Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sourdough Spiced Fruit Loaf

Meet Bonnie, my sourdough starter, my pet bacteria.

Her full name is Bonnie Boadicea.

Bonnie because she is to me a bonnie lass, Boadicea because she is strong and fierce. The name Boadicea itself is not a name I made up. When I was a kid, I got an Enya CD, Paint the Sky with Stars -one of my favorite albums of all time-, as a present from my mother. There was an instrumental song I loved so much which had the same title. I was a very curious mouse and of course there was no google at that time. But lucky me, my grandfather had a very extensive collection of books. So off I went to find what or who Boadicea was in the encyclopedia. How I was inspired! Boadicea, Buddug for the Welsh, was the British Iceni tribe’s queen who led an uprising against the Roman Empire. This is the wiki link  if you wish to know more about her great history.

After the death of my first starter long time ago, I didn't feel inclined to grow another one. It was a sad experience. But as a need that is urgent to be fulfilled, I started cultivating another one and told myself I gotta have a sourdough starter, or many call it mother, that is strong enough to be passed to my grandchildren and many generations after.  A dream too big? No such thing.

That was how I got my Bonnie. She’s barely a month old yet she flawlessly provides me with fluffy pancakes and awesome bread. Besides, a name is a silent prayer which holds high hopes and I'm a helplessly romantic person. So Bonnie Boadicea fits her.  She was made with whole wheat flour and fed alternately with rye and white flour.

I do have the step by step photo on how to grow your own starter but it’ll have to wait for a bit (oh, promises!). Meanwhile, if you happen to have your own sourdough starter, you better make this bread or you’ll lose the opportunity to taste one of the tastiest bread ever.

Bourke Street Bakery is one of the most sought after boulangerie in Sydney,  so I've been told. Either you come early or you phone them to place your order for the next day because every bread there is handmade. They have several cookbooks already. I do not own one but after just this recipe and reading so many praises about it, it’s on my next to buy list.

I do not do much alteration except cutting down the salt and half the recipe.  Oh, and added some wheat bran for extra fiber. Even with just a half recipe, it produces 2 medium sized batard. I did use a bit of less water because I live in a tropical country which has high humidity. 

320 gr bread flour
48 gr whole wheat flour
14 gr wheat bran
220 gr water
5 gr salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼  tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
50 gr dried cranberries
50 gr rasins
50 gr golden raisins
200 gr starter (fed, 100% hydration)

Let's Mix It!

Mix only the flour and wheat bran, pour the starter in. Pour the water, mix and let it autolyse for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, sprinkle the salt and knead until it has a moderate gluten development. Now this is the fun bit, not mentioning messy; sprinkle the spice and the dried fruits and knead lightly until all is incorporated. Let it rest for 2-2,5 hours and do a stretch and fold just once after the first hour.

Divide the dough into two equal shape and round them neatly. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit for an extra 30 minutes. It will relax the gluten a little bit before shaping it into whatever shape you wish.

Shape the dough into a batard. What is a batard? It is bastard in English. Well, basically a batard is sort of like an inferior baguette. it's shorter and burlier. Typical batard you'd picture chasing Tintin, Snowy, and Capt. Haddock in their marvelous adventures, eh? 
Anyhow, let this burly batard rest for 2 hours, score it, then bake with steam for 30 minutes in 225C oven.


It is the 'ripped' effect that I love the most from any bread. Those little strands are like nature's painting. Like a spider web made in the oven.

Now let's see what it has in store for us..
AHAHA.. I'm filled with glee!

So many times I get disappointed by the lack of dried fruits in store bought fruited bread. I think I'll toss some walnuts in the next time I bake this to give it an extra dimension and some crunchy, nutty taste.

I am pleased with the end result, the crust is amazingly crunchy and the crumb is soft. This bread keeps well for three days. What I mean by three days is I don't have anymore left after day three. I'm already thinking how gorgeous to have it packed for picnic. Now if only I can think of someone who'd invite me for a nice spring picnic :p

Anyhow, picnic or not, take your starter out of the fridge, feed it, and let it work its magic!

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