As I mentioned in my prosciutto ring post, bread can be made using a variety of techniques. This week’s “Alpha Baking” project was a whole wheat loaf based on the sponge technique. This is where the liquid is mixed with some of the flour and some of the yeast, then the remaining flour, yeast, salt, and any extras are sprinkled over top. I made this up on Friday, to take as part of my contribution to meals at our friends’ cottage this past weekend. Since it was a holiday weekend, I’m a bit behind on writing this up. Oh well!
I’ve mentioned one of my favourite baking toys a few times in the past on this blog, but I think this is the first time I’ve used it for a bake-along recipe. A couple of years ago, Jay got me a flour mill for my birthday. 😀
Rose mentions in her book to use freshly ground flour either within 3 days of grinding, or after 3 weeks, due to enzyme activity in the flour. Since I always grind mine immediately before use, I’m covered there.
To make the sponge, you add water, yeast, and honey to part of the flour.
Mix it up…
Then sprinkle the remaining flour over top. At this point, I went out for lunch, and picked up the vital wheat gluten that was supposed to be mixed in to the flour mixture.
I kind of halfheartedly stirred the gluten into the flour blanket when I got home, before kneading it in for real.
After the dough comes together, you leave it to rest for 20 minutes before final kneading, then add the salt and walnuts.
Let it rise for an hour, turn it, then rise again. Empty onto a floured counter, and shape.
Shape by flattening into a square, then rolling it up into a loaf shape.
“Proofing” is the stage where the loaf is in its final shape, and you let it rise before baking. Here’s my fully risen loaf, just before it went into the oven on Friday night.
As I mentioned earlier, I brought this to share with our friends who hosted us at their cottage for the weekend. It was a big hit, though the blue cheese was only enjoyed by 3 out of the 4 of us. It’s ok, Bill had lots of other cheeses and toppings to choose from. The summer sausage from Pine River Cheese was a hit, as was the spicy cheddar.
I really enjoyed this loaf, and I think it’ll likely get added to a normal bread routine to some extent… probably after all of these bake-throughs, because I’ve got plenty of new recipes to keep me busy.
On a super exciting note… I’m making plans to visit Golda’s Kitchen in Mississauga next Sunday at 4pm. Why so specific? Rose is going to be there! I can’t wait to meet the woman who’s made my baking what it is! I can’t imagine what I will possibly say in person, but I guess I’ll just bring some books to get signed. 😉