Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Leek and Sunflower Seeds

It’s crazy that 25% of the year has passed already. An anxious feeling overflows me as I realize it’s only going to get worse: boom! and it’s my graduation; boom! where is your driving license, you’re a grown up woman! and so on. But if March has taught me anything, it is to make the best of things while you have them, and let go when the time comes, so no whining. And I get to write such pretentious, wannabe philosophical nonsense because I may or may not have gotten robbed, and I may or may not have broken/burnt more kitchen appliances than I could possibly list. So, yes, in terms of karma and stuff, I’ve definitely earned the right.

Just like I’ve earned the right to go through three kilograms of flour in three days. Besides the cookies, I was also determined to bring my baby bubble (officially known as bread starter) back to life. So I made bread twice. And I once again have to admit that for me, when it comes to relaxing, perhaps only a bottle of good wine can be as effective as baking with yeast/natural starter. The patience it asks for, keeping an eye on the time, temperature,  feeling the dough come together under your hands, and then there’s the sweet smell around the house, and finally you get to pull out a heavy loaf of bread or a tray of golden cinnamon rolls, and all the worries are gone. Unless you have to worry about how to get the smell of a burnt kitchen towel out before your flatmates come back.  

ps. hit me up if you have any questions because I feel like the recipe isn’t very explanatory, but at the same time I don’t know what to add. I’ll be more than happy to help with specifics. And if anybody is interested, I can post a quick note on how I grew my starter, but with me being no expert on the subject, looking for other resources might be a smarter idea. 

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Sourdough Bread with Caramelized Leek and Sunflower Seeds

(makes 3 medium loaves)

(from Gotuje bo lubi)

For the levain (prepare in the evening):

2 tbsp starter

1 ½ cup flour (I used 0 grano duro)

¾ cup lukewarm water

Mix everything in a big bowl, cover with plastic foil (or wrap in a plastic bag), leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours.

The next morning:

2 cup water

6 cup all purpose flour (I used 0 grano duro here too)

2 cup bread, whole wheat flour

Add the water and flours to the bowl, mix with your hand, no kneading, just to have all the ingredients come together. The dough will be thick at this point. Set aside for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare “the extras”:

2 big leeks

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

½ cup sunflower seeds

1 ½ tbsp salt

Chop the white parts of the leeks into very thin slices. In a frying pan, heat up some oil and fry the leeks until very soft. Add the sugar, cook for additional 2-3 minutes. Add the vinegar. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe the pan, fry the seeds until golden. Add to the leeks. Let cool.

After the dough has been resting for 30 minutes, add the leeks and seeds, and mix, using an electric mixer with the hook attachment. When the extras seem uniformly distributed, turn the dough out to a floured surface, knead for 5 minutes, until elastic and easy to lift off the surface.  Put in a oiled bowl for 2 hours, covered with plastic foil.

Every 45 minutes, however, some additional folding is required: take the dough out, flatten it, fold in three parts, like with a letter, stretching the outer parts up. Turn by 90° and fold into three parts again. You should do this twice.

Now, time to shape the loaves. Divide the dough into three equal parts (or just make two larger loaves). Take one part, grab the sides and pull them underneath, so that the top is smooth, and a “seam” forms on the bottom. Place in a floured bowl or bread-rising basket, cover, let stand for another 4 hours (or 8 hours in the fridge, but I never tried it that way).  Repeat with remaining two parts.

To bake, preheat the oven with the baking tray (or pizza stone, if you are that lucky) inside to 240°C. Put your baking gloves on,  place the tray somewhere heatproof, take one bowl and turn it around, to have the loaf fall onto the tray. You can use your hands here if the dough sticks. Score the loaf before putting in the oven. Bake for  30 minutes from below, 15 from above.

Let cool before you eat.

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