Hairy Bikers and Norwegian Sourdough.

So, this weekend I caught up with some cooking programmes on BBC iPlayer.  One episode was The Hairy Bikers, [don’t ask] and this time they were riding around on motorbikes in Norway sampling yeast recipes.

One stop  was at a bakery famous for it’s sourdough bread and although there wasn’t an actual recipe, because it was a family secret, they said they only used white flour, salt and water, so I should imagine Dave’s basic recipe is spot on to try this.

I was amazed though at how sticky the mix was in all its stages. At all times it was far too sticky to handle. They were insistent their secret was no flour spread on the board to make handling it easier. None! It didn’t need or want to be handled or kneaded. They were insistent….

First of all they had the mother mix.  This was added to some flour in the morning and left to rise during the day — very runny.

Later that day, they added flour and salt that was melted in warm water. Once mixed they stirred the dough around in the bowl with their fingers two or three times. Again I stress it was very, very, sticky.  Then it was turned out onto a tray, covered and put aside overnight to double. They stressed the exact time would depend on the surrounding temperature.

In the morning it was put onto a board that was swimming in olive oil, picked up and dropped a couple of times, then flopped onto a baking tray. They didn’t shape it, or cut into the top, only  prodded it a little, popped a couple of huge bubbles that had appeared, sprinkled some rosemary and olive oil on the top, then left it for an hour or so before baking.

The olive oil and rosemary turns it into what we call Foccachio [sp?] bread, but it’s just as good plain.

I should think it would work beter in summertime over here. My house just doesn’t get warm enough in the winter, but while the details are fresh in my mind, I’m in the process of having a go, just to get the feel of it. If it doesn’t work no worries. Bread never gets wasted in our house. Worst scenario is the birds get it…

When baked it looked absolutely fantastic. It was large and quite flat so no cutting with a bread knife, and had large air pockets. You just tear bits off and spread it with whatever you fancy. As I watched them sample the bread, I kept  thinking butter, creamy goats cheese and crunchy, silverskin pickled onions…

Oh God I’m hungry now!

9 Responses to Hairy Bikers and Norwegian Sourdough.

  1. Bluthner says:

    You’ve gone and made me hungry! Foccacia is pretty close to ambrosia, hot out of the oven. Especially with a really good oil. I used to live in Italy and get up early and head down to the village just to get a slice as it came hot from the bakery oven. mMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…..

  2. MadameMax says:

    Coincidentally, I just bought a really really expensive bottle of Greek olive oil for my son’s birthday present. He will use only olive oil for cooking because, he says, all the other stuff will kill you. I have been told that this really really expensive stuff is so good you can just dip bread in it as is and it’s delicious.

  3. Di-Ohso says:

    Olive oil is good for you if it’s used cold. When subjected to high temperatures though, it isn’t so healthy.

    The Italians dip bread into extra virgin olive oil it and eat it neat, but I don’t like anything too greasy in my mouth. Except butter :) The first pressing is supposed to be the best and they rave over different types just as they do wine, but the more expensive and therefore stronger it is, the less I like the smell and taste of it.

    I must say though that the blissful silence and beautific expressions on the Hairy Bikers faces as they sampled that bread, made my mouth water..

  4. gunnison says:

    Yes, olive oil is wonderful, but it’s lousy for cooking at really high temps . The Chinese use peanut oil for that, but that’s not too healthy either, so I’ve heard. I use grapeseed oil for cooking. Expensive, but in Chinese food you don’t use much.

    There was a big fuss about olive oil in the news a year or so ago — I’ll look for it — where producers and exporters were caught blending inferior oils in with the good stuff, then selling it as all good stuff. Kinda like the financial sector and derivatives. I don’t know what happened in the end. Nothing, probably. Again, like the world of finance.

    I’ll dig up a sourdough foccacia recipe that I’ve used a couple of times. It’s not bad.

    I’ve had problems in the past with folks using olive oil on my woodturned bowls. It imparts a disagreeable flavor eventually, as it can go rancid. I tell people now not to use it.

  5. Di-Ohso says:

    I tried grapeseed oil but wasn’t keen and it’s expensive over here. I use rape seed oil. Hate the taste though. Doesn’t matter whether I roast or fry and smother on herbs and seasoning, I can still taste it.
    Our Chippies now use a more healthy oil. Sunflower I presume. Whereas once upon a time it made my mouth water walking past one, nowadays I have to hold my breath.

    Oh for the days when I merrily and innocently used dripping and pig lard :)
    I have promised myself though, that if ever a doctor gives me a death sentence, I’m going to eat all the things I’ve been deprived of for so long…

  6. Bluthner says:

    For hot frying peanut oil seems to work just fine. And it’s not so expensive.
    Beware of olive oil labels. ‘Extra Virgin’ sounds great, but means nothing except the oil is within a certain ph range. What you want is genuine cold pressed oil. And, if you are me, you want it pressed from olives that are picked while still a bit unripe. Which means pulling them off the tree by hand, not waiting for them to fall into nets. Always astounds me that anyone ever figured out olives were good food for humans, the fruits themselves, off the tree, are so foul and bitter. Who first crushed the oil out of an olive and discovered it was one of the best foods ever? (which, if you get everything just right, is absolutely the truth).

  7. Expat says:

    I used to live in Italy and get up early and head down to the village just to get a
    slice as it came hot from the bakery oven. mMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…..

    Brings back memories Bluthner. My girl friend (now wife) and I worked in Genoa for a short while in the early 1980s. I have vivid recollection of the church bell level with and about ten feet away from our apartment balcony, multiple police forces buzzing around the city packed three cops in small Alfas, everything – and I mean everything – closing for the month of August, going to the telephone office to make a call, Yogi Bear dubbed into Italian, being addressed as inginerie or professori, a beautiful and immaculately uniformed traffic cop on point duty at the busy junction next to where were we fare colazione – old guys just used to come and watch her, Italians love of family – they seemed to live on top of each other but perhaps they had no choice – and wonderful lack of respect for authority. And yes foccacia. I miss Italy.

  8. Bluthner says:


    For me it was the hills just north of Siena, for some years, but around that same time. Italians may not be very good at responsible government, but they sure as hell know how to live.

  9. Di-Ohso says:

    And I need to make the dough mix just a little drier! It tastes good though….

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