Dear Amy & all other bread enthusiasts,
Meet my first twin bread. I’ll explain.
I mentioned before that I gave Amy some of my sourdough starter in November. I had made a few loaves since then, but by the time January rolled around we were in the process of deciding to move. April came, and despite my best intentions, I knew I didn’t have the energy to travel with my starter.
Yeast is a living thing. You feed it bread and water, it grows to about double its size, and then you need to either bake with it, or put it back to sleep in the refrigerator, or keep feeding the monster that is yeast. Left out for much longer than 18 hours (depending on the temperature) without food means it will die.
A four day car trip across America is not well suited for yeast. So, Amy kindly brought me 100 g of starter at Dulles International Airport, and it has survived until now! This is my San Francisco-Virginia-London yeast: each flour I buy changes the yeast a little bit. Amy keeps a pretty legit blog of her baking experiments, and I wanted to bake in solidarity with my lovely friend in Virginia.
This twin bread was split into four small loaves. To each half I added about 1/4 cup these mixtures:
- two with peppers and sundried tomatoes
- two with olives and sundried tomatoes
Since I was making smaller loaves, they only baked for 40 minutes each in our Dutch oven. I have a crazy new oven here in London–the ovens here have fans inside them. It sounds like an airplane when you bake, but the fan makes the ovens so much more efficient. The bread bakes at 450 degrees F, so I had to convert it to 230 degrees C, then subtract 20 C for the fan to bake at 210 degrees C.
I feel a lot of appliance anxiety over here: the hieroglyphs on them are supposed to quickly indicate what the oven’s going to do. Right now I know the fan symbol inside the circle is the fan setting. (Before I was using the fan symbol with the squiggle, but that was wrong.)
I’m putting the recipe I used at the bottom. It’s copied from The Clever Carrot, which is Amy’s go-to. It’s the first time I’ve used this recipe, and it’s my new favorite. (And it’s great if you’re just starting to learn about bread.) It’s not too crumbly, not too dense, just fluffy and chewy. The roasted peppers aren’t too spicy, and I really like the salty olives in the other loaf. Sourdough yeast has a special lactic bacteria, lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, that gives it that tart flavor, and all these extra toppings were a great friend for the sour.
Olive you too,
Sourdough Bread via The Clever Carrot — Makes 1 to 2 loaves (or 4 tiny ones!)
150 g active starter
250 g water
25 g olive oil
500 g bread flour (I used Wright’s wholemeal bread flour, a UK brand)
10 g sea salt
1/2 cup of toppings
cornmeal for dusting (I only had flour)
6 quart Dutch oven (Thanks for letting us have your old one, Cathy!)
- In a large bowl, combine the starter, water, olive oil, and flour. Just squish with your hands.
- Let rest for its initial rise for 30 minutes. (“Autolyse” for all your fancy people.)
- Mix salt with a teaspoon of water to dissolve it. Add this mixture to the dough, then lift and fold the dough to incorporate. (I sprinkled in the toppings here, folding in a bit at a time.)
- For bulk fermentation, put in a covered bowl and let rise for 3 to 12 hours. (It was chilly today, so mine went about 14 hours.) It will be almost twice its original volume when it’s done.
- For the last two hours of the bulk fermentation, do a stretch and fold every half hour.
- Cut the dough into however many loaves you want. Shape the dough how you want it. Place in the Dutch oven with cornmeal on the bottom.
- Let rise again for 1 to 2 hours until puffy.
- Preheat to 450 F (or 210 C with fan!)
- Just before you bake, slash the loaf with a knife about 2″ at the dough’s center.
- Bake 20 minutes with the lid on the Dutch oven.
- Remove the lid, and bake for 40 more minutes (for large loaves. For small loaves, bake 20 more minutes.)
- For the last 10 minutes of baking, leave the open cracked open to let moisture out.
- Check if done: Fully baked bread will reach an internal temperature of 205 F (or 96 C. Alternatively, pull it out of the oven, flip it over, and whack it with a bread knife. If it sounds hollow, it’s done!)
- Cool on wire rack for 1 hour before slicing. (Who waits that long?)