Honey, fruit and nut loaf

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I’ve really gotten into the basic bread recipe from River Cottage Bread Handbook. It combines sourdough starter and yeast so it does not take as long to make as a pure sourdough and the method is very easy to follow + easy to experiment with adding extras like fruit and nuts. This weekend I did a take on the Festival bread, using a combination of different flours and yoghurt instead of cider and a combination of walnuts, raisins, dried apricots and rolled oats inside. It’s a meal in itself – crunchy crumb, earthy, nutty and sweet texture, delicious.

Here’s the method: Mix 200g strong white, 150g strong wholemeal and 150g spelt flour with 1 and a half teaspoon quick acting yeast, 100ml sourdough starter, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, 150ml water and 150g Greek yoghurt in a bowl with your hand until it forms a dough. Knead in the mixer for 6 minutes or 10-15 minutes by hand. Flatten the dough then sprinkle some rolled oats, chopped dried apricots (about 3-4), a few chopped walnuts and some raisins (in total, just about a handful of fruits and nuts). Knead briefly to combine then shape into a ball and leave, covered, in an oiled bowl for an hour. Deflate, shape into a ball again and leave for another hour. Then deflate one more time, roll up tightly, then flatten again and blanket fold, shaping into a loaf. Roll the loaf in some rye flour then leave to prove, on a flour dusted board, covered with a plastic bag, for anything between an hour and two and a half hours, depending on room temperature. Yesterday was quite warm so I left mine for an hour and a half. In the meantime, place the baking sheet or a hot stone in the centre of the oven and an empty sandwich tin on the bottom (for a steamed oven, improves the crumb) then heat the oven to its highest setting – I usually heat the oven to 250C. Boil some water in the kettle if you are steaming the oven. Transfer the loaf to a floured peel, slash with a serrated knife and, if you are steaming the oven, spray the loaf with water then transfer onto the stone/ baking sheet and fill the sandwich tin with boiled water. Bake for 10 minutes at 250 then turn the heat down to 180C and bake for another 35 minutes.

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