Starry Christmas Night Sourdough Bread
Spelt Sourdough Bread with Flax and Sesame Seeds
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Christmas baking season continues - another week and another bread is ready! This time I decided to bake a seeded bread, and, as for the design, I wanted to create a picture of a Christmas tree on a snowy night with the stars all around. I started by drawing it with a pointy wooden stick on the flour (I used a sharp end of a wooden cuticle pusher) and then scored it with a razor blade. First, I did the tree in the center, then added a decorative braid around the edge, and, finally, the stars. Since I didn't make any deep slashes, I was a little worried that the dough can crack open in a random place and ruin the design, but, thankfully, that didn't happen - I guess I made enough of shallow cuts.
For this loaf of sourdough, I used spelt flour, which I have never used before, and was very excited to try. It turned out beautiful and delicious from the first attempt, and we ate it all till the last crumb! For my first experience with spelt, I only added 150 g for 350 g of bread flour for one loaf. The bread had a golden color, a slightly sweeter taste, and a mild smell, but nothing as distinctive as if I would have added the same amount of rye flour.
Besides being delicious, spelt bread is very healthy as well - it has a higher amount of protein and fiber, which is good for digestion and overall nutrition. To make it even healthier, I added flax seeds and white sesame seeds. Both are a rich sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. So, this bread can be perfect to start your day with. Personally, I love to toast it with butter in a frying pan and add an egg, meat, and a slice of cheese for breakfast.
I'm really happy with this recipe and will continue using spelt flour to bake and experiment with a higher spelt-to-bread flour ratio in the future.
Check out this Rye Sourdough Bread recipe with another version of a Christmas Tree design.
Make a sketch of your scoring design on paper before drawing it on the dough.
Use a pointed wooden stick to draw the design on the flour.
To make the flour stick better, slightly mist the dough with water, so there is a bigger visual contrast with the design when baked.
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 Spelt Flour
700g Water (bottled or filtered)
300g Starter @ 100% Hydration
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 spelt 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.)
Dust off the rice flour with a brush, mist the top of dough with a little bit of water and cover it in all-purpose flour spreading it evenly.
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: