Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sourdough Herb & Olive Bread

When I fed 'Zlatan' this weekend, I kept separating his children into different bowls and making more and more 'Zlatan' and ended-up with too much sourdough bubbling all over the place, so I made a Sourdough Chocolate Cake which turned out to be a delightfully moist cake, but we were impatient and took it out of the bundt pan too quickly and guess what? It became unsuitable for photography. However, I can tell you that it tasted great and that I'd make it again. I also baked a loaf of bread and made two medium sized buns yesterday with some spelt flour thrown into it but I still had more sponge.

So as I write this, I'm making more of Jim Lahey's No Knead Baguettes and am trying out a new recipe from Sarah's Musings: Sourdough Focaccia.

Sourdough Herb & Olive Bread - Adapted from the Sourdough Focaccia recipe from 'Sarah's Musings'

You start out by mixing these together:

1.5 Cups Sponge (a starter that has been proofed)
1 Cup Finger Warm Water
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Dark Honey
1 Cup AP Flour

This mixture was fermented for 1 hour.

Then, I mixed in:

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt

...and more AP flour.

It should be noted that when using yeast, I prefer to mix in some AP flour first before I put in any oil or salt which the yeast do not like. I am not sure this makes much difference, but if you have had experiences with your bread not rising, this might help. Yeast feast on flour and this will help them multiply, but salt and oil will hinder them from propagating.

Now, Sarah's recipes says 4 cups flour, but flour varies in absorbency and starters/sponge can have more or less water in them, so although this gives you a very rough idea of how much flour you might need, the rule of thumb is to always trust your eyes and hands more when making the dough. I used around 4 cups + a little more flour, but you might need more or less.

So I put in as much AP flour was was necessary to make a smooth elastic dough.

I kneaded it for 5-7 minutes until it was smooth and elastic.

Then I put it back in the bowl to rest.

Sarah used a clean oiled bowl, but I have found that if you're a lazy and messy cook like me, your bread will not die if you just put it back in the dirty (dirty with yeast and flour) bowl you used to ferment the sponge. I guess this is why she's presumably a good homemaker, and I'm not - but I digress...

I covered the bowl with a cloth and let it rise for 1.5 - 2 hours as stipulated.

I then mixed in some herbs: 2 tsp oregano, 2 tsp thyme and 1 tsp rosemary.

I also mixed in 100g of oil cured black olives (pitted and chopped up).

I then lined a pan with more extra virgin olive oil and pressed the dough into the pan just like I did when I made Ilva's sweet focaccia. I wondered about letting it rest for another hour as Ilva's recipe did not require this additional step, but then I thought: It's sourdough and it will rise more slowly than the dried stuff I use.

So I let it rest for 60 minutes.

I was going to brush the dough with more olive oil, but like Sarah's, mine spilled over from the bottom of the pan on top of the dough too, so all I did was sprinkle some fleur de sel over it before I put it into the preheated oven.

Unfortunately, my biggest rectangular pan wasn't big enough and the thickness of the dough was more like 3 cm rather than 1.5 - 2 cm.

I baked it at 230 C (450 F) for around 25 minutes. I had a feeling it should bake for at least 30 minutes, but the top had become quite brown so I took it out of the oven.

...and here it is - a bread baked along the lines of a focaccia bread, but more robust. It is sinfully delicious when you have it with herb & garlic butter. Whatever you decide to call this bread, the crust is crisp and the inside of the loaf is lovely and moist. Don't forget to let it rest for 20 minutes before cutting it.

Summary of ingredients used in this recipe:

1.5 Cups Sourdough Starter
5 - 8 Cups AP Flour*
1/4 Cup + 1/2 Cup + 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Fleur de Sel*
2 Tsp Oregano
2 Tsp Thyme
100 g Oil Cured Black Olives

*These are approximate portions. Use more or less depending on what's needed. The amount of fleur de sel you will sprinkle on top of your focaccia for example is really up to you.

Note: I don't watch football, but Ronny does. Guess who named the starter? On a more serious note, when you bake bread with salt sprinkled on top, it will make your bread damp. You either need to consume everything right away or if you have leftovers, you can preheat your oven to 200C and warm the bread for about 10 minutes. I like to sprinkle more fleur de sel over the bread when reheating them.


barton said...

Love to hear your thoughts on the seafood issues

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Not gonna litter my blog with comments that make food taste bad either. ;)

Murasaki Shikibu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cemo said...
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Taste of Beirut said...

I tend to be scared of sourdough recipes, they sound too complex to me, but I so love olives and focaccia, I may just try it!

elra said...

It looks and sounds amazing. I, of course love everything about this bread. The sourdough, the herb, and the olives. Perfect!

Lori said...

I guess you have been baking up a storm. It all sounds so good. I am seriously curious about sour dough chocolate cake.

Murasaki Shikibu said...

Lori: The cake was really good. I just don't have any good photos of it, but I can recommend it to you with a clear conscience!

Dorte said...

wow ... you have been busy :)

Jana said...

it looks so yummy!!!:-)