This is easily the best sandwich loaf I’ve made so far, I am so delighted with how it turned out. I used this recipe for sourdough-risen sandwich bread, but made a few adjustments as follows:
- 1 cup recently fed sourdough starter
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup wholewheat bread flour
- 2 cups plus 2 tbsp white bread flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup ‘omega mix’ seeds
- 1/2 cup oats
- more seeds and oats for decoration
Mix the ingredients in a bowl with a butter knife, until a shaggy dough of sorts forms.
Knead in the bowl for ten minutes – by hand this time, because trying to knead it in the mixer just ended up with a ball of dough on the hook, turning and turning. Dizzy, yes. Kneaded, no. Rest the dough for ten minutes to relax the gluten and let some of the moisture and stickiness absorb into the flour, then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for another fifteen, making a point of stretching the dough out as far as you can while you knead, until the dough is very elastic. It is a lot of kneading, and it can be tiring on the arms, but the result is a well-risen loaf and anyway, it’s cheaper than going to the gym.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a round, then lightly oil the mixing bowl and replace the dough in there. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, wrap in a towel to keep it cosy and put somewhere warm to rise for any length of time between six hours and overnight. The longer you leave the bread, the greater the sourdough taste will be.
Once you’ve let the dough rise (mine went for seven hours), punch down and knead the dough again, then shape into a rectangle the same size as your loaf tin. Grease the loaf tin, place the dough inside and, if you like, top with more seeds and oats and press down. Let it rise again, covered with a lightly oiled sheet of clingfilm and a towel, for another 3 hours. After this time it will be well risen and rounded. It’s important to oil the clingfilm because the bread will be touching it after its risen, and if you have to scrape it off you can deflate the dough in the process. I was amazed by how tall the bread got, this is exactly what I wanted. And to think, it only took ten hours… Of course this would be much quicker with instant yeast instead of sourdough, don’t go away thinking that you’ll have to have a spare ten hours just to make a sandwich loaf.
Once the loaf is well risen, bake at 175C for 35 minutes, until the loaf is nicely browned on top and sounds hollow when tapped. Take out of the tin, cool on a wire rack and slice when cool enough to handle.
This bread was good as toast (though it didn’t really fit in the toaster) and I used it for packed lunch sandwiches all week. I thought it deserved something pretty fancy so my first sandwich with it was smoked salmon, rocket and cream cheese – not something I could afford to have every day, but good as a treat!
I’m not really sure why the sandwich is at that angle. I assume there was a reason at the time.
This bread had a lovely soft crumb, but was firm enough to slice up. I found it easier to slice it upside down, that way I could really see how thick the slices were and it was easier for the knife to get a grip on the softer crust on the bottom. There was a considerable amount of mess with seeds and oats falling off the top, though it did look pretty! I think I should have been firmer when I was pressing them into the dough before it started to rise, and possibly a quick brush of milk before applying them would have helped, too.
I didn’t get a strong sourdough flavour from this loaf, but it had a lot to work against with the oats, seeds and wholemeal all bringing their own flavours. The nuttiness of the seeds, in particular, was really good and I had a strong sense of how healthy this bread was, compared to a white loaf. Above all, I loved how the bread looked! I’m starting to see that bread can be made for everyday use, not just for a special occasion or when I feel like trying a fancy recipe. While this bread did take a long while to rise, it didn’t need me to be hands on – I just went back to it when I wanted to shape it, and then when it was time to bake. It’s something I wouldn’t try on a week day, since I have a hard enough time getting out of the house in the morning without making bread, but at the weekend a sourdough loaf is a great project.
It’s another Yeastspotting submission! Susan gives a showcase of the finest breads from around the globe each Friday, check it out.
Also, do you know about Foodie Penpals? If you’re a UK or European blogger you should really be checking it out. Jussayin.