I had a load of cooked farro grains left over, and needed some bread, so this came into being. It wasn’t an entirely happy experience. The dough was very moist and sticky, and I’ve really lost my moulding mojo recently, so there was a bit of a (one-man) scene in the kitchen. Then it didn’t really have much in the way of oven spring*, hence the slightly sad shape. BUT, and here’s the important thing, it tastes great.
It’s a ridiculously wholesome loaf that would make a spongey British “Granary” go and hang its head in shame. It’s firm, moist, with a good crust and eminently satisfying to bite. Great with cheese or for a peanut butter sarnie.
And yes, I might be a food blogger based Rome, but this isn’t a Roman bread. I made it up, in part inspired by Dan Lepard‘s Five-grain loaf (in The Handmade Loaf). As Mr Lepard spent a lot of time in Italy learning his trade, I suspect he took his inspiration for that loaf in part from Italian multicereali (multigrain) breads. So this is a distant cousin to, say, the wonderful multicereali that you can get from Roscioli, or the multicereali I got last week from the Testaccio Ex-Mattatoio farmers market, which the baker called Pane di brigante. He explained he called it that as his area, in the hills south of Rome, used to be full of brandits, brigands.
As I made it up on the fly, these quantities can’t pretend to be exact. You want a nice moisty dough, but don’t get yourself in a lather (like I did). If it feels too wet, add some more flour. And use whatever seeds you have to hand.
400g cooked spelt grains (Dry grain simmered in water until soft, then drained – reserving the cooking water. I used farro perlato.)
Mix in a large bowl:
300g white spelt flour. I used stoneground organic farina di farro bianco.
300g fine durum wheat flour. I used a stoneground organic farina di grano duro.
10g sea salt
Combine in another bowl:
15g fresh yeast, crumbled
100g leaven (100% hydration. I’ve done it with leavens fed on emmer, spelt or modern wheat)
350g grain cooking water (tepid, not hot), made up with ordinary water if necessary
Combine in small bowl and add a little water (to soften):
20g linseed (broken up slighty with a pestle and mortar or in a coffee grinder)
20g sunflower seeds
20g pumpkin seeds
20g sesame seeds
1 Make the dough by adding the ferment (yeast, water, leaven etc) to the flours and salt mix.
2 Mix well with a spatula or spoon, then turn out on to worksurface.
3 Knead until well combined.
4 Stretch the dough, add the grain and seeds.
5 Fold over the dough, then gently kneed again to combine the grain and seeds.
6 Adjust the dough if it’s too wet or indeed too dry by adding more flour or liquid accordingly.
7 Form into a ball, then leave to rest in a bowl covered with a moist tea towel.
8 After 10 minutes, give it another knead.
9 Rest another 10 minutes.
10 Give it another gentle knead.
11 Return to the bowl, cover and prove until doubled in volume.
12 Turn out the dough, and press it out to equalise the gas pockets. (We always called this “knocking back” in British baking, but that encourages unnecessary violence towards your tender dough.)
13 Weigh dough and divide into two equal portions, each around 850g.
14 Shape each portion into a ball, then leave to rest for 10 minutes, covered.
15 Shape as you like. I was planning batons, but after my tantrum I went with the easy option: tin loaves.
16 Preheat oven to 220C.
17 Prove again until ready to bake: the dough should be wobbly, plump and soft.
18 Brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with seeds. Cut along the length (my cut was pathetic).
19 Bake 20 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200C.
20 Remove from the tins then retun to the oven for another 10 minutes or so. (As the dough was damp, and contained the moist farro grains, I reasoned it could do with a little more time to bake through.)
21 Cool on a wire rack.
(Part of the reason I’m pleased with this one is that it reminds me of the bread made by my friend and sometime cooking mentor Nadia, all the way over there in New Zealand. It looks quite similar to her bread, and even tastes similar despite the distance and different provenance of the ingredients. Arohanui to Nadia and all the Aotearoa whanau!)
Making this again today, 6 February 2013, and noticed a few errors, now amended. I also thought it was about time I added bakers’ percentages. So here we go.
Note, the seeds are soaked in water to soften them slightly, but I think the amount is negligible so I’ve not factored it in.
Basic percentages (ie not factoring in the leaven composition)
|Leaven (at 100%)||100g||17%|
Percentages factoring in the leaven composition (100g at 100%, ie add 50g to water weight, 50g to flour weight)
It doesn’t seem like a very high hydration recipe, but bear in mind it contains a lot of cooked spelt grain: and this is very moist.
* Oven spring – the final burst of growth made by bread dough when it goes into the oven. It’s caused by the heat exciting the yeast, which gets all hyperactive, farts out more gas, causing the dough to rise rapidly. Then the yeast dies is killed, when it gets heated over around 60C. Boo hoo. And gets eaten. The horror! You can get better oven spring with steam (it moistens the dough, conducting the heat into it more efficiiently). However, getting reliable steam in a domestic oven is a bit hit and miss, despite what people suggest about pouring boiling water into trays anor using a mister-spray.