Something really magnificent and totally unexpected happened two weeks ago - My Daily Sourdough Bread blog was selected from a record-breaking pool of nearly 50,000 entries as the one of the six finalists in the Best Special Interest Blog category in Saveur Blog Awards 2015!
I can't describe with words how grateful I am to be in a company of all beautiful and inspiring blogs and how grateful I am for your support in the first round!
The Universe always offers us the opposites, the complementary sides of life. Sometimes it takes more time and effort to see them, but it is worth it. Without them we could not thrive. How would a colorful and hearth-warming spring feel without grounding winter? How would joy feel without sadness? How would sadness feel without joy? Would we appreciate opportunities without being rejected? It's through the opposites the Universe teaches us not to cling to any of two sides, but to stay in the middle, to be in the balance, to be in the now and to feel gratitude - for what it is, as it is, and as it is unfolding in front of us.
I love how the spring gradually unfolds itself. Daffodils, morning bird singing, blooming forsythias. And wild garlic, free and early fresh green herb of the year to harvest. Wild garlic is also known as the bear's garlic, as the bears awakened from the winter hibernation would dig up to the ground to get the bulbs and leaves that would help them detoxify. It's after the bear (Ursus arctos L.) that the plant got its Latin name - Allium ursinum L. In German, wild garlic is called Bärlauch, in French ail des ours, in Dutch beerlook and in Italian erba orsina.
I live in a part of the country which is known for being a brown bear's natural habitat, so picking wild garlic is always a bit adventurous for me. You know, how would the inner calmness feel without the outer excitement ? :)
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum L.)
Also known as ramsons or wood garlic, wild garlic can be found in deciduous (sometimes also in coniferous) woodlands with moist and slightly acidic soil. If you pay attention when walking through through the forest, the typical garlic-like scent should be present in the air. The smell gets more obvious if you rub couple of wild garlic leaves between your fingers. This is a good test to distinguish wild garlic from other similar looking but poisonous plants like Lily of the Valley (Convalaria majalis L.), autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale L.) and false helleborine (Veratrum album L.). However, if the garlic scent is on your fingers, avoid picking other plants and testing them by rubbing them between the fingers afterwards. Three other wild garlic features are: convex leaves with one main vein, individual green stem, and long white bulb. It flowers in white in the end of April or beginning of May or even later at higher altitudes.
Wild garlic has antibacterial properties and it also helps to reduce blood pressure, especially when eaten in large quantities. It can be used in salads, soups, eaten fresh in spreads, with pasta, smoothies,... - you name it! I've decided to mix it into bread.
I made two breads, one with white wheat and khorasan wheat flour and another whole grain wheat flour, just to see how the taste and color would be affected. Fresh wild garlic (or pesto) will give your bread a unique (almost salami like) taste, however the color of the dough in whole grain wheat sourdough bread will not be affected (i.e. changed to green). To get greener crumb, use more wild garlic or use white flours to make the change in color more pronounced. When I made my first sourdough bread with (a lot of) wild garlic, it didn't rise. I was thinking if its antibacterial properties affected the bacteria in my starter.
Khorasan wheat and 100% whole grain wheat sourdough bread
Yields: one small to medium loaf each
Both breads were mixed in the evening, left to rise for 3 hours at the room temperature, shaped and then put in the fridge for 10-12 hours. They were baked in the morning of the following day.
Ingredients for 100% whole grain wheat sourdough bread:
400 g whole grain wheat flour
315 g water + 15 g water (82% hydration)
100 g active whole grain wheat sourdough starter (70% hydration)
8 g fine sea salt
1.5 tablespoon of wild garlic pesto or 2 handfuls of wild garlic finely chopped
Ingredients for khorasan wheat sourdough bread:
200 g white khorasan wheat flour
250 g white wheat flour
300 g water (66% hydration)
100 g active rye sourdough starter (100% hydration)
9 g fine sea salt
Instructions (written for 100% whole wheat sourdough bread but to be applied to the khorasan wheat sourdough bread as well):
1. In the morning of the day you will mix the dough, prepare your sourdough starter. Mix 70 g of whole grain wheat flour with 50 g of water and one teaspoon of your active (or straight from the fridge) sourdough starter. On the photo below you can see my starter in the morning (left) and couple of hours later (right).
2. In the evening, first mix 315 g of water, 100 g of active whole grain wheat sourdough starter, and 400 g of whole grain wheat flour. Mix until all ingredients come together. Leave to rest (autolyse) for 30-60 minutes.
3. Observe how the flour has absorbed the water during the resting period. If you don't know how well your flour absorbs the water, the resting period is a good choice to test it.
Add 8 g of salt and 15 g of water. If the dough feels stiff, add more water. Knead the dough for couple of minutes.
4. Leave the dough to rise for another 2.5-3 hours at the room temperature (if it's too cold, you might put the bowl in a slightly warm oven). If you like, you can apply few stretch and folds to the dough. To make one stretch and fold, grab the dough underneath, stretch it up and fold it back onto itself.
In the meantime, prepare the rising basket and flour it well. I lined my rising basket with a kitchen cloth and floured it with whole grain rye flour and white wheat flour.
5. After 2.5-3 hours, the dough should look slightly puffed. Take the dough out on a lightly floured working surface and shape it into a ball by pinching the ends of the dough together in the middle and then transfer the dough to a rising basket. Sprinkle some more flour on the top and cover it with the rest of the kitchen cloth. Put the basket in the fridge. Let the dough ferment until noticeably risen in volume and when the indent you make with your finger springs back slowly and not all the way up. It usually take my dough 10-12 hours.
6. When the dough has risen enough, put the dutch oven (or a baking stone) into oven and heat it to the maximum temperature of your oven for at least 30 minutes.
7. When dutch oven/baking stone is preheated, take it out. Put a piece of parchment paper and a chopping board over the rising basket and turn everything upside down. Score the bread and transfer it to a dutch oven.
8. Bake the bread for 20 minutes with the lid on (or with steam - to create steam, throw couple of ice cubes onto the hot pan at the bottom of the oven) at 240°C/465F°F and 20-25 minutes with lid off at 230°C/445°F and until bread gets nice golden color. Cool on a cooling rack before cutting for at least 1 hour.
What's your favorite spring harvest?