After my first sourdough starter died a few weeks ago, I decided not to be defeated and started nurturing a new one, following the instructions in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf. Roughly a week later, it was ready for use. I’d had my eye on a recipe that I wanted to use it for; a trip to the shops for green olives and a trip into the back garden for thyme left me with all the ingredients to start making white thyme bread.
But it also led to an uncharacteristically uneventful bake. I shouldn’t really complain... it being uneventful actually meant that everything went right. But... well, it really felt like I should have put more effort in. As with the 2 previous breads mentioned in the blog, this one didn’t require a lengthy kneading process but instead had several short kneads followed by 10 minute rests. Instead of simply being left to double in size, this bread then went through a series of folds and was left to rest and puff up for an hour after each fold (and I think this step was aided by the beautiful weather we’re having at the moment, which meant I didn’t need to generate artificially warm conditions for it to rest in). A bit of shuffling round from one baking tray to another, a little sprinkling with polenta and some finger dimpling, another rest (for more growth, although it also meant that me and mum could eat dinner) and it was ready to go in the oven. 40 minutes later...
I actually had bread, mostly leavened from a homemade starter (the recipe included the addition of ½ teaspoon of yeast for an added boost), that had a soft, fluffy texture with the characteristic chewy extra born of the leaven. The flavour was quite subtle; I think any sourness was pretty much masked by the olives, especially as the leaven was only a week old and hadn’t had much time to develop flavour. Still, I was very pleased with the results.
This success has encouraged me to try a few more recipes using my new leaven, although it has had to go in the fridge for the moment because my next week and a half isn’t going to allow for making more slow-proving bread.
I deviate from Richard Bertinet recipes and what happens? 3 Dan Lepard ones in a row.
A new, completely unrelated, baking book is in the post.
350g strong white flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
150g water at 20°C
150g white leaven (aka white sourdough starter)
½ teaspoon fresh yeast
25g extra virgin olive oil
100g pitted green olives
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Oil, for greasing, and polenta or cornmeal, for dusting
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour and the salt
2. In another fairly large mixing bowl, mix together the water, leaven, yeast, olive oil, olives and thyme
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and bring it together into a “soft, sticky dough”. Cover the dough and leave for 10 minutes
4. Oil your worktop, turn the dough out onto it and knead for about 10 seconds (or something like 15 kneading motions). Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat this process 2 more times (including the last resting)
5. Grease a lipped tray and turn your dough onto this. Pat the dough out into a rectangle. Imagine it in 3 columns, then fold in the 2 outer columns. Flip the dough over, cover and leave in a warm place (Dan Lepard says at around 21-25°C) for an hour
6. Repeat the folding process and the resting twice more
7. Oil a 20x30cm baking tray and lightly sprinkle with polenta or cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto this tray and dimple the top with your fingers. Sprinkle the top with polenta or cornmeal, cover and leave in a slightly warmer place (25-28°C) for 30-45 minutes
8. Bake the dough in an oven preheated to 220°C (425°F or gas mark 7) for 40 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before slicing
ReferencesThe Handmade Loaf, Dan Lepard, Mitchell Beazley, 2004