… orange-scented sourdough rye with cardamom, aniseeds and fennel.
You must be accustomed to all the whining and b!tching that goes on here. How sourdough starter is a pain in the butt, how some recipes have 45 useless steps, how tags are stupid, how Sandra Lee is a train wreck … and so on.
Well, the tantrum-throwing sourpuss ain’t me.
It’s Amygdala – the part of our brain structure that ‘stamps’ in memory the occasions when crap happens, so that we could dig it out and use as a point of reference for the future. That’s why we remember details of the airline losing our baggage during vacation more clearly than the evening by the beach. It is a survival mechanism to help embed negative memories deeper so that you could be prepared the next time the fit hits the shan. I didn’t make that up. Some guy at MIT did.
If you present stimuli with a strong negative emotional component, the memories do seem to be more easily retrieved than neutral stimuli or even those that are somewhat positive, for example happy faces versus angry faces.
Amygdala also explains why I always view the sourdough starter in my fridge as a liability. Curiously though, of late, whenever I bake bread, I find myself trying to incorporate it in the recipe. Along with dark rye flour.
When you bite into a warm, crusty piece of orange-infused rye bread topped with gjetost you’re as close to bliss as you can get on this earth. Hopefully, Amygdala will remember that the next time I have to feed the damn starter.
100% WHOLE GRAIN SWEDISH LIMPA
(from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads)
For the soaker:
142 grams (8 oz) – 1 cup plus 2 tbsps – whole rye flour
85 grams (3 oz) – 2/3 cup – whole wheat flour, preferably fine grind (like chapati flour)
4 grams (0.14 oz) – 0.5 tsp – salt
170 grams (6 oz) – 0.75 cup – filtered or spring water
Mix them together in a bowl for a minute until the ingredients form a ball of dough. If you need more water or flour, add them a teaspoon at a time.
Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and leave it at room temperature for 12-24 hours. (Or refrigerate beyond that for upto 3 days, bring to room temperature and use.)
For the starter:
191 grams (6.75 oz) – about 1.5 cups – whole wheat flour
64 grams (2.25 oz) – 5 tbsp – stiff whole wheat or rye sourdough starter
142 grams (5 oz) – half cup plus 2 tablespoons – filtered or spring water at room temperature
Mix them together in a bowl for a minute until the ingredients form a ball of dough. Knead for about 2 minutes. The dough will be tacky. If you need more water or flour, add them a teaspoon at a time. Rest for 5 minutes, knead with wet hands for a minute.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for atleast 8 hours and up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature and use.
Soaker – chopped or pinched into 12 pieces
Starter – chopped or pinched into 12 pieces
5 grams (0.18 oz) (about 5/8 tsp) salt
56.5 grams (2 oz) whole wheat or whole rye flour (about 7 tablespoons)
7 gms (0.25 oz) – 2.25 tsps – instant yeast
56.5 grams (2 oz) – 3 tbsps – unsulphured molasses/maple syrup/honey
14 grams (0.5 oz) – 1 tbsp – vegetable oil
9 grams (0.32 oz) – 1 tbsp – a combo of green cardamom seeds, aniseeds and fennel
7 grams (0.25 oz) – 2 tbsps – orange zest or 1 tsp orange oil
Knead everything well for 5-7 minutes until you have a not-too-sticky, supple dough. Form into a ball, let it rest covered with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes and knead for another minute. Add tbsp of flour or a tsp of water at a time to adjust the consistency if you need to.
Roll the dough into a ball and swirl it around an oiled bowl to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and and let it rise for 45-60 minutes until 1.5 times its original size.
If it is freestanding, place it on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal (or lined with parchment or silicone), dust with a bit of flour and let it rise covered for another 50 to 60 minutes until 1.5 times its original size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F with an empty pan in the top rack and another rack in the middle.
When you are ready to bake, place it in the middle rack with the baking sheet, and pour a cup of hot water into the pan on the top rack. If using a loaf pan, we like to slash the loaf to release steam.
Reduce the heat to 350F and bake for 40 minutes or until the loaf registers 200F in the center. You can rotate it once at the 20 minute mark, but we didn’t find it necessary.
Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.
This Scandinavian festive bread goes to two phenomenal bakers:
Jude @ Apple Pie, Patis & Pâté. She’s hosting Bread Baking Day this month, where the theme is 100% Whole Grains.
and Susan @ Wild Yeast for YeastSpotting.
Srivalli @ Cooking 4 All Seasons has undertaken a fundraising drive to support Lakshmi, a 28-year old mother of two who desperately needs heart surgery. A few dollars from each of us could save Lakshmi’s life. Please visit her site for details.