According to My Diary, today is Experimental Cooking Day, and as I am a good girl, I am doing as I am told.

nicoiseAfter some deliberation, I decided that today should be the day when I experiment with the sourdough starter that I have had on the go. I only started it on Saturday, but, under instruction from The Hair Bikers (following their Rustic Spanish bread recipe) a dash of yeast can help it along and make it work quicker, so yesterday I added a small pinch to the batter I had underway. Today it had transformed from a slightly sludgy mess into something bubbly and almost sponge-like, and much like the description of a sourdough starter that I have seen in various books and recipes. It even smelled quite pleasant  – not unlike homebrew, really. I already had in mind that I wanted to follow the Paul Hollywood sourdough recipe, and the lovely lads that are Dave and Si surely won’t mind?

The bread was very tasty. I haven’t had sourdough before, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was much more flavoursome than most breads, especially bought ones, and was a great accompaniment to the chilli mackerel niçoise salad we enjoyed for tea tonight.

sourdough sliceSourdough Starter

75g wholemeal bread flour
75ml warm water
pinch yeast (if you want a proper sourdough, leave this out, but mature the starter was longer)

1. Get a large jar or tub, and weigh in 75g flour. Mix in 75ml warm water and whisk well with a fork. Leave somewhere warm-ish (a warm kitchen is fine) where you won’t forget about it.

2. Repeat the flour/water process every day for seven days, mixing well with each addition to ensure there are no floury lumps.

3. There should be a change to the consistency after 24 hours and within a few days, the mixture should start to look bubbly. After about five to seven days, it should smell a little yeasty and fruity. It is now ready to use. If you have used yeast, you should reach this stage after about three-four days.

Sourdough Loaf


190g strong white flour
3g sea salt
60-90ml water
125g starter

1. Mix the flour, salt and starter in a large bowl.

2. Add the water, gradually, to make a soft dough.

3. Tip the dough onto an oiled surface and knead until soft, stretchy and smooth.

4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to double in size, which may take up to 5 hours (or you can leave it overnight in the fridge).

5. Knock back the dough by kneading once again, until smooth and all the air has been removed. Mould into a smooth ball, and place in a well-floured bowl or proving basket (banneton), with the seam of the dough on the top. Leave to rise again, this time for 1.5-3 hours, until doubled again. If you prefer, you can shape the loaf, liberally dust with flour and place on a baking tray to prove, then put the whole tray in the oven for baking.

6. Preheat a baking tray in a hot oven (220C) and put a roasting dish in the bottom.

7. Dust your hot tray with flour, and gently tip the dough from the proving bowl onto the tray. Half fill the roasting tin with water to create steam (this makes for a better crust on your loaf).

mackerel nicoise

8. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, until the loaf rings hollow when tapped underneath.

9.  Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and eating. It goes really well with anything, but especially salads, soups and pate, in my opinion.

(For some reason I ended up with a large air pocket at the top of my loaf. I think perhaps I put it in too warm a place and it proved to quickly. It didn’t affect the taste though!)

I love nicoise salad, and I jazzed this one up a bit by using chilli smoked mackerel for a bit of extra zing, and soft boiled eggs, cooked so that the yolk oozes out like liquid sunshine, adding a burst of flavour that seeps over the leaves. Eggs like this are a new favourite of mine and really very easy. I use free range eggs from local chickens, and the Jamie method of boiling. I just heat the water to a rolling boil, use a slotted spoon to dip my eggs in and out of the water a couple of times (to reduce the chance of cracking) and then leave them in for four minutes (for a medium/large-ish sized egg). When the time is up, immediately take them out of the water and put in a bowl of iced water to stop them cooking further. When cool enough to handle, peel and halve. I have served them like this on salads, kedgeree and with muffins, and they are all equally tasty. I guess it’s similar to poaching, but less messy – definitely a winning combination.

I had to add my favourite salad dressing, Cotswold Gold Raspberry Drizzle, which I sampled and bought when I went to the BBC Good Food Show back in June. My lovely parents managed to get me a second bottle last week, and it goes perfectly with this niçoise. Made from rapeseed oil, rather than olive oil, the health benefits are numerous, and it tastes amazing*.

*This is in no way a sponsored post, and, although I’d like to say they had, I have been offered no benefits by Cotswold Gold to promote their products. I just think they are delicious, and worth mentioning.
shortcuteggspertsThis post is an entry for the #ShortcutEggsperts Linky Challenge sponsored by British Lion Eggs. Learn more and find recipes at

I am adding this blog post to Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesday Roundup where you can have a look at some other amazing recipes created this week.
Tasty Tuesdays on


Sharing is caring...
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Email this to someone

2 Replies to “Sourdough Loaf with Chilli Smoked Mackerel Niçoise with Soft Boiled Eggs”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *