Monday, September 10, 2018

Fruit Sourdough

If I were lucky enough to be visiting Melbourne, Tivoli Road Bakery is exactly the kind of place I’d want to find while out for a stroll. Michael and Pippa James’ bakery was built on their relationships with farmers and suppliers while finding the best ingredients, and it was built on excellent baking, of course. The book The Tivoli Road Baker: Recipes and Notes from a Chef Who Chose Baking, of which I received a review copy, tells the whole story. Descriptions of ingredients and suppliers are interspersed throughout the pages of recipes making clear the bakery’s goal of using the best in terms of flavor, sustainability, and cultural identity. One story highlights work being done to learn how early indigenous Australians harvested grain and made bread, and another explains the methods of a biodynamic farm. I was sold on the philosophy and then became a bigger fan as I read about the types of sourdough bread they bake. There are complete instructions for creating and maintaining a sourdough starter and step-by-step guides for each stage of dough mixing, shaping, and baking. I was intrigued by the Olive Loaf made not just with a mix of green and black olives marinated with herbs but also with tapenade incorporated into the dough. The Wholegrain Rye and Buttermilk Loaf looks delicious on its own and as the base of an open-faced, cured salmon sandwich. In fact, there’s a chapter of Sandwiches for inspiration for all the breads and Salads to go with them. There are also chapters for Viennoiserie, Pastry, Seasonal treats, and British Bakes. After mastering the Croissant Pastry, there are several recipes for using it like the incredible Morning Buns with vanilla custard. Some other recipes that I’d love to try include the jam-filled Lamington Doughnuts, the gluten-free mini Pear Almond and Brown Butter Bundt Cakes, and the loaf-pan baked Pistachio Cake. While reading the book, I pulled my sourdough starter from the refrigerator to feed it and get it ready to go to work. I had to try the Fruit Sourdough first. It’s a bread loaf with almost as much jewel-toned dried fruits as bread in each slice. 

As always with sourdough, I had to get my starter back into shape first. I store it in the refrigerator and let it go dormant between baking projects. I feed it in incrementally bigger portions for three feedings one day before I intend to use it. For this bread, the dried fruit needed to be soaked overnight before beginning. Also, all of the sourdough breads in this book begin with a starter build that’s mixed four to six hours before being added to the dough. For the fruit, golden raisins, currants, black raisins, pitted and halved dates, stemmed and quartered figs, and some ground ginger were measured and placed in a bowl. In a saucepan, a cinnamon stick, a star anise, and some water were combined. Red wine was to be added, but I used white wine instead since that seemed less wintry. The mixture was brought to a boil and then left to steep off the heat for 10 minutes. After steeping, the mixture was strained over the dried fruit, and it was left to soak overnight. The starter build was made with sourdough starter, bread flour, whole wheat flour, and water. The dough was started with bread flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and water and was left for the autolyse for about 30 minutes. Then, the starter build and salt were added, and the dough was mixed and left in a large bowl before the folds began. Before the first turn and fold in the bowl, the soaked fruit along with some chopped dried apricots were added. The fruit-filled dough was then turned and folded every 30 to 45 minutes a total of four times. Next, the dough was pre-shaped and left to rest for 20 minutes, and then it was shaped for the loaf pan. There are complete instructions for all of these steps in the book. I left the dough in the loaf pan in the refrigerator overnight before baking. And to bake, my preferred method for steam in the oven is to place some ice cubes in a cast iron skillet that sits on the oven floor for the first 15 minutes or so of the baking time. The loaf baked until golden and crusty on top. 

This was a somewhat wet and sticky dough that resulted in a tender crumb around all of that fruit. As noted in the book, all this bread needs for serving is a little butter. It was fruity and sweet with no added sugar, and it went perfectly with some afternoon tea. Melbourne is lucky to have this bakery that’s building strong ties in their food community, and I’m lucky to have their recipes.

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  1. We haven't been eating much bread lately, so haven't been baking it. But with the cooler fall weather coming soon, I'm itching to begin again. This looks wonderful! Love the tangy sourdough flavor. :-)

  2. Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by...this bread looks so good, and I am loving the soft crumb with all the sweetness of the fruits in it...what a great combination. Thanks for the recipe and I hope you are having a great week!

  3. I love eating breads filled with fruit and nuts, so this is just my style! Fun with the sourdough twist---and your loaf is beautiful!

  4. what a dreamy loaf of bread! i could probably just sit down on the couch with the entire loaf and nibble to my heart's content. :)


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