Spiced Fruit Sourdough Loaf

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RECIPE: I was getting bored with making plain white sourdough each week, so I decided to try something different. This fruit loaf was also from Bourke Street Bakery and is based on their white sourdough loaf.

PREPARATION: I had great difficulty getting the dough to the stage where it had a window. I took it out of the mixer and starting kneading it by hand to try and work it a bit more thoroughly. It improved but I eventually gave up. I think this might be why I never get quite as high a rise as the professionals – I’ve never truly achieved the window, just come close. Therefore my next project is watching a few youtube videos until I work out how to get a window most effectively. I recommend draining the fruit very well. Mine was still pretty wet when I added it to the dough, and it didn’t seem to affect it too badly, but it would contribute to making the bread heavier (I think). The bread rose well in both bulk proves and in the tins. I didn’t do the overnight rest in the fridge – this just means I didn’t get the same sourdough flavour, although I didn’t notice it being particularly absent. I did my final rise in loaf tins. I still haven’t bought baskets and because it was a wetter dough, I didn’t trust just placing the loaf on a baking sheet. It didn’t rise much on baking and the top crust didn’t colour properly.

IMPRESSIONS: Despite doing everything wrong(!) the bread was lovely and my husband has been having breakfast in the mornings so he can have some (he normally doesn’t have anything before leaving for work). It’s especially nice toasted, has a great amount of fruit, and even though a little dense is just how I like my fruit loaf. I’ll try it again and see if I can overcome the issues I mentioned and see if it makes a difference.

Recipe from Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Spiced Fruit Sourdough Loaf

775g (1 lb 11 1/4 oz) sourdough dough (about half of a normal batch)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
220g (7 3/4 oz) fruit soak

Fruit soak
50g (1 3/4 oz) currants
150g (5 1/2 oz) raisins
140ml (4 3/4 fl oz) water

For the fruit soak, put the currants and raisins in a bowl and pour over the water. Cover and soak the fruit overnight. Drain the fruit, discarding the water, and set aside until needed, allowing it to drain well.

Follow the instructions for making sourdough in this post on sourdough bread until you can create a window with your dough. Lightly fold the spices and fruit soak through the dough until just combined. Lightly grease a container with oil spray and sit the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at ambient room temperature (approximately 20 degrees Celcius – 68 F) for one hour to bulk prove. To knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and press out into a rectangle about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick. Use your hands to fold one third back onto itself, then repeat with the remaining third. Turn the dough 90 degrees and fold it over again into thirds. Place the dough back into the oiled container and continue to bulk prove for a further one hour.

Use a blunt knife or divider to divide the dough into two even-sized portions, about 500g (1 lb 2 oz) each. Line two small baskets with a tea towel in each, lightly dust both with flour and place a loaf inside each, seam side up. If you are using a traditional cane basket, you don’t need the tea towel and can simply dust the basket with flour. Alternatively, you can place the loaves on baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down. Place in the refrigerator loosely covered with a plastic bag for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to its highest temperature. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them rest in a humid place (25 degrees Celcius / 77F) – this could take anywhere from 1 and 4 hours – until each loaf has grown in size by two-thirds. If the loaves push back steadily and quickly when you push lightly into them with a finger then they are ready. Score the loaves and place in the oven.

Spray the oven with water and reduce the temperature to 220C (425F). Bake the loaves for 20 minutes, then turn the loaves or trays around and bake for a further 10 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the loaves do not burn. Check the base of each loaf with a tap of your finger, if it sounds hollow it is ready. Baking should take no longer than 40 minutes in total.

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