Freshly ground wheat, dandelion flower water, sprouted sunflower seeds, rolled oats, sea salt and sourdough...yum. An airy and delicious loaf that defies the conventions of what whole grains can do (and perhaps another contestant for YeastSpotting?)
It was a gloriously beautiful day today, with sunshine aplenty, but there was nothing I was looking forward to more than slicing into the loaf I left to cool while I out on a 40 mile bike ride through the mountains (I got a bit lost). A true 36-hour sourdough, this all began two days ago when I was feeling lazy, so I popped some wheat berries into the grinder and started cranking away. I invested in a grain mill from Lehman's this winter and I can say that, aside from my waffle iron, it's one of the best investments I've ever made. Solid, sturdy and grinds like a champ. Buckwheat flour, lentil flour, chickpea flour, quinoa flour...it's all fresh and you can definitely taste the difference.
Not only is fresh stone-ground whole wheat flour tastier and healthier (germ oils are just being exposed to oxygen), it also forces you to work for your bread, making the final product all the more wonderful. With the flour ground, I added the standard dollop of rip sourdough, a handful of rolled oats and enough water to make a very wet dough (the oats and freshly ground flour will soak up a lot of water over time). For some added sunshine and protein, I pureed a handful of dandelion flowers with part of the water before adding it to the flour (you admittedly can't tell in the finally product, but the love is there). I left that all to ferment overnight and also started soaking some sunflower seeds to be sprouted for the bread.
The next morning, the dough was wonderfully elastic and really came together nicely. I had used about one and a half cups of water, so I added about a teaspoon and a half of salt and kneaded that all together for a couple minutes, then put it in the fridge. The sunflower seeds were starting to sprout already, so I drained the water, gave them and extra rinse and let them be for the day.
That night, I pulled the dough out to warm up a bit before kneading in the seeds. To incorporate those little sprouts, I flattened out the dough, covered the top with a layer of seeds, rolled it all up and gently kneaded them in until well incorporated. A boule was formed and put back in a bowl lined with floured linen (a piece of an old pillowcase is what I use for linen) to wait out the night in the fridge.
Baking morning...wake up, turn on oven with baking stone and flower pot inside. Let it preheat for at least a half hour, an hour if you can (to let the stone and flower pot absorb the heat), then turn out the boule onto a cornmealed peel (today was an old magazine), score, and flick it into the center of the stone. Cover with the pot for steam effect (see previous bread post) for 10-15 minutes, remove the pot, cook 'till golden brown and then let cool. The only way I could avoid cutting right into it was to go for a bike ride, at which point I took a wrong turn and got very lost, making 15 miles into 40, so upon my return I had to resist completely ravaging the loaf (at least before taking pictures).
A very happy man I am. I love when complete satisfaction can come from something as simple as a wonderfully moist crumb and light texture in a 100% whole grain rustic loaf...well worth every crank of the mill. Yum. So get a crankin' and a bakin' folks...it is guaranteed deliciousness.