multi-grain sourdough

There's a very good reason why this bread has dozens of 5-star reviews on King Arthur's website. It really is THAT good. This was one of my spur-of-the-moment breads. Well, as spur-of-the-moment as you can get with any bread. That pesky rise thing, you know, ain't exactly instant gratification. Over the past week or so, I've been feeding my starter twice a day in anticipation of…something. I just could never decide what that something was. Sourdough has not been my friend lately. I've had some epic fails with the past couple of breads I've made and aside from my own screw-ups, I can't quite figure out what's gone wrong. So I felt like I needed a sourdough that was kind of foolproof (ego boost and all) and went looking online.

I'm a huge fan of King Arthur Flour–their recipes, their products, their blog, their website and pretty much everything else. It's one of my favorite resources so I figured they'd have something worth trying. This multi-grain sourdough fit the bill. I had everything on hand and my starter was bubbling away so I went for it even though I'm usually not a big fan of seedy things in bread–or anything else for that matter. I hate, loathe and detest almost all nuts–mainly because of their texture–and a lot of seeds veer too close to nut territory for my liking. I can deal with the teeny ones, like poppy, sesame and flax seeds but sunflower seeds and the like? Shudder. For some reason I've been okay with the Harvest Blend before though.

This is a big bread. BIG. Which means big dough. Big dough that had me holding onto my Kitchen Aid for dear life, lest it walk itself off the counter. It went through the first proof in about half the time–one of the benefits of an un-air-conditioned house on a very warm day. When it came to the second rise and the final bake, I didn't think any of my cast-iron dutch ovens would be large enough for this monster so I used my cloche instead. Again, this puffed up in about half the time (I actually nearly forgot about it) and into the oven it went. The cloche barely and I do mean BARELY managed to contain this thing. It's HUGE but when I took the top of the cloche off after 40 minutes it looked awesome. I let it get nice and golden and then waited for it to cool so I could dig in. Of course, it then occurred to me that I needed to take photos and since it was nighttime, I'd have to wait until morning. So guess who was photographing bread at 5 am?

This is every bit as sensational as the reviews say. It's got a softer crust than most sourdoughs but that makes it an excellent choice for sandwiches and such. The crumb, too, is lighter and softer than most of the sourdoughs I've baked but that's not a bad thing. Again, great for sandwiches. And toast. And so many other things. I'm okay with the big seedy things in it and in love with the artisan bread topping I sprinkled on top. (I also sprinkled on the tiniest bit of sea salt flakes which gives it a nice burst of goodness.) For a bread with a fairly short fermentation, starter aside, it really does have a nice depth of flavor. An absolute keeper.

multi-grain sourdough boule*

Ingredients

  • 227g boiling water
  • 142g Harvest Grains Blend
  • 454g sourdough starter, fed and ready to use (the one I used here is 100% hydration)
  • 198g white whole wheat flour
  • 206g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t instant yeast
  • 25g vegetable oil (I used safflower)
  • Topping: your choice of seeds (I also added a sprinkling of sea salt flakes)

Directions

  1. In the bowl of your mixer, add boiling water to the Harvest Grains. Stir together and let cool until lukewarm.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients (minus topping) with soaked grains and mix until you have a soft dough. Add additional flour or water if needed.
  3. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled.
  4. Place dough on a slightly greased surface and gently deflate. Shape into large boule.
  5. Place in covered baker that's been lightly sprayed with oil and cover. Let rise until nearly doubled.
  6. Preheat oven to 425° F while dough is rising.
  7. Lightly spray dough with water and top with your choice of seeds. Slash bread and place in oven.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake until golden brown (an additional 10–15 minutes).
  9. Remove and cool in baker for about 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on rack.

*Adapted from King Arthur Flour.