Sunflower Seed Rye Sourdough Bread
This particular baking experiment was no ordinary baking experiment. Not only did the dough I prepared had a higher hydration (approx. 73% to 75%) than my last rye sourdough bread, but I was accompanied by Diana, whom I’ll sometimes refer to as my baking assistant and student… Unfortunately for her, I’m an awful teacher with limited experience in bread baking.
We met up for dinner at an Italian restaurant and we both agreed to help each other improve our culinary skills. She will teach me how to cook. And I will teach her how to bake. With our passions combined, we’ll make super, sexy foods—probably.
(This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.)
The primary objectives for the sunflower seed rye sourdough bread were the following:
Adapted from the website Wild Yeast, the following adjustments were made to the original recipe:
Additionally, if available, I’ve listed brand names of the food products I used in the tables below. Disclaimer: This isn’t an endorsement. I’m simply indicating the names of the branded products used in my baking experiment.
Yield: 2 sunflower seed rye sourdough bread (loaf)
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 37 + 37 minutes
|Pre-ferment: Rye Sourdough Starter|
|Medium rye flour / Type 1150 rye flour, Chilled||124 g||Ireks|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||93 g||Water O|
|Rye sourdough starter, 75% hydration||31 g||N/A|
|Medium rye flour / Type 1150 rye flour, Chilled||358 g||Ireks|
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour / Type 55 flour, Chilled||358 g||Top Budget|
|Rye sourdough starter, 75% hydration||220 g||N/A|
|Mineral water, Room temp.||430 g||Water O|
|Iodized table salt||14 g||Kingdom Salt|
|Sunflower seeds, Toasted||119 g||Origins|
|Ice cubes, Tap water||N/A||N/A|
|Rice flour||N/A||Double Squirrel|
|Countertop convection oven, Refrigerator, Sheet pans, Ice cube tray, Parchment paper, Spatulas, Strainers, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Containers, Plastic bin, Plastic bag, Mechanical kitchen scale, Scissor, Spoons, Wire rack, Cutting boards, Unglazed clay tiles (Baking stone)|
Warning: Do not attempt my “recipe” (i.e., experiment) without considering the following; variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen utensils and equipment, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.
Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes:
- refreshing or feeding the rye sourdough starter (refer to pre-ferment ingredients)
- resting the rye sourdough starter at above room temperature (approx. 31°C / 87.8°F) for eleven hours, then chilling the rye sourdough starter for two and a half hours at approx. 7°C / 44.6°F
- placing unglazed clay tiles onto the middle rack of the oven
- toasting the sunflower seeds in the oven at 180°C / 356°F for a total of fifteen minutes (convection mode on)
- cooling the toasted sunflower seeds
- lining the sheet pan with parchment paper
Step 1: *Looks at drowsy Diana.*
“Go have your coffee.”
As my baking assistant brewed and drunk her coffee, I assembled the type 1150 rye flour, type 55 flour, strainer, and mixing bowl. Thereafter, I sifted the flours into the mixing bowl.
Step 2: After whisking the said flours, I fetched the mineral water and Abital—my beloved sourdough starter.
Note: Abital was not de-chilled for a prolonged period. After all, she was only in the refrigerator for an two and a half hours.
Step 3: “Your arms getting tired?” asked Diana, with a subtle but taunting smile.
Upon pouring the water and starter into the mixing bowl (containing the flours), the ingredients were mixed with a plastic spatula. As time progressed, the dough began to form, stiffen, and resist movement. However, once combined, the dough was autolyzed (i.e., rested) for fifteen minutes.
Step 4: Next, the dough was transferred to the cutting board and kneaded using the “French kneading method” for several minutes. (As I kneaded, Diana mimicked the gestures of my hands—akin to a mime but more adorable.)
Shortly afterwards, the dough was divided into halves with a Chinese chef’s knife, where each half was taken by Diana and myself.
“Alright, sprinkle half the salt and sunflower seeds onto each dough.”
Diana did as instructed. Subsequently, we both proceeded to French knead our doughs for approx. twenty-five minutes.
Step 5: After kneading for twenty-five minutes, we scraped our respective cutting boards (to merge stray scraps of dough), placed our doughs into a large plastic bin, inserted the plastic bin into a large plastic bag, then rested our doughs for twenty minutes at above room temperature.
Step 6: Once twenty minutes had elapsed, I stretched and folded each dough as demonstrated in this video, reinserted the plastic bin into the plastic bag, then rested the doughs for an additional twenty minutes.
Throughout this time, Diana washed and scrubbed the used kitchen equipment. It’s such a delight to have a helpful assistant. :P
Note: Diana’s dough is to the left. My dough is to the right.
Step 7: As soon as twenty minutes had elapsed, Diana and I pre-shaped our doughs into boules (i.e., round balls). Following that, the rounded doughs were rested for ten minutes.
Note: I should’ve oiled the plastic bin. As you can see, bits and pieces of our dough clung to the plastic bin.
Step 8: Once ten minutes had passed, I awkwardly shaped my dough into a batard whereas Diana left her dough as is. Subsequent to that, each dough was transferred to a homemade couche (i.e., baker’s cloth) dusted with rice flour, scored (i.e., slashed) with a razor attached to a wooden skewer, then rested for thirty minutes.
In the meantime, the countertop oven was preheated to 250°C / 482°F (convection mode on) for approx. thirty minutes.
Step 9: Yikes!
It was apparent that the couche was not dusted with enough rice flour. Consequently, Diana’s dough slightly tore on the bottom when transferred to the parchment lined sheet pan.
Nonetheless, the sheet pan (where Diana’s dough laid upon) was placed onto the preheated unglazed clay tiles of the oven, then baked at 200°C / 392°F for approx. fifteen minutes. Additionally, I threw in a handful of ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven to create steam, which helps the dough expand during baking.
Step 10: Once baked for fifteen minutes, I quickly rotated the sheet pan and baked Diana’s loaf for an additional fifteen minutes. However, I decided to bake the loaf for another seven minutes after determining that the bread was underbaked. This was done by tapping the bottom of the bread loaf and listening for sounds of hollowness. (I mentioned to Diana that this technique was unreliable and she bursted into laughter. I had no idea what I was doing, honestly.)
Baked for a total of thirty-seven minutes, the beautiful sourdough was cooled on a wire rack at above room temperature for eighteen hours prior to slicing.
Yes, I said eighteen hours. Why so long, you ask? Flavour development and, for the most part, moisture distribution of the bread loaf. Otherwise, we may end up with a very gummy loaf of bread.
Step 11: Rinse it down, wash it up, and dry it out.
Step 12: My original plan was to proof (i.e., ferment) my dough inside the refrigerator while Diana’s dough was baked. However, I decided against it because I wanted to know what an overproofed dough looked like. Accordingly, I witnessed my dough become less bloated and slack.
My dough was baked and cooled nearly in the same manner as Diana’s dough. Essentially, steps 9 to 11 was followed, except that my dough was continuously baked for twenty-two minutes after the rotation. Unfortunately, my dough had adhered to the couche and became tremendously disfigured.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised and content with the results. Compared to Diana’s bread, the crumb of my overproofed bread was less dense and wildly open.
After twelve hours of being baked, the crust of Diana’s loaf was rather firm whereas the crumb was somewhat moist yet stiff. When emaciated, the crust was very chewy while crumb was not as so. With respect to odour, the loaf emitted a pleasant, slight wheaty smell and a nutty aroma of sunflower seeds. Further, the loaf harboured a very faint tang and a mild to modest nutty taste, accompanied by subtle taste notes of rye and butteriness.
Note: The sunflower seed rye sourdough bread was stored at above room temperature.
I’ve learned a great deal of lessons from the making of these bread loaves. Just to list a few: heavily dust the couche, don’t let the dough rest too long, oil the plastic bin, sprinkle cornmeal or semolina as needed, and use a water-filled sheet pan to create steam.
Sometimes I imagine myself several months and years from now, wondering about how my bread making skills will improve. Of course, I also wonder about where life will lead me. But the specifics doesn’t matter.
Will my so-called passion for bread making continue to burn with fervour? I don’t know. But I do know that the existence of an interest isn’t merely enough to sustain it. It can blow out like the flickering light of a candle. As a child matures into adulthood, interests must too be nurtured yet liberated to become a worthy passion.
Lastly, thank you Diana for being awesome. You are the best baking companion I could ever wish for, pushing me to experiment and play with variables that I had never considered.
My dear readers, farewell, take care, and happy baking. :D