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A Tribute to Selma: Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

July 22, 2015

I was saddened to hear about the passing away of Selma,  a very dear friend to many in the blog world.  Her enthusiastic and engaging spirit leaves a deep and  positive impression on all who came to know her through Selma’s Table.  Even though I didn’t get to know her as much as others did,  I was still a receiver of her warm and friendly thoughts on some of my posts.   She was quite versatile in the kitchen,  cooking up a wide variety of delicious looking foods from around the world.  She also had a visual knack for photographing her food.  Though the photos looked spontaneous and as if the food was on the verge of being devoured,  you could tell she put some thought into it.  I had the impression that she had been blogging for years.  But when I went to her “Archives”,  I saw that she had only been going since August 2013.  When I read her “About”,  I saw that she had lived and cooked on 3 continents, an experience that gave her a very knowledgeable and unique perspective to cooking.  Most  important perhaps is that she was a big contributor to the camaraderie that was created among the circle of bloggers she was a part of.  Please visit Angie’s very Special Fiesta Friday Tribute to Selma where you’ll find more about her.

I was impressed with her bread baking skills.  Anyone who keeps a sourdough culture going very likely has an “all in” attitude with bread making.   I enjoyed reading about her “Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf” .   The process is an involved 3 day affair.  It was a very beautiful looking loaf.  In her honor,  I made a wholemeal sourdough loaf very close to her version.  My schedule doesn’t let me work it over 3 days,  so I adapted it to a 2 day process.  I followed her 50-50 ratio of  bread flour to wholemeal flour to get the flavor as near hers as possible.  I also used a generous amount of poppy seeds as she did to garnish the crust.

The result was excellent bread,  with a tasty,  full flavored,  slightly tangy crumb.  I also very much liked the flavor and appearance the poppy seeds gave the crust.  If she had tried it,  I bet she would have enjoyed it and given me good positive comments and suggestions.  Coming from a fellow bread maker,  I would have been all ears. We would have then struck up a nice conversation about our bread making processes,  our sourdough culture,  feeding schedules,  our influences,  and so on.   I would have eventually told her I never thought of naming my sourdough culture.   I wonder if someone took on to take care of her “Twinkle”.




1 1/2 teaspoons sourdough starter (refreshed 8 hours before)

100 grams water (at 78 degrees Fahrenheit or 25.5 Celcius.)

50 grams bread flour

50 grams wholemeal (whole wheat)flour

Final dough:

All the levain

675 grams water (at 78 degrees F. or 25.5 C.)

500 grams bread flour

500 grams wholemeal flour

20 grams salt plus 40 grams water



Make the levain the night before you plan to bake.  Dissolve the sourdough starter in the 100 grams of water.  Add the 50 grams each of wholemeal and bread flours and mix well until it is all wet. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and let it sit overnight on the counter. At a 78 to 82 degree Fahrenheit (25.5-27 degrees Celcius)environment,  the levain should take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to ferment properly.  Take a spoonful of levain and drop it in a bowl of water. If it floats, it’s ready to use. Time your process so that you begin the bread making at your convenience. I make my levain around 9 or 10 pm so that I can start early the next morning.

To make the dough:  Put the 675 grams of water in a large bow.  Add the levain and disperse it.  Mix the two flours together until it looks uniform.  Add the flour mixture to water/levain solution and mix well until it is all moistened.  Cover with a wet kitchen towel and let it autolyse for 20 to 30 minutes.

Dissolve the salt in the 40 grams of water as best as you can.  Squelch ( I like the word Selma used in her instructions) the salt solution into the dough.  Place your dough in a lightly oiled container for fermenting.  Cover with plastic.

After 30 minutes, give the dough a “turn”.  Grab a lower portion of the dough and stretch it over the top. Do this another 2 or 3 times. Cover the dough once again. In another 30 minutes, repeat the process. You’ll continue the turns at half hour intervals for 3 hours.  During the last hour, handle the dough gently so as not to break up the tiny holes that are beginning to form.  After 3 hours the dough should be airier, and about 20 to 30 percent larger in volume. It also depends on the temperature of your kitchen. If you need more time, continue the process a little longer until the dough is ready.

When the dough is properly fermented remove it from the container and place it on your work counter.  A marble pastry board works nicely for this.  With a pastry cutter,  divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions.  Shape each portion into a round.  With the help of your pastry cutter,  gently work the portions so that you create good surface tension.  This helps create a condition for good oven spring.  Lightly flour the dough with flour and cover to let rest for 20 or so minutes.

Carefully turn over one of the portions upside down. Get a hold of about 1/3 of  right side of the round,  stretch it to your right, and pull it over the middle.  Do the same with the left side, the side closest to you,  and the side furthest from you.  Turn the dough over so that the smooth side is once again on the top.  Repeat with the other portions.  Selma also used this technique for shaping.

This dough is wet enough to require bannetons or proofing baskets.  Without them,  the dough would flatten out during the final proofing.  Line your baskets with a smooth kitchen cloth.  Dust them with flour so that the dough does not stick to them.  Place the dough in the cloth-lined basket upside down.  Again, lightly flour the top and cover with plastic.  Now cover with the overhanging cloth.  Repeat with the other portions.  Let them proof for about 3 hours.  They will have increased in volume by about 30 percent.  If not, let them proof longer. It depends on the ambient temperature.  The warmer it is, the faster the proof.

About 30 minutes before baking,  pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees Fahenheit (260 Celcius).  Put your baking stone in if using one.

Cut out a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than size of the dough. Uncover the dough from the cloth and plastic and place the parchment paper on top.  Place a pizza peel on top.  Carefully turn the whole thing upside down.  Remove the basket,  then the cloth.  You now have the dough sitting on the parchment paper and peel.  Sprinkle the dough with poppy seeds or topping of your choosing and score the dough.  Your are ready to slide it onto your stone or baking sheet.

With a water mister or spritzer, mist the oven 3 times during the first 7 or 8 minutes of baking, then lower the oven to 450 degrees F. (232 Celcius).  The loaves should be done in about 20 minutes.  Rotate them about halfway through baking to insure even baking.

Remove from the oven and place them on a rack to cool completely before slicing.




I made a simple hummus to go along with the bread though I bet her “Roast Fennel and Cannellini Bean Puree” and “Roast Aubergine w/miso &Harissa”  would be perfect.

Thank you Selma for sharing so much.


28 Comments leave one →
  1. Roberto permalink
    July 22, 2015 2:02 am

    Beautiful remembrance!

  2. July 22, 2015 3:38 am

    I’ll never get a chance to make this, I have no starter. But I will try the delicious sounding Canellini Bean Puree dip.

  3. July 22, 2015 12:39 pm

    Aaw…such a sweet tribute, Gerard. Selma would have been tickled pink with your sourdough loaf and hummus. And you raised a new question for me, about her Twinkke. Who is feeding it, I wonder? I still plan to use mine (that Selma sent me), although I’m a little scared. But she gave such well-written instructions and now you, too, with yours, so I’m feeling encouraged. Thanks, Gerard!

    • July 23, 2015 12:32 am

      Angie, I know you regarded Selma very close to your heart. I just know she loved helping you and taking the reigns when she could for Fiesta Friday. As far as Twinkle, I’m sure she gave some thought to it. At the very least, you and others have a bit of the Twinkle legacy going! It’ll be nice reading about (her?) in future posts! Thank you Angie.

      • July 23, 2015 1:49 am

        My plan is to start hydrating (is that the right term?) Twinkle this weekend. Wish me luck! 😃

    • July 23, 2015 2:11 am

      I’ve never worked with dried starter, so I’m not sure about the terms. But I’m glad to hear you’re starting her up already! I have a feeling you’ll do just fine. Careful, you might get hooked!

  4. July 22, 2015 6:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing this and your comments – this is one loaf of Selma’s I do hope to make!

    • July 22, 2015 11:53 pm

      Thank you for visiting my post. Selma’s sourdough is a great loaf that’s worthy of making regularly!

  5. July 22, 2015 9:34 pm

    This loaf is beautiful, it has a nice open crumb . . . yum!!! The question at the end about Selma’s own Twinkle now has me thinking, probably over thinking . . . yet I’m sure Selma made her wishes known for all of her belongings before she passed.

    • July 23, 2015 12:54 am

      I think you’re right about Selma having expressed her wishes for Twinkle. Thank you for visiting and for the nice comment!

  6. July 23, 2015 9:24 pm

    What a beautiful tribute. ❤

  7. July 24, 2015 2:37 am

    A very nice tribute. Your bread looks delicious!

  8. July 24, 2015 5:46 am

    This is lovely, what a perfect tribute and a lovely look loaf 🙂 I fed my starter yesterday, derived from Selmas Twinkle, keeping it alive keeps a bit of Selma with me xxx

    • July 24, 2015 10:22 pm

      Hello Elaine, I appreciate the nice words. I saw that you visited and spent time with Selma in person as well. That is great to have formed a bond like that with her. I’m very sorry for her being gone. But you know she will live on forever in those hearts she touched. Glad to hear that the Twinkle lineage is being kept alive!

      • July 25, 2015 5:30 am

        Thank you, Gerard, I believe she does live on, through her blog and her recipes and her words online 🙂

  9. July 24, 2015 12:56 pm

    You make such wonderful breads, Gerard. I have to thank you, Selma and Linda (La Petite Paniere) because I can make bread now. 🙂

    This is such a sweet and lovely tribute to Selma. Thanks for being a part of this.

    • July 24, 2015 10:55 pm

      Thank you Jhuls for the nice thoughts. I know you’ve been a big part of this special community and that Selma was very dear to you. To see the close camaraderie and be a small part of it is a privilege.

  10. July 25, 2015 3:01 pm

    What a fabulous tribute Gerard! She was a golden girl! Now once you said it, I am wondering about twinkle too!!!

  11. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    July 26, 2015 6:41 pm

    What a very nice tribute,Gerard, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. I will be sure to visit her posts. I’m sure she is still baking bread but in a better place : – )

    • July 26, 2015 11:06 pm

      Thank you Marcela, Yes check out her blog. I also liked that she used a lot of vegetables.
      I wonder if we will all meet up in that “better place”. That would be something.

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