Dan Lepard - Wheat Sourdough Cider Loaf

Ingredients:

Makes a large 700g (baked weight) loaf

Dan Lepard portrait
A recipe by Dan Lepard.

To make the most of these rediscovered Heritage Harvest flours I like to combine both the Roller-Milled White Flour, with the darker Organic Stoneground Wholemeal Flour, in varying proportions according to the sort of crumb I’m after. Using 3 parts White Flour to 1 part Wholemeal flour will give a light wholemeal texture with a degree of heaviness that’s lovely to eat and especially good toasted. If you want to increase the proportion of wholemeal flour do, it will make the crumb heavier but you will get a more intense bran flavour.

I’m of the view that the heaviness and close-textured crumb you typically get when using wholemeal flours is actually an asset to learn to enjoy. And, though this might sound like crazy talk, what I often try and do is make the bread even heavier with nuts and seeds so you get this utterly-intense and rich flavour from the crumb.

So here I’ve made a classic walnut sourdough with Sheppy’s Somerset cider for the biggest, boldest flavour and played up the meaty texture of the Heritage grain flour for a great bread for strong cheeses like Stilton.

Method

  1. Pour the water into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the sourdough starter, cider and brown sugar. Add the Heritage Harvest white and wholemeal flours, mix well then cover the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the bowl, and lightly work it through with your fingertips. As you’ll be stretching and folding the dough as it rises this will also help distribute the salt through the dough no need to be overly fussy here. Cover the bowl and leave for an hour at a warm room temperature (about 25c is ideal).
  3. Next lightly oil a patch of worktop, or spray with water (or even dust lightly with flour), tip the dough onto it then stretch it gently so it’s about 1cm thick. Spread the walnut halves over the dough then roll it up tightly like a scroll. Then press the dough length somewhat flat and roll it up again, this time along the length so you end up with a neat parcel of dough. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and leave for another hour.
  4. Stretch and fold the dough every hour until you can see clear signs of bubbles in the dough. It’s a little trickly to do as the dough contains large pieces of nut but go gently and you’ll be fine.
  5. When the dough feels and looks risen, probably after about 4 hours depending on the temperature it’s fine to shape it. You can leave it to rise longer but remember that Heritage flours don't tolerate very long rising, so keep an eye on it.
  6. Pat the dough out into a rectangle about 15cm wide on a floured surface, then roll up tightly into a scroll (or use your preferred dough shaping method). Leave this to rise in a cloth-lined banneton with the seam-side upwards. You can also place the banneton with the dough in the fridge overnight, covered, to develop the flavour and crust colour more.
  7. To bake the loaf, heat the oven to 220C, and have ready a tray or your baking dome. Upturn the loaf onto the tray or base and slash it with the criss-cross pattern traditional for walnut bread (then cover with the baking dome if you’re using one) then bake for 30 minutes with steam, then rotate the loaf on the tray (and remove the dome) and bake another 15 – 20 minutes until it’s the golden colour you prefer. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.