Posts Tagged ‘sourdough baking’


I’ve experimented with Kamut flour a couple of times before, but haven’t had a great deal of success with it.  The discovery of a bag in the deep freeze inspired me to have another go!

Kamut is the registered trade name for khorasan wheat, an ancient grain believed to have been grown in the Fertile CrescentAccording to Wiki, there are many legends surrounding its origin, with some claiming it was found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs.

The gluten structure of Kamut is relatively weak, and my previous attempts have resulted in quite heavy loaves with a tight, cakey crumb.

On the advice of Craig, who bakes amazing bread, I made a hybrid bakers flour and whole Kamut loaf.  The results were delicious –  the crumb was still quite fine-grained, but it lacked the cakiness of my previous attempts. The Kamut flour gave the loaf a nutty sweetness which we all found most appealing.

Craig advised that Kamut takes up a lot of water and needs a gentle touch – if it’s overworked it will collapse and the grain will tighten up.  He also recommended a long bake to compensate for the high moisture content.

Here’s the formula I used:

  • 300g active sourdough starter (166% hydration, fed at a ratio of one cup water to one cup bread flour)
  • 600g water
  • 75g olive oil
  • 650g bakers/bread flour
  • 400g whole Kamut
  • 16g fine sea salt

This 74% hydration dough made two 1kg boules which were cooled, then wrapped in paper and left to rest overnight before slicing.

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With my leftover flour, I tried Joanna’s Russian Rye technique to see if it would work with Kamut.

The method is intriguing – there is no kneading involved, and the dough is simply mixed, then poured into loaf pans and left to rise until it’s ready to bake.  It’s a two-part process – an overnight sponge, followed by mixing and proving the following day.

Overnight Sponge

  • 100g active sourdough starter (hydration is not overly important here)
  • 400g whole Kamut flour
  • 600g water


  • All of the overnight sponge
  • 180g lukewarm water
  • 30g molasses (I used date molasses)
  • 20g fine sea salt
  • 460g whole Kamut flour

1. Combine all the sponge ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.  Cover and leave overnight.

2. The following morning, add all the remaining dough ingredients to the sponge and stir well to combine (I used my Danish dough whisk).  Scoop the dough into two greased loaf tins, sprinkle with sunflower seeds, then cover and allow to rise in a warm spot for several hours.

3. When the dough has risen almost to the top of the loaf tins, preheat the oven to 210C with fan.  The loaves won’t rise any further in the oven, so they need to be fully risen before baking.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 175C with fan for a further 30 minutes – as the Kamut holds a lot of water, it needs a long slow bake to ensure it doesn’t end up gummy.

4. Remove the loaves from the tins and allow them to cool, then rest them overnight, wrapped in paper.  Resist the urge to cut them too soon, as they really are better the following day.

We loved these 100% Kamut loaves – they sliced well, kept well and made a perfect foil for our open sandwiches!

If you’re in Australia and want to buy Kamut (khorasan) flour, it’s available online from Santos Trading (although the shipping can be expensive, so it’s worth waiting until you have a few things to order).

For more detailed instructions on how to make these loaves, please see Joanna’s post here!

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Tah-dah! Here are the first two loaves made with my new bannetons!

I still need to work on my slashes – I’m yet to master controlling the oven spring with my razor cuts.  But overall, I’m pretty happy with how these turned out!

I dusted the proofing baskets like a mad woman – there was about half a cup of excess rye flour after the loaves were turned out…

I tried slashing a cross on the top of one loaf…

…and a fancy star shape on the other.

The cross-slashed loaf rose tall and round, bursting a little in the middle…

…whereas the star-slashed loaf expanded in a more controlled, but less vigorous fashion.

I tweaked my usual sourdough recipe to lower the hydration slightly, and added in a little semolina flour.  The dough was bulk proved overnight on the kitchen bench (it’s late autumn here, and quite cool at night), before being shaped first thing this morning.  Each loaf had a starting dough weight of just under 1kg.

  • 300g sourdough starter (fed at a ratio of 1 cup water to 1 cup flour)
  • 550g water
  • 50g olive oil
  • 200g semolina flour
  • 600g bakers/bread flour
  • 250g white spelt flour
  • 16g fine sea salt

More loaves to come!

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I was keen to try making heart-shaped rolls, after seeing them on a Valentine’s Day episode of River Cottage recently.

Google turned up fabulous instructions here, and the technique adapted well to my sourdough rolls.  I lowered the hydration in my dough a little to help it hold the shape.

Begin by shaping the proved dough into balls – mine were about 160g each…

Roll one end of the ball into a point – I did this by rolling the dough between the palms of my hands…

Snip through the fat end of the roll with a pair of kitchen scissors…

Now turn the dough “ears”, so that the cut surfaces are face down…

Place on a parchment lined tray, and cover first with a sheet of greased clingfilm, and then with a tea towel.  Allow to prove.

Slash the hearts if desired, then bake as you normally would for bread rolls.  Mine took 15 minutes at a preheated 220C with fan, followed by a further 20 minutes at 175C with fan (which is standard for my sourdough recipe and oven).   Serve to people you love!

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bagl 004

Updated 3rd March 2015

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Sourdough bagels are wickedly good, with a complex, slightly tangy flavour that distinguishes them from the yeasted version.  This recipe makes eighteen generous, chewy bagels. I topped some with poppy seeds, and the rest with just a small scattering of Malden salt, ready for school lunches.

Some notes:

1. We make two sort of bagels – yeasted (for which the detailed tutorial is here) and sourdough. Please refer to our yeasted bagel tutorial for photos, as the methodology is very similar.

2. 166% hydration means that the starter is regularly fed at a ratio of one cup of flour to one cup of water.

3. Malt extract can be found on many supermarket shelves and brewing stores. I decant it into glass jars, as it tends to go mouldy quite quickly if left in its original (non-airtight) container.

Sourdough Bagels

  • 450g active starter (166% hydration)
  • 500 – 550g  water
  • 1100g bakers (bread) flour
  • 18g fine sea salt
  • 6 teaspoons (50g) malt extract (or brown sugar)
  • toppings (I used poppy seeds and sesame seeds)

1. Mix starter, 500g water and malt syrup in large mixing bowl.  Whisk flour and salt together in separate bowl.  Mix flour into liquid ingredients, squelch together with a clean hand until combined. If you’re using brown sugar, or if the dough feels too dry, add a little more water. Once all flour has been fully incorporated, rest the dough for 30 minutes, covered.

2. After resting, uncover the dough and knead briefly until smooth.  Note that this is quite a stiff dough. Return to mixing bowl, cover and set in warm place to rise until doubled in size (this usually takes about five hours, but could take twice as many in cold conditions). The dough could also be left on the bench overnight to rise if desired.

3. Turn the risen dough out onto the bench and knead briefly.  Divide into 120g portions.  Knead and pinch each portion into a round smooth ball. Form each ball into a doughnut shape by punching a hole through the middle and twirling the dough around both index fingers, stretching as you go.  The hole should be quite big.  Shape the dough to look like a tyre with a large hole.

4. Place the tyres on a baking tray lined with Bake and sprinkled with flour, leaving room to rise.  Cover with a tea towel and allow to prove another 1 – 1½ hours in a warm place. Preheat oven to 200 C with fan.

5. Bring to boil a large pot of water with at least 6 – 10cm of water. Add 1 Tbsp malt extract (or brown sugar) and 1 Tbsp salt, and bring to a rolling boil.  Boil (“kettle”) bagels, three or four at a time, for 1½ minutes on each side.  Remove with a slotted spoon, and dry gently with a clean non-linting tea towel.  Place on baking tray lined with bake.

6. Brush tops of bagels with egg wash (1 egg + 1 Tbsp water), then sprinkle with toppings if desired.

7. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, then rotate the trays and continue baking for a total baking time of about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

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