Besides the delightful taste of this bread, what I love about this Peter Reinhard recipe (from his book Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor) is that it uses a mash and that the mash can be made in part with “old bread”. To me there is already something deeply satisfying about pre-soaking whole grain flour and having the enzymes start working hours and hours before you even begin to mix your dough but when you can feed them your stale bread too, wow, it’s just too good to pass up!
Reinhart uses (or suggests using, it’s hard to figure out which) a mix of dried fruit for this bread, such as citron, apricots, figs, plums, cherries, cranberries, golden raisins). Even though I had pretty much everything on hand but the citron, I decided to focus the flavors a little more and go for the sweet dried cherries my friend Kim had brought from Wisconsin (each one like a burst of summer in the mouth, thank you, Kim!), paired with slightly tarter dried cranberries from Washington State. I also decided to soak the old bread in apple juice since I had some I needed to use up and it would nicely boost the fruit taste. The bread turned out crusty and surprisingly light.
It takes two days to make which is perfectly fine with me since most of the time the ingredients toil away all by themselves….
Ingredients (slightly adapted): makes 2 batards
For the soaked bread (altus)
- 1/2 inch-bread cubes with crust left on soaked in hot organic apple juice or water and left at room temperature for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight. Use just enough liquid to saturate and soften the bread. Reinhart advises using rye bread but he says whole wheat is fine too. Squeeze out excess liquid before adding to the mash (I didn’t weigh anything to start with, just used up all my stale bread and made a big bowl of actus. When required by the recipe, I took out the 170 g needed for the mash, weighed the rest, put it in a ziploc bag, labeled it and stored it in the freezer for next time)
For the mash
- 300 g water
- 64 g coarse whole wheat (I used flour from Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz, British Columbia, which my friend Meeghen kindly brought me)
- 64 g 75% sifted rye flour (I used flour from True Grain Bread on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, which Meeghen also brought me. Thank you, Meeghen, for giving me the opportunity to bake with these gorgeous flours!)
- 1 g diastactic malt powder
- 170 g altus
For the starter
- 71 g whole wheat or rye starter
- 213 g whole rye flour
- 170 g water at room temperature (70°F/21°C)
- all of the starter (454 g)
- all of the mash (397 g)
- 99 g white whole wheat flour + 200 g (which I had to add because my dough was way too wet, possibly because I had pre-soaked the fruit which Reinhart doesn’t say to do)
- 99 g whole rye flour
- 100 g sweet dried cherries (briefly pre-soaked, then drained)
- 70 g dried cranberries (briefly pre-soaked, then drained)
- 14 g salt (I didn’t add to that amount even though I added more flour: I just tasted the dough and it seemed fine)
- 7 g instant dry yeast
On Day 1
- Mix the mash ingredients (save for the altus) (using water heated to 165°F/74°C) making sure the flour is fully hydrated and the end product resembles a thin pudding or gravy. Cover and keep warm (150°F/66°C) if possible for 3 hours or at least for 60 minutes. Reinhart suggests using the oven for that step (turning it repeatedly on and off if it doesn’t have such a low setting)
- After 3 hours, stir in the soaked bread and refrigerate until ready to use (you can also leave it overnight at room temperature) if you are planning to use it within the next 24 hours
- Mix all of the starter ingredients and knead with wet hands to form a ball of dough. Let it rest 5 minutes and knead again. The dough will be tacky. Allow it to double at room temperature (which can take up to 8 hours depending on the temperature). When fully developed, knead for a few seconds, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if necessary to coordinate timing with the mash. Remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before mixing the final dough
- Using a metal scraper, chop the starter into 12 smaller pieces, sprinkling some extra flour over them to prevent them from sticking to each other
- If mixing by hand (which I did), combine starter and mash in a large bowl with the whole wheat and rye flour, cherries, cranberries, salt and yeast. Mix for about 2 minutes until all the ingredients are evenly integrated and distributed into the dough. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. If not, add water or flour if needed (that’s where I had to add the extra 200 g of white whole wheat flour as the dough was definitely not going to take shape otherwise)
- When dough feels soft and only slightly sticky, form it into a ball and let it rest for 5 minutes while you oil a container
- Knead it briefly again for one minute and make any final adjustments to water or flour. It should be malleable and tacky but no longer sticky
- Form into a ball again and place in prepared container, rolling to coat with oil
- Cover loosely and let rise at room temperature for about one hour or until it is at least 1 1/2 times its original size
- Transfer to a lightly floured surface and shape into two batards. Place the batards on a sheet pan lined with semolina-dusted parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cloth towel and let rise at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes, until 1 1/2 times their original size
- While the batards are proofing, preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C. When ready to bake, dust them with flour and score the loaves as desired using a sharp knife or blade
- Place them in the oven (with steam), lower the oven temperature to 375°F/191°C and bake for 25 minutes
- Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and continue baking for another 20 to 35 minutes or until the loaves are well-browned and make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom
- Cool on a rack and wait at leasts 12 hours before slicing open.
The Hutzelbrot with dried cherries and cranberries go to Susan for this week’s issue of Yeastspotting.