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Sourdough Sandwich Bread



Lately I’ve been experimenting with different types of sourdough, from wholemeal loaves to enriched white soft sourdough.

My current favourite is a wholemeal loaf that is great for sandwiches. It can be shaped as a batard in a proving basket and then baked in a pot, or equally baked in a loaf tin to make it easier to slice for the aforementioned sandwiches!

The recipe is based on my go-to sourdough method, with some tweaks for wholemeal. I have given instructions for both the batard in a cast iron pot and the loaf tin versions.

Ingredients

150g strong wholemeal flour

300g strong white flour

150g wholemeal sourdough starter

325g tepid water

2 teaspoons honey

10g salt

Method

Weighing, mixing, autolyse
Weigh both flours into a large bowl. Weigh the sourdough starter and add, followed by the water. Add the honey. Mix everything together very roughly, in order to incorporate the ingredients.

Cover the bowl and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.  I use a clear plastic shower cap as a cover, as it fits nicely over most sized bowls. A plastic bag is fine too. The autolyse is an important step to activate fermentation. 

After the autolyse add the salt to the mixture. Now you can choose to knead the mixture using a dough hook in an electric stand mixer, knead by hand or use the stretch and fold method, essentially a no knead way of developing gluten in the dough. I strongly advise using a dough hook in a stand mixer – I have a KitchenAid which I swear by. You can really develop the gluten in the dough, which makes the dough much easier to pre-shape and then shape. *

Kneading and proving 
Using a mixer, mix the dough for 6 minutes on the lowest speed, then 4 minutes on the next speed up. The dough should be lovely and stretchy, and pass the windowpane test. If you pull and stretch a small section, it should be translucent. Cover the bowl again and leave the dough in a warm place to prove for about 4 hours. I usually do a couple stretch and folds too – one straight after mixing, and one half way through the prove. 

After the first prove of 4 hours the dough should have increased in size by about 50%.

Pre-shaping
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with the 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. The dough will be stretchy, and shouldn’t be too delicate, but don’t be too rough! 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.

Shaping
This is where you can shape for a batard in a proving basket to be baked in a pot or for a loaf tin. It’s important that you are super careful with the shaping as you don’t want to damage the dough you have worked so hard to develop.

Fo the batard shape, put the pre-shaped dough onto the work surface, lightly floured. Imagine the dough is sort of square shape. Take the two sides of the square shape that are opposite each other and gently stretch away from each other. Fold these stretched bits over each other in the centre of the dough. Turn the dough round 90 degrees and do the same with the other two sides of the square. Now that you have folded the 4 sides of the square, fold 2 of the opposing corners in the same way, and then fold the other opposing corners. Now roll up the dough like a Swiss roll, it doesn’t matter which side you roll up. Press the seam to seal.

If using a proving basket, carefully move the dough into a batard shaped proving basket, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

If using a loaf tin, butter a large loaf tin generously. Move the dough and place seam side down, into the tin. 

Second proving
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. Doing this at night works well as it allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Baking
For the pot method, pre-heat your oven to really hot – 250 degrees C. Put the pot in when you begin to pre-heat, and leave for 20-30 minutes.

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

At this point you can score the dough using a lame or razor blade. For a batard, score with 1 or 2 long cuts down the length of the dough. Put the lid back on the pot. Turn the oven to 220 degrees C or 200 degrees C fan-forced. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 20-30 minutes with the lid off. I have experimented endlessly with this latter baking time, and have come to the conclusion that the longer baking time gives a richer, browner loaf, which is what I prefer.

If baking in a loaf tin, pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees C 30 minutes prior to baking. If you have one, use a baking or pizza stone. Place this in the oven at the time of pre-heating. Once the 30 minutes is up, to add steam to the oven, put a cast iron pan or a baking dish with water in it in the bottom of the oven. Put the loaf tin in the oven onto the heated stone.

Turn the oven to 220 degrees C or 200 degrees C fan-forced and bake for 45-50 minutes. The loaf should be dark brown on top.

For either the batard or the loaf, once cooked, remove from the oven, take out of the pot/tin and leave to cool for an hour.

This bread, as the title of the post suggests, makes great sandwiches! It’s easy to slice into manageable sandwich slices. Great with lots of  kinds of fillings but I’m partial to egg and mayonnaise. I can strongly recommend that combination!

Of course like any good sourdough, lovely with plenty of butter and home made jam!

*If you don’t have an electric mixer, I recommend the stretch and fold method – see previous post on Sourdough, Ultimate Bread here for how to do this. As for traditional kneading, there is plenty of information on the internet to guide you.

Sweet Potato Muffins – Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food

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These muffins, from Jamie Oliver‘s book Everyday Super Food look great in the photos, and the recipe sounds quite intriguing. I’m a huge fan of sweet muffins and make loads of them. They’re a great go-to item when you’re asked to provide breakfast on the run for colleagues at work.

But the idea of a savoury muffin also appeals, and as sweet potato, one of my favourite vegetables, is the star of this recipe, I was keen to have a go! So I made my first batch and was pleased with the result.  This recipe contains my amendments to Jamie’s recipe – see here for the original. My changes were not made on taste or aesthetic grounds – I needed to substitute some ingredients as I didn’t have the items… The main substitution was using yoghurt instead of cottage cheese.  The yoghurt was non-fat so I felt even more virtuous for making the change!

Ingredients

Olive oil

600g sweet potatoes

2 eschallots

1 fresh red chillies or 1 tsp chilli paste

6 large free-range eggs

3 tbls non-fat yoghurt

250g wholemeal self-raising flour

50g Parmesan cheese

2 tbls mixed seeds (I used pepita and sesame)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases or 15cm folded squares of grease proof paper, then lightly spray with non-stick spray or wipe each one with oiled kitchen paper. Peel the sweet potatoes and coarsely grate into a large bowl. Finely chop the eschallots and the fresh chilli if using. Add the eschallots, chopped chilli or chilli paste to the bowl. Crack in the eggs, add the yoghurt and flour, then finely grate in most of the Parmesan cheese and season with sea salt and black pepper. Mix until combined.

Evenly divide the muffin mixture between the cases. Sprinkle over the seed. Use the remaining Parmesan cheese to scatter over each muffin, then bake at the bottom of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden and set.

Serve warm straight from the oven, or leave to cool to room temperature. They taste lovely as is, but you could also dress them up with a green salad as a lunch or picnic dish.

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Jamie Oliver Figgy Banana Bread

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Another lovely recipe from Jamie Oliver’s healthy cookbook Everyday Super Food. It’s a banana bread that is very flavoursome and sweet with remarkably, no sugar! The sweetness comes from the bananas, dried figs and apple. This quirky writer has a sweet tooth, and this recipe really satisfies me.

Reading and cooking recipes from Jamie’s book I’m appreciating that cooking with healthy eating in mind doesn’t mean cutting down on deliciousness. Jamie’s Smoothie Pancakes full of blueberries that I cooked recently, are luscious, sweet and satisfying.

Ingredients

250g dried figs

75ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

125g natural yoghurt

1 tbs vanilla extract

4 ripe bananas

2 large free-range eggs

150g wholemeal self-raising flour

1 heaped tsp baking powder

100g ground almonds

1 tbs poppy seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 apple

50g whole almonds (skin on)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 25cm baking tin with with scrunched sheet of wet greaseproof paper. (You could bake the mixture in a large loaf tin for the more conventional banana bread look. I like the cake tin idea as the bread is so sweet and so rather cake-like.)

Place 200g of the figs in food processor with the oil, yoghurt, vanilla extract, peeled and roughly chopped bananas and eggs. Blitz until smooth.

Add the flour, baking powder, ground almonds, poppy seeds and turmeric and pulse until only just combined. Coarsely grate and then stir in the apple.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out evenly. Tear or chop the remaining 50g figs into pieces. Scatter over the mixture, pushing them in slightly. Chop the almonds and scatter over. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until until a skewer inserted into the bread comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve as is, or with any combination of yoghurt, honey and home-made nut butter. I made brazil nut butter to serve with my banana bread.

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Nut butter

To make 1 jar:

Place 200g of any unsalted nuts in a preheated 180 degrees C oven on a baking tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 5 minutes. Tip the nuts into the food processor with a small pinch of sea salt and blitz. The blitzing takes a while for the nuts to be finely ground and then to turn into nut butter. Stop blitzing occasionally and scrape down the the sides of the processor. When the nut butter is the consistency you personally like – from crunchy through to super smooth – store in a jar.

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