Friday, October 20, 2017

Fig, Walnut and Crystallized Ginger Sourdough Bread


I love fall and all of the beautiful changes that it brings...golden and red leaves, the smell of the leaves drying on the ground, watching the squirrels hiding nuts for winter, and the cooler days perfect for a long walk or working in yard.  I love the changes that fall brings in the kitchen too, warm soups, stews and chili, slowly braised meats, harvest vegetables, and....baking!  


I understand that I may be speaking to a very small minority who have sourdough starters or who may be interesting in starting one.  It was always something I had wanted to try and it has been very rewarding for me.  Don't think you must use a sourdough starter to make a dried fruit and nut bread either.  You could make this bread with any of the 'No Knead' bread recipes out there, such as Jim Lahey's, or use a Cheater's Sourdough recipe that uses Greek Yogurt instead of sourdough.  You can do a web search and find lots of ideas using the key words "No Knead Bread" or "Cheaters Sourdough". 

I am happy to report that the sourdough starter that I began last year (I shared my first sourdough loaf, on the blog here), is still alive and well in my refrigerator.  Sometimes I neglect to 'feed' it for almost two weeks and it always bubbles back to life without a problem.  


I had dried figs, walnuts and some crystallized ginger on hand and thought the three would make a delicious, fall combination for bread.  And, it was!

The thing to remember about baking bread with a sourdough starter is that you need to start the process the day before you want to bake the bread - that's the hardest part.  But the taste is unbeatable and the satisfaction of pulling a beautiful loaf of bread out of the oven is very satisfying.


The dough is allowed to rise overnight in the refrigerator in a container about the size you would like for your loaf or loaves, lined with a well-floured tea towel.  I used two rectangular loaf pans. This recipe made two, nice-sized loaves. Don't worry if they don't look too puffy after you take them out of the refrigerator, they rise beautifully in the oven.


After the loaves have had their overnight rise, I like to place them on the back side of a cookie sheet on top of a large piece of parchment paper.  This way,  I can slide the loaves, parchment and all, onto my baking stone.  No worries if you don't have a baking stone, you can always use the preheated dutch oven method used in many other recipes, such as this one.


Slathered in good, fresh butter or jam, or toasted the next day it's delicious!

Walnut, Fig and Crystallized Ginger Sourdough Bread


Supplies you will need:

You need to have an active sourdough starter. If you look on Etsy there are lots of sellers - I used World Sourdough. Amazon sells one by Breadtopia that is live and not dried here. King Arthur also sells an already "active" sourdough starter here.

A bread stone for your oven is also preferred but you can also use a cast iron Dutch oven with lid.

Spray bottle filled with water

Ingredients:

1-1/4 cups recently fed and active sourdough starter
1 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (not necessary but helps obtain a good rise)
3/4 cup diced dried figs, dried cherries or cranberries
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped into small pieces.

Directions:

In the bowl of a mixer with dough hook, combine the starter, water, and flour. Stir together until smooth. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for 1 hour. Then, mix in the salt and yeast and knead the dough with your mixer's dough hook on medium speed for about 6 minutes. Just before the kneading is done, mix in the dried fruit. If you don't have a dough hook you can knead by hand on a lightly floured surface. Add the walnuts and fold them gently into the dough. Cover the bowl and allow the dough rise at room temperature for 40 to 60 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. If you wish to make two smaller loaves instead of one large one, divide the dough in half. With a scraper, scoop up one side of the dough bring it into the center, pressing down. Turn the dough a quarter turn, and repeat four more times. Repeat with other loaf, if necessary.

Flour a tea towel or banetton (a bread proofing basket). If using a tea towel, place it inside of a bowl or pan with a shape you find pleasing, bottom side up. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 450°F for 30 minutes with a baking stone placed in the lower third of the oven (or a Dutch oven with Lid). When the oven is preheated, put 1" of water into a small skillet that can go into the oven and bring it to a simmer. Take your breads out of the refrigerator. Don't worry if they have not risen a lot, it's okay.

Place the simmering water skillet into the bottom of the oven. Place a piece of parchment on a baker's peel or the back (flat) side of a baking sheet. Turn the refrigerated loaves out onto the parchment. Slash the top of the loaves, and slide the bread, paper and all, onto the stone in the oven. Spray the inside of the oven generously with water from a spray bottle. In 5 minutes, spray once more and bake for another 35 minutes, or until the center of the loaf reads 200°F with a digital thermometer.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Note: If using a cast iron Dutch oven, when the oven has preheated for 30 minutes, remove the lid. Slide the slashed loaf into the Dutch oven and bake, with cover on for 20-25 minutes. Remove lid, and bake until bread reaches 200F, about another 15 minutes, watching carefully. Times vary depending on the size of the loaf, and how hot your oven gets.

This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour

38 comments:

  1. Wow, your bread looks amazing! I'm sitting here with a nice strong cup of coffee, wish I had a slice (or two:@)

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    1. Thank you, Lynn! I need to try a loaf in my bread machine too ;)

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  2. Lovely! I esp. love the add of crystallized ginger here, Susan. A few slices with some homemade onion jam would really make me happy :-)

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    1. Oh, the onion jam sounds wonderful! Thank you, Angie!

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  3. WOW! You know how much I love to bake and figs are a personal favorite. I adore baking with crystalized ginger and just don't do it enough. Outstanding, beautiful loaves :) Great post Susan!

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    1. The crystallized ginger was very subtle. I may try a adding a little more next time. Thank you, Tricia!

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  4. They are GORGEOUS!! And so are the pics!
    MIne failed..I GIVE up..I GIVE up..it's me that's failing lol not the strater.I would love this bread.

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    1. Merci beaucoup, Monique! You make so many other wonderful kinds of bread. You would need a 'starter sitter' when you travel anyway :)

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  5. JUst gorgeous. I love to shove all kinds of fruits and nuts in yeasted breads, but I've never used crystallized ginger, except in breakfast breads and biscotti. What a great idea!

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    1. Fruits and nut breads are my absolute favorites too. Thanks so much, Mimi!

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  6. I wouldn't have thought to use this combination in a bread, I don't usually go beyond raisins and walnuts, but this looks amazing. I should dare more.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Dare more :) The crystallized ginger was very subtle and not overpowering at all. Thank you, Amalia!

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  7. Fall is my favorite season for many reasons...Warm soups with your delicious bread could be wonderful ! Have a nice weekend, hugs

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    1. I love fall - just not what comes afterward. Brrr! At least I can bake delicious bread all winter ;) Thank you, Chiara! xoxo

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  8. Absolutely love this bread ! Looks wonderful! Really fall is my favorite season!! xoxox

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    1. Thank you very much, Gloria! The colors are so pretty here today!

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  9. This bread is so lovely and a delicious flavor combination, especially with sourdough.

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  10. Oh it looks as if it would make the perfect piece of toast!

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    1. That's what I love about the day after - making toast :)

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  11. Wow, your bread looks amazing! I'm sitting here with my coffee, and would love a slice of your bread toasted!

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  12. Your bread is beautiful Susan, baking has always been a challenge for me and making my own bread is something I'm working towards, you make the process sound easy;)

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    1. Thank you, Cheri! I hope you give it a try - it's so rewarding.

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  13. A slice or two of your bread with some good cheese and a glass of wine would be delicious.

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  14. What a beautiful crust Susan! I would love a slice or two from your bread!

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    1. I'd love to share it with you :) Thank you, Katerina!

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  15. Well, I had to take another look at this lovely bread on IG., looking for . . . the recipe. Never considering to look here first. Yes, I am officially a ninny! In any case, thank you Susan for taking the time to thoroughly cover the entire process of sourdough breads. I've been baking breads almost everyday of my life, but sourdough has remained an enigma for just as long.

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    1. Not a ninny! I'm still learning IG myself. There is still a lot I don't understand about it either but there are some simplified recipes out there like this one. I received some very good instructions with my starter too. I know you'd be terrific at sourdough bread, Sol!

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  16. I baked all my bread when I first moved to the US decades ago but then I moved to to Santa Cruz and found several excellent bakeries in town. Now I am lazy and buy my bread. Your bread looks delicious, it could be in a German bakery.

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    1. Thank you, Gerlinde! I buy much of our bread also but love to bake my own occasionally too :) I'm sure the bread in German is wonderful!

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  17. Your bread sounds delicious Susan. Love the combination. Just catching up here. I've been missing in action lately. I'm in the mood for Fall cooking also.

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    1. Thank you, Penny, and glad to see you back :) I haven't been too active here lately either!

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  18. Love the sound of this bread. I definitely think that fall is the time for warm bread. It makes the house smell so good. As for watching the squirrels... we found one stuck behind our second fridge. We had heard him and then didn't hear him, until the dog discovered he was still there. He was there a week until hubby moved the fridge and he dashed out through the garage. How he lived I'll never know!

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  19. I'm impressed with the long life of your sourdough starter. I tried homemade sourdough once with mild success, but I definitely killed my starter after that first go! You've got me inspired to try again sometime soon. Your bread is beautiful and looks like it tastes amazing :)

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