This loaf has become our favourite at home. Crusty, with a good crumb, and excellent sourdough flavour. The emmer and spelt make it rather nutty. Experiment with flours, or make it entirely white if you prefer. Once you become really good at it, on day 3 you can start adding grains like e.g. toasted buckwheat, which provide a really nice texture.
The recipe is for Piers, by the way. A good friend, who has sadly closed his lovely little wine shop, and therefore has a bit more time to cook and bake. Best of luck!
5 tbsp sourdough starter
150g cold water
75g spelt (dark)*
540g lukewarm water
150g spelt (dark)*
600g strong white flour
Two days before you intend to bake, refresh your starter by discarding everything but a teaspoon, then adding water and flour until you have about 2dl. It should look like wallpaper paste or thick glue.
Just before going to bed, mix the sourdough starter, cold water, emmer and spelt roughly in a very large bowl (i.e., the largest you have). Cover with a cloth.
8 a.m. Add the wheatgerm, flour and water to the starter mixture (if you are not using wheatgerm only add 525g water). Mix roughly with one hand, making sure everything is well blended. Leave to sit for 30 minutes, covered by a cloth.
8:30 a.m. Add the salt and water, and mix again with one hand.
9 a.m./9:30/10/10:30/11/11:30 Slide one hand down the side of the bowl and under the dough. Pull the dough up and over the top of itself (like folding a napkin). Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Do four turns in total.
Noon. Dust your proving basket with plenty of semolina (and some sesame seeds, if you like). Dust the dough with semolina, and form into a ball shape (still in the bowl). You do not want to work it too much, and it does not need to stay this shape – you just want to build up some tension and make sure the dough is not too sticky. Transfer quickly to the proving basket, and dust the bottom with semolina or polenta. Tricky bit done! Now, leave to rise for 2-3 hours in a warm place.
2:30 p.m. Turn on your oven to its absolute hottest setting (not grill, though). Place a large cast iron pot with lid in there. When the oven is hot, take out the pot, (pour in a little polenta if you want to make a nice crust), and carefully tip in the bread. Score quickly with a very sharp knife, put on the lid, and return to the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. After the 40 minutes have passed, open the oven door and bring the temperature down to 180 degrees (fan). Remove the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes. If you like your bread less dark, bake at 160 degrees instead, but for a couple of minutes longer. Leave to cool.
* or white, or rye, or whatever you fancy, really.