A very interesting sourdough starter made from fermented raisins and a delicious whole wheat bread with olive oil and oregano.
This post is about a delicious whole wheat bread with oregano and olive oil, and a simple method on how to make your own sourdough starter from raisin water. The bread recipe is very flavorful and can also be made with dry yeast instead of a sourdough starter. Olive oil and oregano flavor the bread beautifully, giving it a Mediterranean flair, while at the same time the oil tenderizes the crumb making it softer. The raisin water starter took 8 whole days to be ready, with the temperature inside my house being about 73 °F (23 °C). I believe that if you keep it in a warmer place or if you make it during a hot week, it will need fewer days to be ready.
How the story began…
Some while ago, I saw a post from Natasha (My Daily Sourdough Bread) that caught my eye. Actually, everything Natasha post’s catches my eye, because she makes some of the most beautiful bread in the world! Not to mention that she is the Queen of sourdough – I mean, she has even made sourdough croissants, how cool is that? Anyway, Natasha posted a raisin water starter sourdough bread, and I was immediately intrigued. I already knew what sourdough bread was since an aunt of mine keeps a live sourdough for years now and regularly makes bread with it, but I had never before heard about this raisin water starter. Some years ago I had even made my own sourdough from scratch, but since I don’t bake bread too often, it ultimately died 🙁
I knew I had to try this new kind of sourdough since it used fermented raisins and it reminded me a lot of the procedure we follow in Crete to make raki. Raki or tsipouro is an alcoholic drink (spirit), similar to grappa, made by distilling the fermented skins, pulp, seeds, and stems left over from winemaking after pressing the grapes to extract all of their juice.
My father used to keep a barrel full of these grape leftovers in our basement after pressing the grapes, and I distinctively remember their fruity/musty/alcoholic smell that pierced my nose every time I passed by that barrel. When the leftovers were ready, all of our family along with some friends would gather in the local distillery where we barbecued pork chops, sausages and chicken over the fire and baked potatoes by stuffing them directly inside the hot ashes next to the fire, while waiting for the distillation to finish. I don’t have to tell you how many shots of raki were consumed during that feast! As you can see, Greeks take advantage of any situation they can find, to gather with friends and have a nice time 🙂
These memories made me think that it would be fun to recreate this kind of fermentation – though on a much smaller scale – inside my glass jar.
To make the fermented raisin water:
You’ll need some raisins, water, and a teaspoon of sugar. I roughly chopped my raisins, but I don’t think it makes a difference. You’ll leave the raisins in the water until fermented.
Day 1 (22 °C):
1 1/4 cups (300 grams) spring water (not chlorinated!)
1 tablespoon sugar
100 grams chopped raisins
Day 7 (23 °C):
Small bubbles, fruity and alcoholic smell
Day 8 (24 °C):
Bigger bubbles, stronger smell.
Strain raisin water and discard raisins.
Mix 1 cup (150 grams) flour, 1 teaspoon sugar and 2/3 cups (150 grams) raisin water. Keep covered in a warm place (under a lamp or in the oven with the light on). Let rise for 3-4 hours.
After the starter has increased in volume, add 2/3 cups spring water, 250 grams whole wheat flour, 100 grams bread flour, 2 teaspoons (10 grams) fine sea salt, 2 teaspoons oregano and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Keep covered in a warm place for 2-3 hours until doubled in volume, knead well and shape bread. Let it proof until almost doubled in size and bake in a preheated oven for 50 minutes.
As you can see from the previous pictures, I may have under-proofed my bread a little, meaning that it needed about an extra half hour to puff up a bit more and become fluffier. Nevertheless, it was delicious 🙂 Olive oil and oregano give it such a nice taste! Flavorwise, I can’t say it had a great difference from usual sourdough bread. It had the same crumb and taste with the same level of sourness. The starter itself though smells fruitier than your ordinary flour sourdough starter.
- Use spring water. Tap water is usually chlorinated and that is something that kills live wild yeast and bacteria.
- Keep raisin water and dough in a warm place. A closed oven with only the oven light on or a place under a burning lamp is ideal.
- I’ve read that you can also use other kinds of fruit to make a fermented fruit-water, but have not tried it yet.
- Spray bread with water half-way through baking for a crunchier crust.
- For the starter :
- 2/3 cups (150 grams) fermented raisin water
- 1 cup (150 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- For the rest of the ingredients :
- 2/3 cups (150 grams) spring water, warm
- 1 2/3 cups (250 gram)s whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cups (100 grams) bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large bowl mix raisin water, all-purpose flour, and sugar and keep in a warm place until almost tripled in volume (about 2-4 hours). Add the rest of the ingredients and knead well by hand or using a mixer with the dough attachment. The dough should be elastic.
Cover with a wet towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 2-4 hours). Knead a little more and shape the bread (or you can just put it in a large loaf tin or two smaller ones). Let it rise until almost doubled in volume and score the surface with a sharp knife.
Preheat your oven to 390°F (200°C).
Bake the bread for 10 minutes, lower temperature to 356°F (180°C) and bake for 40 more minutes. Let on a rack to cool. Eat!
For regular sourdough starter, you’ll need 300 grams starter 100% hydration
For a yeast starter, you’ll need: 2/3 cups (150 grams) warm water, 1 cup (150 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 packet (1 tablespoon) dry yeast
The rest of the ingredients and procedure remain the same.
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