This is just a quick post with one of my favourite fruit loaves – a cinnamon, sultana, and walnut fruit loaf with a swirl of cinnamon sugar through the middle. Using plain (all-purpose) flour gives the loaf a flakier, more crumbly texture than strong bread flour, making this loaf somewhere between a loaf and a cake. It’s also great toasted with fruit jam.
Cinnamon Swirl Fruit Loaf – makes 2 loaves
450g plain (all-purpose) flour
20g white sugar
6g instant yeast
5g ground cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
30g butter at room temperature
110g whole milk at room temperature
170g water at room temperature
100g walnuts, chopped
Additional 1/4 cup of white sugar plus 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, combined
Poppy seeds, optional
Combine all of the ingredients except the fruit, walnuts, and cinnamon/sugar mix in the bowl of a mixer or in a large bowl.
If kneading by hand, combine the ingredients, then turn the dough onto the counter and knead for 10 minutes.
If using a mixer, combine the ingredients with the paddle attachment on a slow speed, then knead for several minutes with the dough hook until the dough is elastic. Turn out onto the counter.
Spread the dough out and pour over the sultanas, currants, and walnuts. Knead for another 2 minutes by hand to combine the extra ingredients. Shape the dough into a rough ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and bulk ferment for approximately 2 hours, or until doubled.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape into balls. Rest for 5 minutes. Gently press the dough into a rectangle, working with one piece at a time. Spread the cinnamon/sugar mix over the dough, and roll it up to create the swirl (see photo below). Pinch the seam together, shaping for a loaf tin.
If using, roll the loaves in poppy seeds. Place into greased loaf tins (8.5 x 4.5 inch). Dust the tops with flour or mist with spray oil. Cover loosely with cling film. Proof for 1-1.5 hours until risen about an inch over the lip of the loaf tin.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C with the rack on the middle shelf.
Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pans half way through.
Remove to a wire rack and cool for at least an hour before slicing.
In the last post, I experimented with the amount of sourdough starter, and the effect that it had on the final taste and texture of the loaf. This time around, I decided to completely overhaul my usual method for sourdough, and try something new – a firm starter.
Usually, I use between 20 – 40% of starter, made from a 1:1 mix of rye flour and water (for an explanation of the %, see my previous post on baker’s percentages). I find that this “100% hydration” starter give reliable results, but, as I’m always interested in finding out new methods, I decided to give the firm starter method a try.
The process began by converting my usual starter to a white flour starter – basically, feeding it with white instead of rye flour. The initial mix was actually wetter than I usually use: 130g of water to 100g of flour, making a foamy and light batter. This, as explained below, was finally built up into a firm dough, briefly kneaded, and then left overnight before beginning the bread.
The bread itself rose very well (for one loaf, it rose too well, leading to an unsuccessful loaf that I will be writing about later!) and, after retarding overnight in the refrigerator, baked into a great looking loaf with a golden crust and light, open crumb.
Wholegrain and millet sourdough – makes 3 small loaves
This recipe takes a few days to plan ahead – I refreshed my starter with white flour on Wednesday, built it up to about 250g on Thursday, and made the firm starter on Friday. Mix the wet starter and flour together, and knead for several minutes to combine. Refrigerate the starter, covered, overnight.
Cut the firm starter into pieces, and add the remaining ingredients. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Place into a bowl and bulk ferment for 4 hours.
Divide and shape the dough into 3 small boules (at this stage, I shaped into one small and one large loaf – the large loaf, it turned out, was a bad idea…). Place boules into floured bannetons. Proof for 3 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate, well covered overnight.
On the morning of baking, take the first loaf out of the fridge and preheat the oven to maximum with a lidded cast iron pot (“Dutch oven”) on the middle shelf. Bake the first loaf for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 15 with the lid off. Repeat with the remaining loaves, removing each from the fridge whilst one is baking.
Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour.
Throughout this post I’ve mentioned a loaf that didn’t quite work. For reasons I’ll explain in a later post, the large loaf that is in some of the pictures did not come out very well – the interior was fine, but the exterior was pale and not very well crisped up. Trying out new methods sometimes gives disappointing results, but the small loaf came out very well!
I’ve written posts in the past about the ingredients used in creating new bread recipes, and about the standard skills that I apply to each of my loaves. There is, however, a step before all of this that needs some attention: planning.
When I started baking a few years ago, I relied on fairly simplistic recipes with reliable outcomes. I began with recipes like Jamie Oliver’s foccacia, which produced a good result every time. As my own baking skills developed, the recipes I used became more complicated, leading to sourdoughs and enriched, sweet breads.
Along the way I came across a book that I have mentioned on here before: Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and one part in particular has changed the way I plan and bake bread: The baker’s percentage.
The Baker’s Percentage
The purpose of a baking formula is to place all of the ingredients in relation to the flour used in the recipe. The reason for this is that, with a few simple calculations, it is possible to work out not only how much of each ingredient to use, but also to predict the outcome of the bread. As Reinhart himself writes,
“possession of this knowledge will strengthen your ability to control the outcome of your baking.” (p. 40).
So, how does it work? The total flour weight, or TFW, is always represented as 100%. From this, the other values are calculated. Using my most recent recipe, for beetroot sourdough, this would mean that 1000g of all purpose flour + 200g rye flour from the starter would equal 100% in the formula.
From this, the rest of the ingredients can be converted by dividing the ingredient weights (I) by the total flour weight (TFW), and multiplying by 100. So, for the water: (I/TFW)x100 = ((670+200) / 1200)x100 = 72.5%.
As a start, this not only gives the amount of water, but also the hydration of the final dough. Applying this to the rest of the ingredients gives the following:
Total Flour (including flour from starter): 100%
Total Water (including water from starter): 72.5%
Some other aspects of this bread can now be worked out from the formula. 72.5% hydration is fairly high, but still not as high as, for example, a ciabatta. This dough will probably be fairly wet, but will hold its shape. The high amount of starter means that the total bulk ferment and proof time will be relatively short for a sourdough, and unless the dough is refrigerated, it will need to be made and baked on the same day or it will overproof. The amount of salt (1.5%) is appropriate, as most breads will have between 1.5 and 2%.
A knowledge of this basic formula has many applications. If you find a recipe you like, but feel that it is perhaps a little dense, then you can increase the hydration and experiment. Similarly, if you wish to manage the proofing time, you can alter the percentage of starter or yeast. If a bread is too bland, you can safely increase the amount of salt, but without going much beyond that 2% guideline.
I have actually slightly changed this post following a discussion on The Fresh Loaf. Originally, I was following Reinhart’s advice and treating the starter as an ‘ingredient’. However, I have been convinced that breaking it down into the flour and water, and adding those to make the total flour weight, is a far better approach. The slightly more complex approach gives a more accurate result: treating the starter as a 400g ingredient gives a hydration of 67% (670g of water to 1000g flour). Breaking it down gives 72.5% (870g water to 1200g flour). There is quite a difference between 67 and 72% hydration, so from now on I’ll be using the latter approach.
I will be following up on this post with further ones down the track, writing about how to use the baker’s percentage to scale up or down the number of loaves, to change the size of loaves, and to “troubleshoot” recipes. The topic itself can get very confusing – my advice as a homebaker would be to find something that works, and leave the fine-tuning to the professionals!
dmsnyder at The Fresh Loaf has an excellent post on Baker’s Percentages here.