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Monday, 5 September 2016

Baking A Herb Loaf With A Sourdough Starter

When visiting a friend recently, I took my bottle of sourdough starter along. To be completely honest, I tend to always do this when going away for an lengthy time. My friend was happy to turn her kitchen over to me and I rummaged through her cupboards to see what I had to work with. I found a great selection of dried herbs in this kitchen and promptly decided to bake a Herb Loaf. Unfortunately the oven was somewhat less than reliable. However, my friend had a handy tabletop convection oven and I decided to try this out. It would be my first time baking a loaf in an oven like this and I was curious to see how well it performed. I share this, as well as conventional oven methods in the blog today.

In a large mixing bowl, add together 1 cup (250 ml) cake flour and 3 cups (750 ml) White Bread Flour.

You now need to decide which raising agent you wish to use. Using the sourdough starter only, takes much longer to rise, but the flavour has time to develop fully and it certainly is the best tasting bread. You can also leave the sourdough starter out altogether, using only yeast. When using Instant Yeast, you need much less time for the dough to rise, cutting the whole process down by a good 3-4 hours! Alternatively, you can use both the sourdough starter (for flavour) and the Instant Yeast (as raising agent). The sourdough starter will not have time to develop fully and you will not be able to benefit from the full flavour it brings to the dough, but it will add some of its lovely flavour and you will have a much tastier result than when leaving it out altogether. Whichever you decide, if you are going to be using the Instant Yeast, you now need to add a packet to the mixing bowl.

I then added a teaspoon (5 ml) each of the following: Sweet Basil, Thyme, Oregano and Salt.

Mix the dry ingredients well before continuing.

If using the sourdough starter, you now need to add 1 cup (250 ml) as well as 1 cup (250 ml) milk. Add 75 ml oil and 1 unbeaten egg.

Add 2 tablespoons (25 ml) crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon (12,5 ml) chili sauce or another form of chilies. This is not enough to be hot, but only enough to add flavour. If you are completely averse to the use of chilies, simply leave it out altogether.

Bring the dough together.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface. If you have time, the best thing to do is to let the dough rise up in a bowl covered with plastic. Then knock it back by kneading it again, before adding it to the baking tin. If you do not have the luxury of time, simply let it rise in the tin without knocking it back.

Prepare a baking tin with non-stick spray (or margarine) and lightly flour the surface of the tin. I opted for a round tin as it would fit in the oven I intended to use.

Put the dough in the tin.

Cover with plastic and leave in a warm dry place to rise.

The dough should rise to about double in size.

Place in a preheated oven at 200 °C and bake for approximately 40 minutes. I found that the tabletop convection oven I was using worked exactly the same as a conventional oven. No adjustments are therefore necessary for the different ovens.

The bread is ready when you hear a hollow sound when you tap on it. Remove from the oven.

Remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Cover with a damp cloth to prevent a hard crust from forming.

Serve hot from the oven with butter and condiments of your choice.

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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