As I’ve mentioned in previous posts my OH’s Mum, Clarinda (http://www.highlanddiary.co.uk), is a keen baker with a particular knack for sour doughs – I have fond memories of sour dough hot cross buns one Easter! So I am delighted that she has agreed to do a guest spot here at Interestingthymes, and with no further ado I’ll hand you over to Clarinda:
I feel very honoured to have been asked to do a guest spot on Interestingthymes, I just hope my efforts live up to the rest of the content. Having baked all the family bread for over 30 years, I recently came to sourdough and it opened a new chapter in my bread-making career. The other day, I made baps using a “sourdough” starter – although I have to say that I prefer the term “natural starter”, especially as the one I was using – which came originally from Russia but which I acquired in powdered form from Sourdough International and which has served me faithfully for two or three years – is not at all “sour”. I have made these baps often from a recipe I adapted from one in the “Associated Bread Book” – they have never let me down and freeze well which means that there is always something in the bread line in the freezer.
I mostly use American cups as I find them easier, so have set the recipe out in cups as well as lbs and ozs. Because my kitchen is on the cool side and I have no airing cupboard, I use a plant propagator to keep the dough warm.
1 ½ lbs or 6 cups strong white flour
approx 8 fl oz or just under 1 cup cool water
2 oz lard or other shortening
2 tsp salt
8 fl oz or 1 cup milk
1 cup or 8 fl oz of sourdough starter
Starting in the evening a couple of days ahead, mix the starter with ½ cup (4 fl oz) of the water and 1 cup (4 oz) of the flour. The base-starter now needs feeding – so an extra cup of flour and ¾ cup of water is beaten into the jar of starter and put to keep warm for a couple of hours before going back into the ’fridge. The bap starter now rests in the propagator for a few hours and then I turn the heat off until I give it another lot of flour the next evening – again, 1 cup (4 oz) flour and ½ cup (4 fl oz) water. This leaven then rests in the same way until the next morning, by which time it is good and active and smells lovely.
Next rub the lard/shortening into the rest of the flour with your fingertips as for pastry. Add the leaven, salt and the milk – no need to warm it – but be careful not to overdo the liquid at this stage. Add the milk slowly so that you get a soft but not at all sloppy dough. Turn it out on to a work surface and kneed it until smooth, then form it into a soft, white cushion. The board should only be floured at this stage, unless the dough is too wet! It takes a bit of practice to get the baps just right at this stage – but keep going as the results are worth it!
The dough is then popped back into the bowl and left to rise in the warm for about 4 hours – time enough to go into town knowing that the dough will be quite happy! The next stage is gently to turn out the risen dough – no punching down, that just toughens it – onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a sausage and divide it into portions – this can depend on the size you want your baps to be. Then using floured hands form the pieces into flat-ish buns. Baps should be flat, but I feel that you never want a roll of any sort to be too deep – it’s the filling that counts, and deep rolls can get to be a bit chewy in my opinion.
The baps should then be left on a greased tray to prove again for about 1 hour, and then baked in a fairly hot oven for 15 mins. Ovens vary, but I set my fan oven at 170 centigrade – about 190 non-fan or gas mark 7.
After they are cool, all there is to do is fill and enjoy them.
And no doubt we will! I have a feeling these may well be on my to-bake list this coming weekend 🙂 Many thanks to Clarinda for this article, and I look forward to inviting her back in the future. In the mean time please check out her fabby blog on life in the Scottish Highlands – lovely observations of, and insights into, life in and around Loch Inver.