My weekly sourdough baking is aligned with our weekend breakfast routine. Saturday brunch, if we are home, is our most anticipated time of the week. This features my sourdough, our favorite deli spread(smoked bacon, cheese, maple syrup, butter, relish) poached eggs, avo, beans and sausages (on someday) and home brewed coffee. We have been doing this ever since we moved to Seattle, which is almost a year now.
Back in Melbourne, we used to go out as there were plenty of good, soulful, cosy cafes that served real sourdough bread and the best coffee in the whole world. Not to mention the fine french pastries and pies and cakes and slices….
There was one particular breakfast (I have this for lunch too) at a deli cafe in the hills, which was my favorite. This was a toasted fruit sourdough served with sticky baby figs and mascarpone. I have recreated this dish many times since. The most important part of this dish, the fruit sourdough, obviously, was from a local sourdough bakery, which I used to work for, for two years(lucky me!). So my fruit sourdough is inspired by this bread, but I have tweaked the recipe so much over time to suite our taste.
I use different dried fruit combinations and use different spices every time to make it exiting. You can use most of the dried fruits like Sultana, Raisins, Currents, Cranberries, blueberries, apricots, prunes, plums, figs etc. I always keep it limited to three verities, two sweet and one tangy. But it’s up to you.
Dates add a nice sweetness. You can use dried figs too
You can also use spices like cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin spice, nutmeg to give it some warmth. This will really enhance the flavor and the house smells festive every time I bake these breads.
Make sure to wash the dried fruits, specially the dark colored once. This will wash off excess residue and also help them hydrate slightly. I figured this out the hard way. The dried fruit tend to absorb water from the bread dough resulting in a tougher dough, which inhibits fermentation, gluten development and the oven spring later.
Alternatively, soak the dried fruit over night, drain and pat dry
The dough that is just mixed would look wet and sticky. After an hour of aulolyzing(or fermentalizing), this will be a lot firmer and easier to handle
After the kneading, it will start to look much smoother. This dough is now ready for bulking.
As always, incorporate the fruit at the end of the kneading, just before the bulk proof. This will make sure the gluten development is not disturbed.
The wet dough is about 75% hydrated as the dried fruit will absorb some moisture later.
Also fruit brings in sugar to the dough and to counter balance that we need to up the leaven percentage a little. Sugar is hygroscopic and will compete with yeast for water, which could inhibit fermentation.
If you mix the dough with the fruits in it, more sugar is going to get incorporated into the dough, so adding fruits later prevents this. Also we just fold the fruit in, by hand and not mixing vigorously.
Once fruit is added, then we let it bulk (3-4 hours). Bulk includes three coil folds in 45 minute intervals at the beginning of the bulk. Once bulk is over you just have to shape the bread and place in the refrigerator for slow fermentation.
When you are ready to bake, check the bread to see if it has proofed enough. If not, leave it at room temperature until proofed. Do the “poke” test to make sure.
Use either flour or semolina to dust the bread
Once proofed, slash(score) and bake in a preheated oven
This bread can be served in many different ways. Eat it as is on the same day, it will be moist and great with butter or maple syrup and some fresh berried. It is already loaded with fruit so you can pretty much eat it on it’s own.
It is also great toasted with cream and berries. Or cut it in to thin wedges and toast both sides. This will be similar to biscotti and you can serve with tea or coffee. I love these with lemon curd, cream cheese.
Try this bread with your favorite dried fruits, you won’t be disappointed.