Like many great things in life, I came across this recipe by accident. As I was trying to bake a loaf following Sarah C. Owen’s black bread recipe from her glorious book Toast and Jam I realized I was missing a few things and messed up a few steps. As always, the rule with bread is “just bake it!”. My supposedly botched-up loaf came out of the oven looking like a ray of sunshine and smelling like nothing I have ever experienced before. No kidding! The star ingredient–malt extract–has saved the day and then some! I decided I cannot keep this magic to myself, so here I am sharing it so we can all partake. I kept Sarah’s flour selection, but switched up mostly everything else. The result is a less fussy process with a more airy and less cakey crumb and an inebriating flavor. Fair warning – you will want to eat it all in one seating. Consider yourself warned.
- 100 g white starter at 100% hydration
- 250 g water
- 80 g liquid malt extract (I got mine here)
- 320 g white bread flour
- 110 g whole wheat flour
- 60 g rye flour
- 10 g salt
First mix water and malt in a large bowl. Stir vigorously until the malt extract is mostly incorporated. Do not worry if it is not absolutely homogenous, as you will continue mixing in future stages.
Afterwards add all the starter, stir well and add in all the flours. Cover the bowl for a 30-minute autolyse at room temperature and then add the salt, mixing it in with the Rubaud method. If you are not sure how to do that, check my video here. The result will be a sticky, yet silky dough of a delightfully golden color. Transfer it into a clean bowl.
Let the dough ferment for 4 hours at 81F / 27 C (I use a proofer), doing coil folds like this every 30 minutes. After this, shape the loaf as in the video below and place it in a well buttered 9×4 in pullman pan. I use this one.
Cover the pan with its lid or a plastic bag and leave it in the fridge for 36 hours. If you make it on Saturday it will be ready to bake on Monday. You can bake it sooner than that, but I found that at least 24 hours are needed for the perfect flavor.
Take the loaf out 1.5 hours before you’re ready to bake so it comes to room temperature and preheat the oven at 435 F / 225 C. After all this proofing the dough will be delightfully puffy.
Bake in the heated oven with the lid on for 30 minutes. If your tin does not have a lid, you can brush the top of the loaf with milk and score a deep line along the middle. When the loaf is baked carefully remove it from the pan onto a cooling rack and do your best to wait until it has cooled down before cutting.
The malt extract makes it deliciously versatile. It works great with sweet toppings, adding complexity to jams, but it is at its best with savory pairings. Cheese, cured meat and pesto open up their flavors like never before. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.