The perfect sourdough loaf continues to be a very up and down business. Having had a success with Andrew Whitley’s Cromarty Cob I thought I’d give his French Country Bread a try, but with a higher proportion of white flour. Alas it didn’t work as well – it took ages to prove and collapsed when it went onto the tray. It tasted good and had an open texture but was very much on the flat side. I think that I added too much water for the flour that I was using.
But I’ve tried again. This time I wanted to make a seeded bread. I used a variation on the same recipe as before but with less water. This produced a sticky but workable dough. I then kneaded in a mixture of toasted fennel seeds, poppy seeds and nigella seeds, adding more water at this stage as it felt a bit too dry.
I left it for a further hour and then shaped it and popped it into a proving basket. Where it was then left for a very long time as LSH and I went to the pub. I think it had had about 7 hours by the time we got back ( not all of it in the pub I hasten to add!) and it was probably slightly over proved. Whilst it seemed to lack oven spring it didn’t collapse either on the tray or when in the oven.
It didn’t have a very open crumb (probably down to the reduced amount of water) but I don’t think that that would have worked with the seeds. It still had a good texture though and crispy crust. But the best bit was the flavour – the seeds, particularly the fennel, gave it a wonderful fragrance and taste. Maybe not everyone’s idea of a sourdough but a loaf worth making again.