Friday, January 27, 2012

Sesame Seed Levain

This is my second variation of the Quintessential French Sourdough from Local Breads and it is far superior to the Flax Seed Levain I prepared last week. In French, this loaf is referred to as Pain au Levain au sesamè, and its preparation is very similar to the flax seed levain.   The only difference is that the sesame soaker is drained prior to being added into the final dough.  This is done because sesame seeds do not absorb as much water as flax seeds.  In addition, I took some of my liquid levain and converted it into a stiff levain.  Like most French levains, this bread calls for a stiff starter and I was able to convert my liquid levain into a stiff levain by simply adding 60% hydration instead of the usual 120%.

I did consider toasting the sesame seeds prior to soaking them in the water, but Daniel Leader specifically recommends using raw un-hulled sesame seeds.  So that is what I did.  In retrospect, I think that if I had toasted them, it would have been too much.   The finished loaf has such a pronounced sesame seed flavor that is just awesome!

In addition, this bread does not call for yeast, so it is a slow rise. It also has an autolyse, which means that you mix the dough without the levain and the salt until it forms a shaggy mass. (I do this with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.)  The dough then rests for between 20-60 minutes.  Then, the levain and salt is added and the dough is mixed in the mixer for the rest of the way.  If you prefer, the dough can also be kneaded by hand.

This dough is fairly stiff, especially once the sesame seeds are added. (Don't forget to drain them.)       I was worried by the stiffness at first, but I just left it alone and it came out beautifully. After the mix, the dough ferments for 60 minutes and then is folded and then is placed back in the bowl for 2-3 hours (I only did 2 hours, but looking back, I think that another hour would have been helpful.)   Finally, the dough is shaped and proofed for two hours; then it is baked for about 45 minutes.  (The first 20 minutes at 450 degrees and the last 25 minutes at 400 degrees.)  This helps to establish a crust while preventing the dough from burning. 

It is important to note that doughs such as this one, do not rise as much as breads that use processed yeast.  They are slow to the rise, and you can expect them to gain 25-50% in volume rather than the normal 100% increase in size.  A lot of bakers these days are adding yeast to their sourdoughs (I know that Hamelman does this is his book, Bread, which is a book that I both respect and use as my personal reference and standard) Myself, I prefer to do it au natural!  It is just a personal preference. 

I was pleased with this bread! When I got back from class I made a large grilled cheese sandwich with a small bowl of homemade tomato soup enriched with spicy black beans! Delicious!

I then ate a slice the following morning and the sour taste had really improved and was remarkable. This a loaf that I will come back to and has been added to my repertoire! It is a solid bread, with good crumb and good taste and texture!

Easily one of my best wheat sourdough breads every produced 

The bread opened up too much for my liking, but I can not complain with the results at all

Some nice yeast action

Grilled Cheese with this bread and a generous amount of Happy Farms Sharp Cheddar


1 comment :

  1. This is clean, well formatted, the pictures perfectly illustrate solid technique and self-critique. Keep them coming because I am already salivating for the next installment!
    -Ira Hill