Rye Sourdough with Sunflower Seeds
Upon completion of my undergraduate studies, I set about accomplishing several important tasks that had been delayed for too long. Firstly, I went to a local coffee shop that also sells used books. There, I bought myself an au lait and perused the shelves of worn novels, poetry collections, biographies, and short story anthologies for my summer reading … that is, reading material chosen by me and for my own pleasure. It felt sinfully indulgent and positively exquisite. Next, I gave my best friend from high school a call and caught up with her. I found out that she is moving nearby next year and am eagerly anticipating her good company once again. Lastly, I made a comprehensive list of all the breads that I would like to be able to make consistently at a high level of quality. This list turned out to be rather long, varying from the simple classics of baguettes or enormous miches to the more complex fruit and nut loaves or those with beer and wine in the ingredients. I gathered ideas from blog entries that I had read, my library of bread books, and my backlog of bread fantasies that I occasionally daydream about.
After completing my bread catalog, I then attempted to pick which one I wanted to work on first. I settled upon a recipe for a rye sourdough with sunflower seeds from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread for no real particular reason other than the fact that I had just bought a large quantity of sunflower seeds that were taking up space in my already tiny pantry. Upon reading the recipe, however, I realized that I did not have all the ingredients. I lacked rye chops. I solved that dilemma, though, deciding I would use rye flakes instead, altering the water content appropriately when the time came. Then I saw that Hamelman used instant yeast in his recipe. I did not want to use yeast. I’m not a yeast snob; there is a place for instant yeast in bread baking, but not in this sunflower sourdough. The last few weeks have been too rushed for me, racing to meet deadlines and ignoring personal relaxation. Finally, time constraints are not an issue. I wanted to let this bread have all the time it needed to develop a true sourdough flavor. So, out went the yeast and in went a few more hours of me lounging on the sofa with a good novel waiting for the dough to rise.
So, the recipe below is inspired by the Hammelman’s recipe, but as usual, a bit tweaked to my own preferences. I will warn you now that the high rye content makes it quite sticky and that the dough feels heavy initially. I thought that it would be dense and, while not unpalatable, not one of the better breads I’ve baked. Yet, if you give it adequate time to rise fully both during the bulk fermentation and final proof, you will get splendid results. The dough becomes lighter, resulting in a pleasantly light crumb, and the flavor of the dough develops a creaminess that compliments the dark nuttiness of the toasted sunflower seeds.
I’m not claiming perfection on this one yet, but it tastes pretty damn good. I think I am going to play around with it a bit more, but will soon check it off the ‘Bread List’ and start thinking about my next endeavor.
I am also delighted to be part of this week’s YeastSpotting. Make sure to check out the other delicious baked goods there!
Rye Sourdough with Sunflower Seeds
Yield: ~2050 g (2 large loaves)
182 g whole rye flour
145 g water
20 g mature soudough starter
150 g rye flakes
225 g water
All of the sourdough
All of the soaker
14 g malt syrup
430 g water
675 g white flour (~11% protein content)
20 g salt
182 g toasted sunflower seeds + extra for topping
Place the sourdough, soaker, malt syrup, and water in a large bowl. Stir the mixture to roughly combine. Add the flour and stir until all the flour is hydrated. Cover and let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.
Add the salt to the dough and knead until the dough has the strength to pass the window pane test. This will take a while (~15 minutes by hand) as this dough is quite sticky and has a high percentage of rye. Next, add the sunflower seeds and knead until they are evenly distributed.
Transfer the dough to a well oiled container and let rise at room temperature for 4 hours, folding the dough at 1, 2, and 3 hours.
Remove the dough from the container and divide into 2 pieces (or 4, if desired). Shape into loose balls and let rest for 15 minutes. Shape the dough into tight boules and place upside dough in a floured proofing basket in which you have sprinkled a good quantity of untoasted sunflower seeds.
Let the dough proof until it has risen to a little less than twice its original volume and feels light and springy to the touch (~1.5-2 hours). (You can also retard the proofing, if desired. Just make sure that the loaves have risen sufficiently before baking them or else they will be too dense.)
About 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven to 475 ºF with a baking stone and steam pan. When the loaves have risen, invert them onto a peel, score them, and place them in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 450ºF and bake the loaves for 20 minutes with steam and another 25-30 minutes without steam. Turn the oven off, crack the door, and leave the loaves in for another 5-10 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before eating.