Zakwas – Sourdough

I have been on a long quest to find out how to make a really good sourdough bread.

I have make various rye bread versions, the easiest being a no knead version.

What I wanted was a recipe that used a sourdough starter, zakwas – in Polish,  for a wheat flour loaf that was a “classic” shape.

I wanted a loaf that looked right, tasted good and had a lovely crispy or chewy crust.

Every book or article that I read had loads of advice much of it contradictory.

I tried different methods with different degrees of success and several complete failures!  Sometimes I knew what had gone wrong sometimes I just did not know.

I was getting the taste most of the time but getting the shape without an exploding crust was more difficult.

I kept wondering how my grandmother and others in generations past had made this type of bread with ease without the aid of books, articles and videos found on the internet.

The best advice came from two sources – the book – all you knead is Bread by Jane Mason and several YouTube videos by Tomek Lach – these are in Polish.

  • I am now writing up the results of many months of baking trials.
  • Timing given in the book are often not enough – depends on many factors.
  • I have found that leaving the refreshed starter or the dough for hours longer – even overnight, works.
  • My latest loaf tastes wonderful, the crust is lovely, the shape is nearly right.
  • I am hoping that next time it will be spot on!

Sourdough starter – zakwas

  • To make this you put 50g of rye flour and 50ml of water into a large glass preserving jar on day 1 and stir, cover and leave for 24 hours.
  • On days 2, 3, and 4 you repeat this.
  • On Day 5 it is ready to use.
  • Or you can keep it in the fridge – topping up once a week with a couple of spoons of flour and water.

Day 1 – refreshing the starter

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of starter
  • 60g of wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons of water

Method

  • Mix the ingredients together to make a thick paste.
  • Add more water if needed.
  • Place into a bowl and cover – shower caps are good for this.
  • Leave for around 12 hours at least – often I have make this in the morning and then leave it at room temperature or in the fridge overnight.

Day 2 – making the dough

Ingredients

  • Mixture from day 1
  • 300g of strong wheat flour
  • 200ml of water (may need more)
  • 1¼ teaspoons of salt

Method

  • Mix all the ingredients together to form a soft dough.
  • More water may be needed – a wetter dough may be harder to work but better in the long run.
  • Place on a floured board.
  • Knead for 10 minutes (set a timer).
  • Try not to add much extra flour.
  • Form into a ball and place in a bowl.
  • Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour.
  • *
  • Pretend the dough is a clock face-pull a piece of dough out at noon, stretch and fold it back.
  • Repeat going around the clock face.
  • Cover it again and leave to rest for 1 hour.
  • Repeat this resting – pulling – resting twice more.
  • That is 4 rest and 3 pulls in all.
  • *
  • To shape the dough put it gently on to just a very lightly floured surface.
  • Try to use as little extra flour as possible.
  • Stretch and fold the dough to get a round ball shape.
  • Tucking the dough into the the base of the roll with your fingers.
  • Place in a proofing basket
  • I have found it is better to place a cotton or linen floured napkin over the surface.
  • This makes it easier to turn out the risen dough.
  • I now have a special circular piece of cotton specially for this.
  • It is best to wash this without the use of fabric conditioner or perfumed detergent.
  • Place into a large plastic bag or use a shower cap to cover.
  • *
  • Allow to rise until it has grown in size by 1½ times.
  • This can take 2-3 hours or even longer – depends on the heat in the kitchen.
  • *
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 8 – 230°C.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with greaseproof paper and sprinkling on semolina or flour.
  • Gently tip out the risen dough onto the sheet.
  • Cut three long slashes in the top with a sharp knife.

 

 

  • Bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to GM6  – 200°C.
  • Bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Check the base sounds hollow.
  • Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Different wheat flours

You can alter the type and proportions of wheat flour and can use whole-wheat or wholemeal flour.

I am trying different versions out and have made a loaf with 60g of whole-wheat in the refreshed starter and 150g whole-wheat and 150g strong flour for the dough. It was a little heavier but tasted super.

There are many  variations to try out!

 

Poolish Rye Bread

I recently posted about a wheat bread I made using the Poolish method.

As this was such success I thought I would try out a Poolish recipe this time using rye flour.

There are lots of steps and it takes most of the day, so it is best made when you are at home with other things to do in between.

A Poolish is a pre-ferment usually combing equal parts of flour and water (by weight) with some yeast.

This recipe is adapted from Bake it Better  – Bread – edited by Linda Collister, Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.

Ingredients – Poolish

  • 250g rye flour
  • 150g strong flour
  • 15g fresh yeast (7g dried)
  • 300ml  lukewarm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Method – Poolish

  • Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a jug
  • Leave for about 5 minutes.
  • Make a well and pour in the yeast mixture.
  • Bring it all together to make a thick lump free mixture.
  • Cover the bowl (a shower cap is good)
  • Leave at room temperature to rise for about 4 hours.

Ingredients – Dough

  • Poolish
  • 200g rye flour
  • 100g strong flour
  • 125ml lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • *
  • Milk to brush loaves
  • Extra caraway seeds for sprinkling on loaves

Method – Dough

  • To the Poolish add the water and mix to make a smooth batter.
  • Mix the flours and the salt.
  • Add the flour and salt to the Poolish  and mix.
  • You will have a soft and heavy, sticky dough.
  • Leave uncovered to rest for 5 minutes.
  • *
  • Add a little water if it feels too stiff.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured board.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes (set a timer).
  • *
  • Put back into a large bowl and cover (a shower cap is good).
  • Leave to rest and rise for 1 hour.
  • *
  • Knock back the dough.
  • Roll into a ball.
  • Cover and leave for 1 hour.
  • *
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured board.
  • Knead a couple of times.
  • Divide into two.
  • Shape each piece into a ball.
  • Cover loosely with a dry tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.
  • *
  • Line a baking sheet with grease proof paper.
  • Knead and fold and shape each ball into an oval.
  • Place the two pieces on the baking sheet.
  • Cover loosely and leave to prove for 1 hour.
  • *
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM7 220°C
  • Put a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven to heat up.
  • *
  • Cut 3 slashes in the top of each loaf.
  • Brush lightly with milk or water.
  • Sprinkle with caraway seeds.
  • Put the loaves in the oven.
  • Quickly pour a glass of water into the roasting tin (the steam helps to give a good crust).
  • Close the door and bake for around 10 minutes.
  • Reduce to GM6 2O0°C  and continue baking for 25 minutes
  • Leave to cool on a wire cake rack.

Poolish Bread

A Poolish is a pre-ferment usually combing equal parts of flour and water (by weight) with some yeast.

The origin of the term Poolish is that it is named after a method used by Polish bakers around 1840 when it was brought to France.

However – Poolish is an old English version of Polish and this term seems to be most used in France where polonais is the word for Polish – strange!

Fermentation is carried out at room temperature for some time – long enough for the Poolish to bubble up and increase its volume. This can take anywhere from 3 to 24 hours.

Using  Poolish is said to give a light texture to the dough, develop a sweetness of flavour and also give a good colour in the crust.

This recipe is adapted from Bake it Better  – Bread – edited by Linda Collister, Hodder & Stoughton, 2015.

The original amounts made two very big loaves so I the second time I made this,  I cut it down, to make two small loaves – these are the instructions below.

Ingredients – Day One

  • 25g wholemeal flour
  • 150g strong flour
  • 10g fresh yeast (5g dried)
  • 175ml water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar

Method – Day One

  • Mix the yeast, water and sugar in a jug
  • Leave for about 5 -10 minutes.
  • Mix the two flours together in a bowl.
  • Make a well and pour in the yeast mixture.
  • Bring it all together to make a thick lump free mixture.
  • Cover the bowl (a shower cap is good)
  • Leave a room temperature for 20 – 24 hours.

Ingredients – Day Two

  • Poolish from day one
  • 125ml water
  • 250g strong flour (maybe a little more)
  • ½ tablespoon of salt

Method – Day Two

  • To the Poolish add the water and mix to make a smooth batter.
  • Add 125g of the flour and mix it in by hand.
  • Add the salt.
  • Gradually add the rest of the flour until you have a soft but not sticky dough.
  • Add more flour if necessary.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes (set a timer).
  • Put back into a large bowl and cover (a shower cap is good).
  • Leave to rise till double in size – around 3 hours.
  • When it looks nearly ready – line a baking sheet with grease-proof paper.
  • Knock back the dough with your knuckles to deflate it.
  • Cut the dough into two pieces.
  • Leave them to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Knead each piece for 1 minute.
  • Shape each piece and put it on the baking sheet.
  • Dust them lightly with some flour.
  • Cover loosely and leave to prove for 1 to 1½ hours.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM7 220°C
  • Put a roasting tin at the bottom of the oven to heat up.
  • Cut 3 slashes in the top of each loaf (oops I forget the 2nd time!).
  • Put the loaves in the oven.
  • Quickly pour a glass of water into the roasting tin (the steam helps to give a good crust).
  • Close the door and bake for around 30 minutes.
  • Leave to cool on a wire cake rack.

Rye Scones

This recipe is a cross between an English scone and soda bread.

I used this recipe with spelt flour and it was a huge success.

I now tried it out with rye flour using equal amounts of rye to plain flour.

In Poland you might call these babeczki – little buns or bułeczki – little bread buns.

Ingredients

  • 125g rye flour
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 30g of demerara or granulated sugar  & 1/2 tablespoon
  • 80g of sultanas or raisins
  • 65g butter – chilled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons of yoghurt & milk to make 125ml
  • 1 egg

Method

  • Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220°C.
  • Mix the flours, baking powder and salt together.
  • Add the butter and mix in with the flour to make breadcrumbs.
  • Add the 30g of sugar.
  • Add the sultanas or raisins.
  • Lightly mix the egg into the yoghurt/milk mixture.
  • Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture.
  • With a knife work the mixture together to make a damp rough ball.
  • Turn the ball of dough on the the baking sheet.
  • Form into a flattened disc around 20cm in diameter.
  • Sprinkle with the 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
  • Deeply score the disc into eight sections.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and firm.

They tastes delicious freshly baked with butter & the next day slightly warmed or toasted.

Served on Elizabethan Carnaby from the 1960s.

Variations

These were so delicious I made them again but instead of sultanas used –

  • 80g chopped dried apricots

 

 

 

 

Or

  • 80g dried cranberries

 

 

 

 

 

All versions are super!

 

Rye Bread 2

Recently I found my local Polish shop sold fresh yeast in small blocks, so I have been trying out lots of yeast buns and bread recipes.

This is one for Polish Rye Bread based on a recipe in the following book, which is easy to make and the bread is super.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 225g rye flour
  • 225g strong flour
  • 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 20g of fresh yeast (or 10g of dried)
  • 140ml of lukewarm milk
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 140ml of lukewarm water

Method

  • In a jug mix the milk, yeast and honey.
  • In a large bowl mix the flour, caraway seeds and salt.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour.
  • Pour the yeast mixture into the well.
  • Add the water and slowly mix the flour and liquid together until a dough forms.
  • Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (set a timer!).
  • Place the dough into a bowl and cover (a shower cap is good for this).
  • Leave until this has doubled in size (around 3 hours if warm).
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and lightly knock back.
  • Shape into an oval loaf.
  • Grease a baking tray.
  • Place the loaf onto the baking tray.
  • Dust with some rye flour.
  • Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size (around 90 minutes if warm).
  • *
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM7  – 220°C
  • *
  • Use a sharp knife to make 2 long cuts in the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Leave to cool before cutting.

 

Spelt Scones

This recipe is a cross between an English scone and soda bread.

In Poland you might call these babeczki – little buns or bułeczki – little bread buns. Spelt flour gives this a lovely taste.

Ingredients

  • 250g spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 30g of demerara or granulated sugar  & 1/2 tablespoon
  • 80g of sultanas or raisins
  • 65g butter – chilled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons of yoghurt & milk to make 125ml of liquid
  • 1 egg

Method

  • Line a baking sheet with grease-proof paper.
  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220°C.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together.
  • Add the butter and mix in with the flour to make breadcrumbs.
  • Add the 30g of sugar.
  • Add the sultanas or raisins.
  • Lightly mix the egg into the yoghurt/milk mixture.
  • Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture.
  • With a knife work the mixture together to make a damp rough ball.
  • Turn the ball of dough on the the baking sheet.
  • Form into a flattened disc around 20cm in diameter.
  • Sprinkle with the 1/2 tablespoon of the demerara sugar.
  • Deeply score the disc into eight sections.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden and firm.

They tastes delicious freshly baked with butter & the next day slightly warmed or toasted.

Served here on  Ansley – Las Palmas tea plates from the 1960s and on Queen Anne tea plates.

Scufflers

A few weeks ago I had lunch in Holmfirth (Last of the summer wine country) in a little café called Scufflers.

I wondered what the name meant – was it to do with fighting or a garden implement?

I have now discovered it is a Yorkshire word  from the area around Castleford – and it is a used for a triangular shaped teacake or bread bun. In Poland these would be called bułeczki

I found a recipe and made some.

The enriched dough was super to work with – my shapes were a bit “random” – it would be easier to make round buns. They were delicious and I will certainty be adding this to my list of favourite doughs.

Ingredients

  • 450g strong flour
  • 30g butter
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of dried yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml water

Method

  • Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar, salt and dried yeast.
  • Mix together the egg and water.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
  • Add the egg mixture.
  • Using a knife at first and then your hands bring this together to make a dough.
  • Knead the dough for 10 minutes. (There is only one kneading so try and do the full time here).
  • Put the dough into a bowl and cover with a tea cloth and leave till it has doubled in size.
  • Dust a tray with flour.
  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220°C.

 

  • Press the dough into a rough rectangular shape  – cut this into two squares and then divide these diagonally so you have eight triangles.
  • Place the triangles onto the floured baking tray.
  • Lightly dust with flour.
  • Bake for around 15 minutes – until golden brown.

 

 

Paragon – hand painted tea-plates – I could not resist the lovely shape and bought them recently.

Amusing Thought

In the café, some of the choices for  lunch were sandwiches on baguettes, ciabatta  or  pannini   – but despite its name –there was not a scuffler in sight!

Sauerkraut Rye Bread

My cousin who lives near Chicago recently sent me a recipe that has been used by her mum for Polish sauerkraut rye bread.

The recipe was from a bakery in Chicago and was printed in the Chicago Tribune on 2 March 1989.

Well of course I had to try this out!

 

The recipe is in cups, which except for liquids, I find hard to work with for consistency – so I  did some conversions into grams.

Note -The amount of sauerkraut was  3/4 of a cup – I measured out a loosely filled cup and weighed it.

This recipe makes one very large loaf – you can use it to make two loaves.

There is a large amount of flour – I mixed it by hand which was quite hard work but after the first rise it was a good dough to work with.

Ingredients

  • 880g plain flour (650g & 250g)
  • 170g rye flour
  • 40g butter
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dried yeast
  • 100g sauerkraut
  • 500ml warm water
  • Cornmeal or semolina for the baking tray
  • 1 egg yolk & 1 tablespoon of milk to glaze
  • 2 teaspoons of caraway for topping.

Method

  • Into a large bowl add 650g of plain flour and rye flour.
  • Rub in the butter.
  • Add the salt, sugar and yeast.
  • Chop the sauerkraut with a sharp knife into small pieces.
  • Add the sauerkraut to the flour and mix together.
  • Slowly add the water and bring the mixture together.
  • Slowly add the rest of the flour (you may not need it all) until the dough does not stick to the sides and start to gather it together into a ball.
  •  Knead the dough for around 5 minutes.

 

 

  • Cover the dough with a cloth or clingfilm.
  • Leave it to rise until it is double in size.
  • Punch the dough down and knead it again for a few minutes.
  • Allow the dough to double in size again
  • Punch the dough down again and knead it again lightly.
  • (You can divide it into two here if you want to make two loaves)
  • Put the dough onto a board and flatten it into a rectangle.
  • Shape into an oval.
  • Cover a baking tray with cornmeal or semolina.
  • Place the dough onto the baking tray.
  • Cover and let the dough rise until it is double in size.

 

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 6  – 200°C.
  • Brush the glaze onto the loaf
  • Sprinkle with caraway seeds note I would cover the seeds with glaze again as well next time.
  • Using a sharp knife make 4 or 5 diagonal cuts in the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Turn the oven down to GM4  – 180°C.
  • Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

 

It was delicious with a great texture!

I sliced up some of the loaf and froze it  – that worked well.

I might just add some more caraway seeds to the dough itself next time.

Scalded Rye Bread

I came across this recipe recently which I was told originates in Sweden*.

  • The recipe makes two loaves and the bread is very soft and tasty.
  • Boiling water is poured over the rye flour and it is left overnight. This must start the breakdown of some of the starch in the flour to sugars.
  • I used dried yeast when I made this.
  • The bread is baked at a lower temperature than many other breads.

Ingredients

For scalding

  • 100g dark rye flour
  • 300ml of boiling water

For  the rest

  • 650g strong white flour
  • 1 tablespoon of dried yeast
  • 250ml of water
  • 1.5 tablespoons of salt

Method

  • Put the rye flour into a bowl and pour the boiling water over it.
  • Mix this to a stiff paste.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave overnight.
  • The following morning, place the plain flour into a bowl and make a well and add the dried yeast followed by 100ml of water.
  • Cover and leave for around 15 minutes until all the yeast has dissolved.
  • Add the rest of the water (150ml), the salt and the scalded rye mixture.
  • Mix everything together well.

 

 

 

  • Now you need to knead this for around 5 minutes – this can be hard as the dough is sticky  – I do this in the bowl for some of the time and then with wet hands I hold the dough up and sort of kneaded it in the air!
  • Put the dough back into the bowl and covered with clingfilm or a cloth and leave it for around 2 hours.
  • Divide the dough into two.
  • Flour your hands and stretch each piece into a rectangle around 2cm in thickness.
  • You now need to fold the dough into a long loaf.
  • With the short side facing you, fold this up a third gently onto the dough and then taking the top third pull this down to cover the two layers of dough.
  • Get a clean tea towel,  flour this and using a cake lifter place the loaf on this and cover it with the rest of the tea towel.
  • 20181208_092916

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Repeat this for the other loaf.
  • Leave the loaves to rest for around 1 hour.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM8 – 230°C.
  • Use rye flour to flour two small baking sheets.
  • Place each  loaf onto a prepared sheet and place them side by side in the oven.
  • Turn the temperature down immediately to GM4 -180°C.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Variations

  • Add 1.5 tablespoons of caraway seeds to the dough mixture.
  • Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape them into cobs.
  • Change the proportions to use more rye – I used 200g of dark rye & 550g of strong plain flour & an extra 100ml of boiling water for the overnight scalding & baked the loaves in long loaf tins after shaping the dough.

 

 

Tea plate is by Taylor and Kent of Longton

*Polish – Swedish Connections

The Polish King Zygmunt III Waza (1587 – 1632) was the son of King John III of Sweden and Katarzyna Jagiellonka (daughter of King Zygmunt I Stary (the old) of Poland).  He was also the King of Sweden from 1592 – 1599.

PotopThe Deluge – was a period of invasion and war with Sweden in the mid 17th Century.

Szwed – The Swede is a very common surname in Poland . One of my father’s best friends had this surname.

There are 72 ferry sailings a week from Polish Baltic ports to Sweden.

Note – this post was updated in March 2020.

 

 

Mixed Grains Bread

I have been concentrating on a variety of rye breads and had gone to my local Polish shop to buy some more rye flour when I saw some mąka orkiszkowa which is spelt flour.

Spelt –  Triticum spelta – is an older type of wheat known to have been used from around 5,000BC

Modern wheat is Triticum sativum.

Ingredients

250g spelt flour

250g strong wheat flour

150g oat flakes

50g sesame seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

20ml of sunflower oil

250ml milk

150ml water

1 tablespoon of fresh yeast

1 teaspoon of sugar

Method

Mix the milk and water and heat them slightly to hand heat.

Add the sugar and the yeast and wait for the yeast to froth up.

Mix all the other ingredients in a large bowl.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture.

Use a large wooden spoon to mix everything together and then use your hand to bring the dough into a soft ball, kneading it lightly for around 3 minutes.

 

 

Leave to rise for at least 1 to 2 hours.

Grease a long Continental loaf tin (or a 2lb loaf tin).

Lightly press the dough into the tin.

Leave to rise – I found this took around 5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C.

Bake for 35-40 minutes , checking after 25 minutes and cover with foil or greaseproof paper if it has browned too quickly on the top.

The base of the loaf will sound hollow  when it is cooked – put back for a few more minutes if not.

 

Once cool, I wrap the bread in a cloth.

 

 

I have found that the sliced bread, packed in a plastic box with a lid freezes very well.