There is something incredibly satisfying about baking sourdough and fresh milling the grain in your own tabletop mill takes that satisfaction to the next level.
This Maris Widgeon was grown seven miles away from my home at Green Acres Farm, Kemberton by Mark and Liz Lea in the harvest of 2020.
Here is the method I used to make this loaf. Be aware that your timings may vary depending on the vigour of your starter, the temperature of your dough and the room temperature. Be ready to adjust timings.
For sourdoughs I build a levain, also known as a production starter:
50g mother starter
100g wholemeal flour
100g warm water
Leave the mixture in a warm place to ferment and get bubbly. It needs to be vigorous to rise the loaf.
I milled 500g of Maris Widgeon grain in my Komo tabletop mill using the double milling method. Double milling means that I mill the grain very coarsely and then run this through again at the finest setting that my mill can manage.
500g freshly milled Maris Widgeon flour
350g warm water
8-10g fine sea salt
When the levain is vigorous (plenty of bubbles) add the freshly milled flour and 350g of water. Be aware that you may need more or less water. Start with 330g and splash in the last 20g if you feel the dough needs it. Mix the dough well. Cover and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes up to an hour.
Freshly milled grain is different from aged flour. It absorbs water differently and takes a different amount of water. Flour absorbency can be affected by the milling process too. If you have milled your flour more coarsely than I have the grain will not absorb as much water. This is when it becomes important to use your judgement and experiment; part of the joy of using freshly milled flour. In this case 350g water made the dough quite wet and sticky. However, freshly milled flour absorbs water more slowly than aged flour so after a 30 minute rest the flour had fully absorbed the water and become fully hydrated.
Add the salt. If the dough appears a little dry splash in another 10-20g of water with the salt. Mix in well. Cover and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes. Carry out three rounds of gentle stretch and folds leaving at least 15 minutes between each round. Leave the dough at room temperature to ferment.
Lightly flour your work surface. Carefully tip the dough onto the floured work surface. Gently preshape your dough. By this I mean loosely shape into a ball. Leave the dough to rest on the work surface for 20 minutes until it has relaxed. Be aware that your dough might need longer to relax. You will notice a visible difference, the dough will have spread since you shaped it.
Flour your banneton well. Gently shape your dough into a round and place in the banetton, smooth surface down. Flour the dough around the edges so that it doesn’t stick to the sides of the banneton as it rises. Cover with a plastic bowl or large inflated plastic bag and place in the fridge overnight.
Preheat your oven. Place a solid sheet on the shelf of the oven and preheat your dutch oven if you will be using one. Take your dough out of the fridge. Once the oven is ready, load your shaped dough into the dutch oven or onto a peel or the underside of a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Score the top. Place the lid on the dutch oven and pop into the oven or slide the loaf (with the baking parchment) onto the hot shelf. If you are not using a dutch oven steam the oven. You can steam the oven using a plant mister, spray 10-15 shots of water into the oven hitting the walls and the floor but avoiding the glass door or the light or you can pour a glass of hot water into a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven. Be careful to avoid burning yourself.
20 minutes into the bake: if using a dutch oven, remove the lid and place the loaf back in the oven to bake for a further 20-25 minutes
40-50 minutes into the bake: Check that your loaf is baked. It will look evenly golden, it will sound hollow when tapped on its base and it will record 90C on a temperature probe.
Leave the loaf to cool full for several hours before cutting into it. The starches need time to set and the flavours will develop further.