If I’m going to keep up this daily posting over weekends, I’m going to have to succumb to the inevitable and start food blogging, or more specifically bread blogging, because it’s a big feature of my weekends nowadays.

This time last year I wrote that I wouldn’t post recipes here, because they’d all end up being ripped off from James Morton, but after several months of Brilliant Bread obsession I started broadening my horizons a bit, going back to Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake (where I’d started out) for a second look, and then onto Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf, as well as random recipes from here and there online. I’ve been tweaking their recipes to hybrid versions that work better for me, or just to experiment—which is how I ended up with this hybrid of Paul Hollywood’s basic sourdough and James Morton’s revival bread, or as I call it...

Holy Revival Bread

125-150g of leftover crusts and stale bread
500g strong white flour, minus the weight of the leftover crusts
8g of salt
335g of 1:1 ratio sourdough starter
300g water

James Morton’s version of this uses dried yeast instead of the starter, and makes a slightly smaller loaf. The method I used to make my sourdough starter was this one from The Kitchn, which doesn’t bother with grapes or any of that other stuff—just strong white flour and water in a one-to-one ratio by weight, plus the natural yeasts in the air. My first starter (late 2014-June 2015) was okay, but the second (August 2015-present) has really hit its stride, and is now a lovely gelatinous consistency. It doesn’t need feeding every day; I keep it in the fridge and use some every few days, or weekly at least, and it keeps fine.

Back to this recipe. Break the crusts into small pieces into a bowl and cover them with the water, then leave them for a few hours or overnight in the fridge until soggy and easily mushed up.

In a large bowl (5 litres is a good capacity), weigh out the flour (e.g. 350g if you had 150g of crusts) and the salt. Electronic scales make life a lot easier here. Zero the scales and gloop in the sourdough starter to minimise waste while measuring it; don’t worry if you add slightly too much, as you can scoop or pinch out a bit from the top (where it hasn’t touched the flour) and drop it back into your jar. Add the soggy crust/water mixture to the bowl.

Bring this all together with a Danish whisk (I love those things) or your hands. Because the water is already mixed with the crusts this won’t be the wettest dough, so mixing by hand probably works best. Knead it in the bowl for a minute and then tip onto your work surface and knead it some more for 5 or 10 minutes, picking up stray bits of flour and working them in until it all comes together. It will get wetter and stickier as you go on, and then some of the stickiness will go, but it will still be pretty wet by the time it’s stretchy. Dump it in the bowl and scrape the sticky bits off your hands and the work surface into the bowl with your plastic scraper.

Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it to prove at room temperature overnight, around 12 hours. Did I mention that it’s best to start this the night before?

In the morning, scrape your dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape the bread (the simplest way is to fold the sides in towards the middle with your scraper to knock the dough down a bit), then pick it up with your hand and scraper and drop it into a floured proving basket, or a bowl lined with a floured tea towel. Cover this (I use a big plastic bag and make a tent of it so the dough doesn’t stick to it) and leave for a few hours.

Preheat your oven to 240°C. If you have a baking stone you’ll need 35-40 minutes’ preheating, otherwise 20-25 should do it.

When you’re ready to bake, either line a tray with non-stick baking paper or sprinkle some semolina on a bread peel or wooden chopping board. Tip your proved dough onto it, score the top with a knife or lame, toss 1/2 cup of water onto the side of the hot oven, and either slide the bread off the peel onto the baking stone or slide in the tray. Turn the heat down to 210°C and bake for 40 minutes. When the bread sounds hollow when tapped, it’s done.

This revival loaf method is great for using up the crusty ends of loaves, and any crusts that small children have insisted on removing from their slices of bread. Just save them up in a plastic bag in the freezer until you have 150g of them.

James Morton’s non-sourdough version has an appealing sweetness (from the caramelization in the crusts) which is masked a bit by the sourdough in this version, but this still makes a tasty loaf in its own right. I forgot to take a photo of the uncut loaf, so here’s the tail end of it.

Holy Revival Bread

10 January 2016 · Food