Fruit sourdough

Fruit sourdough

By
From
The Tivoli Road Baker
Makes
one loaf
Photographer
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

‘A fruit loaf with lots of fruit’ was what people asked for when we opened our bakery. People love that it is packed with fruit, and that it contains a good variety. Like the olive bread, this loaf takes a bit of extra work and practice, but I think it’s worth the effort.

It is great eaten fresh, and will keep for days. It’s also great toasted, with a nice spread of butter, as the spices really come through when it is warmed. I even flew home to Cornwall with a fruit loaf in my luggage once. My family and I ate it with some good Cornish butter, and it still tasted beautiful after all that time in a dry airline cabin.

Fruit soak

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
40g sultanas
40g currants
40g raisins
50g pitted dates, halved
50g dried figs, quartered
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
5 cloves
50g red wine
50g water
100g dried apricots, chopped in half

Method

  1. Put all the fruit, except for the dried apricots, in a large container or bowl and sprinkle the ground ginger over the top.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the whole spices and the liquids and bring to the boil over medium heat. Once boiled, take the saucepan off the heat and let the mixture infuse for 10 minutes, then strain the liquid over the fruit. Discard the whole spices.
  3. Mix with a spoon until the fruit is evenly distributed and coated with liquid. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight, stirring occasionally to thoroughly distribute the liquid – you want it soaked through the fruit, not settled at the bottom. If leaving the fruit to soak longer than overnight, store it in the fridge.

Starter build

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
40g Starter
20g bakers flour
20g whole-wheat flour
40g water

Method

  1. Around 4–6 hours before you plan to mix your dough, combine the starter, flours and water for the starter build, mixing well to combine. You will use 70 g (2½ oz) of this for the dough; retain the rest for maintaining your starter.

Dough

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
70g Starter
235g bakers flour
45g whole-wheat flour
45g rye flour
25g white spelt flour
270g water
1 orange, zest of
7g salt

Method

  1. At least 30 minutes before you plan to mix the dough, combine the flours and water in a large mixing bowl. Mix them with your hands until thoroughly combined, then cover with a damp cloth and set aside for the autolyse.
  2. When the starter is ripe and bubbly, mix it with the flour and water mixture, sprinkle over the orange zest and salt, and finish mixing the dough.
  3. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for at least 30 minutes, before your first set of folds.
  4. Add the fruit soak and the apricots as you do the first turn and fold, ensuring they are evenly distributed. If the fruit seems a bit wet, you can throw a little extra flour in. You want a slightly sticky dough, not a wet dough. Complete four sets of folds, resting the dough in between each one for 30–45 minutes.
  5. After your last set of folds, cover your dough with a damp cloth and leave to prove at room temperature for 2–3 hours.
  6. If you have multiplied the recipe, divide the dough into individual loaves before you pre-shape. Pre-shape the dough, then cover with a damp cloth and leave it to rest on the bench for 15–20 minutes.
  7. Lightly oil an 18 × 11 cm (7 × 4¼ in), 10 cm (4 in) high tin so it’s ready for baking. When the dough has relaxed, shape the dough following the instructions for the batard loaf.
  8. Place it in the tin, seam side down, then cover with a damp cloth and leave at room temperature overnight. If it’s going to be a hot night and the dough is already feeling active, place it in the fridge, to be baked when needed. You want the dough to reach the height of the tin and to retain the imprint of your finger when gently pressed. If you’ve had the loaf in the fridge and it still looks small and feels dense, sit it in a warm place for 1–2 hours, until ready to bake.
  9. Place a baking tray at the bottom of the oven, and preheat the oven to the maximum temperature. When the oven is hot, boil the kettle and pour around 150–200 ml (5–7 floz) of boiling water into the baking tray.
  10. Place the tin on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the loaf is starting to colour, then reduce the temperature to 200°C (390°F) and bake for a further 20–25 minutes, until the top is a lovely dark brown.
  11. Holding the tin carefully with a cloth, tip the loaf out and check that the sides are a nice golden colour and the loaf is firm to the touch. If it needs a bit longer, put it back in the tin and return to the oven for another 5 minutes before testing again. Tip the bread out of the tin onto a wire rack to cool.

Bakery notes

  • You can vary the fruit that you use depending on your tastes. You can also use different liquids for the fruit soak, such as water or juice, if you don’t want to use wine. Soak the fruit for at least a day (or up to two weeks) before you plan to mix the dough.

    The proving time will vary a lot depending on the temperature and humidity on the day. Throughout the winter months, we leave it out at room temperature to prove overnight. During summer, we prove for a shorter time, and leave it in the fridge overnight. After the final prove, you want the dough to reach the height of the tin and to retain the imprint of your finger when gently pressed, so test it using these methods, rather than following the times exactly.
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