It’s bread of the month time and all that for the Bread Baking Babes. Kelly picked An Approachable Loaf to bake. So what exactly is this bread all about? It’s a recipe at the WSU Bread Lab, for a loaf that’s got a really nice flavour and texture. It makes really good toast and stands up well in sandwiches.
As the people at the WSU Bread Lab say –
“Bread is a staple. People have been eating it for thousands of years. Yet bread can be unaffordable and inaccessible for many. A lot of breads baked these days are large, crusty and round loaves which don’t always work well for lunches or our dinner tables. Others that are affordable and available on grocery shelves have unnecessary additives and lack nutrition.
So WSU Bread Lab came up with an approachable, accessible and affordable recipe that has no stabilizers or conditioners in it. It is tin-baked and sliced, with easily available ingredient sand at least 60-100% whole wheat.”
To my mind, this is what the average home bread baker is looking for. Those sourdough loaves with a very open crumb (hole-y bread, I call it) are a work of art. They’re also a sign of an accomplished bread baker. However, I’m not a fan of very chewy and tangy bread. Neither do I like a bread where my butter melts or my soup just disappears through the holes! Bread was meant to hold food or mop it up.
So the Approachable Loaf is a winner in my books. It’s not pure sourdough but what some sourdough bakers call a “hybrid” bread. This where you use a sourdough starter in your bread dough but use a miniscule amount of commercial yeast as well, to help your bread along. There are people who will ask why one would need to add commercial yeast to a sourdough bread? There are many sourdough bakers who resort to “yeast shaming” and feel commercial yeast has no business in a sourdough loaf. I belong to the school of “whatever-works-for you” bread bakers.
So for me, this is truly An Approachable Loaf. I really like the texture of this bread that I bake. It’s got a beautiful crumb, isn’t super chewy and has just the slight hint of “sour” that we like. It needs just flour, water, salt, a little oil and a sweetener. You start with a levain made with a sourdough starter the previous evening. The next day you mix up the dough with a little bit of commercial yeast and the levain. It’s a slightly slack dough but you can adjust the hydration to your comfort. Otherwise, it’s pretty much your regular bread with two easy rises and baked in a loaf tin.
My recipe below has been adapted from Kelly’s version of the Approachable Loaf recipe. You do need a sourdough starter. If you don’t have one in the fridge, you can start by making one like this. The levain below is a little more than you require for the bread. You can add the remaining levain to your starter and refrigerate it.
As mentioned earlier, you can add as much water (not too much though) to get a consistency of dough you’re comfortable managing. This is however, not a very hydration dough. A somewhat slack dough is desired to produce a slightly open and less dense crumb.
An Approachable Loaf
For the Levain:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp sourdough starter
For the Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/4 cups water more or less as needed
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- generous 1/3 cup levain
For the Levain:
- The night before baking the bread, mix the levain ingredients in a bowl till smooth. Loosely cover and let it rest for about 10-15 hours at room temperature depending on your ambient temperature. You will have more than is required for the final dough. You can add the remaining levain to your starter and refrigerate it.
For the Dough:
- You can mix the dough by hand but a machine makes things easier. Add all 1 cup of the water and all the other ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for a few minutes to combine. Increase speed to medium low and knead until the gluten begins to develop some stretch, about 5 minutes. Slowly add as much of the remaining water as required and knead for another 5 minutes until the dough is well developed and smooth. The dough should be somewhat slack in consistency.
- Shape in a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning it to coat it well. Let the dough proof for about 1-1/2 hours. After about 45 minutes do a fold by bringing up the sides to the center all the way around. After this let the dough almost double in volume.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Gently shape the dough into a loaf and place in a greased 8 x 4 -inch loaf pan. Let the dough rise for an hour to hour and a half until the dough has doubled and/or risen above the edge of the pan by about 3/4 to 1-inch height.
- Score if desired. Place in a pre-heated oven at 220C (425F). Immediately turn the heat down to 180C (350F) and bake for about 40 minutes or till the bread browns and sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan to finish cooling. Slice when completely cool.
The Bread Baking Babes are –