During the pandemic, as people started baking sourdough, I didn’t join in.
It wasn’t until the combination of California wildfires, anxiety over COVID, and a restless weekend stuck indoors, that I thought an activity to keep my hands busy, like baking bread, might help. Plus, the sensation of warm bread right out of the oven is always a comfort.
Inspired by a loaf that a friend brought me from Gjusta Bakery in LA, I tried my hand at an old sourdough recipe… with seaweed. It is a subtle whole wheat sourdough loaf that I was surprised didn't taste like seaweed. It’s subtle, but the seaweed imparts a salty, savory depth to this bread that works wonderfully, in my opinion.
This recipe requires a sourdough starter and - because I’m not enough of an expert baker to explain the nuance and delicacy in writing - some familiarity with the sourdough process. I follow the Tartine Country Loaf steps and used this recipe as a base. This YouTube tutorial is helpful, to get an overview of the process.
All purpose flour - 280g
Wheat flour - 280g
Seaweed flakes - 12g
Salt - 12g
Water - 415g
Active starter that floats in water - 170g
Mix the flours and seaweed flakes. In a separate bowl, mix the starter with 365g warm water. Use your hands to help dissolve the starter. Mix in flour + seaweed flakes.
After 30 min, add in salt + 50g of warm water.
Mix by hand under dough comes together in a sticky ball. Cover with a towel and let sit for 30 min, ideally in an environment between 75-80 degrees.
Fold by dipping your hands in water and lifting one edge of dough and pulling up and over the remaining dough. Repeat on all 4 sides. Do this every half hour for a total of 3 hours.
Shape into boule, by placing the dough onto workspace, dusting with flour, then placing flour side down. Fold the un-floured side up onto itself so the flour on the surface remains entirely on the outside of the loaf. Squish edges together on the bottom to seal and shape into a tight, round ball.
Let sit for 30 minutes. Line a bread-proofing basket with 1/2-&-1/2 whole-wheat flour and rice flour.
Dust rounds with whole-wheat flour. Using a pastry scraper, flip the rounds so the floured sides are facing down. Pull the bottom on the side closest to you, the fold it onto the middle third of the dough. Repeat this action for the right and left side, pulling the edges out and folding them in over the center. Finally, pull the top corners up and down over the previous folds. Roll dough over so the folded side is on the bottom, shape into a smooth, taut ball.
Transfer round, seam side up, to the basket. Cover with a towel and let rise in a 75-degree environment for 3-4 hours. (Or proof overnight in a refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before baking.)
30 minutes before baking, place a Dutch oven in the oven and heat to 500degrees. Dust top of dough with whole-wheat/rice mixture. Remove pan from oven and turn the loaf into pan, seam-side down. Use a blade to score the top a few times to allow for expansion. Cover and return to oven. Reduce temperature to 450degrees and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook for 20 more minutes. The crust should be a rich, golden brown color and the bottom of the load should sound hollow when tapped. Let cool for 15 minutes, then good luck not devouring.