Give us this day our daily bread…

I make our bread several times a week. I enjoy the process and now that I’m using my starter Hercules, Son of Priscilla (thanks Celia!), my loaves are going from strength to strength. I confess that most of the time I make my usual sourdough loaf, starting the process the night before and baking early evening of the next day.

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Other times I use Celia’s overnight sourdough recipe which gives fantastic results and I took on board her tip of dusting the loaf in semolina flour for a crunchy crust. Clearly, as she’s my bread making heroine/guru and I am her keen student/bread making stalker, I also made some teeny tiny loaves (like she did) using some small loaf tins I had bought to make cakes in but had never used. They turned out wonderfully and were the perfect size for a hugely filling lunch roll.

Bread 001

The last few weeks have given me time too to do a little experimenting and for Easter Sunday my father requested a loaf with whole eggs baked into the top of the dough, as this is what his mother used to make when he was a boy. I Googled Calabrian Easter bread and most of the recipes led me to make a slightly sweet bread, gently flavoured with anis and made using eggs and milk. The least said about the egg dyeing the better, but everyone enjoyed it. We all felt that it was like milk bread or pan de leche as it’s called in Spain and would probably prefer to eat it as a breakfast or tea time bread. I’m going to experiment making it again in small rolls so once I’ve perfected it, I’ll post the recipe.

Italian Easter Bread 001

The most recent experiment was to use my sourdough starter to make a whole grain loaf. I wasn’t really sure what sort of results I’d get as wholemeal flour tends to rise more slowly than white flour and give a heavier bread. Combined with a slow rising, heavy sourdough loaf I was a little concerned I’d end up baking the cornerstone of our next building project, but using a mix of a flour which contained wholemeal, wheat flakes and bran with a strong white bread flour, I got fantastic results. The bread was malty, tangy and chewy and delicious spread with butter or drizzled with olive oil. I followed the same process as my usual loaf, but didn’t add olive oil. I added an extra knead and a slightly longer bake.

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 100ml of unfed sourdough starter (mine is fed with the same volume of flour and water)
  • 250g wholemeal flour with flakes and grains
  • 300ml water

For the dough

  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 10g salt

The night before you want to bake (or fit this into your usual baking routine), mix the ingredients for the sponge, cover and leave overnight or for about 8 hours. Don’t forget to feed your original starter to replace what you took out!

Bread 006

The next day, add the remaining flour and salt and in a mixer with a dough hook (this is quite a wet dough) knead for 10-12 minutes until the dough looks stretchy and elastic.

Turn it into a large, oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave it to double in size, mine took about 5 hours, but it will be different for everyone. Turn out of the bowl onto an oiled surface, knock it back, form it into a ball and put it back into the oiled bowl and cover again. Leave to rise again, this should only take a couple of hours, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. I didn’t use semolina but feel free to use whatever you like best.

Knock back and shape either onto a round or put into a floured banneton (which is what I did). Cover with a tea towel and leave to double in size.

Bread 004

Just before you are about to bake, turn your oven on to heat at top “volume” with an oven tray inside if you are going to turn out from a banneton. Once the oven has reached its temperature, carefully take the tray out and turn your loaf onto it. Slash with a very sharp or serrated knife, put it in the oven and turn the temperature down to 150C (Fan) and bake for about 55 minutes until nicely browned and it sounds hollow when tapped on it’s lovely wholemeal bottom.

Drive yourself crazy for a few hours while it cools with the wonderful smell of your freshly baked loaf and enjoy whichever way you most enjoy bread!

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54 thoughts on “Give us this day our daily bread…

  1. You are clearly a natural just like Celi! How brilliant! I would thoroughly enjoy one of those mini loaves for lunch.
    Have a beautiful Saturday afternoon Tanya.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  2. I made Celias loaf last nights for the guests. I made TWO great loaves of bread and they scoffed the lot! Priscilla (mine is called Godzilla) is the most amazing starter. Now that I am working with this one i have never had a failed loaf.. i also mix a little white with the wholemeal .. it lifts it a little however my daughter in law doesn’t – she loves the Heavy as a Brick Loaves .. I love bread .. though I have to be careful not to eat too much.. a minute on your mouth and forever on your hips you know!! c

  3. That whole grain bread looks fantastic, as does your Easter loaf. The old school method of dying the eggs was with red onion skins – I think they are typically a bit patchy in colour and personally I think the more hand made these things look the better 😉

    1. You’re right in thinking of Greece – their Easter loaves all have the red eggs in them to symbolize the blood of Christ. Go for it – baking bread is so rewarding!

  4. I love making bread too… there’s something so wholesome about it. I must admit that I use a bread maker when I’m short for time, but there’s nothing quite the same as doing it the traditional way.

  5. These loaves look amazing! Hercules’ coming along very nicely indeed 😉 I have been using semolina to prevent the bread from sticking, but never dusted the whole bread in it – intriguing!
    Looking forward to your perfected Calabrian bread now 🙂

  6. Great recipe and very inspiring! Frustrated with terrible supermarket bread and bored of bread machine loaves I went through an intense sourdough phase but like Celia, miscalculated the breadmaking time and found myself up until all hours baking. I also found it hard to remember to feed/refrigerate the starter and had to keep throwing away mouldy ones and start again! Seeing your recipe though has reminded me how rewarding it is to make sourdough. I shall have to try again!

  7. Hooray for manic bread baking! And thank you for all the linky love! Your sourdoughs always look superb, I’m so glad Hercules is behaving for you. And I love the look of your Easter bread – I reckon you’re right, and you probably could shape them into hamburger buns and they’d be brilliant. The dyed eggs did make me laugh though – did you get completely covered in red dye that wouldn’t wash off for a week? 😀

    1. You are most welcome – you are a HUGE inspiration to my bread making. The first batch of eggs I tried to dye red weren’t great so then I tried to dye them blue (on top of the red) and they all turned out a nasty shade of brown L Then I bought some food dye gel (all natural thank goodness) and for once had the good sense to wear gloves when I performed the “operation” by smearing them in gel. It all got a bit like a scene from CSI in the kitchen but my hands stayed clean!!

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