Sunday, 1 April 2012

Five seed with spelt plus a 10k race

I got my copy of Bethesdabasics - Sourdough Made Simple back from a work colleague this week. The weekly loaf I bring in to work to share has sparked interest in how to bake sourdough. Mick Hartley's no-nonsense approach to baking bread is an excellent introduction to the dark art of sourdough fermentation.

Mick's Five seed with spelt was next on my list to bake. It introduces the soaker, where a quantity of seeds is steeped in water overnight so that they will not draw out moisture from the dough itself. I took a few liberties with the recipe. Where it said use five seeds I used only four because the came in a pre-mixed omega seed pack (sunflower, pumpkin, linseed and sesame) Also, where Mick suggests fermenting for four hours and folding the dough every hour, I just mixed my dough, placed it in an oiled bowl and went off and ran a 10k race in Derby instead. I don't think Mick would approve...

The race was run on a beautiful sunny blue-skied morning through the city of Derby finishing at Pride Park football stadium. When I say race, well that was technically happening somewhere way ahead of me. Darren and I set off together from the sub-55 minute pen, but within a kilometre I knew that was not going to happen. I've been struggling with my left knee recently and though i had been resting it, the dull pain was still present. I decided to hold back and just jog steadily taking in the view. Runners began steadily overtaking me but I plodded on. I reached half way in 28:30, on course for coming in under an hour. The sun was warming the route. As we got to 8k I noticed that although the occasional runner came past, I was also overtaking people. The knee was complaining but not acutely and I was not limping. We approached the stadium and I was able to pick it up a little. Entering the football ground was a bit of a rush, there was quite a number of spectators. I crossed the line tired but not out on my feet. We were handed the obligatory T shirt and assorted freebies. the banana tasted so good! I met up with Darren who had run a steady 51 minutes. My time was just under 57 mins - a solid run. if I can get rid of theses niggling injuries and lose a bit of weight I think I may be able to get nearer to the 50 minute.

We were home by midday. The dough had been fermenting for 6 hours with just a little kneading and one fold (sorry Mick) but despite this it was a lovely stretchy consistency. The loaf contained about 20% spelt to white flour with 100g of seeds that had been soaked in an equal amount of water overnight.  I placed it in the proving basket and let it prove for two hours. The resulting bread looked good but tasted sublime with the seediness coming through. Lovely!


  1. Looks great! I'm always amazed at how much even the most minimal amount of kneading, or a very occasional stretch and fold, can do for a loaf. Feels like a bit of an epiphany after years of working with a mixer...

    - Susanne

    1. Must admit I like a good ol' knead of the bread but the one above illustrates that it is not always necessary. Allowing the dough time to ferment slowly, a few folds, and resisting the urge to keep adding flour because the dough is too sticky are just a few of the things I've learned in the past year.

      I never use a mixer, though my wife does for pastry and pizza dough, and she loves it as it saves her wrists. Friday night is pizza night in our house and we always make our own from scratch.

  2. Lovely looking bread and I'd hope that Mick would forgive you ;) I used to think the folding thing related more to big batches of dough as a way of distributing temperature and activity throughout the dough, as I have on many occasions neglected to fold and still come out with a good loaf. Congrats on the run !

    1. Thanks!

      my understanding on what goes on in the bread making process has been turned upside down from the days when i thought you needed to put the kneaded dough somewhere warm and let it rise quickly!

      I watched part of the Hairy Bikers programme in Germany (skipped through it on iplayer) There was a German baker talking about slow fermentation and one loaf used a dough that had been left in the fridge to ferment for 48 hours... looked amazing when it was taken out to shape. Got to give that a go!