Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hot Cross Sourdough Loaves

I have kept a healthy jar of sourdough made with just flour and water for almost 2 years now. It needs to be fed weekly so I make sourdough flatbreads, injera with teff flour, or whole wheat sourdough loaves on the weekend.

In the beginning it took two weeks of daily feeding and fermentation to develop the natural yeast so that it could be used for bread. I followed S. John Ross' instructions on this page and use his recipe for my bread. Natural yeasts take longer to rise but the fermentation provides a number of health benefits including a lower glycemic index, a break down of starches and gluten, and the presence of beneficial bacteria. Due to its acetic acid content, it is resistant to developing mould.

This weekend I planned to make hot cross buns but the dough was slow to rise due to cool temperatures overnight. In a rush this morning, I made 2 loaves instead and the results were even more gratifying than expected. I read a few recipes for hot cross buns using instant yeast and modified my standby sourdough bread method.

Ingredients and method for 1 loaf:
  • 2 cups developed sourdough sponge (1:1 water and flour with 1/4-1/2 cup starter from jar)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • you could add 1/4 cup powdered milk if desired. I added 2 tablespoons of 10% cream.
Mix these ingredients together until well blended. Gradually add
  • 3 cups Graham flour (or white/whole wheat blend)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon or powdered chai spice- mix the spices in 1 cup of the flour
The amount of flour is approximate and can vary from week to week. Add flour until you can knead an elastic ball of dough that is not sticky. You don't want to add too much flour either so add it gradually at the end. 

Flatten the kneaded dough into a rectangle and sprinkle it with 
  • 3/4 cup of raisins, craisins, candied peel or whatever you want. You can add some grated orange or lemon rind for extra flavour. Fold the dough up and knead until the fruit is distributed evenly.
At this point I let the bread rise overnight in my wok that has a lid. Today it did not rise well because it was cold so I turned the oven on briefly to100 F and put the wok in for a couple of hours. Do not leave the oven on. 

When the dough has risen to at least double, knead it down and form into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pan and cover with a tea towel while the the dough rises again.  This rise usually takes less time.

When the dough has doubled again you can make the cross. 
  • Combine 1 tablespoon white flour with 1 tablespoon water and pipe the shape of a cross on the top of the loaf. I put the mixture in a sandwich bag and cut the corner off to squeeze it out in a controlled way. 
Place loaf in oven and set to 350 F. (I do not preheat the oven) Bake for 40 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and place on a rack. Brush the top of the loaf with some warmed honey. 

Let the bread cool and enjoy!

I used Graham flour and Mangal tea masala for the spice

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