This is the loaf that epitomises the balance between new and old worlds, using both commercial yeast and sourdough starter. The versatility of this dough is impressive — it can be shaped into regular loaves, baguettes or small rolls and makes the perfect fairy bread.
To mix the semi-sourdough by hand, put the starter in a large mixing bowl with the flour, yeast and water. Stir with a large spoon until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead into a ball with your hands, for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead it for a further 5 minutes. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Knead well for a further 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
If you are using an electric mixer, put the starter in the bowl of the mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add the flour, yeast, water and salt. Mix on slow speed for 4 minutes, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to high for 5 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the edges of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
If the dough tears at the slightest touch, it is under-mixed and you need to mix it more — what you want is to be able to stretch out the dough to transparency and create a window. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
Lightly grease a container with oil spray and sit the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at ambient room temperature (approximately
To knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and press out into a rectangle, about
The dough is now ready to be divided, rested and shaped into your desired loaves. Use a blunt knife or divider to divide the dough into three even-sized portions, about
Lightly grease three
Bring the dough into the shape that will be placed into the tin. With your fingers tensed, press down onto the nose cone and fold inwards keeping the action tight — this is called crimping. Use small movements with your fingers, folding over the dough and pressing down as you work to create tension and form. Crimp with your fingers until you reach halfway into the dough, then with the ball of your dominant hand press down against the seam closing it into the dough. Continue this motion with both hands, folding the dough over in tight movements, each time closing the seam. Check to see that the seam is straight and closed; if not, pinch the seam to close it. Place the dough in the tins and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Alternatively, you can place the loaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper, seam side down. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to its highest temperature. Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them rest in a humid place, about
Spray the oven with water and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the loaves or trays around, and bake for a further 10 minutes. Check the base of each loaf with a tap of your finger — if it sounds hollow, it is ready. The loaves should take no longer than 40 minutes in total to bake.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.