Once you have the Basic Bread recipe under your belt, you can start branching out and trying new types of bread. Some will turn out great, and some will just be good, but we can pretty much guarantee that it’ll be better than store-bought.
We’re still under the weather a bit, so we really didn’t feel up to making a full batch of bread; however, the starter needed to be fed, so our choices were: feed the starter and discard some perfectly good starter (a waste), or feed the starter and make sour dough pancakes (uh, not this week), or feed the starter and make up an experimental loaf (yeah, that’ll work). And, with the experimental loaf, we can so you how we figured out the new recipe.First up, we had to make next week’s starter. That’s the standard recipe of 200 grams starter, 150 grams flour (half whole wheat, half bread flour), and 150 grams water. Note the ratio of flour to water is 50-50 by weight; that’ll be important later.
Next, we looked at our basic recipe: 680 grams water, 1000 grams, 360 grams starter, and 18 grams salt, which will make three loaves. We want one loaf, so we can divide all the measurements by 3. Our single-loaf recipe will be 227 grams water, 333 grams flour, 120 grams starter, and 6 grams salt.
But wait, there’s a bit more. We also want to use up all the leftover starter, which, when we weighed it, was 290 grams. That means we have 290-120 = 170 grams of excess starter. But, what’s starter other than flour and water? So, we can think of our excess starter as pre-mixed flour and water, and, with a 50-50 ratio, we know that the excess starter is 85 grams extra water and 85 grams of extra flour. If we use the excess starter, we’ll have to reduce the amount of water and flour by this amount to maintain the correct proportions. So, our final recipe is: 142 grams water (227 grams that we need – 85 grams that we are getting from the excess starter), 248 grams flour (the 333 grams we need – the 85 grams from the excess starter), 290 grams starter, and 6 grams salt. Whew! While that seemed complicated, we managed.
Finally, we want whole wheat bread — no problem, just use whole wheat flour. And, we want walnuts mixed in. How many? We figured about 10% by weight. The total weight of everything when mixed is 142+248+290+6 = 686, so about 69 grams walnuts. Done! Except that we have some pretty odd measurements. Fortunately, bread is pretty forgiving, so we just round here and there and we have:
Makes one boule.
- 140 grams water
- 290 grams starter
- 250 grams whole wheat flour
- 6 grams salt
- 70 grams walnuts
For this, we broke out the mixer. It’s easier, but, to be honest, it doesn’t produce bread with the same texture as hand-kneaded bread. Really. We think it’s because it’s a bit rougher on the dough, which breaks the gluten strands. We don’t know for sure, though.
Measure out water, starter, flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook, measure out water, starter, and whole wheat flour. We didn’t bother premixing the starter and water together as we knew the mixer would take care of that in a trice.
Mix 5 minutes. Run the mixer about 5 minutes to allow everything to combine nicely. The dough will come together and form a ragged ball.
Rest 30 minutes. The texture of bread is really improved by letting the flour, water, and starter just rest (autolyse) for a bit. We just cover the bowl with a plate and set the timer for 30 minutes.
Add walnuts and salt. Measure in the walnuts and the salt.
Knead 5 minutes. Put the bowl back on the stand mixer, and, with the dough hook attachment, let the mixer knead the dough for 5 minutes.
Rest 5 minutes. Turn the mixer off and let some of that gluten develop.
Knead 5 minutes.
Rest 5 minutes.
Knead 5 minutes.
From here on out, we follow the steps in the basic bread recipe, so we give abbreviated instructions below.
Shape and rise. Scoop the bread dough out, shape it a bit by hand then place it back in a bowl (you can use the same bowl; we had other things to make with the mixer), cover with plastic wrap or a plate and let it go through the bulk rise of 4-6 hours. (We put ours in the fridge to delay the rising since we’ll be baking late tomorrow).
Pre-shape. After the dough has doubled in size, we start the shaping process. Carefully scoop the dough out onto a floured work surface, gently deflate, and shape into a ball. A good way to shape into a ball is to pick up the dough and fold most of it over into the bottom, continuing to do this until you have a nice ball. Then dust with flour, place on a floured board, and let rest about an hour.
Final shape. Once again, pick up the dough ball (it will have slumped), and work it back into a ball by pulling dough under the ball, and pressing it together forming a seam on the bottom. Shape it like this until the sides have firmed up a bit, then place the dough, seam side up, in a floured towel set in a proofing basket (a colander will work). Cover and let rest until doubled in size.
Preheat oven and dutch oven to 450°F. Place the dutch oven and lid in the oven and heat for at least 30 minutes.
Bake. Place the dough on the dutch oven lid, slash, cover with the dutch oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Bake some more. Remove the dutch oven and bake for 18 more minutes.
Enjoy. Here’s your freshly baked whole-wheat walnut. Since we used more starter, this bread has more of that sourdough taste that pairs nicely with the whole wheat.
Home scratched bread is so wonderful we’d give it 5 stars even if it were twice as difficult. Fortunately, it is really easy, especially with a mixer (it took about 60 minutes one day, and 60 minutes the next), that we can’t imagine anyone not baking at least a few times a year.