I wasn't all that excited about making this bread. I'm not a big rye person (as I've discussed) and after baking all of the sourdough breads in this section, I'm kind of feeling ready to move on to something different. Nevertheless, on we go!
I refreshed Austin yesterday and then made a firm starter and the soaker (pumpernickel flour mixed with water) last night. After doing both of those steps, I realized that part of the reason that I've been feeling challenged to keep up with all of these baking challenges is because we have so much bread hanging around; it's hard to eat it all! So I decided to cut the recipe in half. Wanting to avoid previous disasters of forgetting to halve certain ingredients, I wrote all of the halved measurements in my book; no mistakes this time!
This afternoon, I combined the firm starter (only half of it!), the soaker, bread flour, salt, instant yeast, and water, and mixed them all in my stand mixer. Well, I tried; it was such a little batch that I ended up switching to hand-kneading to incorporate the sunflower seeds.
I had recently read a fellow BBACer's blog post about this bread (Salt and Serenity) and she talked about using honey roasted sunflower seeds. Having a huge sweet tooth, I was intrigued. Alas, I couldn't find them anywhere. I purchased regular sunflower seeds and tried making them myself: I mixed 2 tsp butter with 1 tbsp honey and 1/4 tsp salt and then mixed in the seeds. I spread them on a baking sheet and baked them for ten minutes at 325 degrees, stirring them every few minutes. They turned out okay, not great, and sadly, I couldn't detect the honey roasted flavor in the final bread.
I let the dough ferment for ninety minutes and then shaped it. Another rise; this time, it rose more quickly than I expected. Maybe because I had the oven preheating? I put it into the oven and used my roasting pan as steamer technique. For the first time, it didn't work. I had ZERO oven spring. None. I'm wondering if it's because the dough overproofed while I was waiting for the oven to preheat. So . . . it looked kind of funny and flat. The taste was good; we liked the flavor from the sunflower seeds and it was delicious with butter. Still, I don't forsee making this one again.