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olive oil and fennel seed spelt sourdough

olive oil and fennel seed sourdough spelt bread

olive oil and fennel seed sourdough spelt bread

I love bread, good dense sourdough bread with a crispy crunchy crust and a chewy crumb, the style of bread you see being sold at a high price in boutique baker’s shops across the globe, the style of bread which wins Parisian bakers their high level of regard.

I’ve been baking sourdough bread for over a year now and for the passed 6+ months each high quality loaf that I’ve taken my oven has left me humbled by the wondrous power of fermentation and it’s magical transformative power which changes flour water and salt into bread.

This miraculous bread tastes so darn good it’s very hard to resist and while I’d be happy to eat simple wholemeal or grainy bread every day my thoughts often wonder in the direction of variations. My only limitations are that I use just spelt flour, the fermentation must happen at a leisurely pace and I’m limited to ingredients that are tummy friendly.

I have a soft spot for fennel seeds and harbour lingering memories of their mellow aniseed flavour teamed with olive oil in a beautiful crusty loaf served by a friend many years ago. With confidence in my bread baking skills, I felt sure I could recreate that alluring flavour.  All I had to do was make a few minor adjustments to my every day wholemeal loaf.

This is THE perfect loaf to serve with charcuterie and char grilled it make a delicious base for bruschetta.

Olive Oil and Fennel Seed Spelt Sourdough Bread

300g active sourdough starter

300g white organic spelt flour

200g wholemeal organic spelt flour

12g salt

2 teaspoons fennel seeds, roasted and ground

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds

2 tablespoons robustly flavoured extra virgin olive oil

260 mls filtered tap water

2 tablespoons olive oil extra

2 teaspoons fennel seeds extra

Measure the ingredients into a large non reactive mixing bowl in the order they are listed.

Mix to a shaggy dough then cover* and set aside for 20 minutes.

Tip the sticky dough onto the floured benchtop, sprinkle a little flour over the dough and rub your hands with olive oil.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic.

Clean the mixing bowl, add the second measure of olive oil and coat the surface of the bowl.

Put the ball of dough into the bowl, turn it in the oil to coat then cover and leave to rest for 45 minutes.

Tip the ball of dough onto the clean bench top and carefully stretch the dough out as thinly as possible by putting your hand under the dough and stretching outward.

Fold the dough into three in each direction until you have a tight ball.

Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 36 hours. My loaf proofed for 16 hours.

Prepare one large or two small bannettons by dusting generously with rice flour.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces if you prefer smaller loaves, then stretch each piece out as thinly as possible as per the night before.

Fold the dough into three in each direction until you have a tight log, then tidy the ends by turning the dough in on itself until neat.

Put the dough join side up into the bannetton then cover and leave for a minimum of 2 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

You can tell when the dough is ready to bake by a simple finger poke test. Poke a small indentation in the loaf. If the hole rebounds only halfway then the dough is ready. If it fills completely it requires further time, if their is no rebound the loaf has over proofed.

Preheat the oven to 225C fan forced.

When the oven reaches temperature, tip the dough from the banneton into a sheet of baking paper. Spray the surface with water, sprinkle with the extra fennel seeds, then slash the top surface.

Transfer the loaf on the paper to a roasting dish (I use a Falconware Enamel Roaster) and cover tightly.

Bake at 225C for 20 minutes.

Remove the lid of the roasting pan, reduce the heat to 200C, and bake for a further 25 minutes.

Remove the loaf to a wire rack to cool.

* I avoid the use of single use plastic in my kitchen. I have found that regular, elastic edged plastic shower hats designed to keep your hair dry in the shower are perfect for covering bowls.



About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

18 comments on “olive oil and fennel seed spelt sourdough

  1. theoliveoiltaster
    May 8, 2017

    This sounds fabulous but – how do I get/make a sourdough starter please? Basic question I know but not sure where to look?


    • ladyredspecs
      May 8, 2017

      There are lots of ways to make sourdough starter, a google search will tell you. I never had any luck making my own. The best bet is to find a friend who will gift you some starter, or else it’s possible to buy dried starter online.


  2. chefkreso
    May 6, 2017

    Looks lovely 🙂


  3. calmkate
    May 5, 2017

    Yum that sounds so delicious!


  4. I’ve pinned this, thank you. I think spelt is a better alternative if you are avoiding gluten.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 5, 2017

      Spelt is a glutinous grain Liz. I like the flavour, but the main reason I use it exclusively is that slow fermentation consumes the short chain carbs which my system finds difficult to digest


  5. Francesca
    May 5, 2017

    Great recipe Sandra. I really need some sourdough inspiration. this one has come at the right time.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 5, 2017

      Always happy to inspire. Have you tried adding things like mashed pumpkin to your bread? Just wondering about the proportion of veg to flour?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda Duffin
    May 4, 2017

    Fabulous looking loaf, Sandra, and lovely flavour combinations.


    • ladyredspecs
      May 4, 2017

      Thanks Linda, I’ve been admiring your loaves on Insta, sourdough baking is such a rewarding process

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Duffin
        May 4, 2017

        Yes, although I managed to turn my last one into a burnt offering. I’m still learning, haven’t really gone off piste much, so tried and tested variations are always welcome. Lx


  7. Nancy |Plus Ate Six
    May 4, 2017

    Oh I imagine this is just perfect with a charcuterie platter as you say – fennel seed is a much under used spice I think and yet a little goes a long way and transports you to a different continent!


  8. Just finished making bread this morning, but have bookmarked this for next baking day (very soon). I do live the flavour of fennel. My dough folding and stretching occurs just after mixing, but I can see how resting the dough might make a better textured bread. Will try, if I have the patience!


    • ladyredspecs
      May 4, 2017

      Thanks Debi, the flavours are a delicious combo. I love the slow pace of breadmaking. A few minutes here, a few minutes there….

      Liked by 1 person

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