I am no fan of Paul Hollywood, but this right here is a brilliant bit of TV:
The process of baking this loaf captivated me right at the start of my sourdough adventures, from the double starter to the crowning moment when Hollywood points at the dead leaves on the base and says, “What’s that?” Quite a few loaves in, I have returned to the video to find that, no, I still haven’t come across a recipe quite like it.
I am determined to recreate this bread.
The video itself gives a lot of clues, but some questions could only be answered by catching a train out to Stratford and sampling a loaf of Karaway’s bread for myself.
Questions like: does it even taste good? How much rye does it have? What’s the crumb like?
I needn’t have worried about the taste disappointing. This bread, on the left, is delicious: malty and cakey and savoury, with a subtly caraway tang. But the best thing is the crumb: for a bread that is 95% rye, as the man at the counter told me, it’s astonishingly light, and moist without being the slightest bit sticky. The crumb texture is the work of an obsessive; someone has laboured over it.
Folks, recreating this one is going to be tough.
The other loaf, by the way, was called Grandmother’s Rye Sourdough, or something like that. It was also very good, with a similar dense yet not heavy texture, but more wheat flour and a more assertive caraway flavour.
Oh, yes, the dead leaves weren’t just for TV. They’re called acorus calamus, and they taste mildly bitter, a bit like aniseed but less aromatic. Here they are: