Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Maslin Bread

Maslin bread was the common bread of the medieval period.  It consists of wheat mixed with rye, barley, or whatever has happened to grow in your field, lightly bolted to remove some of the bran and risen with sourdough.  While there was a clear preference for wheat-only bread, the reality is that many regions in England are not great for growing it, and farmers planted mixtures of grains as insurance that one of them would produce well in any particular year.*

I have tried, and tried, and tried to make a 100% whole wheat sourdough risen bread.  It doesn't work.   My duck flock has enjoyed the results, but no one else.  But by carefully adapting directions from Breadtopia, I finally got this!

The key is some white flour.  Sourdough works a lot better on white flour, so the bolting step is not because they preferred white bread (although they did), it's vital to getting it to rise.  I used all-purpose flour rather than bread flour, as English medieval wheat was low in gluten.

Maslin Bread [Adapted from Breadtopia]

Evening of Day 1:
200 grams (7 oz. or 7/8 cup) water
120g (4 oz. or 1/2 cup) sourdough starter
236 grams (8 1/3 oz or 2 cups) whole wheat flour

Morning of Day 2:
274 grams (9 2/3 oz. or ~1 1/4 cup) water
85 grams (3 oz. or 7/8 cup) rye flour
250 grams (8 3/4 oz or 2 cups) white all-purpose
170 grams (6 oz. or a tad over 1 3/4 cups) barley flour
13 grams (scant tbs.) salt


Evening of Day 1:
Mix all ingredients together.  Ferment (let sit out at room temperature covered loosely with plastic) at 69F for 12 hours.

Morning of Day 2:
Add day 2 to day 1 ingredients.  Knead, place in plastic covered bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Morning of Day 3:
Form a boule (round loaf) and ferment (let sit out on counter) 5 hours at 69F.

Bake at 485F for 40-45 minutes.


Verdict: Fabulous.  Look at the inside!

Mmmm.  It is pretty darn dense, but not brick-like.  It had a beautiful, crispy crust and a chewy inside.  I scoffed the heels before anyone else could get them... for quality control.  It was enjoyed by all who hadn't recently had dental surgery.

*How To Be a Tudor, by Ruth Goodman


Karen K. said...

Wow, that looks great! I am not surprised about the 100% whole wheat -- it's really hard to make. I worked in a bakery years ago and I think every single one of the breads had at least a portion of white flour. I do remember making sourdough and sometimes our sour starter went bad but I've heard of people having starters for years. I will definitely have to try this recipe.

Jana said...

Some sourdough starters have a history going back hundreds of years. I love sourdough.

Anonymous said...

How do you keep this going for more than 3 days?

More specifically....
On day 3... how much of the dough do you use?
What do you do on day 4 to keep the sourdough going?
How much can you take out, how often, and still have enough viable sourdough starter that you can add enough ingredients to make a loaf again?

Jana said...

I'm 80% sure what you are asking, so I'll try to cover all the bases. If you have more questions, please ask!

Sometimes you hear about people (usually in books) just saving a bit of dough from the previous batch to rise the next. This only works if you only have two ingredients: flour and water. Otherwise, you've got to maintain a starter.

A starter is like your very own pet civilization. It is billions of bacteria, fed on flour and water. These guys are very anti-immigration. If it is fed regularly and kept healthy, they will not allow any foreign bacteria in (which is good, as it mightn't be as tasty. Like mold.).

So let us say you have acquired a sourdough start from a friend. It looks like bubbly goo. Every day, or every couple days, normal maintenance practice is to pour off about half of it, then mix in more flour and water to about the consistency of pancake batter. Within a few hours, that new stuff you've added in will now be colonized by your invasion force.

You can make this starter as big as you like, by just adding a lot more flour and water. In emergencies when I've accidentally not made enough, I've kept it going just by adding flour and water to whatever was clinging to the sides of the jar.

So when you want to make traditional sourdough bread, you dump and feed your starter every day until it is nice and bubbly. Then, you use the portion called for in the recipe, and add more flour and water to your jar to keep the mother start going.

How active it is depends on temperature. Too cold, and it will die. If you stick it in the fridge, it will go into hibernation, which is great if you aren't making bread every day, which most people don't. If it is winter on your countertop, it's going to be slower than when it is July on your countertop. Too hot, obviously, and it is cooked and you have bread.

So, day 3: you use all the dough. If you DO want to make bread every day, you certainly can if you just feed it every day. If you want to make 200 loaves a day, just add tons of flour and water in a massive vat,and you'll have enough starter a couple days later.

Do not put anything but flour and water in your starter. Do not use anything but white flour. I mean, you CAN, but the bran in whole wheat goes nasty and moldy if you forget about your starter, so it's best to stick to white in your mother starter unless you are, in fact, a bakery.

You can actually revive starters that are pretty far gone. If you stop feeding it and let it sit, liquid will accumulate on top, called "hooch." First it will be clear, then yellow, then dark yellow, all the way to black and moldy and horrifying. This is okay. If it is black and horrifying, just scoop off the top, add more flour and water daily, and it'll almost certainly come alive again.