◊ By Sujit Sumitran
A rustic gem studded with precious sunflower, melon, sesame, pumpkin, niger, nigella, flax & pomegranate seeds
A) SEED SOAKER
- Sunflower, Melon, Sesame, Pumpkin and Niger Seeds, 10 gm each
- Nigella and Flax Seeds, 5 gm each
- Pomegranate Seeds, 10 gm
Soak the sunflower, melon, sesame, pumpkin, niger, nigella and flax seeds in water for approx 10 hours, or overnight. Drain and toast till nutty. Finally, toss in the pomegranate seeds to the toasted seed mix.
B) ORGANIC SEEDGASM BREAD
- Water, 400 gm
- Whole Wheat Levain, 100 gm
- Organic Maida (all purpose flour), 445 gm
- Organic Whole Wheat Flour, 55 gm (not store bought; home milled or stone-milled)
- Fine Grind Sea/Rock Salt, 10 gm
AUTOLYSE: Add 400 gm of water to the mixing bowl, along with the maida and whole wheat flour blend (500 gm). Mix well till the flour is well hydrated and you can’t see or feel any dry bits. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. This is a crucial step, as it allows the flour to absorb the water and relax into a cohesive mass. More importantly, this kickstarts the gluten formation process.
MIX: Now add 100 gm of the levain to the dough. Pull the dough from under and drop it over the levain while turning the bowl. The levain should be completely incorporated into the dough. Dimple the surface well to get the salt into the dough. Next, add 10 gm of salt onto the surface of the dough. Again, pull the dough from under and drop it over the salt, turning the bowl. The salt should be enclosed in the dough. Moisten your fingers and palm and using your thumb and index finger like pincers, cut through the dough and remix. Essentially, you want to ensure the salt and levain are evenly distributed across the dough. The dough will be sticky, so have a bowl of water close by to moisten your hands every time you find the dough sticking to your fingers and palm. While moistening your hands, take care to ensure that you do not unintentionally transfer water on to the dough. Aim for an internal dough temperature of 76 to 80°F (25 to 27°C) right through the fermentation process.
TURN: This entails a series of stretches-and-folds that are employed to develop the gluten. This formula calls for 4 turns every 30 minutes. At the second turn, embed the seeds gently within the folds. If you can’t add all the seeds at once, integrate them at the next turn. Aim to complete the addition of the seeds by the third turn.
You should be done with the turns in 2 hours. Cover the dough with a napkin and leave it for an hour or till the dough increases in volume by 20 to 30%. You will observe air bubbles along the sides of the mixing bowl, an indication that the fermentation is complete and the dough is ready to be shaped and proofed.
PRESHAPE: Using a flour-dusted silicon spatula or a plastic dough scraper, gently nudge the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Quickly flour your fingers and stretch and fold the dough, shaping it into a ball. Dust the surface and cover the dough with a kitchen napkin. Let it remain undisturbed for 15 to 20 minutes.
SHAPE: Take a 50:50 mix of rice flour and whole wheat flour and dust a kitchen napkin with the flour mix generously. Transfer the napkin carefully onto your proofing basket/colander/banneton. Using the bench scraper, turn the dough at 180°, so that the floured surface is underneath. Now, gently pull the edges of the dough towards the centre, tightening it, and gently roll over, so that the seam is now facing downwards. With your little fingers (well dusted with flour) under the dough (away from you), pull the dough towards you and keep turning it clockwise till you feel it tighten on the surface. Alternately, use a dough scraper and quickly push under the dough at a 45° angle till the dough turns into a tight ball. Ensure the surface on which the dough is placed is free of flour or there won’t be enough friction for the dough to contract.
PROOF: Transfer the dough seam-side up on the proofing basket, cover with a plastic bag and transfer into the fridge. In approx 3 to 3.5 hours, your dough should be ready. Alternately, let it cold proof overnight (assuming you started the fermentation in the evening). One way to check if the dough is ready is to do the finger dent test—when you gently poke the dough, it should spring back slowly but maintain its indent.
BAKE: Preheat the oven to maximum temperature (250°C) with a Dutch Oven (DO) in it. I normally heat it for 40 minutes. This needs to be synchronised in a manner that when the dough is proofed and ready, the DO is also hot and ready to go. Transfer the dough carefully into the DO, seam-side down, and bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Take off the lid, decrease the temperature to 225°C and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes until the loaf is chestnut brown in colour. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack and let it rest for at least a couple of hours before slicing.
If you don’t have a DO, transfer the dough seam-down on parchment paper and transfer onto a baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C. Spray the sides of the oven with water every 5 minutes for the first 15 minutes and continue baking till the loaf is chestnut brown. Then, transfer it to a cooling rack and defer slicing for a few hours.
REFRESH THE LOAF: Refresh the loaf if it has gone cold, or is left over. Lightly spray the loaf all over with water. Set the oven at 150°C for 10 minutes. Toss the loaf in and let it remain inside even after the oven has turned off. After 30 minutes, (to ensure you don’t slice into a gummy crumb) tap on the loaf. If you hear a hollow, crisp sound, you’re ready to start slicing!
Sujit Sumitran is a sourdough bread baker residing in Goa. He can be followed at www.instagram.com/sujitsumitran