Hello, my name is X and it has been six days and seven hours since my last…..cookbook purchase.
Yes, I have a cookbook addiction. It has been relatively under control for the last couple of years (finally learning restraint in my old age). But just recently the shelves have started groaning again. Visitors to my house often remark on my three shelves of cookbooks in the kitchen area, commenting that my collection is not too huge. I don’t tell them about the many more cookbooks that I store in the bookshelf in the lounge room…and the one near the stairs!
My last purchase was the Bourke Street Bakery cookbook. For those of you not in Sydney, Bourke Street Bakery (BSB) is a lovely little bakery in Surry Hills which makes great bread and fantastic pastries, etc. I have been wanting this book ever since it was published a couple of months ago. And finally I got my hands on it. I love their sourdough bread so I was keen to try out their recipe. That night I read through the entire book. Unusually for me, the very next day I made the first thing out of the book – their standard (wheat flour) sourdough bread (Unusual because I don’t always cook things out of cookbooks I purchase). It is quite a different recipe and process to the usual recipe I use. I was so happy with the dough that before I even put the bread in the oven I started up on the next batch – their Millers loaf which I made with approx 60% wheat and 40% rye. Also stunning. Andrew says it is the best bread ever, despite it getting slightly burnt. And my friend Janet who also scored a loaf also says it is very good (I think she was suspicious about my baking efforts before that). So this is now my favourite sourdough bread recipe and process. The photo above does not do it justice – my very first attempt at this bread which was slightly burnt. Bourke Street Bakery Bread – slightly modified and re-told by me~!
(recipe from my memory since it has now become my standard bread recipe that I make twice a week – hope I haven’t left anything out! I also use half the amount of salt the original recipe calls for)
405 gm sourdough starter
765 gm flour (the bakers standard sort of wheat flour)
400 ml water
1 tbs salt
Mix the starter, flour and water until it just holds together. Set it aside for 20 minutes. Now sprinkle over the salt and knead the dough for about ten minutes. This is a fairly wet dough so don’t give in to the temptation to add more flour. Just keep kneading and it will get drier – use the wet dough kneading/stretching technique. To test if it is kneaded enough take a small ball of the dough and stretch it between your fingers to form a ‘window’ – it should get quite transparent and not break. If it breaks easily, keep kneading.
Cover and keep in a warmish place to bulk prove for 1 hour. Take the dough out onto a bench and fold it into thirds. Turn 90 degrees and fold into thirds again. This a very gentle ‘knocking back’ process. Put it back into your lightly oiled bowl, cover and keep for another hour.
Now shape your dough into the loaves and put them into your proving baskets or baking tins. I get two large-ish oval loaves and one smaller long loaf that is like an oversized mini baguette. Interestingly this dough bakes well in tins as well and gives a good crust – but not as much rise as the free form ones get.
Put the baskets/tins into the fridge overnight covered loosely in a plastic bag (ideally for 8 hours but I have also tried much shorter times with as good results – just slightly less developed sourdough taste).
The next morning take the baskets/tins out of the fridge and allow to sit for 1-4 hours. You need them to rise by about a third of their volume and the time will depend on the temperature in the room. I find that I usually need about 1.5-2 hours with current Sydney morning temperatures.
Heat your oven to its maximum temperature. Put your loaves in and give the oven a quick spray of water. (I havent had great success with making the cut in the top of the loaf so now I just don’t bother…feel free to do so though if you have the skill!). After about 5-10 minutes turn the temperature down to 200 degrees centigrade fan forced. The original recipe says to bake the loaf at maximum temperature for the whole time, but I find that it burns at this temperature far too easily. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Total baking time is about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your loaves. The loaves should make a hollow sound when you turn them over and tap their base – this is the sign that they are cooked.
This is a lovely, light bread with a good amount of chewiness and great sourdough taste. The main proving in the fridge gives you a bit more control over timing when to bake the bread (eg if you sleep in or get home late it is not a disaster for your dough!) and seems to develop a better flavour and texture.