Have I mentioned lately how much I love my sourdough starter? This baby is a trooper. Raising breads day in and day out, especially loaves with a goodly proportion of whole grains, is not easy, but it’s up to the task pretty much every time.
When our children were small we used to tell them, “You’re better than a pet.” Sometimes I want to tell my starter, “You’re better than a kid.”
OK, not really, but when my starter graces me with bread like this, and doesn’t talk back in the bargain, you know, sometimes it’s kind of a toss-up.
Cracked Rye – Polenta Sourdough
Yield: 1050 g (2 loaves)
- Soak soaker: 12 hours
- Mix final dough: 10 minutes
- First fermentation : 2 hours with folds at 40 and 80 minutes
- Preshape, rest, and shape: 40 minutes
- Proof: 2.25 hours
- Bake: 1 hour
- 78 g cracked rye
- 60 g coarse polenta
- 150 g boiling water
Final Dough Ingredients:
- 89 g flour
- 89 g finely ground whole rye flour
- 178 g whole wheat flour
- 196 g water
- 12 g (2 t.) salt
- 36 g molasses
- 196 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
- All of the soaker
- In a bowl, combine the soaker ingredients. Cover and let rest for about 12 hours.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, or by hand, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker and a little of the water. Mix (in low speed) to incorporate the ingredients. Adjust the water as needed to achieve a medium dough consistency.
- Continue mixing (in medium speed or by hand) to a medium level of gluten development.
- Add the soaker and mix just until it is completely incorporated into the dough. The dough will seem fairly wet.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, with folds at 40 and 80 minutes. If the dough still seems quite loose at the end of the two hours, give it a third fold.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Preshape the pieces into balls and let them rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Shape the dough into tight balls by rotating it (as usual) on the countertop while using the edges of your hands to tuck the edges of the dough underneath. Most of this is done on an unfloured counter to provide friction needed to get the ball tight, but do the last couple of turns in rye or whole wheat flour. Do not try to pinch the bottom seam closed.
- Place the loaves seam-side-down in linen-lined baskets that have been dusted with the same flour. Slip the baskets into a large plastic bag.
- Proof for about 2 hours and 15 minutes at warm room temperature, or a little longer if the room is cool. The loaves should increase in volume by about 75%.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 440F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- When ready to bake, turn the loaves onto the peel so that the floured side is up. Do not score the loaves.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 410F. Bake for 10 minutes with steam, and another 38 minutes or so without steam, until the crust is a deep brown. Then turn the oven off and leave the loaves in, with the door ajar, for another 10 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until completely cool, or the bread will be gummy.