It is true that I am unable to follow anyone else's recipe except for my sister's challah recipe. Bread #95 bread is roughly the Reinhart recipe of a 100 percent whole wheat sandwich bread, but with the significant differences of using sourdough starter and changing the timing due to real-life needs to leave the house and to sleep occasionally. I've now made it twice and it had lovely oven spring each time. The first try was immediately frozen for offspring to eat healthy-bread-from-Mom.
I managed to make multiple breads for the offspring before they left the nest following their winter vacations. I have also discovered another local bread soulmate, who has furnished me with some challah recipes, one sourdough, and what looks like a nice rye.
Not a quick bread
This bread is at least a two-day affair because it involves a soaker, a biga, and running out to the store for yogurt when you find that you ran out. A biga is basically a dough-like pre-dough, more solid than a sponge, and a soaker allows flour to sit in a moistened state, with some salt, anywhere from overnight to a few days. This is similar to an autolyse, except for the much longer duration and the salt. I used a full-fat yogurt with part of the layer of cream that sits on top. It's also grass-fed and I am sure the happy cows were well brought up and were educated at highly-esteemed cow/cattle institutions of higher bovine learning. (You need to watch the early Portlandia episode to get that joke completely.)
Ingredients and instructions
226g whole wheat flour
198g yogurt (mine was not watery)
Mix well and do not add water, milk, or more yogurt until finished mixing. This pre-dough will appear dry, but do not worry, the liquid is most likely sufficient. Cover bowl after mixing and leave on counter. I left mine out for almost nine hours, but you have up to 24 according to Reinhart's recipe.
229g whole wheat flour
100g starter (mine is part whole wheat at this point)
Mix and cover. The instructions call for a prolonged refrigeration, but I wanted it to proceed that evening, so I only put it in the fridge for about five hours and then left it on the counter in a warm kitchen for another two.
14g coconut oil - melted (Trust me, I did not melt it the first time and the second try went much better.)
I mixed and then let the dough sit for five minutes, at which point I kneaded for two minutes and did a stretch and fold. I have little patience for kneading. Perhaps I have to listen to better music or have something to watch on TV. I did three more stretch and folds at half hour intervals. Then, the hour being late, I covered the dough and put it in the fridge for 23 hours.
FYI: This bread gets baked at a rather low temperature and takes relatively long to bake. Preheat the oven to only 425 degrees. I preheated with the oblong la cloche inside so that I could get a longer, thinner shape, though not nearly a baguette.
I also have been trying putting rice flour inside BEFORE preheating. This accomplishes two things, but heed the warning that follows.
1. Less heat loss when putting in dough.
2. Less time standing in front of hot oven.
BUT - here is the warning:
When opening the la cloche, stand back because the slightly baked or burnt rice flour can sometimes be smoky and cause your eyes to tear. This did not happen with the oven on this relatively low temperature, but I have experienced that when the oven is hotter.
Sprinkle the counter with rice flour. Right before baking, take the dough out of the fridge and shape into an oblong loaf on top of the rice flour counter area. This is very easy with a cold dough, plus the rice flour gives more anti-sticking protection for your dough. If you have ever been unable to get a dough out of a la cloche, a Dutch oven, or other contraption, you know what a desperate situation it is to look at a beautifully risen loaf and be afraid it will be ruined because it is stuck to whatever you baked it in.
Sprinkle the top of the dough with water. I did not use seeds on top, but go ahead, it would be great. Do a few slashes, maybe four or five, and then put that baby inside the la cloche or whatever and bake.
Baking and voila
After putting dough in, reduce oven temperature immediately to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes and turn around la cloche. Do NOT open it. Let that hot air and steam stay inside. Total baking time 50 minutes. Perfect. I love it when I guess the timing exactly right. So proud.
Beautiful oven spring! Taste: Mixed voting here. I really like this one; it's a good basic bread either for sandwiches (because the yogurt softens the dough and makes the bread easy to cut) or for just some bread and butter. Perfectly lovely addition to the bread repertoire. However, a spoiled family member, whose tastes run to a strong preference for rye breads and now breads with rosemary (with a decided dislike for spelt), found this bread eh, as in average, okay, but definitely edible as he has managed to voluntarily eat it a number of times and without complaint.