Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Fruit and Nut Sourdough Bread

Sweet sourdough bread is a wonderful food to enjoy at breakfast time. Two taste sensations rolled into one, ensure that this bread is devoured, crust and all and never makes it to the chook pen. I make it in the morning, leave it to rise all day and bake it in the evening. Our local supermarket stocks genuine sourdough bread from two different bakeries but it comes at a cost - expect to part with $8 for one fruit loaf, now that is way beyond my family budget but I'm blessed to have my 'grandma' to help me. Just come into my kitchen and meet her and learn how simple it is to make your own sourdough bread at home.

Meet my 'grandma' - my heritage sourdough starter. She is reported to have come to Australia from Idaho a long time ago and was passed down through several generations of one family, multiplied and given away to different people over the years including me. I have kept her alive for over four years since she came into my possession. If you really want to make sourdough you need to find yourself a starter or failing that, make one yourself - google 'make sourdough starter'. If you want to use one that is already in existence, I would ask around your local community - inquire at your local wholefoods store, they may know of someone who bakes with sourdough who is prepared to give you your first batch of starter. Just remember to repay their kindness by keeping it alive by replenishing it each time you use it with flour and water.

So here is how I make a sweet fruit and nut sourdough.

To one cup of sourdough starter I add one cup of water (not too cold) and one cup of flour. I mix the flour in gently and leave it to rest for at least 20 minutes before adding in the rest of the ingredients which I initially combine with a wooden spoon or spatula in my big 'grandma' mixing bowl.

This heritage style bowl is a $20 reproduction and came to me via 'The Warehouse', a store in New Zealand. Amazingly, it has survived a trip across the Tasman and not yet slid off a bench to its shattering doom on the tiles below. I protect this bowl at all costs and have been known to run across the room at top speed and perform a save which should have put me up for selection for goalie in the 'Matildas' (Australia's women's soccer team) as it headed for the 'tiles of no return' following rather vigorous mixing by toddlers! If my mixing bowl ever dies I have its funeral planned with full kitchen honours in recognition of the service it has provided! Okay, back to the recipe! After resting the starter and flour add

2-3 cups flour - a very approximate measure as I work by feel. It should be a workable wet dough.
A generous pinch of salt
2-3 Tbs sugar
a handful of dried fruit of your choice - I love chopped plump, unsulphured apricots, craisins, sultanas, dates whatever you prefer
a handful of chopped nuts again whatever you prefer - macadamias, pecans or flaked or slivered almonds.

After combining with the spoon and bringing the mixture together in the bowl, it is transferred to the bench top and kneaded. This takes only a few minutes and then the ball of dough goes into a covered container - I use a plastic bowl with a lid - and it is left in a warm place to rise for the rest of the day. I find 7-8 hours is more than sufficient.

The dough comes out of its container, is shaped into a loaf with floured hands, popped onto a lined baking tray and goes into a hot oven (180-200 c) for approximately 40 minutes until it is risen, golden and sounds hollow when the base is tapped. I leave it covered with a tea towel sitting on the bench until breakfast time when it is sliced, possibly toasted and spread with butter and preserves if you wish. If it is sliced thinly, there may be a few slices left for morning tea, however, as winter arrives I'm not expecting this to happen often but I cannot imagine a more delicious start to the day!

With Love and Joy,
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A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I do wonder how you manage so much from scratch cooking....Whilst I too cook from scratch I do use things like the bread maker and such to help the process,
How Yummy is nut and fruit bread though.....sigh....

Anonymous said...

Your bread looks wonderful Ann. I am inspired. I am just getting back into baking bread and have just recently purchased a mill.I have made sour dough before but its been a while. What a great start to the today with a homemade loaf of bread.You have done really well to keep your start alive for 4 years. Angela K

American Home said...

This is a wonderful post. Thank you for the idea. The pictures are sweet!

Have a blessed day,

Camille said...

How fun this post is!! I enjoyed the way you tell it all...down to protecting that special bowl! I am jealous of your very old sourdough starter...I SO would love to have one!! What a fabulous history it has!

May the LORD bless you tonight Ann!
In Him,

Jen said...

Ann, have you used a sourdough starter based on milk? Would it work as well for this style of method for fruit loaf?

Jen in NSW

Renata said...

Oh Yum! I'd love to come for breakfast - that looks just delicious!
I've never been brave to try making a starter (they tell you how to on homestead blessings) - maybe I should give it a go!
My kids would love this fruit bread recipe!
Have a great weekend


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