Let me start by mentioning where I got my inspiration on for the first time. The perfect loaf. This amazing blog by Maurizio Leo, who is so hands on and knowledgeable about all things baking. Past five years I have followed his blog, methods, and awesome Instagram page for inspiration. If you want technicality of hands-on baking, there is where you find it.
But if you are like me, a mom, homemaker who love to add sourdough to your weekly meals. Want to make one yourself or not a fan of supermarket made sourdough bread, then this post is for you my friend. I bake weekly for my family and we have stopped buying bread from the store for the most part. It has taken me several years to get here and have baked many stone hard loaves while learning my lessons. Thank god now I am in a much better place. Let me share my tips with you too. Let us read on!
First and foremost, I should emphasis that even if you do not have a sourdough starter you can still bake a good loaf. You just would have to do a longer rise. We are going to use active dry yeast, not the instant yeast and the wet dough /no knead method. Next, let ‘s talk little bit about main ingredient which is flour. It is vital to use freshest flour available to you depending upon where you are. this is hands down best way to ensure flavor. In northern new England, my most favorite brand of flour for baking is King Arthur flour. They are local to the region and always comes out fresh. Another good brands I have used in the past is bobs red mill, and great river milling which has a great selection of flours. I have heard that great river milling flour is not very consistent in quality, but that has not been my experience. Every time I ordered from them, I got great quality product. I always try to buy flours made for bread, because that ideal protein level is key to good crumb structure.
Having said all that I am also exited to share that my husband got me a grain mill for last birthday! Yay! Chat I love you forever! I love my new KoMo XL plus and I have been doing lots of multigrain baking since then. My KoMo mill enables me to buy my grains fresh in bulk suppliers grind my own flour whenever I need to bake. Yes! I have a baking operation going on my household baking. Let us talk all about mills that I researched on another day.
Next l will mention a little bit about fiber enrichments. I add wheat bran and flax seed meal to bring up the fiber level even higher and add vital wheat gluten to soften and enhance the crumb structure. Fiber enriched loves do not rise that much and added gluten helps to get little bit more air into the dough and helps it rise more. The bread We are making today is still going to be denser and hearty because of the wheat bran and I want it that way to have a loaf which will release that energy slower, thus curbing the glycemic peaks. It has helped me curb my not so good habit of snacking between meals completely.
Another important tip is how to store your freshly baked bread. Home baked fresh bread does not last on counter longer because they do not have the additives to help extend the shelf life. I do like to make and bake my loaves weekly in one go so I need to store bread to last them long. Once baked I cover them with a clean towel and let it cool down completely. Then and store them in freezer in zip top bag until you are ready to use. Place the bread on the counter on the night before and you are going to use it to thaw out and get to room temperature. If you want to freeze the dough that can be done as well. But I have not personally tried freezing the dough. If you do this, I would love to hear how it turns out after baking.
Finally, I bake my loaves of bread in cast iron Dutch oven and in extremely hot oven. I mean extremely hot. But for my friends who do not own cast iron Dutch ovens, I do have a work around. Place a metal baking pan or an empty bread pan in the lower rack of the oven while preheating. As soon as you put the bread to bake on the top rack, pour a 1 cup of water carefully to the empty pan and close the oven door. extra moisture from the steam will help the bread rise and expand faster yields deliciously crusty bread.
Now that I have shared all my bread baking tips with you lets move on to the recipe.
100% whole wheat fiber enriched bread my home style
Yields four 850 grams loaves. (serving size 56 grams)
- 900 grams of soft white wheat
- 900 grams of hard red winter wheat
- 2 tsp of active dry yeast
- 2 tsp of salt
- ½ cup of wheat gluten
- 2 tbsp of wheat bran
- 2 tbsp of flax meal
- Enough water to make a wet dough.
Mix dry ingredients and whisk together few times. Add water to make a wet and sticky dough. Do not have to knead it. Cover and let the dough double in size. Time for the dough to rise varies on humidity, temperature, and type of yeast and how fresh the yeast is. Mine took about 3 hours in the oven light on. Best way to know if it has fermented enough is to poke the side of the dough gently with a finger. If it bounces back and does not hold the indentation, it is ready for shaping.
Dust your hand and counter with enough all-purpose flour. Turn the dough out and divide in to four pieces. Do not punch the dough down. Work gently so as not to over mix or deflate the bread dough. Work little bit more all-purpose flour if the dough is too sticky. For me it took about scant handful of all-purpose flour per loaf.
Gently fold the corners, tucking them in to the center and shape in loaves. Shape into loaves by pressing in and pushing up motion gently. Cut four parchment papers and put the loaves on top and let it rise to double or nearly double in size, under a moist paper towel or kitchen towel. (if you are using bread pans second rise can be done in them.)
Preheat the cast iron pots and oven to 450 degree. Once heated carefully open the pans to drop the bread with parchment paper and quickly close the lid. Bake for 35 minutes until bread is golden and crispy.
Enjoy with your favorite topping or curry on side.
*this article contains the affiliate links to all the ingredients that I use for my baking.