Monday, March 12, 2012

Vermont Sourdough with Whole Wheat

I'm starting to get the hang of making sourdough bread and this time, I chose to make another version of Vermont Sourdough found in Hamelman's book which contains 10% whole wheat flour instead of whole rye flour.  The replacement of exactly the same amount of whole wheat flour was the only difference between the two recipes and I wonder why Hamelman had to dedicate a few pages for the whole wheat version where everything (ingredients, percentages, procedure) was exactly how it was written in the Vermont Sourdough's formula.  He could've just mentioned as an aside that the rye flour could be substituted with the same amount of whole wheat flour which also gives the bread a very distinct characteristic despite the very trivial difference.  But according to him, there is an unmistakeable  difference between the two which warrants giving this version a formula of its own.   I'm not a sourdough expert by any means but I was quite curious to see what these distinct differences are but mostly, I just wanted to replicate the same oven spring and open crumb that I achieved when I made the first VS.  

Using my cane banneton for the first time 

Unlike the dough of the first Vermont Sourdough, this was a lot wetter and stickier despite containing the same amount of water (65% hydration) which is probably due to the higher absorbency of rye flour compared to whole wheat.   I did not add any more flour into the mixture for fear of changing the dough's consistency and just floured my hands during folding and shaping.  

I removed the lid of the DO after 20 minutes
This dough didn't rise much during both bulk and final fermentation so I let it rise a little bit longer at room temperature after the 6-hour final fermentation in the fridge.  The dough was still a little sluggish with its rising and since I read from Hamelman's book that it's better to have a slightly underproofed dough instead of the opposite, I decided to just go ahead and bake it (inside my cast iron dutch oven) and I'm actually pretty satisfied with the results.  I also got to practice my scoring a little more and I'm somewhat adept now in using a curved lame which you hold at an angle against the bread.

Look at the crunchy, blistered crust!

Hamelman also emphasized that it's good to have gradations of browns within the scored loaf as it means that the loaf had a good oven spring, gradually rising inside the oven which is really the ideal scenario in hearth baking.  If the surfaces the slices revealed were uniform in color, it means that the loaf either only opened a little or opened too fast and stopped well before the end of baking time

Yummy slices which we ate with Bacalao a la Vizcaina again

I actually like this more than the Vermont Sourdough.  I found it more flavorful because of the whole wheat and it has a crispier crust and chewier crumb.  After a few days in room temperature this one has remained moist while the VS dried up a little.  The VS also had a sourer taste more than the VSWW.   Of course these differences could be due to the conditions during the time of baking and not due to the differences in the actual formulae.  

 I really enjoyed this one and even just had a few slices of it with cheese.  I will definitely make this again and I might even make 2 loaves instead of one.

*This bread has been YeastSpotted*


  1. I seriously need to learn how to make sourdough!

    1. Yes you should Mireia! It's so much fun! :-)

  2. Where do I start? The pretty blisters on the outside? The gorgeous golden brown color? The lovely open crumb? Great job, Janis!!! :o) I noticed the circles on top of the risen dough. Do you actually have one of those special bread baskets for the bread to rise in?

    1. Aww thanks Hanaa! I recently bought a round cane banneton and I love the design it gives to the crust! I've been reading about stenciling as well so will try that out in the future!

  3. Nice job. Your crust looks perfect and your crumb is nice an open just like you would want it to be.

  4. Hi there, I hate to sound dumb, but do you post any recipes for these breads, or will I need to buy the book? Thanks, beautiful site : )