Going to dinner at the house of friends, I will often bring an oven-warm sourdough loaf, rather than wine. A crusty boule, slashed, with imprints of the banneton; fragrant and artisanal. (If the bread fell flat, I bring wine….) I love baking with sourdough, and experimenting with ratios. Sometimes, however, I just feel like having plain, assuming bread. At home in Norway, bread baking is not necessarily anything fancy, it’s just something you do. You bake a big batch, and freeze some loaves in the obligatory massive chest freezer (for blueberries, fish you’ve caught, a quarter of a moose from last year’s hunt, some cinnamon rolls to defrost in case of company, and probably a few frozen pizzas).
My mother bakes bread regularly, with yeast and assorted flours.and I’ve been craving a slice of her hverdagsbrød, everyday bread, with salted butter and some thick Norwegian honey. I will not be going back for a while, but thought I’d try to emulate it: not architectural and airy, but good solid bread for a cheese sandwich, one you can spread jam on without it dripping through. This was inspired by Tartine’s Semolina Boule, but as you can see, it is absolutely nothing like that beautiful creation. However, it was close to what I had in mind, so I’m happy with this.
This recipe is good for baking straight from the fridge in the morning. To bake in the morning, start the dough the night before.
Norwegian-style semolina sourdough bread
250 g rye sourdough starter, 100% hydration
650 g + 30 g water (room temperature)
400 g semolina flour
400 g plain flour (00)
165 g wholewheat flour
Handful of sunflower seeds (optional)
10 g salt
Stir the sourdough starter with 650 g of water: you will need a large mixing bowl, this makes two half-kilo loaves. Add the flours and mix well till incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add salt dissolved in remaining 30 g of water and the sunflower seeds. Mix well.Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in volume. Before going to bed, divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts and partition the dough into prepared loaf tins of your choice. I used two medium loaf tins, and one small one, all lined with baking paper. (You might want to shape the dough first for better spring; I just spooned it in.) Cover the loaf tins with plastic, and put them in the fridge overnight.
The next morning: heat your oven to 250C. Slash the dough, put the bread in (yes the 2-3 tins together if you have room) and bake at 250C for twenty minutes, then 230C for 25-30 minutes more, until they look done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45-50 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.
One loaf for us, one for our freezer (not the chest kind, alas), and the third smaller loaf went to a friend over cappuccini this morning.
Notes: these were not slashed right before baking, so they cracked slightly on the side. Next time, I’d add more seeds, or soaked wholegrain wheat.