“That’s my jam!”
You might know the expression if you’re of my generation. I’d heard it mostly in 70s films, people referring to a tune they liked as being their “jam”. Lately, I’ve seen it used with reference to food. I was too young in the 70s to understand this expression. And these days I’m too old (and probably not hip enough) to use it effectively.
But if you ask me what’s my jam? I’d have to say that you won’t find the tune on any Top 40 list. My jam is the sound of my weekly loaf singing after I pull it out of the oven. For any enthusiastic bread baker, the crackling crust as it cools is as beautiful a sound as any other melody. It’s no different than the golfer’s ping when his club strikes the ball perfectly. I’ve never been much of a golfer; those pings, for me, were few and far between but you get the idea.
For fear of getting lost in the countless techniques for the “perfect artisan bread” available, I have stuck to one recipe (Ken Forkish’s Overnight Country Brown in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast), adjusting it only by incorporating spelt flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour. I wanted a bread/technique that I could call my go-to and so far, this bread is it. I’ve made the round loaf that you see above several times over the past month and it has sung to me each time.
But singing aside, this post is about the other bread in the pictures. I’ve always kept backup bread in the refrigerator–usually store-bought sliced whole wheat–for those times when I crave the old-fashioned ham and cheese sandwich of my childhood made with soft slices of bread. The refrigerated bread also comes in handy when coming home to an empty pantry after our travels. Bread, butter and jam always tide us over until the next trip to the market.
When one day I had more sourdough starter than I knew what to do with, this homemade sandwich bread happened. I wanted a simple recipe, one that wouldn’t need to ferment overnight or proof for several hours and I struck gold with this recipe from a lovely blog. The bread from Our Happy Acres was adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe but I couldn’t figure out which one it was on the KAF website. What I loved was that it already used spelt flour so I didn’t have to make any hydration adjustments. The only changes I made were to replace the butter and honey with olive oil and maple syrup, respectively.
We loved this bread at first bite. Distinctly different than the country bread, this sandwich loaf has a softer crumb but is substantial enough and slices easily without collapsing under the bread knife. Where most sliced wheat bread from the store can be too sugary, it’s the mildly sweet, nutty quality of the spelt flavor that stands out. I’ve enjoyed it with butter and jam in the morning and of course with my simple ham and cheese sandwich. On the day I took these pictures I combined these sweet and savory flavors for a nice post-hike brunch.
So this sandwich bread may not come out of the oven singing like my country bread but if I can apply the modern use of the expression…this bread is definitely my jam, too.
- *I highly recommend using the gram measurements for this recipe because they will yield the most accurate results.*
- 8 ounces (229 grams) sourdough starter (See Note)
- 3 cups (298 grams) whole spelt flour
- 1 cup (131 grams) plus up to another 10-25 grams bread flour (as necessary while kneading)
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (35 grams) maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon (4 grams) kosher salt
- 1 cup (227 grams) water
- Combine sourdough starter, spelt flour, bread flour, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and water in a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to form a ball.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for two to three minutes, just until the dough is elastic and still soft. If your dough is too sticky to handle, sprinkle a little flour at a time to make it easier to work with. I tend to need an additional 10-25 grams (definitely no more than ¼ cup) as I knead.
- Lightly coat a large bowl with oil and transfer the dough to rest for 1 - 1½ hours (covered in plastic wrap). I used the same bowl that I mixed the dough in. You can expect the dough to rise up to 50% but it won't double. After this time, poke the dough with a floured finger. The dough should not spring back right away but should leave an indent.
- Lightly coat a standard-sized loaf pan with oil (or spray with nonstick spray). Form the dough into a loaf shape and transfer it to the loaf pan. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to proof for 1½ to 3 hours. If your dough doesn't double in size, it's okay, but it should reach or be close to the top of the loaf pan (see notes).
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Slash the top of the loaf right before baking in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Bake for an additional 30- 40 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and the loaf registers 180 degrees F in the center.
- Cool the loaf on a wire rack for five minutes then remove from the loaf pan and wait until it has cooled completely before slicing. This bread will keep in the refrigerator (in a plastic bag) for up to a week.
- Shape the dough into a loaf and transfer it to a loaf pan lightly coated with oil (or sprayed with cooking spray)
Proofing: This recipe has proven itself flexible. The original instructions require final proofing at room temperature for 1½ - 3 hours. Even after refrigerating the dough overnight after transferring it the loaf pan it turned out great. There was no rise at all while in the refrigerator but I proofed at room temperature for four hours afterwards and it doubled in size.
Adapted from: http://www.ourhappyacres.com/2012/08/spelt-sourdough-sandwich-bread/