It is an amazing book but not for the reasons you may think. It has lots and lots of great sourdough loaves in it and I have made quite a few of them. But that is not what makes it amazing.
It is amazing because it is the worst edited book I have ever come across. It is so bad, I complained to the publisher (I didn’t get a response). I have never complained about a book before or since but this book is the limit.
One thing I can say about the book is that the ingredient lists all seem right, although sometimes the description is a bit cryptic. Once I did soak and cook 250g of quinoa and then added it to a loaf I was making. It was not until the loaf was cooked and it had way too much quinoa in it that I realised the 250g referred to the soaked and cooked weight. I find this annoying because how do you know how much quinoa to soak and cook to get 250g of soaked and cooked quinoa?
The method for baking each loaf in Wild Sourdough has been cut and pasted from one recipe to another. Recipes will tell you to add all the ingredients at the beginning and then tell you to add other ingredients later or, alternatively, fail to tell you to add called-for ingredients. I NEVER follow her instructions on how to make the loaf.
I have the first edition of this book so I can only hope the second edition is better.
Because the editing of Wild Sourdough is so bad, I can only recommend it to experienced bakers. But I do recommend it as it does have lots and lots of great ideas and, as I said above, in all the loaves I have made, the ingredients lists have been correct.
This recipe makes two medium loaves.
Now that it is summer in Perth, I make my starter up the morning I am going to make my bread but, if you are in the northern hemisphere where it is winter, you most certainly could make up your starter the evening before.
- 200g ripe rye starter (or use whatever you have)
- 500g rainwater or filtered water I actually used 580g of water but I didn’t use the walnut oil (see below) which may explain the difference.
- 1 kg spelt flour (The recipe calls for half wholemeal and half white but I used all white.)
- 3 tsp salt
- 240g walnuts
- 2 tbs walnut oil (optional). I did have some walnut oil in Perth but I was in Bridgetown.
- Toast the walnuts then rub them in a tea towel to take off as much skin as possible. Put them through a very coarse sieve to shake off the skins.
- Put 65g of the toasted walnuts into a food processor and process until virtually paste. Set aside.
- Put the rye starter, water, spelt flour and walnut oil (if using) into your mixer bowl and mix on low until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes.
- Add the salt and knead the dough in an electric mixer for 5 minutes or by hand until it is smooth (about 10 minutes). The dough should clear the sides of the bowl of the mixer and, near the end of the 5 minutes, begin to clear the bottom of the bowl. If it clears the sides and the bottom early in the kneading process, add a bit more water.
- Add the processed walnuts and mix on low until they are combined with the dough.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 50 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and do a stretch and fold. Return the dough to the oiled bowl.
- Cover and leave for 50 minutes.
- Stretch the dough into a rectangle as if doing a stretch and fold. Spread the rest of the walnuts over the dough, press down and continue with the stretch and fold.
- Divide and shape the dough into two pieces. I decided to make two sandwich loaves so I made 2 batards and then placed them right side up in my prepared bread tins. My tins are about 24cm long and 10.5cm wide at the top.
If you are making free-form loaves, place the loaves upside down in bowls lined with cloth and generously sprinkled with flour or in bannetons.
- Cover and leave to rise again until almost doubled in bulk. Mine took 3-4 hours.
- An hour before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven.
- If you are making sandwich loaves: place your ceramic tile(s) on a shelf in the bottom third of your oven and preheat your oven to its hottest temperature.
If you are making free-form loaves, follow the baking instructions in my Pain au Levain with Mixed Sourdough Starters post. Here is the link.
- When ready to bake, place tins in the oven on the tile(s).
- Turn the oven to 235˚C and cook for 10 minutes. Spray the loaves 2 or 3 times with water in the first few minutes.
- Reduce temperature to 210˚C and cook another 25 minutes.
- Take loaves out of the oven and release them from their tins. Cool on a cake rack.
Remember, if you live in Perth or thereabouts, you are more than welcome to my sourdough starters. I have a wheat starter and a rye starter.