Sourdough Tahini Bread

I have wanted to try making my own sourdough bread for a long time.  This tahini bread recipe from Bread cetera inspired me to finally do it .

I had to modify the method somewhat since I don’t have any brötformen or steaming equipment for my oven.  Nor do I own a peel for loading the bread which caused the first loaf to lose a bit of its air in the transfer.  The recipe was modified somewhat also as I increased the tahini to 75 g from the 50 he shows in the recipe because I truly LOVE sesame.  However, there still wasn’t a strong enough toasty sesame taste for me so next time I will add a bit of sesame oil with the tahini and I will toast the sesame seeds before I put them in the brötformen.

I was also a bit unsure what the hydration of my starter was since I did it based on the finnish mummi (grandma) instructions I got which were loosely “put some ruis jauhe (rye flour) and some water in a jar, stir it up, cover, let it sit, add a bit of rye and wheat flour and some water next day, then every day, until its all bubbly and smells right.”  After reading the instructions for doing a starter on the Bread cetera blog,  I will now monitor the weight of the liquid I’m adding so I’ll know the liquid ratio.  In this case I added 10 g of flour to compensate for the extra tahini, and it was enough.

Anyway, last Saturday was bitterly cold, -20 C, and a perfect day to make bread.  Speaking of being bitterly cold, that reminds me that there was another change.  I couldn’t bake the bread that same day because my other half had the brilliant idea to go watch the Turku celebration for kicking off the year as a European Culture Capital which was happening at 6 pm, outside, and we had to walk there since parking would be impossible.  But, the fireworks show was AWESOME and totally worth freezing our butts off for a couple hours.

So, after I got the loaves shaped and into my pretend brötformen (bowls lined with tea towels sprinkled with flour and sesame seeds) I wrapped them in plastic bags and stuck them in the refrigerator to be baked the next day.  On Sunday I let them sit out at room temp for 2 hours before baking.

After the first 4 hour fermentation, the dough was still so sticky I couldn’t handle it.  So I did a few stretch and folds with some wheat flour and got it more manageable so I could form it into boules.  I clearly need practice on forming the loaves and getting the air into them!  My boule had more air in the top and was somewhat dense at the bottom.

To introduce the steam method I decided to try two different methods.  The first loaf I clumsily moved into a preheated metal dutch oven and left the lid on it for the first 20 minutes.  Without a peel the dough stuck to my fingers and was so soft that it lost a lot of its air in the move but it didn’t seem to suffer too much for it.  The 2nd loaf was put onto a metal cooking sheet lined with cooking paper sprinkled lightly with cornmeal.

I then put a jellyroll pan into the bottom oven position and preheated it for about 10 minutes.  Then when I put the bread sheet into the middle rack, I poured boiling water into the jelly roll pan and quickly shut the oven to trap the steam in.  After 25 minutes I removed the jelly roll pan and water.

1st loaf done in a dutch oven

I found that the first loaf was much softer and less chewy than the 2nd loaf.

Sliced 1st loaf of tahini bread

The 2nd loaf was darker, had a crunchier crust, a darker flavor and was chewier.

2nd loaf done free form

Slices of 2nd loaf

The first loaf tasted great for a sandwich I made of spanish goat cheese, alfalfa sprouts and tomato.  The 2nd loaf was perfect with some potato-leek soup I made on Sunday.

Tahini Sourdough Bread

  • 780 g All-Purpose Flour
  • 515 g Water
  • 15 g Salt
  • 240 g Levain (mature sourdough culture, 60% hydration)
  • 75 g Tahini

The water and 50 g of the flour are added to the bowl of stand mixer and the mixture is whisked using a whisk attachment until a stable, frothy emulsion is formed, about 1 minute. The remainder of the flour is then added and the mixture is mixed using a spiral dough hook, just until all the flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes. The bowl is then covered with plastic wrap and the rough dough allowed to rest at room temperature (78ºF) for an autolyse period of 30 minutes.

After this time, the levain and salt are added and the dough is mixed on high using the spiral dough hook to medium development, about 3 minutes. The tahini is then added and mixing is continued until all the tahini is incorporated, about 2 minutes. The dough is then placed in a lightly oiled container, covered, and allowed to ferment for 4 hours, with the dough being given a turn midway through this first fermentation.

After the 4 hour first fermentation, the dough is divided into two pieces and each piece is lightly rounded.  After resting under a plastic sheet for 15 minutes, the pieces are shaped into boules, and  placed, inverted, into rice flour-coated brötformen, the bottoms of which are sprinkled with sesame seeds.  After covering with plastic, a second fermentation is allowed to proceed at 78ºF for 2 hours.

After the second fermentation, the loaves are inverted onto a peel, loaded into the oven and baked at 425°F for 40 minutes with steam applied for the first 20 minutes.


About cardamomandcoffee

American ex-pat living in Finland.
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