The herbs you use are up to you and your taste. Right now in the kitchen garden here, oregano and thyme are at their best. This time I’m going to use thyme – now only waiting for the sponge to mature and the loaf will be on its way.
I’ve made this with red peppers in the past many times. this time with yellow in abundance as well, there could be a combination going on today. Just so long as the loaf doesn’t turn out an odd orange color – even if it does, it won’t spoil the flavor one bit.
Table of Contents
What could you serve this with?
If you have people round to dinner this makes a truly inspired starter; sliced very thin and served with a chilled Gazpacho style soup. It also goes stunning well with chicken, cold pork cuts and just about anything cheesy.
Sourdough Sponge – make at least 12 hours in advance
- 2 ½ fl oz Sourdough Starter
- 4 tbsp Water
- 3 ½ oz bread Flour
Combine the starter from your refrigerator with the water and bread flour – stir it gently but thoroughly before setting down in a warm place overnight – 12 hours at least for the best results
For The Bread
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp olive oil (infused with the thyme)
- 3 tbsp water
- ½ medium roasted red pepper, chopped up
- 1 large or two small roasted garlic bulbs (see below)
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 6 ½ oz bread flour
- 1 ½ tsp yeast
- 1 tbsp cornmeal to finish
Egg Wash – Optional
- 1 egg beaten
- 2tsp water
20 Minutes Before Baking
Take the thyme and oil and combine in a dish big enough to contain hot oil. Place in the microwave and heat for about 1 ½ minute. You want the oil very hot and the thyme just beginning to sizzle. You can use the stove top if you wish – heat the oil slowly though and if you have a cooktop diffuser to spread the heat, now is a good time to use it.
Now leave the mix for the thyme to infuse the oil thoroughly – around twenty minutes should do, but if you want a stronger flavor to leave for another twenty minutes.
Remove the thyme and discard, strain the oil if you want to – I don’t bother – and allow the thyme infused oil to cool to lukewarm at most (totally cool is best) so you can add it to the loaf mix in a minute.
Roast the garlic cloves by removing the outer loose skin and coating the inner skin in oil. Wrap the cloves in foil and seal, then bake in a medium oven for 30-40 minutes until the cloves are butter soft.
Remove and cool until you can comfortably open the skins and squeeze out the lovely roasted pulp
For the pepper, you need to cut half a medium red bell pepper into strips or flat pieces then lay them in foil with a little oil before grilling on high heat until the skin begins to blister and blacken
Remove from the heat and seal them either in the foil or in a plastic bag to let the steam loosen the skins for you. As soon as it becomes cool enough, strip away the skin and toss it away (or if like me you love it, eat it). Leaving a few little bits don’t matter and add colored flecks to the bread.
Now dice the pepper quite small
Into The Bread Machine
- Add the sourdough sponge, garlic and remaining ingredients with the exception of the peppers in the order suggested by your bread machine book and set for white dough, then press start.
- You do need to be watchful and add more liquid or flour as necessary, though this recipe rarely seems to need it
- After about 20 minutes of when your fruit beeper sounds, add the chopped up roasted pepper
- When the dough cycle is ended, remove the dough and punch it down on a lightly floured board and allow it to rest for a few minutes – I normally use a silicone baking sheet for this to avoid adding too much extra flour.
- Sprinkle cornmeal on the baking sheet and shape the dough into a round and place on the prepared sheet or alternatively sprinkle cornmeal into a 1lb baking tin or as I use, a ceramic bowl, and place into the center of that.
I’ve never done it with this recipe but with all of them, you can split up the dough at this stage and make about 12 individual rolls if you like. Now cover the dough and let rise again for one hour.
- If using the wash, combine and brush over the surface at the top of the bread.
- Make two or three slashes in the top of the bread or individual rolls with a sharp knife and put in a pre-heated oven (190C or 375F). Bake until the top is golden brown – allow 35 to 45 minutes.
It’s really important to let your bread cool properly before cutting or storing. Well, I’ve got to tell you it’s a valiant struggle to keep your hands off this one – it smells sooo good, and tastes even better!
If like me you make round loaves and find them awkward to store, check out this really cool round bread bag made from canvass which takes these round sourdough loaves. In bright fresh green, it’s very bohemian to serve from at the table. You can also find hints and tips on the best way to store all the yummy fresh loaves you make with your bread machine or bake by hand.
Let me know if you make it and like it.