Crusty White With Sekowa Spezial Backferment
A recipe by Vanessa Kimbell.
The Sekowa Spezial Backferment is an alternative to fast-acting yeasts and to sourdoughs or levains. It is a honey-based ferment very popular in Germany since it gives many of the qualities of sourdough breads without the need to.
Here is a very straightforward and rewarding (in the eating!) recipe for a lovely, crusty white loaf with a soft, open crumb and very good keeping qualities.
Before you start, you need to have a jar of Sekowa starter sitting in your fridge. Easy to make up a batch that will keep for months - read here. It is a two-stage recipe where a pre-mix is made up the evening before the bake. It will make about 2.4kg (5.2lb) of dough, enough for a few loaves.
Mix the starter, granules and water together, breaking up any lumps. Add the flour and mix well. If using Diax for even better crust and crumb, add it with the flour. The pre-mix should then be left in a container with room for it to double in volume, covered with cling film, undisturbed at 30C or 86F for 12 hours. We used our airing cupboard.
After 12 hours have passed (for a stronger flavour, you could leave the pre-mix for longer), the pre-mix should be bubbling vigourously.
Combine the pre-mix with the Stage 2 ingredients mix well, then tip out and kneed until silky. Place in a bowl, cover and put in a warm place such as an airing cupboard for about 30-60 minutes, until risen substantially.
Divide the dough into the loaf sizes you want, kneed each portion gently into your preferred loaf shape and place, seam-side up in a rye-flour-dusted proving basket. Return to the warm place, covered with a damp teatowel until doubled in volume, about another 30-50 minutes.
Heat your oven to 220°C or 425°F, not forgetting to put your baking stone in. For extra crust, place a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven to add steam.
Tip the loaf, one at a time, onto a semolina-dusted peel and slide into the oven and bake for about 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the loaf and your oven.