When I first read about this recipe, I was skeptical. Muscovado sugar in bread? Now, I love muscovado sugar. The aroma and taste are outstanding, and I’m always looking for a reason to add it in something. But bread?
Well, there’s only one way to find out, I said to myself. Just bake it. And so I did.
But I had to mess around a bit with the original recipe first. It called for both fresh yeast and sourdough starter. Nothing wrong with that, but I always try only to use a sourdough starter if possible. It gives me better control of the baking process, and the taste becomes far superior. It takes longer time, of course, but that is signifiable for a lot of food that tastes good.
Before we go on, I wold like to say something about hydration. Hydration can be a tricky thing if you’re sitting in Sweden and trying to write for both a European and American audience. The flour in US and Canada is stronger than what we are used to in Europe, so don’t be surprised if you American readers has to add some extra water to the dough.
For this bread, you need a smooth, not too loose dough. The crumb should be a little bit tight. It should be suitable for an open-faced sandwich with lots of ingredients on top. Therefore I advise you to be careful with the hydration. In this recipe, I have used a hydration of 58%. You can start with that and perhaps add more water if the dough feels too stiff.
Another thing I decided to do was to reduce the amount of sugar. I know, I’m a coward, but I’m not fond of very sweet bread. I have however included the original amount in the recipe list for those who want to give it a try.
The dough got one hour of autolyse and then I used the stretch and fold technique instead of running the dough in a dough mixer. I like to work with the dough by hand. It may be because I’m an engineer and working with machines all day long. It’s simply nice to get rid of machines sometimes. Except for the oven of course. You can follow the process described here. Thanks to the low hydration, the dough is easy to handle.
Try to spread the sugar as evenly as possible. Muscovado sugar has a tendency to lump together so pay attention and try to find all of those sugar lumps during the stretch and fold process. Or run everything in a dough mixer if you have one. Then you don’t have to care about autolyse either.
This bread will be quite dark when you bake it. I suspect it’s because there is some sugar left that is caramelized. The dark crust adds flavor so don’t remove the bread too early from the oven.
I have baked this bread two times with different fermentation times. One longer in a colder environment and one in room temperature. I’m blessed with a basement with a maximum temperature of 60ºF / 16ºC, but the fridge will do just fine. It only takes a little longer.
A longer fermentation time increase the tanginess, something I recommend for this bread. It will have a hint of sweetness, something I prefer to balance with some acidity.
This is a tasty bread that fits best with similar foods. I have tried it myself together with a hearty lentil soup, but also as a sandwich with salami and other Italien cured meats. Or why not with some slices of cold smoked salmon. I wonder if there is still something left of that bread? I think I have to go to the kitchen and find out.