Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Soup Bread. What a brilliant idea! Zopako, or Basque Soup Bread

Soup deserves such treatment as having its own bread. No more rooting around for the crust at the end of a Warburtons loaf for the act of dunking. This bread is where it is at. Minimal crumb, 'hard; in a nice way - not stale - let's say 'robust', with a grainy, satisfying taste which compliments savoury food (can't see me slathering jam on it to be honest) and is very filling. One slice of this with some soup and you will know you have eaten, and for someone like me who has the ability to eat far too much bread, this is not a bad thing.
Putting in 'Spanish' and bread' into Google gave me this recipe. I was looking for something that would go along with the tumbet (in a blog post coming your way soon) and merguez sausages I was thinking of putting together for dinner. I knew that the tumbet would yield tomatoey richness and oil flavoured with aubergine and peppers, and I thought that some bread to go with it would be nice for dunking, and Lola and Finn like it when I make bread, so, kind of a no brainer really.
Because I have a history of not always reading the recipe before I start can I point out that this bread takes 12 HOURS TO RISE which I learnt about once I had made the dough up and put it in the front room for its first proving. I was annoyed with myself and then set out to make a spelt loaf which I would use instead, but I noticed after leaving the dough for about 6 hours it had doubled in size, so I figured I would press ahead and prepare it for baking. I don't know if I did the right thing here or not, not being an expert but what came out of the oven and was subsequently eaten was really lovely.
A couple of things to mention. Anything that has Dan Lepard's name on it is worth baking and the recipe says about putting nonstick paper on the baking tray that you are going to bake your loaf on. I used greaseproof, thinking it would be nonstick and found that the paper actually stuck to the loaf in places and was difficult to get off. I wonder whether it would really harm the loaf if you lightly oiled a baking tray instead of lining it with paper? Or make sure the paper you are using is truly 'nonstick'? I don't know. But worth mentioning.
Zopako, or Basque Soup Bread, adapted from Dan Lepard's Article on the Guardian website
Makes 1 large oval loaf
350ml water, somewhere between tepid and cold
¼ tsp fast-action yeast
525g 00 flour, plus extra for shaping (I used strong white flour)50g spelt, wholemeal or more 00 flour (I used wholemeal) 2 tsp fine salt
Pour the water into a large bowl, stir in the yeast, then add the flours and salt. Mix to a firm dough, then lightly knead for 10 seconds, until evenly mixed.
 Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm to keep in the moisture and leave at room temperature for 12 hours (overnight is probably easiest, assuming you have time to bake the next morning), by which time it should have doubled in volume; if not, leave until it does. (Mine, in a warm room, did it in 8 hours)
Not very tapered, but you get the idea
Shape the dough into a stick about 30cm long with tapered ends, lay diagonally on a tray lined with nonstick paper, and cover.
After about 30 minutes, uncover the dough, dust liberally with flour, then press a rolling pin firmly down the centre, so that you almost split the loaf in two, leaving it joined only by a membrane of dough right down the middle.
Leave to rise again for 30 minutes, then bake at 240C (220C fan-assisted)/465F/gas mark 9 for about 20 minutes, along with a small tray of boiling water on the lowest shelf to make the oven slightly steamy.
Reduce the heat to 200C (180C fan-assisted)/390F/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-25 minutes more, until crisp and the colour you like.


  1. I can definitely eat far too much bread with soup so this sounds excellent. If it takes that long, though, it means I've got to think ahead - not my strong point.

  2. Looks wonderful Stella...i love bread!


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