My successful journey with sourdough started during lockdown in 2020. Rusticus was born on 12 June and he is healthy, strong and stable. I use him in pizza dough, all kinds of breads, crumpets, pancakes anything really that requires yeast. I’ve even made dog biscuits for my darling Kenzi. I love bread, it’s comforting and satisfying and makes me happy. With the extra benefits of slow fermentation, this bread makes it easier to digest too. I had two prior unhappy and unsuccessful attempts at keeping my starters alive. The first one I was gifted from a friend with good intentions. I had no idea what to do with it. I didn’t even know I was to name IT! Fast forward a few years and I decided to try again. This time I stumbled on Patrick Ryan’s video on how to make a sourdough stater. Charlie was born with too many birthing pains and anxiety for me to fully appreciate what he was capable of achieving. I was scared of him really. I had put so much effort into him that I was scared I was going to kill him. Eventually I did have to toss him out, but he taught me a lot and I will never forget him. The biggest lessons was to relax more. Don’t be afraid, with the right amount of food and care I have come to realise with a good and consistent routine that Rusticus is more robust than I expected.
Rosemary Chilli and Preserved Lemon Sourdough Focaccia
- 450 g bread flour stone ground
- 9 g salt
- 180 g sourdough starter mine is a solid starter or levain
- 153 g potato cooked in the oven or boiled and cooled until soft then mashed
- 45 g olive oil plus extra for glass dish and baking tray (2Tbls) cold pressed extra virgin
- 315 g water filtered
Toppings for Focaccia
- 4 sprigs rosemary finely chopped
- 40 ml olive oil plus cold pressed extra virgin
- 40 ml water filtered
- 2 pinch sea salt flakes maldon
- 1 chilli finely chopped
- 2 tbsp preserved lemon roughly chopped
- Whisk the flour and the salt together in a bowl450 g bread flour, 9 g salt
- In the stand mixer bowl, add the starter, mashed potato, olive oil and water180 g sourdough starter, 153 g potato, 45 g olive oil plus extra for glass dish and baking tray (2Tbls), 315 g water
- Using the stick blender, blitz the wet ingredients together until frothy
- Place the mixer bowl in the stand mixer and attach the dough hook
- Add the flour and salt mix to the wet ingredients and mix on med speed for about 15 minutes. Tip dough into glass dish sprinkled with olive oil. Cover loosely and leave for 1-2 hours to rest.
- Cover tightly with lid and store in fridge for 12 hours
- Remove dough from fridge and tip into oiled baking tray – using the heal of your palm, stretch and pull dough to fit the baking tray. Place in the off oven with the light on and a bowl of hot water on the bottom shelf for 2 hours to double in size.
- Mix the toppings together in a glass dish and let stand whilst waiting for the dough the double in size4 sprigs rosemary, 40 ml olive oil plus, 40 ml water, 2 pinch sea salt flakes, 1 chilli, 2 tbsp preserved lemon
- Poise your fingers into a piano playing position, dip them into the rosemary olive oil water mix and then into the dough creating little pockets for the mixed oil to collect. Once this is done there will be leftover herbs in the dish scatter these evenly over the focaccia and rest for an additional 30-60 minutes. This dough will be bubbly. Put oven on to 190ºC whilst waiting for dough the proof.
- Place baking tray in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If you prefer a pale focaccia bake for less time. Check after 25 minutes to see if this is the colour you prefer.
- Serve with any of your favourite Italian dishes or a bowl of soup