We used to buy loaves of walnut bread from the Fabrique bakery nearby… and I say “we used to” because through trial and error I have developed a recipe which produces loaves that are even tastier than theirs. So we won’t buy this anymore!
Sorry, Fabrique! We still buy your cardamon buns (for now 😏).
This is a sweet cake that is produced around Easter time in the Valencian region, and it’s also one of my favourites!
In fact, I like it so much that I learned to make it, because it’s impossible to source it in London, and I was missing it lots each time I spent Easter in the UK.
One of the defining features of this bun is that it uses eggs both in the dough and in the decoration, which has many variations: you can brush the top with beaten egg, or whisk the egg white with sugar until it stiffens and use it to decorate the top the bun, or you can even place an egg on the bun before baking, which makes it look like an egg nesting on the bun (this is most typical of the smaller, individual pieces). Often, the eggshells are dyed with food colouring, so this makes for very colourful pieces that you’re sorry to eat.
Tradition has it that you should take a mona with you on a country side walk on Easter Monday, to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Then, when you find a nice and calm spot, you sit down and eat your mona outdoors, while enjoying the early warm weather and the sight and scent of flowers (hopefully without too many insects!).
And if your mona includes eggs, it’s quite traditional to ‘crack’ them on the forehead of your family members or friends… preferably by surprise! 🤪
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!)
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:
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)
the dough needed more water; this flour seems to absorb a lot of it!
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! 🙂
200g sourdough rye starter
280g water 20℃
500g strong white flour (I used Gilchesters Organics unbleached white)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Mix the starter with the water on a bowl
Place the flour and the salt on a bigger bowl
Add the liquid starter to the bigger bowl
Mix and knead well (using the hands)
Slap and fold for 7 minutes
Cover and rest for 30 minutes
Stretch and fold, cover and rest for 1 hour (repeat 3 times)
Flour the banneton and place the dough on it
Leave to prove for 4 hours
Set the oven to 200ºC, place the bread three quarters down from the top, and bake for about 45 minutes.
Then take it out and place on a rack to cool down.
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).