Sourdough with fennel and coriander seeds

Makes 1 loaf

Enjoy the tangy taste of sourdough bread with our special recipe with fragrant and antioxidant-rich fennel and coriander seeds. The most essential part of making sourdough is creating the starter culture that will give your bread its rise. This wild yeast mixture is alive, and can be kept in the fridge for years if fed regularly with flour and water – think of it as your new pet! This starter takes six days to grow before it is ready for use; this may seem a long time but once it is ready you can make real sourdough anytime you like. If you’re a sourdough fan it is definitely worth the wait.

The long rising time of sourdough bread neutralises phytic acid and promotes the body’s absorption of calcium and iron, and as the yeast comes from the starter and not a commercial concentrated yeast, it contains lactobacillus bacteria which is excellent for the gut. Not everyone believes that yoghurt should be used in sourdough, but we think it kicks off the culture and gets things bubbling away nicely for an extra active culture.

Wellbeing Wisdom

  • Fennel seeds are rich in antioxidants
  • This fresh ‘starter’ yeast contains lactobacillus bacteria which is excellent for the gut

Ingredients

For the sourdough starter

  • Kilner Jar or similar container
  • 75ml live full fat plain yoghurt
  • 215ml skimmed milk
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 250ml water

For the loaf

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1tsp table salt
  • 300g sourdough starter
  • 2tsp fennel seeds
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 125ml tepid water

Method

To make the sourdough starter:

Day one: To begin the process, gently heat 175ml of milk in a pan. Pour the yoghurt into your container and stir in the warmed milk. Cover and leave in a warm place for 24 hours.

Day two: Stir the mixture – it is normal for the mixture to separate slightly – and mix in 120g of flour. Cover and leave at room temperature for 48 hours.

Day four: The mixture should be nicely bubbly and smell slightly sour. Add 180g flour, 100ml water and 40ml cold skimmed milk to the mixture and stir well. Cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day five: Today your starter should be relatively active with lots of bubbles. Remove half of the starter from the container and discard. Add 150g flour and 150ml water and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day six: The starter is now ready to use. You can keep it at room temperature but it will need feeding everyday. Our Liz Earle Wellbeing sourdough starter is kept in the fridge and fed every five days with equal parts flour and water depending on how much space there is in the jar! We generally use 100g flour and 100ml water. You will need to bring the starter back to room temperature before you bake it, and feed it after making each loaf.

 

To make the fennel and coriander seed sourdough loaf:

  1. Begin by crushing your seeds in a pestle and mortar – not into a fine powder, just so they release their delicious, fragrant oils.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the water together with a wooden spoon, adding small amounts of water if the mixture is too dry. When the dough has come together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and cover, leave to rise in a warm place for 3 hours – the airing cupboard would be perfect!
  4. Turn the dough out onto the work surface again and briefly knead to ‘knock’ the air out. Place the dough into a bowl lined with a clean tea towel, and leave to rise again in a warm place for 6-8 hours.
  5. Place an oiled baking tray in an oven set to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. While the baking tray is heating up – this is essential for a lovely crispy crust – shape your loaf. Although sourdough is free form, it is nice to shape the dough into a roundish loaf before you place it in the oven. Brush the top of the loaf with water and sprinkle over some whole fennel seeds. Bake for 45 minutes. Your bread is ready when it makes a hollow sound when knocked on the bottom.
  6. Leave to cool under a tea towel to keep the crust nice and crisp.