Sourdough Blue Pea and Hibiscus loaf

My constant and not very satisfactory endeavor to obtain natural coloring in my breads, has always led me on the hunt for no fail ingredients.

One such item is the Blue pea flower (Clitoria ternatea) which seems to be favoring everyone else with great results in their bakes and I have been in hot pursuit of this, in the hope that it will not let me down like many other ingredients have. For some unknown reason though, I have hitherto not been successful in managing to get hold of these flowers, though they are said to be quite accessible online etc.

Well out of the blue (no pun intended :-D), I was thrilled to receive a gift of these dried flowers along with a box of dried Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) flowers too, from my friend Akshay Luthria who runs the popular restaurant Street Storyss in Bangalore, India. We both also happened to visit a friend’s farm that same day and coincidentally she had the fresh blue pea flowers growing wild and also the regular large hibiscus flowers (Hibiscus rosa-sinensiswhich impart a deep red color just like the roselle.

Well after yearning for these for years, my desires seemed to have suddenly been fulfilled and in such abundance at that 😀

As we say in Hindi – Bhagwan jab deta hai tho chappad phaadke deta hai, which can be loosely translated as – When God decides to give you what you desire, he tears open the skies and showers you 😀

So let me now tear open my gifts and armed with my treasures, I will set out to attempt yet another of my sourdough (SD) loaves.

Did I succeed or did my ‘color jinx’ continue? Or did I get a ‘umm sort of satisfactory’ in between kind of result? Well let us read on to find out.

Blue Pea and Red Hibiscus –

Clitoria ternatea is the Blue pea or Butterfly pea which grows abundantly on vines. These flowers are also called Aparijita in India.

The petals impart a brilliant blue when boiled and steeped in water. The resultant tea is said to have several health benefits and is also used as a natural coloring in foods. The flowers are available in fresh and dry forms.

To make blue pea tea/infusion, take around 10 dry blue pea flowers and add 100 gm water. Boil for 1 minute. Allow the flowers to steep for a minimum of 30 minutes. Strain and add along with more water if the recipe requires.

The Roselle or Hibiscus sabdariffa is a species of hibiscus and is edible. It has a tart flavor and its bright red color is also used to add hue to foods. This is available in fresh and dry forms.

To obtain a tea/infusion, proceed similarly as above.

Use as many flowers as you wish, depending on the concentration that you need.

Sourdough bread – 

I have explained what SD is about in the earlier posts on SD starter 1  and SD Starter 2 and before you can attempt any bake with SD, you will need to have a nice, enthusiastic starter ready. I would recommend that you read those posts first, in case you are a beginner.

Sourdough loaf – 

I have been using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to knead the dough for all my loaves so far and I have quite got used to it. But I am sure that same can be achieved by hand too, for those who are also comfortable working with wetter dough.

SD sandwich bread is a softer bread than the usual crusty SD boule. It is baked in a loaf tin which makes it easier to shape than a free form bread.

In this recipe, since I want to test out the coloring ability of the flower, I have opted to use bread flour. You can also use maida aka All Purpose Flour (APF). I am hoping that once I master the process, I will also get a similar effect with combinations of other flours. This also happens to be eggless and vegan but one can also use dairy if one wishes.

I have used the decoction obtained from the blue pea and the hibiscus flowers and also added some Kashmiri chilli powder to the hibiscus since the red color turned extremely pale after making the dough.

The process – 

The process is almost identical to most of my SD loaf recipes, with only a few changes to incorporate the color.

The steps – 

The steps are similar to my Sourdough with Palm fruit pulp recipe but I will repeat here again for easy reference.

The process is quite similar to making bread with commercial yeast, the difference being that the SD dough takes much longer to rise.

1. Make or have your SD starter ready –

Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.

2. Prepare the Levain –

About 5 – 6 hours before making the dough, take a portion of the starter and feed it with equal weights of flour and water in a 1:4:4 ratio.

For example, If I need 90 gm of levain in the recipe, I will take 10 gm starter and feed with 40 gm water and 40 gm flour at least 6 hours before beginning to make my dough. If my starter is known to double in less than that time, I will create my levain accordingly.

Usually the quantity of levain used is 20% by weight, of the total flour in the recipe. For a quicker sandwich loaf, I have used 40% of the total flour (exact figures in the recipe below).

The float test is a good method to see if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.

3. Autolyse the dough –

Around 1 -2 hours before the levain is ready, mix the rest of the flour and water from the recipe and let it sit covered in a bowl. Autolyse has many benefits and loosely speaking they include helping the dough to fully hydrate, giving a better flavor and texture to the finished product and also readying the food which  the yeast will feed on, thus optimizing the fermentation process etc. Of course there is much chemistry behind this but I will not get into that here.

4. Kneading –

One can perform hand kneading or machine kneading with a stand mixer. This is done till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.

5. Bulk Ferment –

The kneaded dough is rolled into a ball and smeared with a bit of oil and left to ferment and rise in a covered container (sometimes if the hydration is high, I also prefer to do around 3 Stretch and Folds aka SnF at intervals of 30 min – 1 hr).

6. Shape the dough and place in loaf pan –

When the dough has increased to around 1.5 times its original volume (around 3 hours in my warm Indian kitchen), it is then shaped and placed in the greased/lined loaf tin. Timings will vary according to several factors like ambient temperature, quality of flour, etc.

In case of this bread, the shaping to incorporate the different colored doughs, is given in the actual recipe.

7. Final rise –

The tin is covered in plastic wrap and set aside till the dough  rises again to nearly double (around 2 hours in my kitchen)

Timings will vary according to several factors like ambient temperature, quality of flour, etc.

8. Preheating oven –

Around 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to maximum temperature.

9. Scoring and baking –

Slash or score the dough and bake it in the oven. Timing will depend on individual ovens.

SD Blue Pea and Hibiscus loaf recipe –

Time –

Approximately 11 – 12 hours from start to finish.

Makes – One 8×4.5×3 inch loaf

INGREDIENTS –

For the Blue dough –

1 – Levain –  80 gm – See Notes

2 – Bread flour OR All-purpose flour (maida) – 160 gm – See Notes

3 –  Blue pea tea (infused water) at room temperature – 70 gm – See Notes

4 –  Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

5 –  Oil/ghee/butter  – 20 gm (I used oil)

6 –  Raw sugar (or any sugar) – 10 gm

7 – Oil for coating the dough – 1 teaspoon

For the Red dough – (I use the word red loosely here because I hardly obtained an actual red 😏)

1 – Levain –  80 gm – See Notes

2 – Bread flour OR All-purpose flour (maida) – 160 gm – See Notes

3 – Hibiscus tea (infused water) at room temperature – 70 gm – See Notes

4 – Kashmiri chilli powder – 1 teaspoon (see Notes)

5 –  Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

6 –  Oil/ghee/butter  – 20 gm (I used oil)

7 –  Raw sugar (or any sugar) – 10 gm

8 – Oil for coating the dough – 1 teaspoon

Ingredients for greasing the pan and dusting –

Oil (any neutral type. I used Sunflower oil) – 2 teaspoon

Equipment that I used – 

Kitchen Aid Bowl Lift Stand Mixer

Loaf Pan 8×4.5×3 inches

You can hand knead it if you are comfortable with wetter dough. You can also use any shape of pan or even bake a free form bread, if you are accustomed to doing so.

Method – 

Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.

Prepare the Levain – About 3 hours before making the dough (say 11 am), take 20 gm of the starter and feed it in a 1:4:4 ratio with 80 gm flour + 80 gm water. My starter doubles in 3 hours.

Depending on your ambient conditions, start your levain process according to the time that you want to begin your autolyse.

Perform the float test if you need to confirm if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.

Procedure for Blue dough –

Autolyse the dough – Around 1 hour before the levain is ready, mix 160 gm of flour with 70 gm blue pea tea and let it sit covered in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl or regular bowl. The mix will not be too wet.

Kneading – After an hour, add 80 gm of levain and sugar to the autolyse. Knead for 5 minutes in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Add the salt and oil and knead for another 5 minutes till the dough comes together.

Perform hand kneading if you do not have a stand mixer. Knead till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.

Bulk Ferment – Roll the kneaded dough into a ball and smear  with a bit of oil and leave it covered in a greased bowl.

Procedure for Red dough –

Follow the same process as with the blue dough, using the relevant ingredients. Add the chilli powder and hibiscus tea during autolyse.

Bulk ferment – The balls should rise to 1.5 times in volume in 3 hours (or depending on your variables). You can also place them in tall see through containers so that the rise in volume is clearly visible.

Grease the loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. You can also line all sides if you wish.

Flour the worktop lightly (I prefer using a Silpat mat). Take the blue dough and gently stretch it flat or roll into a rectangle whose length is equal to the length of the loaf pan.

Do the same with the red dough.

Place the red dough as the bottom layer. On top of this, place the blue dough.

Roll up the rectangle tightly and place the dough in the loaf pan, seam side down.

Cover the pan with cling wrap. At this point you can opt to chill it overnight in the fridge or set it aside right away till the dough  rises again to nearly double (approximately 1- 2 hours).

If you opt to refrigerate, then the next day when you take it out, allow it to come to room temperature and rise. It may take a bit longer than the fresh dough, due to refrigeration.

Remember that Sourdough breads do not usually rise significantly like with regular commercial yeast breads.

Around 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to maximum temperature.

Dust some flour on the dough through a tea strainer. Score the dough with a blade and place it in the oven. Failing to slash the loaf may give rise to the loaf breaking through the top unevenly while rising.

Baking time will depend on individual ovens. In my oven I left it at maximum 250 deg c for the first 20 minutes until I saw the top browning. Then I reduced to 200 deg c for another 20 minutes.

Take out the loaf and invert it on a cooling rack. Slice ONLY when completely cool.

So as you can see, the resultant color was not all that vibrant and far from what I had been hoping for. Hence the quest continues. Wish me luck.

I however consoled and amused myself with the fact that the dull grey which the blue paled into, somehow resembled an elephant head and hence I gave it a ‘pepper eye’ while photographing it (see the first elephant) and entertained myself to make up for the disappointment 😁😁😁

Notes –

The levain quantity I have used, is around 40% of the total flour. The total flour is 400 gm hence the levain is 160 gm.

The flour used is 320 gm and is derived from subtracting 80 gm which the levain has, from the total 400 gm in the recipe.

The liquid is 140 gm, which means a total of 220 gms if you include the 80 gm that is used in the levain.

The hydration (meaning how much water you wish to use) is up to you. But you will have to learn the skill of working with higher hydration dough before increasing the wetness.

Infused water –

To make blue pea and hibiscus water/tea, take around 10 dry blue pea flowers and add 100 gm water. Boil for 1 minute. Allow the flowers to steep for a minimum of 30 minutes. Strain and add along with more water if the recipe requires.

Similarly proceed for the hibiscus water.

Use as many flowers as you wish, depending on the concentration that you need.

I got an intense looking liquid but unfortunately the vibrancy decreased after adding to the flour and baking.

I added Kashmiri chilli powder to the hibiscus liquid because the color was too faint after mixing the flour.


I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.

For more pictures see My Facebook – Sourdough Blue Pea and Hibiscus loaf Also catch me on My FacebookMy Facebook pageMy Twitter and My Instagram

Print Recipe
Sourdough Blue Pea and Hibiscus loaf
Sourdough loaf naturally colored with blue pea and hibiscus tea
Instructions
  1. Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.
  2. Prepare the Levain – About 3 hours before making the dough (say 11 am), take 20 gm of the starter and feed it in a 1:4:4 ratio with 80 gm flour + 80 gm water. My starter doubles in 3 hours.
  3. Depending on your ambient conditions, start your levain process according to the time that you want to begin your autolyse.
  4. Perform the float test if you need to confirm if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.
  5. Procedure for Blue dough - Autolyse the dough – Around 1 hour before the levain is ready, mix 160 gm of flour with 70 gm blue pea tea and let it sit covered in a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl or regular bowl. The mix will not be too wet.
  6. Kneading – After an hour, add 80 gm of levain and sugar to the autolyse. Knead for 5 minutes in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Add the salt and oil and knead for another 5 minutes till the dough comes together.
  7. Perform hand kneading if you do not have a stand mixer. Knead till the dough comes together as a soft, cohesive mass.
  8. Bulk Ferment – Roll the kneaded dough into a ball and smear  with a bit of oil and leave it covered in a greased bowl.
  9. Procedure for Red dough - Follow the same process as with the blue dough, using the relevant ingredients. Add the chilli powder and hibiscus tea during autolyse. 
  10. Bulk ferment - The balls should rise to 1.5 times in volume in 3 hours (or depending on your variables). You can also place them in tall see through containers so that the rise in volume is clearly visible.
  11. Grease the loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. You can also line all sides if you wish.
  12. Flour the worktop lightly (I prefer using a Silpat mat). Take the blue dough and gently stretch it flat or roll into a rectangle whose length is equal to the length of the loaf pan.
  13. Do the same with the red dough.
  14. Place the red dough as the bottom layer. On top of this, place the blue dough.
  15. Roll up the rectangle tightly and place the dough in the loaf pan.
  16. Cover the pan with cling wrap. At this point you can opt to chill it overnight in the fridge or set it aside right away till the dough  rises again to nearly double (approximately 1- 2 hours).
  17. If you opt to refrigerate, then the next day when you take it out, allow it to come to room temperature and rise. It may take a bit longer than the fresh dough, due to refrigeration.
  18. Remember that Sourdough breads do not usually rise significantly like with regular commercial yeast breads.
  19. Around 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to maximum temperature.
  20. Baking time will depend on individual ovens. In my oven I left it at maximum 250 deg c for the first 20 minutes until I saw the top browning. Then I reduced to 200 deg c for another 20 minutes.
  21. Take out the loaf and invert it on a cooling rack. Slice ONLY when completely cool.
  22. So as you can see, the resultant color was not all that vibrant and far from what I had been hoping for. Hence the quest continues. Wish me luck.
  23. I however consoled and amused myself with the fact that the dull grey which the blue paled into, somehow resembled an elephant head and hence I gave it a 'pepper eye' while photographing it and entertained myself to make up for the disappointment.
Recipe Notes

The levain quantity I have used, is around 40% of the total flour. The total flour is 400 gm hence the levain is 160 gm.

The flour used is 320 gm and is derived from subtracting 80 gm which the levain has, from the total 400 gm in the recipe.

The liquid is 140 gm, which means a total of 220 gms if you include the 80 gm that is used in the levain.

The hydration (meaning how much water you wish to use) is up to you. But you will have to learn the skill of working with higher hydration dough before increasing the wetness.

Infused water - To make blue pea and hibiscus water/tea, take around 10 dry blue pea flowers and add 100 gm water. Boil for 1 minute. Allow the flowers to steep for a minimum of 30 minutes. Strain and add along with more water if the recipe requires.

Similarly proceed for the hibiscus water.

Use as many flowers as you wish, depending on the  concentration that you need.

I got an intense looking liquid but unfortunately the vibrancy decreased after adding to the flour and baking.

I added Kashmiri chilli powder to the hibiscus liquid because the color was too faint after mixing the flour.


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8 Responses to Sourdough Blue Pea and Hibiscus loaf

  1. Moona says:

    Looks so pretty !

  2. Aruna Ashwin says:

    So beautifully explained and the bread looks amazing ! Eager to try it soon !

  3. Siddhanth S says:

    WOW THIS IS AWESOME

  4. Deepak says:

    Very interesting read!! Love the elaborate process involved in baking this loaf and the interesting ingredients.

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