The cavernous bread

Cavernous bread full of holes

When I cut into this bread and saw what had happened I couldn’t stop laughing. Where did those holes come from? No, wait—they’re not holes… they are caverns!

(I think these are called “fool’s crumbs” in the specialised jargon!)

Slices of bread with big holes

Anyway, disappointing as it looked, at least it was edible, and kept being edible for a week. Sourdough is so amazing, it doesn’t cease to impress me.

I think there are two reasons for this failure:

  1. the starter wasn’t quite active yet (I took it out of the fridge the night before—I should have taken it two nights before)
  2. the dough needed more water; this flour seems to absorb a lot of it!
  3. and maybe it was proving for too long? maybe I should have kneaded better? I don’t know!

Apart from that, the other learning outcome from this experience is that I tried with placing a tray with ice cubes under the bread tray, to create steam, and this time the crust didn’t break in a ridiculous way, and was quite elastic. So, that part worked! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 200g sourdough rye starter
  • 280g water 20℃
  • 500g strong white flour (I used Gilchesters Organics unbleached white)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Gilchesters Organics strong white flour

Preparation

  1. Mix the starter with the water on a bowl
  2. Place the flour and the salt on a bigger bowl
  3. Add the liquid starter to the bigger bowl
  4. Mix and knead well (using the hands)
  5. Slap and fold for 7 minutes
  6. Cover and rest for 30 minutes
  7. Stretch and fold, cover and rest for 1 hour (repeat 3 times)
  8. Flour the banneton and place the dough on it
  9. Leave to prove for 4 hours
  10. Set the oven to 200ºC, place the bread three quarters down from the top, and bake for about 45 minutes.
  11. Then take it out and place on a rack to cool down.

Stats

  • Bread number: 2 (in 2019)
  • Looks: 3, the holes are really embarrassing! It didn’t raise at all, and the crumb was too compact. But—the crust was quite flexible and nicely coloured. So there you go.
  • Smells: 6, somehow sour, but a bit too subtle.
  • Tastes: 5, sour, but not too much. A bit too dry. And it’s so compact it will barely absorb butter or oil or anything.
  • Frustration level: 6. Annoyed that after all the slap and fold effort it will not only barely raise, but develop this stupid hole. At least the result is edible, and I learned the ice cubes trick seems to work better than just spraying water before placing the dough on the oven.
  • Would I try baking this again? Maybe not, I’m done with this flour! (Unless I buy another package or they send me one for free, in which case I would add more water! and a more refreshed starter).

Sourdough everything

Inside of sourdough bread
Inside of sourdough bread

Learning how to make chewy bread was one of my dreams. Each time we went to one of those hipster restaurants that hand you a beautiful basket with thick chewy bread slices, I thought: I WISH I COULD MAKE THIS!

I talk in the past (was, thought) because I managed to get a sourdough starter going at the beginning of December, and I have been producing multiple breads since then. It’s been such a great experience and it’s made me so happy 😃

Continue reading “Sourdough everything”

Coca de Fira

Coca de fira
Coca de fira, London version

“Coques” (singular: coca), in Valencian, are an entire division of “flat breads” typical from the area. They’re sometimes called “tortas” in Spanish, but most commonly referred to as “cocas”.

There are many versions: sweet or savoury, subtle or brutal. They’re often very seasonal: there are cocas for specific times of the year, festivities and events. They can also vary a lot between regions; seasonings and toppings might combine to make a very different result from what you’re used to, even if the base or the appearance are very similar.

Coca de Fira is traditionally eaten during the annual fair (fira, in Valencian) in my hometown. It is a really substantial dish, and a serving can keep you going for a long time, so it’s very suitable for browsing the goods on display and haggling for hours! (specially when November turns out to be cold, which happens from time to time).

This year marks the 600th anniversary of the fair, and my mum was telling me about all the celebrations she was attending to mark the occasion, and how of course they were celebrating with Coca de Fira. I got “a bit” jealous and so I decided to bake my own.

It is a bit difficult to achieve the exact coca you would get if you were in my hometown, because their cured meat has a very particular flavour provided by the seasoning, and also because they use a special type of mushrooms that I’ve never seen in London, but in the best spirit of the dish, I focused on getting a good base, and replaced ingredients with the closest I could get. And the result made me incredibly happy!

Continue reading “Coca de Fira”

Rosemary focaccia and figs

Rosemary focaccia and figs
Rosemary focaccia and figs

On arrival to the agroturismo, we were offered an aperitivo, with olives, crisps, bread, cheeses, and white wine from the region, produced by a nearby vineyard.

After we had either opened our appetite or obliterated it with cheese, it was time to have dinner.

This was the opening, and I really liked its simplicity: bread, rosemary, olive oil and very mature figs. The combination of sweet and salty worked really well, and the rosemary added that extra complexity of aromas for a memorable snack.

✍🏼 Adding it to my list of “things to replicate at home” 🤓

More posts from this trip.