Monday, January 4, 2021

Multigrain Apple Sourdough

Multigrain Apple Sourdough is a giant loaf cooked in a Dutch oven for extra crusty goodness. Sweetened with apple juice and studded with local apples, it is a wonderful treat with butter or jam in the morning or with tea in the afternoon.

I cannot believe it took me so long to write about this wonderful bread. To be fair, December is always kind of insane around here, but since I've made (and refined) this recipe three times now I feel it is only fair to make it the first bread post of 2021! 

When N and I went apple picking in October, I knew this bread from Green Healthy Cooking had to be on my list of things to make. Normally, the apples we pick are firm and dense, perfect for baking because they don't ooze moisture - but this year they let me down in my first loaf. While the outside was beautifully burnished, the residual moisture in the fruit made the centre soggy and unsuitable for anything without a good toast. After figuring that out, though, I made sure to roast up a bunch of apple cubes and resolved to perfect the dough - I can't resist the combination of apples, maple and whole grains because it truly reminds me of my mom's apple squares. The roasting turned out to be the key! Not only did it remove the excess moisture in the apples, but it concentrated the sugars making them taste like pops of candy in the sourdough that surrounded them. I had to up the baking time as well, but don't worry - the slices are tender without falling apart, stand up to toasting or eating plain and keep extraordinarily well! The first morning she sliced into the most recent loaf, my mom topped it with old Cheddar and just snacked away, then for lunch spread it with peanut butter. If it had lasted, I'm sure I would have had some bread pudding perfection on my hands too in a week or so. 

The strangest thing for me, which I didn't notice until I was typing up the recipe, is that while I have apples and maple syrup going on, I didn't add any spice. No cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger to be found! That said, the loaf doesn't need them at all, but you most definitely could toss in your favourite (just note that cinnamon for some reason seems to antagonize yeast, so knead it in after the first rise).

You also may notice that this loaf does contain two types of yeast - regular active dry and instant. Normally, either will work, but because of the biga that is made for this loaf and the yeast spike after, they need different working times. If you use all active dry, the final dough will take longer to rise and may not be as robust, but if you use all instant I strongly suggest only using 4 g in the biga (you may not have to let it rest as long, maybe 8 hours or so). The combination I used includes a "gold" yeast intended for enriched doughs and really helps move the heavier flours in this loaf too.

Multigrain Apple Sourdough
Adapted from Green Healthy Cooking
Makes 1 large loaf 
2 large baking apples (I used Northern Spy), peeled and chopped
200g active sourdough starter
120 ml apple juice or cider
Final Dough
400 g multigrain flour blend (or 350 g whole wheat bread flour + 50 g grain cereal like Qia)
10 g instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
480 ml water
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp salt 
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. Spread the apples on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake the apples for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool.
  1. In a medium bowl, mix all the biga ingredients together until well combined. Cover with plastic and let rest at cool room temperature for 8-14 hours.
Final Dough
  1. After the biga has rested, add the flours, instant yeast, water, maple syrup and salt.
  2. Knead on low for at least 20 minutes until the dough is sticky and elastic.
  3. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
  4. By hand, fold in the roasted apple pieces until well mixed.
  5. Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment and place in a bowl (parchment side down). Cover and let rise 45-50 minutes. 
  6. About 15 minutes into the second rise, place a cast iron Dutch oven (I used my Staub) in the oven and heat to 475F.
  7. When the dough has risen, carefully lower it into the hot Dutch oven using the parchment as a sling. Place the lid back on top of the Dutch oven and return to the oven, immediately lowering the temperature to 450F.
  8. Bake (lid on) for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and bake a further 10 minutes. 
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the Dutch oven (lid off) for 10 minutes, then carefully move the bread to a cooling rack and cool completely

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