This loaf really combines the best of all worlds: light and airy wheat, nutty spelt, rustic rye and chewy oats. It’s the kind of bread that makes you forget how much darker and colder mornings have become – the thought of a slice or two, with a little butter, will make getting up almost a pleasurable experience.
I have been experimenting with this type of bread for a while; rye and spelt are not the easiest grains to work with, their low gluten content requires a lot of kneading and the finished product often lacks the (visually pleasing) stability I like in a sourdough loaf. In the end I used a loaf tin, the traditional method for German rye and spelt breads as the high rim provides the necessary support for these grains.
A loaf like this takes time: you need to feed your sourdough starter, rest the dough in two stages – all in all it took me almost two days from start to finish. It doesn’t help that the days are getting shorter and colder, slowing down the yeasts and and thus prolonging the rise. But it is well worth the wait: wrapped in a tea cloth, place it into a bread bin or similar with an apple cut into halves to keep it soft and fresh for up to a week.
(makes a 1.2kg loaf)
- 200g strong white bread flour
- 300g sourdough starter
- 200g wholemeal rye flour
- 100g spelt flour
- 100g oat flakes (plus another handful for decorating)
- 450ml water
- 15g salt
- a pinch of caraway seeds (optional)
In a large bowl, mix the sourdough starter, the various flours and 400ml of water using a wooden spoon or similar. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place the bowl into a draught-free space such as a cupboard or a cold oven for around half an hour.
Don’t despair when this sludgy mix hasn’t magically transformed into a stable doughball after this: the aims was to get the yeast all excited and ready for the real thing! Add the oats, salt and the caraway seeds if you are planning on using them, and get kneading. This will take a while, and a breadmaker or a strong mixer will come in handy to turn the sludge
into a stable dough. If it does this a little too easily, add more water.
You want the dough to be as wet as you can handle it!
Once you got there – after around 10 minutes of full-on folding and slapping – you can form it into a neat little ball, place it back into the bowl and cover it, once again, to give it a break.
This second rest will take around 4-6 hours: you want the size of the dough to roughly double. To help you create a light and airy texture, stretch and fold the dough a few times. If you haven’t got the time, pop it into the fridge to slow down the fermentation process: simply take it out again when you have the time and work from there.
Once it is doubled in size, you need to lightly oil your bread tin with a little vegetable oil or similar. Carefully turn the dough onto your work surface and shape it without knocking out any of the air bubbles that have been forming inside. sprinkle the tin with a few of the remaining oats, then place the dough inside. Sprinkle the remaining oats over the top of the dough, cover it with cling film and leave it to rest for another 6 hours or so, until it has doubled in size. Again you can pop it into the fridge if necessary.
When it has risen nicely, heat your oven to 250C / 480F. If you have a baking stone or a cast-iron casserole big enough to hold the tin, place it inside the oven and give it enough time to heat up. In this case, you will have to wait a good 30 minutes before you can place the tin into the hot oven. Splash a cup of cold water around the sides of the oven, close the door and reduce the heat to 210C / 410F. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the bread from tin by knocking it against the work surface. Place the tin-less bread on its side back onto your stone and bake it for another 30-35 minutes.
The bottom needs to sound hollow when you knock against it.
A wholewheat bread like this needs to be fully cooled down before you cut it. Trust me, it’s definitely worth the wait!
After a long break from blogging, I can’t wait to join the fun at Fiesta Friday #144! Angie is being joined by the wonderful Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen,who are going to be some amazing hosts. If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, have a look: every Friday a bunch of foodies meet up and share their creations. Check out their posts, leave a comment, and when you’re ready, do link up to this virtual food extravaganza!