Imagine breaking bread from using only ingredients harvested from your backyard. Wild yeast makes this possible.
This is the last article in a three-part series, so if this is your first time reading about wild yeast, please take a look at my previous articles which will introduce you to the basics of preparing wild yeast. This article will explore the final stages of the whole process – baking bread with wild yeast. Your wild yeast should be ready to use now!
Baking a Walnut Rustique
Bread flour 8.8 oz (250 g)
Salt 0.14 oz (4 g)
Sugar 0.2 oz (6 g)
Wild yeast starter 4.4 oz (125 g)
Water max 5.29 oz (150 g) *reduce as necessary
Walnuts 2.1 oz (60 g)
Roast walnuts in the oven at 302℉ (150℃) for 15 minutes or until nuts are dry and crispy.
Roughly chop up or crush them between your fingers once they have been cooled down on a tray.
Place flour, salt and sugar with wild yeast starter in a bowl.
Slowly add water to the bowl and stir with a spatula until mixed evenly (if using your hands it will be sticky in the beginning).
The amount of water required will depend on the type of bread flour you used and the quality of the wild yeast you prepared. You will need to adjust the amount of water accordingly. The dough should be on the dry side and not wet.
Knead the dough on a hard surface, such as a cooking top or large wooden chopping board, for about 10 minutes or until it has become elastic. The dough shouldn’t tear when you stretch it (I use a Pyrex glass board as it’s easy to lift the dough from it while kneading).
Side note: By kneading the dough, gluten is built up so the bread becomes elastic.
Sprinkle chopped walnuts on the dough and knead lightly. Repeat this process until all walnuts are mixed into the dough. At this stage, the walnuts should be evenly incorporated into the dough. Shape it into a circle as shown below.
Rest the dough in a bowl and cover it with cling wrap. Leave it in a warm location until the dough doubles in size (First Proving).
Hours required for bread dough to rise
Warmer room temperatures will reduce the hours required for the dough to rise, and vice versa. Below is a rough guide.
Spring and Fall/Autumn time – About 6 hours
Summer time – About 4 hours
Winter time – Over 6 hours
Side note: If room temperature is below 68℉ (20℃) it can take quite long for the dough to rise. I would recommend leaving the dough, in a bowl, in an oven set at the lowest temperature around 86℉ (30℃). You will need to check the temperature from time to time to make sure it stays the same.
The idea here is to create a warmer environment where the dough can rise more quickly in the cooler months.
Side note: Make sure to leave the dough until it doubles in size, otherwise you will end up with dense and heavy bread as the dough hasn’t risen.
Take the dough out and roll it a couple of times to shape into a ball.
Roll and divide the dough into 2 pieces. Leave them on a baking tray. Cover them with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.
Again, the room temperature should be around 86℉ (30℃) or higher. The dough should double in size again (Second Proving).
Pre-heat the oven at 410℉ (210℃.
Dust flour over both dough pieces.
Side note: Optionally, you may use a sharp knife and slightly cut lines into the dough of around 0.08 inches (2 millimeters) in depth. This is called Coupé in French. Coupé has 3 benefits; it helps the bread rise, bake evenly and provides for better presentation.
Bake for 25 minutes or until it gets a golden color.
Remove from the oven and cool them down on a rack before serving.
Side note: If you notice something burned it is probably the walnuts. This means the bread had been baked for too long or the oven temperature was too high. Don’t worry, each time you bake is a learning experience and as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.
Here you have your home-made bread from wild yeast. As you may have noticed by now, baking with wild yeast relies on natural processes, and thus your cooking experience will vary. Each kitchen is a different environment, and thus minor adjustments may be called for.
Finally, don’t forget, every time you bake your own bread you are learning, and eventually you will master the best way to achieve optimal results!