This bread is loaded with seeds, yet it is very airy with a lacy crumb.
See what I mean?
The dough for this bread includes a liquid levain (100% hydration sourdough), as well as a tiny bit of instant yeast. You can skip the yeast if you prefer, and just lengthen the proofing times. I love pure sourdough bread, but I'm not such a fanatic that I don't mind giving the loaves a boost.
This is a pretty wet dough, especially with the toasted seeds soaked in water. The trick to not ending up with a flat loaf of bread is to be sure to develop gluten during the stretch and fold process, and to double shape your loaf before the second proofing. I think I could have improved on this step, and will be working on it.
This bread is ridiculously tasty. On the day that I baked these loaves, I spread a few fresh slices with pesto leftover from these muffins, and loved the flavor. I also sliced half of a loaf and took it to work to share, and it disappeared almost instantly.
This is a bread you must taste to appreciate how incredible it is. While it is light and airy, the seeds add a lot of protein, making this a great "stick to your ribs" breakfast bread. It's wonderful toasted with a fried or poached egg, and it stays fresh for several days.
The bread begins with toasted seeds soaked in boiling water, which are then added to a 78 percent hydration dough, which also includes a generous amount of sourdough starter. After the first rise, the dough is shaped and then proofed in the refrigerator overnight, ready to be baked the next day.
If you are baking over the weekend, here is a suggested schedule:
8:00 a.m., feed your sourdough starter
2:00 p.m., toast your seeds and soak them in the boiling water
3:00 p.m., mix the final dough
8:00 p.m., shape the loaves and place them in the refrigerator overnight.
9:00 to 10:00 a.m., bake the loaves
I baked my loaves in preheated cast iron Dutch ovens, but you can also bake them on a baking stone with a steam pan, or an overturned stainless steel bowl or hotel pan.
Sourdough Pain de Campagne with Toasted Pumpkin, Sunflower, and Flax Seeds
For the starter:
- 50 grams sourdough starter
- 200 grams water
- 200 grams unbleached all purpose flour
For the seed soaker:
- 140 grams unsalted sunflower seeds
- 70 grams unsalted pumpkin seeds
- 80 grams flax seeds
- 330 grams boiling water
For the final dough:
- 700 grams bread flour
- 100 grams whole wheat flour
- 580 grams 90 to 95 degree F water
- 21 grams fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 400 grams of the sourdough starter/levain
- To make the starter: Mix the sourdough starter ingredients in a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside.
- To make the seed soaker: Place the sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a sheet pan and bake them in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, stirring them halfway through. Place the toasted seeds into a 1 to 2 quart heat resistant bowl, add the flax seeds, and stir in the boiling water. Stir a few times and let sit until it cools, stirring occasionally. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- To make the final dough: Combine the flours and the water in a large bowl or dough rising bucket. Mix with your hand until all of the flour is incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle the top of the dough with the salt and the yeast. With a wet hand, fold the dough over the salt and yeast, and then pinch the dough with your fingers. Continue to wet your mixing hand and fold the dough over itself, and continue to pinch and fold, until the salt and yeast are dissolved. Add 400 grams of the sourdough starter, and mix by hand, wetting your hand in a bowl of water as you go. Fold the dough over itself a few more times, and then cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
- After the first rest, add the seed mixture, and fold the dough by picking up each "side," stretching it, and folding it over the middle about 15 to 20 times. (Don't worry too much about how difficult it is to incorporate the seeds, as it will get easier with each phase of stretching and folding). Cover again. Fold the dough three more times at 20 minute intervals. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rise until tripled, about 2 to 3 more hours.
- Gently scrape the dough out onto a floured surface. Divide it in half with a bench knife, and shape each piece into a boule or batard by gently folding the dough over itself from all "sides." Flip the shaped loaves over so that the seam side is on the counter. Using a bench scraper, draw the loaf toward you, and then away from you, to tighten up the top of the dough. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat with the second piece of dough. In the meantime, dust two bannetons or towel lined bowls with a 50-50 mixture of wheat and rice flour.
- After 10 minutes, place the bench scraper under the shaped loaf, and scoot it around from all four sides to tighten up the loaf a bit. Place the shaped dough into the banneton, seam side up or down. If you do it seam side down, you won't need to slash the dough before baking, as it will open naturally. Repeat with the second loaf.
- Cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap, and place them into the refrigerator overnight. The next day, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with either two Dutch ovens or baking stone placed on the middle rack. If you only have one Dutch oven, you can bake the loaves sequentially.
- When ready to bake, turn the loaves out onto a parchment lined plate. Either lift them into the heated Dutch oven, or slide them onto the baking stone. Cover with the lid, or in the case of the baking stone, cover with a stainless bowl or hotel pan... or add boiling water to a steam pan placed under the baking stone.
- Bake for 30 minutes, remove the lid or pan, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the bread is a deep brown and reaches an internal temperature of about 205 degrees F. Cool completely on a wire rack.
- Yield: 2 - 24 ounce loaves
This recipe is my own, but inspired by two of my favorite bread books, Flour, Water, Salt, and Yeast (for the method) and Josey Baker Bread (inspiration for the seed mixture).