This was another wonderful bread that we made often.
This bread can be made with almost any flour – ordinary plain flour, high fibre, unbleached or any other flour. It takes two days to make as you need to sour the dough first. It is NOT a full-blown heavy sour dough, just a slightly sour taste that goes so well with the fennel, and thus is delicious layered with pesto, tomatoes, cheese and snow pea shoots.
There is a lovely story associated with this bread. I was making the bread one morning to take to a friend’s place on the beach, for a delicious summer lunch and salad. I was interrupted by a telephone call from the US, and was thus running well behind time. So, after the first rising I place the dough in the bread pans, wrapped them in a towel and put them in the back window of the car. It had its second rising in the car, bathed in sunshine, driving on a 40 degree day, to Henley Beach.
That isn’t the end of the story – when I arrived, my friend duly put the oven on at 220 degrees as I instructed, and the bread into the oven a few minutes later. It took me half an hour to realise the oven was an old oven and the temperature gauge was in Fahrenheit. I despaired for the bread, receiving this extra, warmish raising time, but another half hour later (with the oven on 440 degrees) we were eating the best sourish dough bread with an extra crispy crust. I made more the next day, but I still think that the car-risen, oven-crisped bread was better!
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can find more of these recipes in our Retro Recipes series.
|Leaven||2 tspn dried yeast||300g bread flour|
|0.33 tspn ground cumin||tepid water|
|Bread||leaven||1.5 Tblspn fennel seeds|
|600g bread flour||tepid water|
|1 tspn salt||0.5 cup olive oil|
Leaven: Mix the yeast, flour, cumin and water to a sticky mixture and stand, covered, for 2 days.
Bread: Combine leaven, fennel seeds, salt and the 600 g flour and enough water to make a smooth dough that is a little sticky. Knead for 8 minutes in a bread mixer or 15 – 20 mins by hand. Place in a lightly greased bowl and allow to double in bulk.
Preheat the oven to 220 C. Punch the dough down and lightly knead, gradually working in the olive oil. Shape and slash the loaf with a sharp knife. Make one to three round loaves, one or two larger loaves, three smaller loaves or about 6 individual loaves. Allow to rise again until it is about double in size. Bake until crisp and golden, about 20 – 30 minutes for the larger sizes, spraying with water three times in the first 10 minutes.