One of my Christmas gifts was a gift card to Barnes and Noble (you basically can’t go wrong giving me money to buy books). I used it to buy two bread books: The Tassajara Bread Book, by Edward Espe Brown, and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart. The Tassajara Bread Book (Pronounced Tassahara, as in Spanish, I think. If not, I’m regularly mispronouncing it.) focuses on whole grain breads, and is written with a heavily Zen slant. I think of it as “the hippie bread book”. Sometime I’ll have to do a full-length review. The recipes I’ve tried so far have turned out well.
I used my regular sourdough starter. The book calls for making a batter with about half of the flour, your starter, and the water the night before, and letting it sit all night. Although I used about 1 1/2 cups of white flour in the whole loaf, I put all whole wheat flour in the overnight sponge. I think the time to soak softens the bran up and gives it a better texture.
The next morning I added the rest of the flour, the salt, and some oil to the sponge. Before you add the oil and such you are supposed to remove an equal amount of batter to the starter that went into it, to replenish your starter. I forgot to do this until after I’d poured the oil in, and so I tried to scoop out part of the sponge that didn’t already have oil in it to replenish the starter. I was mostly successful. I hope it doesn’t mess up the starter to have just a tiny bit of oil in it.
Considering the high percentage of whole-wheat flour in this loaf (I’d say somewhere around 75%) I was quite pleased at how high it rose and how fluffy the crumb is. The sourdough tang is mild but noticeable, which I like. I will be playing with this recipe some more.