Rye Sourdough Bread with Holiday Inspired Scoring
With only a month and a half left till the end of the year, I am really starting to feel the holiday spirit, which I gladly express through decorating, crafting, baking, and now through my sourdough bread designs as well. I get extra creative during Christmas time and filled with new ideas. It's the most wonderful time of the year for a reason!
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Along with all the festive decorations and delicious food, it also brings hope for the future and faith in good. It makes me believe that miracles can happen, and, like many, I really need a miracle this year! Not for me but for my loved one whose health has suffered a lot. So, I am making all things Christmas to cheer him up. And, as you probably already guessed, there will be more Christmas-inspired baking coming!
To open the season, I decided to bake a simple sourdough bread (with a little bit of rye flour for color) and focus mostly on the design without adding anything else to the dough itself because it is harder to score the surface of the dough if there are dried fruits, nuts, and seeds in it.
The first Christmas tree I scored came out a little crooked because the bread opened up more on one side, so I had to redo it and place the tree in the center. I also replaced tricolor sesame seeds with white sesame seeds to make it look like snow.
To create this design, I cut a rectangle in the center first, then a triangle, which I covered with all-purpose flour. Next, I made diagonal cuts on each side of it to make it look like a Christmas tree and sprinkled sesame seeds over the rest of the rectangle brushed with egg wash. To make the lines straight, I used a thread to mark them first, but, unfortunately, there is never a 100% guarantee that they will stay that way once baked. I will probably keep perfecting - just thought of a few more things to try next time: in terms of color - dark rye or pumpernickel flour to make an even bigger contrast, and in terms of design - a tree that doesn't go all the way to the top of the rectangle, so there is more space for snow. I imagine a snowy night in a forest.
Please let me know in the comments if you try it first and use a #endlessloaf on Instagram. I would love to see other versions!
The second design was much easier to do - I just cut out a rectangle shape in the center and covered its surface with flour before scoring X-MAS. For this bread, I used a banneton without a liner because I wanted the ring design to show. For the Christmas tree bread, I used a linen liner to make the surface smooth.
Make a sketch of your scoring design on paper before drawing it on the dough.
Use egg wash instead of water for the sesame seeds to stick to the bread.
Use a thread to mark the lines.
As usual, I simplify my recipes, so they are easy to follow for beginners. I avoid using complex numbers and ingredients, so the recipe is more clear and less intimidating for new bakers. I list ingredients for 2 loaves so you can bake 2 and share 1 as a gift. To make a single loaf, simply divide each ingredient by 2.
Ingredients for 2 loaves:
Starter feeding 1:3:3 Ratio
50g Sourdough Starter (we use Whole Wheat starter)
75g Bread flour
75g Whole Wheat Flour
150g Water (bottled or filtered)
700g Bread flour
300g Light Rye Flour
700g Water (bottled or filtered)
300g Starter @ 100% Hydration
Sesame Seeds for decorating
Rice Flour for dusting
Prepare the Starter (morning 10 am)
Feed 50g of starter with 75g bread flour, 75 g whole wheat flour, and 150g water, cover, and leave it on the counter to ferment for 6 hours. It should double in size by then.
Make the Dough (afternoon 4 pm)
Combine 300g of starter with 700g of water at 85-90°F in a large mixing bowl and mix until the starter is dissolved.
Then add 700g of bread flour, 300g of rye flour, and 20g of salt to the mixture and mix the dough with fingers until all of the ingredients are well incorporated with no dry bits left.
Cover and leave it on the counter for 10 min to autolyse.
Stretch and Fold
For the next 40 min perform stretching and folding technique every 10 min: take one side of the dough, stretch it as far as you can, and fold it on top of the dough. Turn the bowl counter-clockwise and do it 7 more times, stretching and folding each side.
Cover and leave the dough on the counter for 3-4 hours to rise at about 76°F room temperature.
Shape and Proof (evening 8 pm)
Mist the bannetons with water and sprinkle with Rice flour.
Gently take the dough out of the bowl, place it onto an unfloured surface, and divide the dough into 2 equal parts.
Shape the dough into the final round shape using the same stretch and fold technique as above, stretching and folding 4 sides until you see a smooth side of the dough (about 8 times).
Gently turn the dough with your hands round and round to create the surface tension and make it into a tight ball. Do not over-shape.
Flour the top with bread flour and put each piece in the banneton seam side up and dust the top of the dough with rice flour.
Place the bannetons in plastic bags and let the dough rest overnight in the fridge.
Bake (next day)
Test the dough if it's ready to bake by gently pressing it with your finger. If it springs back up slowly - it's ready.
Preheat the oven to maximum temperature (550°F in our case).
Carefully flip the dough out of the banneton into the dutch oven or a cast iron combo cooker (no need to preheat it.)
Score the dough with a razor blade and put the lid on.
Reduce the temperature to 475°F and bake for 30 min.
Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 450°F and bake for another 15-20 min uncovered.
Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool completely before cutting.
Tools I used: