bread

Wholemeal, nut and apple loaf

I make three or four loaves a week these days.  It is usually a white loaf or a spelt loaf.  Sometimes , if time is short, then it’s soda bread.  I felt like making something a bit different this week.  I had cashews loitering and apple juice open in the fridge and so this loaf was born.  You could make it with normal wholemeal flour and omit the yeast and make a soda bread if you are short of time.

I liked it so much that I have made it twice, once with the addition of ground almonds, replacing some of the flour, which makes it really lovely and nutty.

It’s a tasty and easy loaf to make.  It’s good with cheese (grilled or not, it’s up to you), with strawberry jam and with honey, or dipped into soup. It’s a substantial loaf that you can really get your teeth into.

400g strong wholemeal flour (or 300g flour and 100g ground almonds)
100g porridge oats
50g cashew nuts, bashed in a food bag with a rolling pin until nubbly
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp easy bake yeast
1 tsp runny honey
150ml apple juice
150ml water

Method

Butter a 2lb loaf tin.

Place the flour, ground almonds (if using), oats and cashews in a large bowl or freestanding mixer.  Add the yeast, the salt and the honey. Warm the apple juice and water until hand hot. Pour into the flour and mix well until combined.  You may need a spot more water, as it will depend on the flour you are using.  The dough wants to be slightly sticky. Roughly shape into the size of the tin and place in the tin.  Cover with a large plastic bag, making a tent shape so that the loaf has room to rise.  Leave in a warm place for about an hour until the loaf has risen almost to the top of the tin. Wholemeal loaves do not rise as much as white loaves.

Place in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 35-40 minutes until the loaf is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  You may want to return it to the oven for another five minutes out of its tin to let the base crisp up. When cooked place it on a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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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.

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Peshwari Naan

I made some of these last night to go with a roast chicken and spiced potatoes.  I made the recipe up so it might actually bear no relation to an authentic Peshwari Naan.

350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp honey
25g softened butter
25g ground almonds
100ml water
80ml milk
50g sultanas
25g flaked almonds

Method

Place the flour, yeast, honey, salt and ground almonds in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add this.  Heat the milk and water until hand hot and pour over the   flour mixture.  Mix well until it forms a soft dough. Place onto a lightly floured board and knead for about ten minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a plastic bin liner and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.  Knock the air out of the dough and divide into four pieces. Roll each piece into an oblong and then scatter with one quarter of the sultanas.  Roll up from the longest edge.  Seal the joins well using your fingertips and then roll into an oblong again.  Scatter with one quarter of the almonds and gently roll these in using the rolling pin.

Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for fifteen minutes.

Preheat the oven to 230°c, gas mark 8 or use the Roasting Oven of the Aga.  Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Put the naan onto the hot baking tray sprinkle with a little water and bake for 10 minutes until golden.  Serve straight from the oven.

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Savoury bread pudding

Last night’s tea was completely inspired by Nancy over at Good Food Matters.  She made the most delicious Tomato and Mozzarella Strata, all bubbling and pillowy.  Well, last night I had the remains of a cooked chicken in the fridge and half a loaf of bread on the side.  So I adapted Nancy’s Strata by adding the chicken chopped small as the first layer, cooking chorizo in with the tomato sauce and used feta instead of mozzarella.  A very fine dish indeed.  Pop over to Nancy’s to find out how to make your own savoury bread pudding.

This was the dish before it was baked in the oven for forty minutes.

Before going into the oven

You can watch me make a similar version in this video

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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.

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Stollen

Update 8th December 2020: If you would like to learn to make stollen (an updated recipe to this one) and other delicious Christmas breads you can join me on my online Christmas Breads course.

Well, this is the scene outside:

Poor little birds.  The last two days we have had a lot of snow (well, to clarify I am talking about the Midlands region of the UK and we don’t get that much snow normally. So when it snows all day non-stop we like to talk about it.  It’s weather and we are English!).  This has meant that the roads are a no-go area so it was deemed a baking day.  I have had a lump of marzipan (or almond paste) in the fridge since I made the youngest’s birthday cake at the beginning of December and have been meaning to make stollen ever since.

It takes a while to make, and you probably do need to be having a baking day to make this.

100g sultanas
100g raisins
100g currants
100g candied peel, chopped finely
100g ground almonds
50ml rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 x 7g sachets of fast acting yeast
225ml warm milk
500g  strong white bread flour
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground finely
6 cardamom pods, husks removed and the seeds ground finely to make ½ tsp
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
150g butter cubed
100g caster sugar
225g marzipan
icing sugar to dust

Method

Place the fruit and the almonds in a bowl and pour over the rum and the vanilla extract.  Mix well and then cover the bowl with clingfilm and put to one side whilst you make the dough.

Place the flour, salt, pepper, spices, lemon zest and yeast in a bowl  and pour over the warm milk. Mix to form a dough.  I found that it made a stiff dough with some of the flour not mixed in but figured that this was ok as you will be adding butter to the dough. Leave the dough to rest for ten minutes.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook use this to beat in the butter and the sugar.  Then knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Make it into a ball shape, place back in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.  It was a cold day when I was making mine so it took a bit longer than this to rise to double its size.

Using your fingertips, gently prod the air out of the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and prod gently into a square.  Then roll with a rolling pin until it is about 2.5cm thick.  Pour the fruit and almond mixture over the top and then knead the dough until all the fruit is evenly distributed.

Cut the dough in half. Cut the marzipan in half.

Prod one piece of the dough into a square and then use the rolling pin until it measures about 15cm x 20cm.  Roll one piece of the marzipan into a sausage that is slightly shorter than the dough and place this in the middle.  Roll the dough around the marzipan and press it well to seal the seam.  Shape into a log shape and place onto a greased baking sheet.  Repeat the same with the other dough and marzipan.  Make sure you leave plenty of room between the two loaves on the baking sheet so that they can rise without growing into one another.

Cover the baking tray with the large plastic bag, making a tent shape so that the loaves won’t stick to the plastic as they rise and leave to rise again until they have almost doubled in size.

Remove from their plastic tent and cook in a preheated oven at 200°c or gas mark 6, or the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 40-45 minutes.  If you are cooking in the Aga, check at 25 minutes and if brown, transfer to the baking oven for the rest of the cooking time.

Dust well with icing sugar. Rachel Allen recommends doing this when cool, but I did it as soon as they came out of the oven so some of it glazed a little.

Allow to cool before enjoying and if you can manage it leave it to mature, and then tell me how it tasted.

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Fruit loaf bread pudding

A bit unusual for us this, but this morning I found myself with about half of the Fruit Loaf left.  Now, I made this three days ago, so whilst I was happy to have one more slice toasted I feared that the rest might end up as chicken food.

My youngest loves bread pudding, so it seemed the obvious way of getting the rest of the loaf consumed.  Sorry chickens!

Actually this is the perfect way to use up this loaf, my normal bread pudding recipe requires dried fruit, mixed spice and the zest of an orange.  Well, all of this is already in there, with the marmalade taking the place of the orange zest.  So this was easy peasy to put together and tastes really lovely. I did add a little extra mixed spice and some nutmeg because I love aromatic bread pudding.

750 – 800 g (10-12 oz) leftover fruit loaf
50g (2oz) melted butter
300ml (½ pint) milk
1 egg
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75g (3 oz) dark brown muscovado sugar

Method

Break the bread into a large bowl.  Traditionally you are supposed to remove the crusts but it would be a shame to remove the crust of this loaf as it is so tasty so I didn’t.  I just made sure the crusty bits were broken up quite small.  Combine the melted butter and the milk and pour over the bread.  Give the mixture a good stir and then set aside to soak for 30 minutes.

Beat the egg and add to the bready mixture, along with the spices and sugar and stir well to combine.

Butter a shallow dish, I used my ceramic flan dish with measures 23 cm.  Pour the mixture in and level the top.  Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 1 hour.  It may take a little longer, depending on your oven.  It should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool a little.  It’s good warm or cold.

 

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Fruit loaf

This is a loaf that gets made again and again in this house.  Ingredients wise it’s not too different from the hot cross buns or the spiced fruit buns that I have posted about before.  I think, though, that this loaf is perhaps a little quicker to make as you add marmalade and so there is no need to zest and squeeze fruit. There is also something very satisfying about having a loaf that you can keep going back to and cutting a bit more off. It is lovely when it’s still vaguely warm from the oven, spread with butter, but it’s just as nice toasted the next day for breakfast ( or mid morning, or lunch, or all three).

The recipe is an adaptation of the Raisin Bread recipe in The River Cottage Family Cookbook (ISBN 0 340 82636 3).  You can use any combination of dried fruit that you like or have available as long as it totals 150g.

500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp mixed spice
7g easy action yeast
2 scant teaspoons fine salt
40g cranberries
40g currants
40g dried blueberries
30g sultanas
1 egg
125 ml warm water
125ml warm milk ( I tend to use just boiled water on top of the cold milk and that gets the temperature about right, you want it hand hot)
2 tbsp marmalade

For the glaze:
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
(Or you could glaze with a couple of tablespoons of warmed honey)

Method

If you have a freestanding mixer then all you do is put all of the ingredients into the bowl and using the dough hook mix on speed 2 for two minutes.  Turn it out of the bowl and manhandle into a ball.  Place back in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours until it has doubled in size.

If you are mixing by hand, then put the flour, yeast, dried fruit, mixed spice and salt into a bowl.  Measure the milk and water in a jug and beat in the egg.  Add the liquid and the marmalade to the flour and using a flat knife such as a pallette  knife, begin to mix together.  When it is all combined, tip it out onto a lightly floured worktop and begin to knead.  To do this you hold half the dough down with one fist and stretch the other half away from you with the heel of your other hand.  Fold the dough back onto itself, turn and repeat the process for about ten minutes or until your arms fall off, whichever is the soonest. Make it into a ball shape and place into a bowl and cover with a large plastic bag until doubled in size.

Grease a loaf tin with butter. Take off the plastic bag and gently press the air out of the dough using your fingertips.  Lift the dough out of the bowl and shape into a log shape by stretching and folding.  Be gentle though. Place the dough into the loaf tin and cover again for 20-30 minutes until it has risen by about half its size again.

Place in preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7 or the Roasting Oven of the Aga for about twenty – thirty minutes until golden and sounds hollow when turned out and tapped on its base. Take the loaf out of its tin and place on a wire rack.

Just before the end of the cooking time, put the sugar and water for the glaze in a small pan over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.  Brush the glaze over the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven and is sitting on the wire rack.

Allow to cool before taking your first slice.

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A white loaf (again)

I think I may be becoming a little obsessed with bread and yeast cookery generally. I am really enjoying the challenge of getting a better loaf each time. It doesn’t always happen, I have to admit.  It is only relatively recently that I have had success with bread as you will see from one of my early posts on this site about white bread.  I now make bread at least two or three times a week and I have made lots of other yeast based cakey type things recently.  It may not be good for the waistline but it is very good for the soul.

The bread in this picture is a slight variation on my earlier white loaf post.  In this one I use half milk/ half water and a bit of butter to make a lovely soft crumb that is really tasty.  I love my spelt loaf but sometimes all you want is a soft loaf of white bread (with a good crust, of course) and this is for these moments.

I was reading A Wee Bit of Cooking‘s blog the other day, in which she cooks a loaf based on Dan Lepard’s recipe and he has a very interesting way of making bread; he mixes the dough, lets it rest, kneads very briefly, rests and repeats.  Visit A Wee Bit of Cooking for the link, it’s worth a look.  Anyway, I was inspired to try at least some of this method, so I now mix my dough and then leave it to rest for at least ten minutes before I go back to knead it (or at least switch on the mixer and let it do the hard work!). I can’t quite get my head around not needing to knead.  This resting seems to work well and does improve the crumb.

500g strong (or very strong) plain flour
7g sachet easy bake yeast
1½ tsp fine salt
150ml milk
150ml water
1 oz butter, diced

Method

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.  Heat the milk and water to hand hot in a small saucepan and add the diced butter.  Pour the liquid into the flour and, using your hands, combine well to a smooth dough (on the slightly sticky side rather than the dry side).  Leave to rest for about ten minutes in the bowl.  Turn the dough out on to a wooden surface and knead well for about ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Clean the bowl and grease with butter or oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a bin liner or cling film.  Leave the bowl in a draught-free place until the dough has almost doubled in size.

Deflate the dough by using your fingertips and lift out of the bowl.  Now you could reshape it into a ball and leave it to rise again, which if you have the time is well worth doing as it does improve the texture of the bread . Otherwise, shape the dough into a round by stretching it under itself or shape into a baton by  flattening the dough into a square, then roll the dough much like you would a swiss roll and then using your fingers seal the join very well. Stretch the dough lengthwise until twice as long.  Fold over one-third to the middle and then fold the remaining third on to the top. Flatten again into a square with your fingers and roll up again as before, sealing well and then rolling gently into an evenly shaped baton loaf (thanks again to Daniel Steven’s Bread book for his tips on making bread).

Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go and place a baking tray or stone in to heat up.

Place the shaped loaf onto a well-floured tray and sprinkle the top well with flour.  Cover again with the bin liner and leave to prove for about 20 minutes or until nicely risen, not quite doubled in size.  Don’t allow it to rise too much as you want the yeast to have some energy left.

Slash the tops and gently pick up the loaf and place directly onto the tray or stone in the oven.  Check after twenty minutes as you may need to turn the heat down for the last ten minutes of cooking.  It should take about 30 minutes for the loaf to cook, depending on how well cooked you like your crust. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the base when it’s cooked.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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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.

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