Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New recipe

3 Seed Sourdough Loaf

{This post has been updated for 2016...see note down the bottom for changes in how to treat the seeds.}

Fresh out of the oven

I've been meaning to write a post about the new recipe I make my sourdough bread with. It's still the same starter and process I used for the white loaf but I now add grains and a few other substitutions. Mainly, sugar has been replaced with natural honey. Besides the lovely flavour it adds, I've also noticed it keeps the bread longer before spoilage.

If you like expensive "Helga's" bread in the supermarket, this recipe is very similar in taste and texture.

All sourdough bread begins with the starter, which is a living yeast you feed at least once a week. If you're not familiar with how to make sourdough starter, click here, to make your very own.

I created another starter recently, as I threw out my old batch a few months ago. Nothing was wrong with it, I just decided to reduce my carbohydrates so I cut out bread entirely. It was a good exercise in realising how much I like sourdough bread, and that I can stop making it (or start making it) whenever it suits my situation.

So anyone who has managed to kill their starter from neglect, don't despair. It's not hard to make another batch. I like easy things and this was easy to do again. Actually, it was much easier to do over than continue feeding the old starter I wasn't using for a few months.

To quickly recap the process - you'll need to make the starter (this is your friend); secondly, make the sponge with half the starter (leave overnight, or a few hours) and finally, add the last ingredients to make your dough.

The new list of ingredients I add after the sponge stage is:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon natural honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
2 cups white bakers flour (or whatever makes the correct tackiness)

I knead the dough for 10 minutes or thereabouts, then stretch out the dough like a fat pizza base, and in the middle place:

1/4 cup linseed
1/4 cup sunflower seed
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Fold the sides into the middle, and then knead. I like this part, because when I feel the loose seeds breaking through the dough, I turn the dough over to start kneading back into the thinnest point in the centre. Basically it's a game of keep the pocket of loose seeds into the middle of the dough, until they've been incorporated thoroughly.

You will inevitably get "escapees", but it's no drama to roll the dough back over them and keep kneading. Then it's onto the waiting game of the first rise. I've got a few tips for making the whole process seem a lot quicker than it actually is.

Firstly, make the sponge at about 4 in the afternoon. Let it sit on the bench until 8 at night, then knead up the dough. Place in a large, greased bowl with a lid and let it rise overnight. When I get out of bed first thing in the morning, I punch back the dough and roll it to shape. It then goes in the baking tin and only needs another hour to rise before it's cooked.

 Waiting to go in the oven

Breaking the process up so half is achieved in the late afternoon/evening, and then finished first thing the next morning, I generally have the bread baked before I drive our daughter to school. That's what I like so much about sourdough, it's a slow leaven. I've got time to break the process up without spoiling the dough, so I can fit in the regular stuff mum's have to do also.

Tastes as good as it looks

Now that winter has arrived, the toaster and oven have been working overtime.  I've been having my morning toast with Kumquat Marmalade. My Kumquat tree is a tiny powerhouse of baby fruit this time of year, and I love making Marmalade for my morning toast.

Update Note:  

Since writing this post in late 2012, I have since started soaking my seeds in their volume, of boiled water (eg: 3/4 seeds to 3/4 cup water). Cover vessel they are being soaked in, with a plate, and wait until the water has cooled (30-60 minutes) before adding to bread.

You can also add them at the end of the sponge stage, just before you start making the dough. This makes it easier to keep them in the bread, as you're kneading.

Soaking the seeds means they don't draw moisture from the bread, and you'll have a less dense loaf. It will also help keep the seeds plump and moist, instead of dried, when baking. I don't normally soak sunflower seeds, as they don't absorb too much moisture. But the linseeds are particularly thirsty, so will consume the water I've made available in this recipe.


  1. Oh Chris that looks heavenly! I am glad you are using spelt as it's a favorite of mine too. Te last time I tried making a starter, I got a horrible smelly mess by dy 2. That never hapened to me before. It wasn't too hot out or anything. I will try again:)

    Kumquat marmelade sounds great! I need to ake some marmelade soon....missed out this winter.

  2. Yes, I noticed it went smelly until I started stirring it regularly. Every time I was at the kitchen bench I whisked it and the smell disappeared when I did it regularly.

    I also make sure I do it in a wide glass bowl with a cloth over the top, so there's ample opportunity for the wild yeasts in the air to access the fermentation process. I only put the starter in the jar (it's regular home) once I'm sure the process is complete.

    I think what makes it smelly is a lack of air, it starts to go rancid without the wild yeasts converting all those goodies into leaven. Getting the yeast in is by stirring regularly.

    I noticed I was really careless about stirring in the beginning, but when it wasn't doing much but going bad, I turned it up a notch and noticed an immediate improvement. It also helps if you use bakers flour because it has more gluten. If you have an organic spelt flour and you're finding it difficult to grow a starter, I'd mix half baker's flour and half spelt.

    Hope it works for you. :)

  3. I actually usually start in a jar but used a bowl this time but I think my towel cover may have been too think. It was a very high gluten flour too which formed a rather slimy core. I wondered it that wasn't the real culprit. It was only around 70 farenheit in the kitchen during that time so not too far from ideal. The smell just got worse and worse.

    I will try again because I have to try your recipe!

  4. What I suspect is, you have a different flour to mine and your starter recipe may just need a little more tweaking. On day one, try 1/2 cup flour with only 1/2 cup water (instead of 3/4 cup water).

    Then on days 2 & 3, try adding 1/4 cup flour and water instead of 1 tablespoon of each.

    The reason I say this is, if your ingredients are more active (this includes environmental factors too) they'll use up the food a lot quicker and go bad before you get to the next stage. Increasing volume may avoid this.

    You also want it to be at a warm room temperature. Sometimes the colder it is, the longer it takes for the ingredients to engage with the yeast in the air. Also make sure it's tepid water you're using to mix in, not boiling, as it will cook the ingredients stagnant instead of activating them.

    Monitor the smell as you go through the process, and if at any stage you feel it's going too bad for your own comfort, don't throw it all away. Just halve the mixture you've started (throw away the other half) and replace it with an equal amount of fresh flour to water ratio. Keep this up until the starter becomes active.

    The starter I made recently took twice as long to activate than my first batch. The weather has been much colder this time around though. I kept with it, just for longer, and it's very active now.

    I've got my fingers crossed for you. :)


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