Monday, February 20, 2012

Pain au Levain au Tournesol (Sunflower Seed Levain)

Today's bread is yet another variation of Daniel Leader's Quintessential French Sourdough.  After this one, there is only 1 variation left.  It is the "soy flour levain", which I am a little apprehensive about. I have some issues when it comes to soy, but I will hold off discussing them until I bake that bread in the near future. I have already made five variations of this bread. I have to say that of the five, my two favorites were the Sesame Levain and the Kamut Levain.  I liked the Sesame loaf for its flavor, and the amazing contribution of flavor and texture from the sesame seeds.  I loved the kamut loaf because of the beautiful color and the great air pockets it produced during the bake. They were both wonderful breads. 

I am not sure why I like sunflower seeds so much. Maybe its because I grew up with a father who feeds birds. He is so funny. Every morning, just out of bed,  he runs outside in his sweatpants, making sure the cardinals, bluejays, junkos and chickadees have something to eat. I have to admit that if I did not go into nutriton I was thinking about going into ornithology. In the coat closet in our basement, we have a fifty pound bag of black sunflower seeds. 

Last year I made Jeffrey Hammelman's Sunflower Seed Rye Bread, and I have to tell you that it was, hands down, the best rye sourdough bread that I have ever made or eaten. It was lovely, light, golden, chewy, tasty and satisfying. I remember serving it with a meal of home-made chili with caramelized onions and great-northern beans and my cumin-scented basmati rice. 

Now back to the bread. This bread used a sunflower seed soaker. Leader informs the reader to soak raw sunflower seeds in water over night. Then, just prior to the mix, these seeds are drained. As is often the case, I put my own twist on the recipe. I chose to give these seeds a light toasting in the oven on a sizzle platter. I decided that this would impart a little more flavor to the loaf. I have no way of actually knowing if it worked or not, but the bread did come out pretty good. I thought the crust came out a bit too thick. It had that look of a bread that was not vented after it was steamed.  I am fairly certain that I remembered to vent the loaf after about ten minutes in the oven. Also, my oven is not exactly made to trap the steam in the oven. As a matter of fact, the oven that I am using is nothing special.  In fact, it is far from special. This is proof positive that you do not need anything fancy to produce good artisan bread.  All you need is an oven, a stone, and lots of perseverance.

Leader also recommends that the soaked sunflower seeds be added into this dough with the flour. I decided to wait for a little gluten development before I added the seeds. I also added them in two phases. I waited for the first half of the seeds to be incorporated prior to adding the second half. I have made it a habit of using this method whenever I am adding an auxiliary ingredient that is hard or tough in nature (nuts, seeds etc.)

I decided to make one boule and one batard out of this bread dough. I have needed to practice shaping batards for quite some time. I used to be much better at forming them and lack confidence in this area. I was actually happy with my results. The split that I gave the batard opened up beautifully, where as the splits I made in the boule, sort of ruptured in the oven. I have read about and learned a trick for preventing this, but I will not divulge this secret until I post about my Sourdough Miche. (Do not fear, it is in the oven now, and I hope to post on it before the weekend is over). I have also decided to "bold" some of the words in my posts that can be found in the glossary. I think this will help in the overall understanding of my blog. 

That is all for this loaf.  Nothing too exceptional, but if you want to make a really great loaf with sunflower seed, I recommend the sunflower rye sourdough formula from Hamelman's book Bread. 

Here are the photos:

The Boule

The Batard

I think the batard came out the best, I was very pleased with the how the score opened so beautifully 

Bake On

1 comment :

  1. Nice story about your old man. The batard looks great, though there isn't a way of know unless you made it over, toasting the seeds Im sure added a different flavor profile, not to mention its a great aesthetic touch. Nice job!