It’s been a long while since I posted a recipe, but in the gap I have been baking more or less weekly, and adjusting my sourdough technique to make baking fit around my work and home life. The most important aspects of baking for me – other than the final quality and taste of the bread – are the time and effort it takes to make a loaf.
Whilst I occasionally have time to spend a few hours attending to a dough (as for croissants, or puff pastry), generally I want the best results in the least time possible.
“Time”, however, is fairly subjective when it comes to sourdough. From start to finish, most of my loaves take three or four days to make. Whilst this might seem like a long time – when compared to, for example, a plain white loaf that takes a couple of hours from start to finish – it’s the amount of contact time with the bread that I’m interested in.
So, to get back into the swing of blogging, I’ll be writing a series of posts demonstrating the different methods I have been working with of baking quality bread with very little effort or contact time. The first of these is a beetroot sourdough. This bread was inspired by a recipe in Emmanuel Hadjiandreou’s How to Make Bread, a book I came across a few years ago in England. I have also used Hadjiandreou’s recommended “stretch and fold” method of kneading the bread. In other recipes, I will discuss the merits of “no-knead” bread. For this one, however, I think that the beetroot is better incorporated into the dough with a little extra attention.
All of these recipes require an active starter. That means – for a weekend bake – feeding a starter on Thursday or Friday (about 5 minutes), combining the dough ingredients the following morning (5 minutes), doing a few stretch and fold kneads (another 5 minutes…), and dividing and shaping (5-10 minutes). The total “contact time” of these breads then is less than half an hour – for the rest of the time they just sit around and do their thing on the kitchen bench.
Beetroot Sourdough – makes 2 large loaves
- 1kg all-purpose (plain) flour
- 670g water
- 400g rye starter @ 100% hydration
- 18g salt
- 430g raw beetroot, coarsely grated
- In a large bowl, combine flour, water, and starter. Autolyse for 20-30 minutes.
- Add beetroot and salt. Knead to incorporate. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or cling film and bulk ferment on the counter for 4 hours. During this time, stretch and fold the dough several times – still in the bowl, grab a portion of the dough, lift it, and fold it back on itself. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the stretch and fold. Repeat several times.
- After the dough has risen by about a third, tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide and shape into two balls. Rest for 20 minutes.
- After resting, shape again into ‘boules’. Place into well floured bannetons or bowls. Proof for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to maximum with a Dutch oven (or ‘Le Crueset’ style cast iron pot) on the middle shelf.
- Score the first loaf, and bake in the Dutch oven for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid, reduce the temperature to 230˚C, and bake for a further 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove to a wire rack and rest for at least one hour. Repeat with the remaining loaf.
Because of the beetroot I have found that this bread will not last as long as other sourdoughs before going stale. Once it is cool enough, if you are not planning on eating soon, I would recommend slicing it and freezing.