from one generation to the next
Teaching the man in my life to make bread seems weird. He retired a while ago from a high pressure high stress professional career, but he’s never shown any interest in cooking, ever, despite my intermittent cajoling. I take the blame entirely. We’ve lived together for 2/3 of my life and I think I’ve made it too comfortable for him. I’ve even stocked the freezer with home cooked meals when I’ve travelled alone.
His nerdy thinking, piqued by the alchemy of sourdough made him curious. For my part, any help in the kitchen is welcome, I’m not going to argue. We’ll just see where this leads….
We were in desperate need of a plain loaf for breakfasts and I was also keen to try out a Fig & Walnut loaf, so his first lesson was to make a large batch of 100% spelt bread dough from the starter he had lovingly tended. We split the mass of dough in two after an overnight proof in the fridge. I continued the breadmaking tutorial with his half, and to his credit he listened, he followed instructions, he made great bread.
For my part I wanted a loaf akin to sweet raisin bread that would make a delicious treat toasted and served warm slathered in melting butter, so at the final stretch and fold process I scattered, sliced dried figs and broken walnuts over the dough while it was stretched, then sprinkled over ground cinnamon and a little brown sugar. I folded the dough onto inself, in thirds one way, in thirds the other, then shaped the loaf in a boule with a taut surface which I coated in poppy seeds.
The remainder of the recipe was routine.
I’m learning too. Slowly fermented 100% spelt sourdough is very accommodating. It marries with a wide range of flavours, both sweet and savoury. The dough is strong and quite resilient and produces a light open crumbed bread even when studded with fruit and nuts. The best part is I’m now able to enjoy beautiful crusty fruit bread again.
Fig and Walnut Spelt Sourdough
300g active starter
480g white spelt flour
15g sea salt
255g filtered water
100g dried figs, thinly sliced
60g walnuts, roughly broken
2 scant tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup poppy seeds
In the evening: Measure the ingredients into a large mixing bowl in the above order. Mix to a shaggy dough, cover loosely with plastic and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Tip the dough onto a well floured bench and knead it just enough to bring it together into a smooth ball. Lightly oil the bowl, add the dough then return it to the fridge for 40 minutes.
Again, tip the dough onto the bench, but don’t use any flour this time. Stretch the dough into a large very thin oblong, then fold the dough in 3 in both directions. Return the dough to the fridge overnight.
The next day, remove the dough from the fridge, tip it onto the unfloured bench then stretch it into a large very thin oblong. Evenly scatter the figs and walnuts over the cough then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on top.
Fold the dough in 3 in both directions, then fold in 3 again so you have a tight thick sausage.
Shape the dough into a boule with a tight surface without ant fruit or nut protruding the roll in poppy seeds.
Place it join side down on a sheet of baking paper. Loosely cover the loaf with plastic and leave to rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
After 1 1/4 hours, preheat the oven to 225C.
When the oven reaches temperature, slash the top surface, lift the dough on it’s baking paper into a covered roasting pan and bake at 225C for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200C and remove the lid of the pan. Bake for a further 25 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you knock on the crust.
Cool on a wire rack. Slice when cold