When attempting a new recipe I will usually keep working at it many times over until things are to my liking. I will go through pages and pages of notes with various tweaks to temperatures, folding intensities, flour combinations, and numerous other things. When I finally make a breakthrough I refer to my notes and pictures and will writeup a new post in the hopes my discoveries will help any readers out there looking to bake these loaves in their own kitchens.
This entry is no different. I believe I’ve finally found a really great combination of inputs to produce a superb close-to-one-hundred-percent whole grain loaf. In my last whole wheat entry the result was around 75% whole wheat. This entry describes how to get a nice and light, moist crumb with a much higher percentage, a ninety-five percent whole grain sourdough.
I haven’t made a “white” sourdough loaf in a few weeks (the last one was my Walnut Cranberry Sourdough loaf) and I’ve really become accustom to the deep & rich taste these whole grains present when baked. They hold up to just about any food, and only sometimes overpower other ingredients.
One thing I’ve been experimenting with is a younger levain per Chad’s description in his Tartine Bread books. In his latest book, Tartine Nº 3, he describes a levain prepared in about 4 to 6 hours at a warmer temperature between 80ºF and 85ºF. My levain, however, is typically created overnight (about 12 hours) at a relatively low temperature between 66ºF and 70ºF, depending on how brutal the winter days have been. I wanted to try to reduce my levain build time to match Chad’s more closely and see if using it at a younger stage would help with fermentation activity during my bulk fermentation stage. I’ve only baked a few loaves this way, and all have been whole grain, but I’m eager to try this younger levain method in future bakes with my typical country loaf.
Here you can see the progression over a 6 hour levain build. Earliest is top left, oldest and ready for mix is lower right (read like a book).
If you’ve only ever used an older levain for your bread you might get a little uneasy watching your young levain develop, never quite sure if it’s ready. Remember you can always do a quick “float test” before using the levain to ensure it’s ready.
Prepare the levain – 10:00am
The following levain build was kept at around 77ºF ambient temperature and started in the morning on the day I mixed the dough, rather than the night before.
- 50g ripe starter
- 100g Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour
- 100g Sangre de Cristo white flour (King Arthur Bread Flour would work here)
- 200g H2O @ 85ºF
After mixing the above in a thick-walled glass container, cover and set in a slightly warm area, around 77ºF, for about 6 hours.