Tag Archives: bread

Wild Garlic Bread

Wild garlic bread

Wild garlic loaf sliced

We are lucky enough to be surrounded by wild garlic as far as the eye can see at this time of year. It has been whirring round my mind about how it might taste in a loaf. So we popped our wellies on and went a walk. We could have picked it out of our very own garden borders but we have two dogs… So I wanted to find a corner which might be unadulterated.  (I still gave it a good rinse though, just in case).

Wild garlic is fairly distinctive, so get yourself a field guide and if you are unsure then the strong garlic smell gives it away. Always follow the rules of foraging. Be sure what you are picking. Ask permission of the landowner. Only pick something that is prolific and not protected. Only take what you need for your personal use. Give it a good wash before eating it.

When I was mixing and handling the uncooked dough, the garlic smell was very strong and I was worried that I had perhaps overdone it a bit. However, once cooked the garlic had mellowed and imparts a subtle and surprisingly sweet hit of garlic. It makes a delicious loaf, that is very good with soup or, in fact, anything that you happen to have for your dinner.

Makes 1 loaf

500g white bread flour
5g easy bake yeast
8-10g sea salt
320g water
20g olive oil
a couple of handfuls of wild garlic, chopped

Method
Place the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl (keeping the yeast and salt separate, as the salt will kill the yeast). Add the water and olive oil and mix with a clawed hand until well mixed. Cover with a large bag or clingfilm.  Leave to rest for twenty minutes. This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and start to make gluten before you have to get involved. The dough should be softly sticky, if it isn’t add a bit more water. Don’t be tempted to add more flour. A wetter dough is better than a dry dough.

Leave the dough in the bowl and holding the bowl with one hand, stretch some of the dough up and over the rest of the dough. Turn the bowl a quarter turn, and repeat the stretching and folding. Repeat this for about 10-12 folds.  Cover the bowl again and leave for another twenty minutes. Repeat the stretching and folding motion again.  If the dough starts to resist then stop stretching, if it starts to break then stop stretching. Leave to rest again for another twenty minutes and then fold again. It will need less folding this time and it will feel lovely and stretchy, smooth and satiny.  Cover and leave the dough to prove for at least an hour until it has risen, is domed and has plenty of aeration.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn your dough out of the bowl.  Add in the chopped garlic leaves and fold the dough over the leaves. Shape into a round and place on a floured tray or into a proving basket or if you prefer into a greased loaf tin. Cover with a large bag or oiled clingfilm and leave to prove again.  It might need twenty minutes, it might need an hour. It will depend on the temperature of your dough and the temperature of the room.

Preheat the oven to 230°c and place a baking tray on the oven shelf to heat up with the oven, or use the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga.

To test if your loaf is ready to bake, flour or oil your finger and press lightly onto the surface of the loaf. If it springs back slowly within 2 seconds it is ready to put in the oven.

Place the loaf on the hot baking tray, spray the oven walls with water using a plant mister (avoiding the glass door and light). This will create steam, so that the loaf has a chance to do its last rise before the crust forms. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the loaf is dark golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool completely on a wire tray before slicing and enjoying.

If you would like to perfect your bread making skills you could always join me for a bread making course at Veg Patch Kitchen.

Valentine Buns or Plum Shuttles

plum shuttles/ valentine buns

A friend lent me one of her long-held books called Cattern Cakes and Lace, A Calendar of Feasts by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer. She had bookmarked the recipes for February wondering if they might be of use in my bread making course. The book is a fascinating month by month look at the traditions and festivals of Britain and the food associated with them.

These yeasted buns, that originate from Leicestershire and Rutland, were traditionally given as a token to a potential suitor or to the children in a village on Valentines Day and were shaped as weavers shuttles because of the strong weaving industry in the region. I hope that I have done some justice to the shape of the weavers shuttle (see the pic at the bottom of the post).

We enjoyed them sliced in half and buttered (generously, of course).

450g plain flour
5g salt
15g fresh yeast or 5g (or a sachet) of easy bake yeast
10g caster sugar
50g water
50g butter
125g milk
1 egg
200g raisins or mixed fruit
beaten egg to glaze

Method
Pour the milk into a small pan and over a medium heat bring almost to a boil. Milk contains proteins that can fight with the yeast and by scalding it you denature these proteins helping the buns to rise better. Add the water and the butter to the hot milk and stir well to melt the butter and get the mixture to a tepid heat (too hot and you will kill the yeast). Place the flour in a bowl. If you are using fresh yeast crumble it in like you would when you rub butter into flour for pastry. If you are using easy bake then just add it to the flour. Add the sugar and salt (keep the yeast and salt separate from one another, salt will kill yeast). Pour in the milk mixture and the egg and mix together well.

Stand mixer instructions:
If you have a stand mixer then mix until combined then leave to sit for ten minutes. then knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes. Leave the dough to sit for ten minutes. then mix again for 1 minute. Leave the dough to rise until doubled in size.  Add the fruit into the dough, mixing in well.

Kneading by hand instructions:
If you are kneading by hand, keep the dough in the bowl and pull one side of it and stretch and fold it over itself. Give the bowl a quarter turn  and repeat the pull, stretch and fold. Keep doing that action until you have done about ten to twelve stretches and folds. Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a damp towel and leave to sit for ten minutes. Repeat the stretching and folding. Leave to rest for ten minutes and then repeat the stretching and folding. You will need to do less stretching and folding each time before the dough resists you. (When it does begin to resist stretching you know you have done enough of the folding and leave it to rest.)  Leave the dough to rest and prove until at least doubled in size. Add the fruit into the dough, mixing in well.

Divide the dough into eight (the original recipe specifies twelve, but I am greedy). Flatten each piece of dough carefully so you don’t deflate too much. Take the two top corners and fold them into the centre of the dough. You should now have a triangular shape at the top of the dough.

Using your thumbs fold this tightly into the centre of the dough. Press the seam down well.

Fold the dough over again so that it is now starting to look like a baguette. Press the seam down well.

Roll the bun into a small baguette shape so that they resemble weavers shuttles (or as near as I can get them). Place on a greased baking tray.
Cover with lightly oiled clingfilm or a large plastic bag. Leave to prove until 1½ times the size.

Preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6 making sure that you place a tray in the oven to heat up. Bread and yeasted buns benefit from being placed onto a hot tray as soon as it goes in the oven. When the buns have proved, brush with beaten egg and place them in the oven and bake until golden for about 25-30 minutes.

This is what a weavers shuttle looks like. Can you see the similarity?

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin loaf

If you are here looking for the American style pumpkin bread, then I am afraid you will be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a loaf of delicious bread to go with your soup (or anything else for that matter), then you are in absolutely the right place. This loaf is very tasty. The crumb is soft and tender, the crust has a delicious chew and the sugar in the pumpkin gives the crust a wonderful caramelisation. The loaf manages to be both sweet and savoury. I think a teaspoon or two of black onion seeds (aka nigella seeds) would be a wonderful addition, adding a depth of savouriness. Look at the colour of the crumb:

Pumpkin bread sliced

What a golden hue! It looks as if I have used yellow food colouring. I must add that the blue pumpkin I used did have a deep yellow flesh.

I roasted the pumpkin rather than steaming it. I wanted the sweetness that comes with roasting and I wanted the moisture content of the pumpkin to be reduced. It made quite a stiff purée, so the measurements I give here for water may need to be adapted to suit your particular purée. If it’s wetter, then reduce the water, if it’s drier, add more. You get the idea. The key with bread is always err on the side of too wet rather than too dry. A dry dough will make a brick of a loaf. What you are aiming for is a soft and slightly tacky dough.

375g pumpkin puree (made from pumpkin, skinned and cut into chunks and roasted until tender, then whizzed with a blender or processor or pressed through a sieve)
5g easy bake yeast or 15g fresh yeast
10g fine sea salt
300g white strong flour
150g water (see above for note on the amount of water needed, I use cold water and allow more time for my loaf to do its first rise, this improves the flavour)

Method

Place the pumpkin puree into a large bowl or free standing mixer. Add the remaining ingredients (if you are using fresh yeast just crumble it into the flour, remember to keep it separate from the salt, as salt kills yeast). Add the water cautiously at first as you may need less, you may need more (see note above). You want a dough that is soft and slightly tacky.  If using a free standing mixer, mix on speed 1 until combined and then for a further 5 minutes until the dough is well mixed and feels soft and satiny.  If doing it by hand use one hand as a claw to mix the ingredients together. It should be soft and very slightly sticky, adjust the water accordingly. If you have added too much water and your dough is sloppy then add flour until it gets to a soft dough.  The water content of the pumpkin will continue to hydrate the flour so you don’t want to have too wet a dough. When the mixture has come together, tip out onto a  surface (no flour needed on the surface) and knead for a good 8-10 minutes until the dough has a smooth, satiny feel. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a large plastic bag or oiled clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to the hottest setting, placing a baking sheet onto the oven shelf (a loaf benefits from being placed onto a hot surface).

Gently deflate your dough and tip onto a lightly floured surface. Shape your bread into a round or bloomer. (You can see from the photo that I did the second prove in a banneton but you don’t need one).  Place your loaf onto an oiled tray and cover with oiled clingfilm to rise until it’s grown to one and a half times its size.

When it’s ready to bake, make a slash or two on the top  with a  sharp knife (this tells the loaf where to expand when it has its last burst of growth in the oven, otherwise it will burst at its weakest point and not look so attractive) and place onto the preheated baking tray.  Either spray the oven walls with water (be careful around the light and the glass of the oven door) or have a tray in the bottom of the oven to tip a cup of water into. The steam helps your loaf do its best rise. Bake the loaf for ten minutes and then turn the oven down to 200°c, gas mark 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Check if the loaf is cooked by tapping on its bottom, it should sound hollow.  Place on a wire rack to cool completely before enjoying.

Bread!

I have become a woman obsessed. Obsessed with achieving the perfect loaf. Not long after I started this blog back in 2009 I had my first success with bread making. It then became a habit, regular kneading and eating. Then bread bought from anywhere just didn’t satisfy any more; it had to be my home-made loaf or nothing. A few years ago I experimented with sourdough, but it wasn’t a hit. I hadn’t waited long enough for the starter to mature and the resulting loaf was just too acidic. The starter was too much trouble to maintain. Back to the yeasted loaf we went.

Then at the beginning of this year I became tempted once more by the attraction of building a sourdough starter. At first taste of that first loaf I was bewitched and so began the quest for creating the perfect sourdough loaf.

I have researched the net and bought the books. I have joined the Real Bread Campaign to get tips from there. I have bought scrapers and a lame to improve my chances. I have researched flours and visited mills. I am learning about hydration and how to manage that sticky dough. The kitchen smells of yeast or freshly baked bread. There is always a fine layer of flour dust on the kitchen shelves that needs to be dusted away.  I have had great loaves emerge from the oven and some not so great, but all of them have tasted good.

The bread journey continues. I will keep you updated.

Sourdough

Breadsticks

I made these for saturday night too.  I have wanted to make them for a while and saturday presented the perfect opportunity.  The recipe is from Daniel Steven’s Bread book (River Cottage Handbook No. 3), which is a great book and deserves space on any keen cook’s shelf.

I sprinkled some with sea salt, some with freshly ground pepper, some with crushed chilli and the rest with sesame seeds.

Next time I make them I will be more careful not to stretch them when I lift them onto the tray.  Stretching leads to thinner parts which cook quicker then the rest. I think they were worth the effort, sometimes  it is good to make something that you can buy so easily.

Makes about 30

250g strong white bread flour
250g plain flour
2 tsp fine salt
7g sachet easy bake yeast
glug of olive oil
325ml warm water

Olive oil to brush on breadsticks and then the toppings of your choice or you could leave them plain.

Method

Place the flours, salt and yeast in a bowl and add the olive oil and the water and mix to a sticky dough.  Turn onto a work surface and knead until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Form into a ball place back into the bowl and cover with a large bin liner.  Leave until the dough has doubled in size.

Press the air out of the dough gently with your fingertips and then roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1 cm thick.  I split the dough in half before I rolled it out so that it didn’t become unmanageable.

Then cut into strips as wide and as long as you want.  Lift carefully onto a lightly greased baking tray (I used four baking trays for all of the dough), brush lightly with olive oil and then sprinkle your topping on. Cover again with the bin liner and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6 or use the roasting oven of the Aga and then cook the breadsticks for about 20 minutes until they are golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Breakfast rolls

We have been lucky this year and had a whole two weeks together as a family over Christmas.  It has gone really quick though and we haven’t done as much as we would have liked with our time together.  My cold knocked me out of action for the first week, so a lot of film watching tucked up on the sofa went on and then this week the weather has been fairly miserable. We have managed a few days out.  But I have tried to make a few special breakfasts, we have had pancakes, waffles, oatcakes and yesterday I filled these breakfast rolls with sausages and fried onions.  Is there a better breakfast than that?

These rolls are easy to make and beat supermarket bread hands down.

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp fine sea salt
7g fast action yeast
1 tsp sugar
150ml warm milk
150ml warm water

Method

Place flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl mix well, then add salt.  Mix again.  Add warm milk and water (I add just boiled water to the cold milk and this makes it hand hot, which is just about right).  Using a claw action with one hand bring the dough together.  It should be slightly sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for ten minutes until soft and elastic.  Alternatively if you have a free-standing mixer with a dough hook you can put all of the ingredients in and mix on a slow speed for about seven minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a clean bowl.  Cover with a large plastic bag (I use a bin bag) and leave to rise for about 1 ½ hours.  It should double in size.  Using your fingertips gently prod the air out of the dough, turn it onto the work surface and cut into six equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a sausage shape and place onto a well floured baking tray, leaving plenty of room for it double in size again.  Sprinkle each roll lightly with flour.  Cover again with the plastic bag, making a tent shape to leave room for the rolls to rise and leave for about twenty minutes.  After this time they should have risen to just under double their size.

Place the rolls onto a preheated baking sheet into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6, or directly onto the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga and bake for twenty minutes until golden brown (check after fifteen minutes and if necessary turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4, or move them to the baking oven of the Aga to cook for the last five minutes).  The rolls will sound hollow when tapped.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Kamut bread

In my continuing quest to make the perfect loaf I have been trying out different flours.  Kamut flour is a wholegrain and was originally grown in ancient Egypt.  It is high in proteins and minerals such as selenium.   It has a lovely golden hue, not unlike gram flour.  You can see the lovely colour in the pic below.

The bread tasted good and it had a lighter texture than a wholemeal loaf, but I don’t think it was extraordinary and I think I prefer the taste of a spelt loaf.  However, it is worth trying at least once.  It has quite a sweet flavour and I think it would be good dipped into a soup.  The Kamut flour I have is from Doves Farm and they suggest making pasta and shortbread with it too.  I might give the shortbread a go.

500g kamut flour
7g sachet yeast
1½ tsp fine salt
2 tbsp oil
350 – 400ml warm water

Method

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.  Pour in the oil and the water (you may need the full 400ml or you may not, so go careful with the last bit, you want the dough to be soft but not too sticky) and mix well with your hands to a soft dough.  Turn out onto a wooden board and knead for ten minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and is harder to stretch.  You should be able to put your finger into the dough and it should bounce back leaving only a small indentation remaining.  Clean the bowl and oil lightly and smooth the dough into a ball and place into the bowl.  Cover with oiled clingfilm or a bin liner and leave to rise in a draught-free place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to as high as it will go (240°), preheating the baking tray or stone that your loaf will be sitting on at the same time.

Press the air out of the dough using your fingertips and tip onto the wooden board.  Shape into a loaf and put onto a well floured surface or place into a 1lb loaf tin that has been lightly oiled.  ( I shaped mine into 2 small loaves). Leave to prove for 20-30 minutes until it has risen until almost double in size.  Slash the tops with a sharp knife to allow the loaf to rise better in the oven and place in the oven on the heated tray or stone. Leave for 10 minutes and then check, if it is starting to brown then turn the heat down to 200°c.  Check the loaves after they have been cooking for another 10 minutes.  Depending on your oven it can take between 20-40 minutes to cook.  They will sound hollow when tapped on the base when they are cooked.  Place onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely before slicing.