This tomato-flavoured loaf is made using a cheat’s sourdough starter – you just need to prepare it the day before you intend to bake. It gives the finished loaf a light, airy texture.
Make the starter, place all the ingredients into a medium bowl and add 250ml of water. Mix with a spoon, then cover loosely with cling film and leave overnight or for 24 hours at room temperature, until the mixture is foamy.
Make the tomato paste by blending all the ingredients in a small food processor to a smooth paste. Place 1½ tablespoons of the paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, then make the dough. Add the flour, oil, yeast and salt to the bowl. Weigh out 200g of the starter and add that with 250ml hand-hot water. Mix on a medium speed for 5 minutes, to a smooth, elastic dough.
Tip the dough into an oiled mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Tip the risen dough onto a floured work surface, press it down, and fold it in on itself about 10 times to create tension. Shape the dough into a ball and place it onto the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 30–45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/Gas 7 and pop a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven.
Liberally dust a thick layer of flour over the dough, then, using the scalpel or knife, score a lion’s face onto the dough’s surface.
Place the tray in the oven, pour 100ml of water into roasting tin on the bottom of the oven and immediately close the door (this generates steam to give you a good crust). Bake for about 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4 and bake for a further 15 minutes until the crust is golden and the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.