The weekday fruit loaf

Building on my recipe for making sourdough during the week, this post is about applying that method to a spiced fruit loaf, with raisins and sultanas. There’s something very satisfying about being able to get home from work, through this loaf in the oven, and have fresh fruit bread ready for breakfast the next morning. 

  

If you’re an early riser, you could even leave the dough overnight in the fridge after shaping and bake in the morning, just remember it needs about an hour on a wire rack to cool before slicing…

  

Mixed Spice

  • 1 tbsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger 

Weekday fruit loaf – makes one loaf

  • 15g mixed spice (above)
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 330g water
  • 45g white starter 
  • 80g sultanas
  • 80g raisins
  1. For full timings see the previous post about baking sourdough on a week night.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, including the fruit, in a large bowl. Mix well and autolyse for 15 minutes.
  3. Stretch/fold the dough, rest for 15 minutes, and repeat this step another 4 times.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Bulk ferment at room temperature overnight.
  5. Shape the dough into a boule, rest for 15 minutes, then reshape. Do this a couple of times then place into a well floured banneton.
  6. Proof either at room temperature for 3 hours, or in a plastic bag in the fridge for 8 hours. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 230C with a cast-iron lidded pot (Dutch oven) on the middle shelf. 
  8. Turn dough out onto a floured peel, slash, and carefully place into the preheated Dutch oven. Bake for 15 minutes with the lid on, and 15 with the lid off.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

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.

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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

Simple Fruit soda bread

Soda bread is about as quick as it gets, with the exception of some flatbreads that don’t require any resting time. This recipe takes a fairly traditional Irish soda bread and adds a cinnamon and fruit twist.

Because of the lack of kneading and proofing, and the long baking time, this loaf is also ideal for gluten free baking: you can substitute the flour for all purpose gluten free flour (and make sure that the baking soda is also GF)

As making soda bread is more like baking a cake than a loaf, my measurements here are in (Australian) volume rather than weight.

Fruit soda bread makes one loaf

2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1/2 cup flaxseed (linseed)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp agave or honey
1 tbsp cold butter, diced
1 cup mixed currants and sultanas
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup milk, plus extra

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Thoroughly combine all of the ingredients.
2. Preheat oven to 190C
3. Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper. Pour the mix into the tin and push down so that it fills any gaps.
4. Bake for 45 minutes. Test by inserting a cake skewer, which should come out clean. If it looks like the top might burn cover loosely with tin foil.
5. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then too out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

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