter time to proof. Just listen to your dough, not to me.
Preheat the oven to 250°C.
Bake for 10 minutes with steam at 250°C, then reduce to 200°C for another 30 minute or until the crust is dark brown.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the switched-off oven with the door cranked open. Leave to cool on a rack, cool completely before cutting.
Freezes exellently well, is great toasted.