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Walnut and Sour Cherry Sourdough

I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.

However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.

The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.

Ingredients

425g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

300g water

10g salt

75g walnuts

75g sour cherries

50g raisins or golden raisins

Method

Mix
Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.

Autolyse
Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.

Knead and Prove
Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.

Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.

Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.

Pre-shape
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shape
It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.

Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.

Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.

Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

Second Prove
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.

Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.

Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.

Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.

Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.

Croissants for Breakfast!


I make croissants maybe a couple of times year. Not that often, as it’s an 18 hour process with so much proving to happen.

A while back I made croissants to take away to Bundanoon, in the beautiful Southern Highlands in NSW. We were staying at the lovely “Fulford Folly”, an idyllic  country retreat with the added bonus of the company of two mini donkeys! We had a great break, and home made croissants on the verandah for breakfast seemed appropriate.

In previous posts I talk about my experimenting with enriched dough recipes, coming up with a recipe that works for both croissants and Danish pastries. So here is the recipe again, with photos of our breakfast. I served the croissants with lashings of cultured butter and my Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam, the recipe is here if you’re interested.

Ingredients

450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled
1 free-range egg

Method

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.

Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. You could use the first triangle as template for the rest, but I find it easier just to measure and cut each one. Hopefully you will get 6 triangles from each strip, but I don’t think it matters if you get one more or one less!

Hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. This helps with getting a tight roll. Starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant shape. Repeat with each triangle. Keep the ends of the croissants straight, apparently this is more authentic.

Put the croissants onto the baking trays, leaving space in between each of them to expand. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag (I have some really large clear plastic bags I saved from a delivery or purchase)

Leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until  doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash and brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Of  course you can eat them  warm, but they do freeze well, so if you’re going to freeze them, do it as soon as they have cooled slightly.

Crumpets Revisited

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I love home made crumpets and I haven’t made them in ages so I cooked up a batch on the weekend. A previous post in 2013 used a recipe involving both bicarbonate of soda and soda water:

https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/05/05/home-made-crumpets-3/

The recipe that follows is based on one from Gourmet Traveller and omits the soda water and uses more milk. The results were similar although I think the soda water version was a little lighter.

Ingredients
400 mls milk
20 gms butter, plus extra, softened, for greasing and cooking
1 tsp caster sugar
4 gms dried yeast
250 gms plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method
Heat milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts, then stand until lukewarm.Combine sugar and yeast in a small bowl, add 100ml milk mixture, stir to dissolve then stand in a warm place until foamy (4-5 minutes).
Combine flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add yeast mixture, stirring to incorporate a little flour.
Add remaining milk mixture, stir until smooth and combined, cover and stand in a warm place until very foamy (1-1½ hours).
Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in 25 mls warm water, add to batter, beat to combine.
Cover and stand until bubbling (25-30 minutes).
Heat a frying pan over low-medium heat. Add a little butter, then place buttered crumpet rings in the frying pan and fill each two-thirds full with batter.
Cook until mixture bubbles and small holes form on the surface  (4-5 minutes).
Remove rings, turn crumpets and cook until light golden (1 minute).

Serve warm immediately or serve toasted the following day. I ate them with butter and jam and I also tried golden syrup and fresh berries and yoghurt.  This quantity makes about 10 crumpets.

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