Yesterday I made three breads: one, the Saffron Yeast Cake, two, a sourdough onion loaf, and three…you’ll see tomorrow. Let me show you the sourdough onion bread.
Sourdough Onion Bread
Refresh the starter:
170 grams sourdough starter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour
Mix the above three ingredients together, cover, and allow to develop for 1 hour.
Chop 1 large onion and saute it in 2 Tblsp. olive oil. Let it only start to turn golden.
Then add 1/2 tsp. black pepper or grind several turns of the pepper mill over it.
Add 1 Tblsp. kosher salt. Stir well, and turn the flame off.
To the refreshed starter, add
1/2 cup water and
the sauteed, seasoned onions, with all the oil
Now you need 3 1/2 cups bread flour, and up to 1/2 cup more if necessary.
Start working the flour in, 1 cup at a time. Add the extra 1/2 cup a tablespoon at a time, only till you have a firm, flexible ball of dough that’s only a little sticky. Fold and stretch as soon as the dough has become cohesive.
You’ll see that when you stretch the dough out, the flour is absorbed much more quickly than with traditional kneading. Just pull the dough apart with your two hands, making a rectangle, then fold the sides under to make a ball, then stretch the dough again to shape a new rectangle. Do this 4 or 5 times, and stop with a ball in your hands. Now, if this seems strange or confusing, just knead the dough as usual. Stretch and fold gives the bread a rustic texture with a hole-y crumb, but it’s not crucial.
Cover your ball of dough. Plastic wrap is best; the dough rises to a greater lightness with it. Don’t know why, but so it is. Leave the dough alone for 8 hours. If your kitchen is cold, just leave it out.
Gently deflate the dough. Add flour by tablespoons, kneading or stretching & folding as you go, to get a firm ball of dough. Dribble some olive oil into the mixing bowl. Put the ball of dough in and turn it around a few times so the oil covers its surface. Cover again, and leave to rise another 8 hours, till doubled.
Break the dough down again gently. It should be quite light. Either cut it in half for 2 medium loaves, or keep it whole for one large loaf. Sprinkle flour as needed to maintain shape. Allow it to rise once more on a sheet of baking paper or on the baking tray which has been well sprinkled with corn flour. Let it rise about 1 hour longer, this time in a warm place. It should have not quite doubled, and show bubbles under the surface. The timing isn’t exact because the temperature in your kitchen will determine how long it takes. Be prepared to allow this last rise 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 F, 180 C.
Paint the dough with a beaten egg. Decorate it with poppy seeds.
Bake for 40 minutes. Check to see if it’s done; if it seems underdone (toothpick test again), set your timer for another 10 minutes and let it bake.
This is a dense, chewy bread with lots of onion flavor. Very good indeed.