Fig and Raisin Sourdough Two Ways

In a previous post I’ve written about a fig and raisin sourdough, based on an idea from Yoke Madewi’s Wild Sourdough cookbook. This new recipe, however, comes from an entirely different angle.

figandraisin
One of the finished fig and raisin sourdough loaves

Recently I’ve been playing around with temperatures and cooking methods, trying to broaden my understanding of sourdough in particular. Following methods outlined in the Larousse Book of Bread I have experimented with the effect of different temperatures of the water and the room that the dough proofs in. I have also been playing around with the amount of starter, and the effect on the time, quality, and taste of the finished breads.

For this fig and raisin sourdough, I decided to make two batches that were equal in everything except for the amount of starter. The finished breads came out noticeably different.

fig_recipes
Two side by side recipes, same ingredients, different results.

Using the baker’s percentage formula, where the total weight of flour is 100%, I worked out two recipes with the same weight and amount of each ingredient. Putting the total weight at 2288g would result in two loaves from each batch at just under 1kg each. One recipe has a rye starter, and the other has a starter that began as rye, and was refreshed with all purpose flour. The rye starter loaves have extra all purpose flour and water in the final mix. This means that the first recipe has around 40% starter, and the second around 4%. I expected that this would have a fairly dramatic effect on the outcome of the loaves; a higher amount of starter should – in theory – have a number of effects.

figloaves
Different amounts of starter will yield completely different results

Firstly, the higher the amount of starter, the more ‘wild yeast’ is present. This means that the dough will rise more quickly, and that the final dough will be more dense and chewy in texture. In the second recipe, using less starter will both increase the rising time and will result in a more complex flavour from the additional lactic and acetic acids released through fermentation. I decided, rather than retarding either loaf overnight in the fridge, that I would let each batch rise at room temperature. The first took a 4 hour bulk ferment, and a 2 hour proof. The second took 16 hours for the bulk ferment, and 6 hours for the proof. Both were handled in the same way – a couple of stretch/folds during the bulk ferment, and then shaped into bannetons. The only difference here was the shape of the loaves – boules for the first recipe, bâtards for the second.

Fig and raisin sourdough proofing in floured bannetons
Fig and raisin sourdough proofing in floured bannetons

The most important thing, of course, is the outcome. In my opinion, the second loaves were the superior. The extra-long fermentation produced a loaf that was complex in flavour and had a dark, cracked crust when baked. The taste was, in fact, a little overpowering, and so I will increase the amount of starter the next time I bake to a compromise, leaning towards the lesser end of the scale. The first recipe result was also good, with a softer texture, and more delicate flavour, but the gelatinised, shiny crumb and the thick crust of the second takes the prize, and is the recipe that I give here.

figsourdoughs
The finished loaves. In the centre, the “winning” 4% starter loaf. The higher percentage starter loaves are on either side.

Fig and raisin sourdough – makes 2 large bâtards

  • 1175g organic all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 845g water at room temperature
  • 50g rye starter @ 100% hydration
  • 200g figs, sliced
  • 200g sultanas
  • 18g salt
  1. For two days before making the bread (e.g. on Thursday), refresh the starter with equal parts rye flour and water.
  2. The day before baking (e.g. Saturday), combine all of the ingredients except the salt and fruits in a large mixing bowl. Autolyse for 30 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and fruits, and knead in the bowl until combined. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel. Bulk ferment until risen, giving a couple of stretch/folds during that time. For me, this was an overnight bulk ferment that took 16 hours – I started at 7pm on Saturday, and was ready for the next stage at 11am on Sunday.
  4. After the bulk ferment, divide the dough into two equal portions and shape into balls. Rest for 20 minutes. Shape for bâtards and place into well floured bannetons. Proof until risen – 6 hours for me, so the loaves were ready for the oven at 5pm.
  5. Preheat oven to max, with an empty baking pan on the bottom of the oven. Turn out the loaves onto a floured baking tray and score. Tip a cup of water into the preheated baking tray to create steam, and place loaves into the oven. Bake at max for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 230˚C. Bake for an extra 30 minutes, turning half way through.
  6. Remove to a wire rack and leave until cooled before slicing.
figcrumb
The 4% starter crumb – a little hard to see in the photo, but the crumb is shiny from the extra long rise.
figboule
One of the boules – not the winner this time, but still a very good loaf. Excellent rise, great flavour, more delicate that the other loaf.
sidebysidefig
The larger slices are from the boules, the smaller from the more intensely flavoured bâtards
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13 thoughts on “Fig and Raisin Sourdough Two Ways

    1. Thanks for the reblog! Glad you enjoyed the post – and sorry I didn’t see this sooner for some reason it didn’t pop-up on my phone! I’ll be doing a few more experiments with starter – tonight I’ll be posting about using a ‘firm’ starter as opposed to my usual 100% hydration one.

  1. Hey, thanks for following 🙂 I couldn’t help but notice your beautiful bread. It’s a stunner! I have been experimenting with sourdough a little. I will have to make it over the weekend. My husband loves bread so it should make him very happy! Best, M

      1. Yup, I know what you mean! Actually, I was wondering if you could help me solve a little mystery as you seem to have some experience. My bread tends to break from the bottom as it bakes. I baked it on a stone once and I assume it broke because the stone was too hot. But last night I just placed it on a sheet pan and the same thing happened – the bottom cracked even though I made a few cuts on the top. Do you have any idea why this would be?

      2. Normally if there’s a big split it is because of either the shaping or the proofing- sometimes when shaping the seam (usually at the bottom) isn’t sealed tightly, or has dried flour on it from the bench. Otherwise it could be under or over proofed. You could check to see if it’s the shaping by using a recipe where the seam ends up on the top- Ken Forkish’s book used the method so you proof in a banneton upside down, then bake with the seam on top and don’t score.

  2. Very interesting experiment. I tend to use a fairly high 20-25% pre-fermented flour in my bakes and this works best for me but once in a while I use a recipe with a smaller amount. What temperature did you bulk ferment and final proof at? That is something else you can experiment with to vary the amount of sour you get. Higher proof temp usually results in a more sour loaf.

    1. It was interesting to see the effects on the final loaves! Room temperature at the moment here is 20C or below as we’re just coming out of winter – I expect it would be a drastically shorter time during the Summer…

  3. Pingback: Wholegrain and millet sourdough | Bread Bar None

  4. Pingback: Live sourdough: baking on a work night pt. 1 | Bread Bar None

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