Winter brings out the sourdough bread baker in me. When it’s cold and windy nothing says comfort like homemade soup along with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.
No, I am not one of those home cooks who still is using her grandmother’s sourdough starter, although not from lack of trying. I usually make a new starter batch each fall, lovingly feed and replenish it all winter and spring, and tuck it away in the refrigerator for the summer. After weeks of neglect, it is usually beyond help. No “rising” from the sourdough grave for this batch. It’s easier to just start over. But once I do start over, it’s a new loaf of sourdough every week.
It really isn’t difficult to make your own sourdough starter. You can use the method I prefer, found on my website Make Your Own Sourdough Starter. Or follow the methods found in earlier Mother Earth News articles, including Creating Homemade Sourdough Bread From a Starter Mix, and a previous blog post, A Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough.
See how to make a specialty starter, like the rye starter in this recipe, using the process I used, How to Make Rye and Other Specialty Sourdough Starters.
Occasionally I feel a little guilty and decide that if we are going to eat so much bread, it should be good for us. So I throw in a bit more whole grain flour, or stuff it with fruit and nuts, or add seeds. In this particular case, I added seeds that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, something we could all use more of in our diet.
Preparing for a Bread Experiment
This bread was a bit of an experiment. The recipe is loosely based on the Alpine Baguette recipe from Local Breads by Daniel Leader, which is one of my favorite bread cookbooks. It was also the first time I had ever used a brotform, an asked for gift that was tucked under my Christmas tree.
I used seeds that are high in omega-3s; flaxseed, chia seed and camelina seed. Flaxseed can be purchased just about everywhere these days, but chia and camelina may only be available at the local health food store or online. Chia seeds are the same ones found in those ubiquitous holiday Chia Pets boxes. Who would have thought that they were healthy! Camelina is a member of the mustard family, and has a mustard-like flavor so should be used judiciously, no more than 2 tablespoons per loaf. Any other seeds: sesame, sunflower, poppy, anise, etc. can also be used in this recipe.
Making Sourdough Bread Dough
¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup mixed seeds: flaxseed, chia and camelina
2 ¼ cups water, separated
1 cup rye sourdough starter
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
Place rolled oats and seeds in a large bowl, or in a stand mixer bowl. Add ¾ cup of the water, stir to combine, and let sit for 2 hours.
Add remaining ingredients to bowl. Mix well to combine. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes, or using a stand mixer for 8 - 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled.
Note: Since it was a cold day, this step took about 10 hours in my house. At that point, I put the bowl in the refrigerator for the night and completed the bread the next day. If you want to complete the whole process in one day either make sure your house is warm (75 – 80 degrees), or add about ½ tsp of instant yeast to the recipe, or increase the amount of starter to 2 cups. Increasing the amount of starter may require slight adjustments in flour and water measurements.
Gently fold to deflate. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a floured brotform. Cover and let rise about 2 hours. The dough will be puffy and light.
Baking the Bread
Preheat oven and baking stone to 450 degrees. Gently flip the bread out of the brotform and onto a parchment lined peel. Score the round with a sharp knife. Slide the loaf onto the baking stone and bake for 35- 50 minutes, or until interior temperature reaches 200 degrees.
Remove from oven and let cool for up to an hour before slicing.
This experiment worked perfectly. The bread was beautifully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The camelina seeds added just a hint of mustard flavor, enough to give the bread a distinctly different taste, but not enough to overpower the sourdough tang. Like most artisan breads, it was quite filling. That however, did not stop us from eating the whole loaf in just a few days.
As you can see from the photo, I did not score the loaf enough and it burst through on one side. This isn’t a problem unless you want a loaf that looks perfect. Although next time I will score more deeply, it didn’t adversely affect the taste!
Do you have any experience baking with camelina seeds? How do you use them?