Friday, July 12, 2013

Potato Sourdough Bread with Spelt and White Whole Wheat Flour

potato sourdough bread with spelt and white whole wheat flour

This bread is big, soft and airy with a chewy crust, and a mellow sourdough flavor. The ingredient list includes freshly ground spelt and white whole wheat flours because I enjoy their less assertive flavor. I find that when I bake with all whole wheat flour it is overpowering.

Ever since I began to maintain a sourdough starter I've been working on improving my "artisan" loaves. I've found that I really prefer the taste of my starter to others and making your own artisan bread is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than buying bakery bread. In Anchorage, Alaska I have spent $9 on a single loaf of artisan bread. It really does not take a whole lot of effort to make bread; you just have to plan ahead and show up every few hours and lay your hands on it.

Soudough bread making tips and tricks that work for me:
1) The texture of sourdough bread is improved if it has baked potato or even baked yams included in the list of ingredients.

2) A very active starter. My starter had been fed once a day, for 3 days in a row.

3) Include a resting period of 15 minutes after the ingredients are mixed.

4) Resist the urge to add too much flour.

5) Use a heavy duty stand mixer.

Potato Sourdough Bread with Spelt and White Whole Wheat Flour
This recipe is a very bastardized version of Potato Bread from Ed and Jean Woods' "Classic Sourdoughs" book. The original recipe uses all purpose flour, milk, and butter which have been replaced with non-dairy milk, extra olive oil and whole grains. Makes one large loaf.

1 cup sourdough starter (100% hydration, AP flour)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 medium baked potato, crumbled, skin included
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 TB vital wheat gluten plus enough organic all purpose flour to equal 1 cup (16 TB total)
extra flour for dusting or added if too wet

Add starter, non-dairy milk, and extra virgin olive oil into mixer bowl. Mix. Add salt and crumbled potato. Add all three flours and mix well, using dough hook. After it's mixed, let it sit for about 15 minutes. This lets it absorb the flours.

Mix on medium speed for about 6-10 minutes until dough passes the "window pane" test and is smooth and satiny. It will be sticky! Try not to add extra flour unless it is hopelessly wet. There is a happy medium in regards to flour and it depends on how humid it is, the flours, etc., etc. This is why I like to use a mixer, it can be a bit wet and sticky and I don't have to handle it.

Put in lightly oiled bowl or container; cover and let rise until double. Rising time will depend on how warm it is in your kitchen and how active the starter. I put my dough on top of the refrigerator and it was doubled in about 5 hours. You could let it rise overnight. The longer it rises the more pronounced the sourdough flavor will be.

After it has doubled, use a spatula to gently ease the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. If it gets REALLY flat, knead in additional flour before shaping.

Flatten the rested dough slightly, then lift each side to the center, turn and do it again to form a ball. Gently pinch closed. Place the shaped loaf seam side UP in a proofing basket that has been sprinkled with flour. Cover, and let rise for 2 to 4 hours until it doubles in bulk. I like to bake my artisan loafs in a La Cloche, that has been preheated for an hour in a 450 degree oven. Bake for 25 minutes, take off the lid, and bake 15 more minutes to brown. Cool on wire rack. DO NOT cut into the loaf for at least an hour.


This is how I make my bread. If you continue to bake your own bread, you will end up using methods that suit YOU and that is the beauty of baking bread. There are many different ways to do it and who's to say which is the right way? I say the right way, is the one that works for YOU.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bake awesome artisan bread in La Cloche Brick Oven

lacloche baker

"Also known as an instant brick oven, this bread baker consists of a stoneware bell or dome that fits over a wide, shallow dish with 2-inch-high sides. It is one of the most successful implements developed for home baking."—Chuck Williams, founder of the Williams-Sonoma company and author and editor of dozens of books on the subject of cooking.

La Cloche turns your regular oven into a brick oven. It helps to create an artisan style bread with a crisp, chewy crust. I really like the results I get from the one I purchased online from Breadtopia. They cost around $50-$60 and can be found online and at some kitchen stores.

If you search online for how to use a La Cloche, you will see there's more than one way to bake with it. Here is my method:

1. About an hour before I plan to bake, I place the La Cloche on the bottom rack in the oven and set it to 450 degrees.

2. When I am ready to bake the bread, I transfer the risen dough from a Brotform basket and invert it onto a piece of parchment paper. Slash the top of the dough. Open the oven door, pull out rack, and carefully remove the top of the La Cloche baker and set it aside. Lift the bread dough by the edges of the parchment paper and carefully transfer to the bottom of the La Cloche baker. Place the lid back on, push the oven rack back in, close the door and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and finish baking the bread until it is done, usually about 15 minutes. Cool baked bread on wire rack.

large bread dough whiskIf you are serious about baking artisan breads this is a nice way to do it. Some people have great success with a dutch oven or even clay pots but I wanted one of these and haven't regretted it. It's held up well and my bread is delicious.

And while you're at it,  do yourself a favor and buy a large Danish Dough Whisk. These are super handy devices to mix doughs by hand. I like the large one because it's easy to clean.

Please watch for next post on one of my most successful loafs of bread yet – potato sourdough bread with spelt and white whole wheat flour.

Potato Sourdough Bread with Spelt and White Whole Wheat Flour baked in La Cloche