Walnut, Fig and Crystallized Ginger Sourdough Bread

~from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Supplies you need:

You need to have an active sourdough starter.  If you look on Etsy there are lots of sellers - I used World Sourdough. Amazon sells one by Breadtopia that is live and not dried hereKing Arthur even sells an already "active" sourdough starter here.  
A bread stone for your oven is also preferred but you can also use a ceramic-coated Dutch oven.

Ingredients:

1-1/4 cups fed and active sourdough starter
1 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (not necessary but helps obtain a good rise), optional
3/4 cup diced dried figs, dried cherries or cranberries
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

In the bowl of a mixer with dough hook, combine the starter, water, and flour.  Stir together until smooth. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for 1 hour. Then, mix in the salt and yeast and knead the dough with your mixer's dough hook on medium speed for about 6 minutes. Just before the kneading is done, mix in the dried fruit.  If you don't have a dough hook you can knead by hand on a lightly floured surface.  Add the walnuts and fold them gently into the dough. Cover the bowl allow the dough torise at room temperature for 40 to 60 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface.

If you wish to make two smaller loaves instead of one large one, divide the dough in half.  With a scraper, scoop up one side of the dough bring it into the center, pressing down. Turn the dough a quarter turn, and repeat four more times. Repeat with other loaf, if necessary.

Flour a tea towel or banetton.  If using a tea towel, place it inside of a bowl or pan with a shape you find pleasing, bottom side up.  Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 450°F with a baking stone placed in the lower third of the oven. When the oven is preheated, put 1" of water into a small skillet that can go into the oven. Take your breads out of the refrigerator. Don't worry if they have not risen a lot, it's okay.

Bring the water in the skillet to a simmer and place it in the bottom of the oven. Place a piece of parchment on a baker's peel or the back of a baking sheet.



Turn the loaves out of their banettons onto the parchment. Slash the top(s) of the loaves, and slide the bread(s), paper and all, onto the stone in the oven. Spray the inside of the oven generously with water from a spray bottle and set a timer for 5 minutes. Spray once more when the timer goes off, and bake for another 35 minutes, until the center of the loaf reads 200°F when measured with a digital thermometer. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing.

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