Sourdough mk 2 (V)

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After writing up my first attempts at making sourdough using Dan Lepard’s method and quantities as a guide, @them_apples on instagram was sharing pictures of his amazing loaves made using @elaine_foodbod’s method. So I jumped ship and boy am I glad I did!

There’s no kneading, just a fold every hour or so for a couple of hours after the autolyse stage. And then you leave it out overnight to rise and become a bowl of bubbles.

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The structure of the dough gives an insight into the delicious loaf it’s going to become:

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After experimenting, my timings are ever so slightly different to Elaine’s – I bake mine from cold in a dutch oven for 60 mins at 220. I then remove the lid of the pot and bake for a further 10-15 minutes to deepen the crust.

We eat one 500g loaf every 2-3 days. This method means that hopefully I can keep baking bread once we return to working away from home. The bread can be done at the beginning and end of the day and the loaves proved overnight (day 1) and in the fridge (day 2).

 

Simple Curry Sauce (v)

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This is a quick and simple curry sauce that tastes just like the sauce base you get from the takeaway. Play around with the heat to adjust to taste and add other embellishments depending on mood and what needs to be used up – some cream or yogurt perhaps or some butter or even some desiccated coconut instead of the ground almonds.

For 3-4 portions you need

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp curry leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1″ piece of ginger, chopped into pieces
  • 2 finger chillies (adjust to taste, we like a spicy curry!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp stock powder
  • 1 tsp each of turmeric, garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin and curry powder
  • About 200ml water
  • 3-4 tbsp ground almonds
  1. Begin by placing the tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger in a blender and smooshing to a smooth consistency.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan until hot and then add the curry leaves. Cook out for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes and stir to fry off in the oil.
  4. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat. Cook for about 10 mins until the raw smell of the onions has eased off a little.
  5. Add everything else apart from the almonds. Cook out for another 5-10 mins, adjusting the seasoning, heat and consistency of the sauce to suit.
  6. If you’re making this into a curry e.g. chana masala or paneer etc add these now and heat into the sauce.
  7. Finish by adding the ground almonds to thicken and lighten the sauce, adjust the seasoning again if necessary and scoff. You can add a spoonful of cream, yogurt or butter at this stage too to enrich the sauce if you want.

We had it as paneer curry the first time and as a sauce for a vegetable and chickpea biryani last night, yummy!

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Sourdough (v)

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Yes, I know. I’m a cliche. But frankly, if you can’t learn to make bread, and sourdough at that, during a lockdown when can you? I’ve long wanted to learn how to master this most elusive of baking arts and I have tried before in the past and failed. My starter turned pink and smelled vile. I never tried again. This time however it’s a different story. A very lovely friend made me a starter a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t looked back. I used to buy 2-3 loaves of artisan bread a week in the days when I could visit a farmers market. Our local veg shop (Nelson’s) started stocking it a few months ago too so I’d add a loaf to my fruit and veg basket. But then you-know-what happened and we all had to stay home, forever. So I started baking and boy am I glad I did! This recipe is a combination of things I’ve been trying over the last few weeks resulting in my best loaf to date tonight. Have fun baking and experimenting.

The Recipe

This is taken from Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet. I’ve tweaked the method but the quantities are his.

For 1 loaf you will need:

  • 325g strong flour (white is my preference but wholemeal works just as well)
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 150g starter – replenish with 75g each of plain flour and water mixed to a paste
  • 225ml or thereabouts of water.

I’ve tried this as a quick rise (well as quick as sourdough can be) and also an overnight rise in the fridge. I prefer the quick method but as and when we can go back to work away from home I can see the overnight rise being deployed so I can bake around commuting.

Method

  1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl and mix.
  2. Heat the water for 30 secs on high to get it to the right temperature.
  3. Add theĀ  starter to the bowl and 2/3 of the water. Mix. Add as much water as you need to bring it together into a shaggy, sticky ball.
  4. Leave on the side for 15-30 mins to rest.
  5. Turn out onto an oiled counter and knead for 5-10 mins. It will be VERY sticky and I recommend a dough scraper to help with this stage. I can’t knead the dough per se, but tend to let it stick to my hands and push it about on the worktop until it changes texture. It’s very therapeutic kneading by hand and I like to see how it feels when it’s ready as the consistency changes and you know you’ve worked it enough.
  6. Scrape the dough from your hands, wash out and oil the bowl then place the dough into the oiled bowl. I find it useful to bring the dough in onto itself at this stage to form a nice shape, just keep pinching the sides and bringing into the middle of the ball of dough until you are happy with it.
  7. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise either on the side (about 2 hours depending on the warmth of the room) or for up to 24 hours in the fridge. Dan says it should double in size so I use that as my guide. When it’s risen enough you can gently poke the surface of the dough and your finger hole will disappear as the dough springs back. If an indentation stays it’s not quite ready and needs a bit longer. You cannot rush this stage.
  8. Once it has finished the first rise, in the bowl punch the dough out and then I use the fold into the centre of the dough technique again to shape my dough ready for the second rise.
  9. Flour a banneton (if you have one) very generously with flour. Flour the top of the dough as well to help it remove easily before baking. Cover and leave to rise, about 2 hours or so again but it depends on the temperature of the room. It needs to rise by half again according to Dan.
  10. 30 mins before it’s ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees and heat the dutch oven if you’re going to use one.
  11. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a little semolina or polenta, and sprinkle some more on a circle of baking paper. This tastes nice and gives a nice texture. The paper helps to transfer the loaf from the counter to the dutch oven and out again once it’s finished cooking.
  12. Tip the dough onto the circle of paper and then make slashes into the top. Place in the hot dutch oven and cover. Cook for 20 mins covered. After 20 mins remove the lid and cook for a further 10-20 mins until the loaf is golden, crispy and cooked through.
  13. Leave to cool and then wonder at the marvel of fresh bread created by your own fair hands. Repeat!