Hamelman's Semolina With a Whole-grain Soaker

I’d been longing to try one of those whole-grain soaker recipes for ages, but had to wait for the time to visit the whole foods shop to score some millet seeds; never seen them anywhere else. And then I had to wait another few days for a baking day. And a final delay of a week to post it all here. Ah well.

The recipe calls for a hot-water soaker and a “flying” sponge to go into the final dough, but as I had a hungry leaven that I wanted to feed and use I decided to use that to make the sponge, and to explain the calculations here in detail in case they might help someone. So, the recipe calls for:

<strong>Soaker:</strong><br></br>
Coarse cornmeal 80 gm (I used polenta)<br></br>
Millet seeds 60 gm<br></br>
Sesame seeds 60 gm<br></br>
Boiling water 250 ml<br></br>

At least 4 hours before dough-time, pour the boiling water over the grains, cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature.

<strong>Sponge:</strong><br></br>
Durum flour 200 gm<br></br>
Bread flour 200 gm (I used "Manitoba")<br></br>
Water 280 gm<br></br>
Yeast 17 gm fresh<br></br>

You mix the two flours with the water and the yeast, stir it till everything is incorporated and then let it ripen at 25-26℃ for about 1.25 hours, until it is on the verge of collapse. But I wanted to use my leaven, which was nice and active, had been fed with bread flour and was at 100% hydration. I had 232 gm of starter, which represents 116 gm each of flour and water. So I needed to add 200-116=84 gm of bread flour, 200 gm of durum flour and 280-116=164 gm of water. Simple, no?

<strong>Final dough:</strong><br></br>
All the soaker -- <strong>do not drain!</strong><br></br>
All the sponge<br></br>
Durum flour 300 gm<br></br>
Bread flour 300 gm<br></br>
Water 260 gm<br></br>
Salt 22 gm<br></br>

Hamelman calls for mechanical mixing, but I don’t have a machine, so I squidged all the ingredients together and left that to ferment for about 45 minutes. Tipped the dough out and did a stretch and fold, and although the dough was a bit sticky it was well structured and if I kept it on the move didn’t actually stick to anything. Another 45 minutes bulk ferment and then I divided the dough into 3 equal pieces (about 660 gm each), pre-shaped them and let them rest for 15 minutes (I was doing everything by the book) before final shaping into loaves and proofing on a linen canvas cloth. When they had risen I tried a neat tip I picked up from Hamelman, to press the loaf onto a wet tea towel and then into a tray of sesame seeds. Works a treat. The third loaf I wet in the same way but then sprinkled poppy seeds on it. Finally slashed the loaves, two diagonally and one lengthwise, before slipping them into the oven at 230℃ (about the best my oven can do) with steam for the first 20 minutes and then without for a further 20 minutes.

The loaves were really delicious, the millet giving a very satisfying crunch. Not sure that I could taste the cornmeal, but as with so many of these things, I expect I’d miss it if it weren’t there. All in all, well worthwhile, and the source of several delicious sandwich lunches.

I’m sending this to Yeast Spotting, with one of the cheesier photographs.


Bread and Cheese

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