Friday, April 19, 2024

Tapenade Swirl Sourdough Bread

I’ve been baking a lot this week. It’s the Mercury retrograde thing. Just to set the record straight, I do not actually believe in stuff like that. But after everything that had happened recently (see the previous post), and after things continued to happen, a girl may have to leave some room for the possibility of planetary misalignment... Recall something I wrote recently, “when world is in turmoil, I resort to watching Miyazaki movies, riding a bike, or making happy food”. Well, I tried watching Ponyo, but TV died. Then, I injured my toe chasing Nutmeg in the apartment (she was munching on a wool sock), hence, no bike either. Meanwhile, Nutmeg capitalized on my injury, and ate the sock, and had to be taken to ER, where they pumped her stomach. (And this, my friends, is only a snippet of what Mercury has unleashed so far.) All of this left me with option No. 3. Until celestial sky is back in order, you won’t see much of me. 

Now about the bread. What I really wanted to bake was giardiniera babka but, given the circumstances, I decided not to shop for new ingredients and use only fridge leftovers. (Long time ago, we nicknamed this habit "the leftover police"). The police produced a half a jar of olive paste and a wedge of lime. This may not seem exciting at the first glance, but wow, what an amazing combination of flavors! Cannot wait to tell you more about it. The bread was something entirely new. Don’t expect the blasts of olives or lime from this loaf, the flavor is subdued and very elegant. There is a hint of lavender, a whiff of herbaceous red wine from the colder climate, and gentle acidity. It’s a bread you would eat with fresh spring vegetables or salads (this comes to mind), green pea hummus, or if you crave something more substantial, I’m thinking lamb and white wine stew. If you want a simple meal, just pair it with burrata and grassy olive oil. Or -- our absolute favorite at the moment -- make a cream cheese and cucumber sandwich. A thick slice of bread, a hefty spread of cream cheese, and a generous amount of diced cucumbers and an occasional slice of radish on top. Trust me, this was one of the most exciting bites I had recently!

Stay safe amidst planetary mess, and see you after April 24.

Baker’s notes:

I have two baking modes: A) perfectionist, and B) free spirit. In Mode A, I use warm oven and warm water to maintain 78°F dough temperature. That puts me at predictable 4 1/2 - 5 hours of bulk fermentation for a loaf like this. In Mode B, when my oven is occupied doing something else, or when I feel like goofing around, I use cold water straight from the tap (around 60°F) and ballpark the bulk depending on the temperature of the kitchen. In my 76°F kitchen, this loaf would take about 6 1/2 hours of bulk to get 50% increase in volume. The baking schedule below is for Mode B. Every starter, combination of flour, and kitchen have their own unique personality so use my notes and baking schedule below as rough guides and trust your judgment.

Total formula:

300 g (75%) King Arthur organic bread flour
100 g (25%) Central Milling organic Type 85 malted flour
320 g (80%) water
 72 g (18%) ripe levain at 100% hydration
  8 g (2%)  kosher salt
 60 g (15%) tapenade or black olive pure (I used Mt. Vikos kalamata olive spread)
            zest from 1/4 of lime, grated on a microplane 

Final hydration: 91%

Kitchen temperature: 76°F

Water temperature: 60°F

Levain ratio: 1 : 2 : 2 (starter, KA AP flour, water)

Baking schedule:

 9:00am prepare levain
11:30am autolyse
 1:00pm add levain
 1:30pm divide the dough, add salt and lime to Dough1, add salt and olive paste to Dough2
 2:15pm stretch and fold + optional coil folds
 3:00pm stretch and fold
 4:00pm laminate and combine
 5:00pm coil fold
 7:30pm shape and retard

-- next day --

12:30 pm bake

#1 Prepare levain (9:00am)

Prepare the levain. Transfer to a clean glass container and cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap. Wait until the levain has doubled in volume. (In the past I was waiting for the levain to go beyond and almost triple, but I am getting better result while it is on its way up with lots of upward momentum left in it. For the given ratio of sourdough, flour, and water, it took about 4 hours in my kitchen at 76°F.

#2 Autolyse (11:30pm)

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours and water. Mix until no dry bits remain. Cover the bowl and leave for at least 30 min. For the combination of flours above, I like to go with 60 to 90 minutes.

#3 Add levain (1:00pm)

Add the levain to the autolyse. Using your fingers, pinch in the levain first, then keep gently stretching and folding the dough over itself for about 5 minutes. From time to time the dough will begin to resist; when it happens pinch it again to relax it, and then continue mixing. This will help build strong dough from the beginning. Gather the dough into a ball, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

#4 Add salt (1:30pm)

Divide the dough in half. Divide the salt in half.

Dough 1: Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Pinch in the salt. Add the lime zest. Apply gentle stretches and folds for about 5 minutes. If the dough resists, pinch it again, and then continue mixing. Gather the dough into a square packet and transfer to a bulk fermentation container. 

Dough 2: Sprinkle the salt over the dough. Pinch in the salt. Add the paste. Pinch in the paste. To mix in, apply gentle stretches and folds for about 5 minutes, or until fully combined. (It may take a while.) Gather the dough into a square packet and transfer to a bulk fermentation container. Cover the containers and leave for 45 minutes.

#5 1st stretch and fold + optional coil folds (2:15pm)

Perform one set of stretch and folds. This dough should be very elastic, and it may allow you to work on it more. If you notice that the dough is not pushing back, perform one or more additional coil folds. Cover and leave for 45 minutes.

#6 2nd stretch and fold (3:00pm)

Perform another stretch and fold. Cover and leave for 45 minutes.

#7 laminate and combine (4:00pm)

Lightly wet the work surface. With wet hands, release the first dough (white dough) from the bottom of the bulk container on all sides and place it onto the work surface. By pulling the dough from the middle and not the sides, stretch it into a square about twice the size of the original packet. Release the second dough (purple dough) from the container, place it on the work surface close to the first dough. By pulling the dough from the middle and not the sides, stretch it into a square about twice the size of the original packet of dough. To combine, pull the purple dough on top of the white dough, until it covers about 2/3 of the white square. Now pull the remaining uncovered white dough on top of the combined area. Pull the remaining purple dough on top. You will have a long rectangle of combined doughs. Now fold the rectangle along the longer edge on both sides to create a square packet of dough. (There is an excellent video on how to do this here). Put the packet in the bulk container, cover and leave for about an hour.

#8 Coil fold (5:00pm)

Perform a gentle coil fold. Cover and leave until the rest of the bulk.

#9 Shape and retard (7:30pm)

Lightly flour the work surface and the top of the dough. With wet hands gently release the dough onto the work surface, so that the dusted top is now facing the surface. Shape the dough into a batard and place it into the banneton. Put the banneton into a plastic bag or cover it with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge. I keep my fridge at 35°F, to inhibit any further rise of the dough. The total bulk time was 6 1/2 hours at 76°F.

#10 Bake (the next day, 12:30pm)

One hour before baking, place your baking vessel in the oven (I use Emile Henry cloche) and preheat the oven to 500°F. When ready to bake, remove the banneton from the fridge. Lightly spray the bread with water – this helps develop nice crust and makes scoring easier. Wet the bread lame too, score the bread, and transfer it to the baking surface. Spray a little bit of water around the bread and cover. Bake for 25 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, reduce oven temperature to 425°F and continue to bake for another 20 minutes longer. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.