Tag Archives: Bread

MAKE IT: Foccacia

 

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Mmmmm.  Foccacia.  Delicious serves warm with some oil and vinegar for dunking.

I don’t know how authentically Italian this recipe is, but I do know that it tastes jolly good.

Here’s the recipe –

325g Strong white bread flour
150g ’00’ Plain flour (this is more finely milled as gives a really light bread texture but you can use normal plain flour instead)
7g salt (that’s approximately 1 tsp)
5g instant dried yeast (again, approximately  )
1 tbspn Olive oil
250ml warm water

 

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Nothing complicated here.  Dump all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together until they form a soft dough then knead with youre electric mixer’s dough attachment on low for about 10 mins or knead vigorously by hand until the dough is very smooth and elastic.

It should be quite a damp-ish dough so don’t add any additional flour in the kneading process if you can possibly help it.

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Then cover it with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place like a window sill or airing cupboard for about 40 minutes.  It might take up to an hour in winter temperatures,

Here’s mine (in a different bowl as I needed my mixer bowl for something else.)

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Once warm and nicely risen, plop it into a greased, high-sided baking tray and flatten it out with the palm of your hand.  You could roll it out with a rolling pin to make a tidier job of it but I was feeling lazy.

Leave to rise again for 20 mins or so while the oven gets up to temperature (200 C) then press your fingers into the top to make some deep depressions and sprinkle with olive oil.Foccacia (8)

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Bake in the oven for about 15mins.

Meanwhile, mix 2 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp of water in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Add a sprig of torn rosemary and let that steep while the focaccia cooks.

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As soon as the bread’s out of the oven, brush it generously with the oil/water/rosemary mix and sprinkle with a little salt.  (Erm, I was a bit heavy-handed with the salt, oops)

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Leave to cool  little in the tin and serve warm with some oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Try it topped with other herbs or maybe some garlic butter.  Roasted onions, tomatoes or mixed roast vegetable are good too – just pop them on the top before you place the focaccia in the oven.

Mmmmm.

MAKE IT: Beer Bread

???????????????????????????????Ok, so this is a bit of a weird one but my husband made a batch of homebrew and I wanted to try making bread from the yeast that was left over from the brewing process.

I did some scratching around with the help of Google and didn’t really find much inspiration so I decided to give it a try using a pretty standard bread recipe and substituting the yeast.  Here’s what I came up with:

1 1lb Strong bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp honey
4 tbspn’spent’ brewing yeast
1/2 pint warm water

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This is what the spent brewing yeast looks like.  It’s the sludgy residue left on the bottom of the container once you’ve siphoned off the beer.  It smells pretty powerful, but in a good way.

I mixed all the ingredients together in the electric mixer with a dough hook attachment on low speed for 10 mins.  The resulting dough was alarmingly batter-like but I left it to rise on the worktop for 24 hours.  I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast-acting rise!

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Actually, I wasn’t sure it was going to rise at all but patience pulled through and this was the ‘before and after ‘result.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????Not a bad rise at all.

Because this was a wet dough, I decided to cook it using the Dutch oven method which allows for a good spring from the evaporation of the excess water.  It’s this that makes the big holes in the bread.

This is how you do it.

  • Put the dough onto a heavily floured worktop (and I mean heavily floured!)
  • Roughly shape the dough and let to prove for as long as it takes to heat up the oven.  It will be quite a sloppy mix but don’t worry.  I put mine in a basket to stop it spreading sideways too much.

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  • Put the oven on to heat to 220C.
  • Place a cast iron lidded pot in the hot oven for 20 mins to heat up – empty.
  • When the pot is up to temperature, remove the lid and drop the dough into it.  It doesn’t matter if it isn’t central, it will level itself in the oven.
  • Replace the lid and bake for 20 mins

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  • Remove the lid or remove the loaf entirely and place on a pre-heated baking tray to bake for a further 15 mins and brown.

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And that’s it.  It worked!

We had it with cheese and chutney.  It smells amazing and has a bit of a sourdough-like tang to it delicious but not boozy – sorry!

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MAKE IT: Pea and Ham Soup

 

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In the aftermath of Christmas, there’s always a surplus of gammon joints on special offer in the supermarkets.  I bought one and cooked it up with some roast potatoes and a good dollop of parsley sauce.

So now to the left-overs – a big hunk of cooked gammon sitting in the fridge waiting for something more interesting than a sandwich filling.

Ingredients

1 cup green split peas (soaked overnight)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
500ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
A good-sized hunk of cooked gammon or ham roughly chopped.

I usually soak the peas overnight but you can pour boiling water over them with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and leave them to soak for an hour or two if that helps speed things up.
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Discard the soaking water and rinse the peas in fresh cold water to rid of any slimy mushy bits.

Chop the onion and sweat gently in a glug of sunflower or light olive oil.
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Add the peas, stir and then pour in the chicken stock. Add the bay leaf and thyme, a teaspoon of sugar and a good grinding of black pepper. Don’t add the salt just yet or the peas might not soften up properly.

Bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 40 mins or so after which time the peas should be soft and some of them will have broken down a bit. Watch the water and top it up if things start to get a bit thick – it can catch really easily if you’re not careful.

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Add the ham and add to the pan to warm through. Add the salt once the ham’s had a chance to warm.

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Sometimes I add a dash of cream if there’s some kicking about in the fridge.

Serve with some crusty bread.

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MAKE IT: White sandwich loaf

 

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Here’s the list of ingredients –

1 lb strong white bread flour
1 sachet fast action, dried yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tblsp milk powder
1/2 pint warm water

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I like to dissolve the sugar into the warm water and then add the dried yeast and give it a little shimmy with a teaspoon to mix it up.  After about 10 minutes left to its own devices, the yeast will have activated, frothed up and can be added to the flour.  Of course, you can just throw it in with the dry ingredients but this method does seem to produce a smoother dough for some reason.

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I throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix together and then either knead by hand if I need to burn off some aggression or let the KitchenAid do the hard work with its dough hook.  About 10 mins is usually enough until the dough is smooth and elastic (and still a tiny bit sticky to the touch).  Don’t underestimate the power of the milk powder.  Use fresh milk as part of your liquid allowance if you prefer but the milk powder does give a better flavour to this type of bread.

IMG_2359Then I cover with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for about and hour to an hour and a half in a warm place like the airing cupboard, on the hearth (or weirdly on top of the fish tank) until it’s doubled in size-ish.  That’s not always an obvious measure of readiness but if it looks quite a bit bigger, that’s often enough.  As always, you can let it rise overnight in the fridge instead if that helps your schedule.

Remembering to turn the oven on to 220C, I then turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead it gently to get rid of any big air bubbles.

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Now this next bit might seem a bit of a faff but it does make a difference to an evenly risen loaf so here goes – get out your rolling pin and roll the dough out so that it’s the length of your 2lb tin and three times the width.

???????????????????????????????Simply fold down the top third-ish and then over again.

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Hmmm, it’s grown a bit long there but no matter.  Smack the ends in a bit and put into the tin, fold-side down.  I’m not worried about its stretch marks (or mine for that matter) because they’ll disappear once its had its second rise.???????????????????????????????I generally pop it on the stove top (let’s not be confused here, the stove top isn’t on…) while the oven’s heating up and the gentle heat helps it on its way.  The second rise can happen quite quickly – maybe even as little as 30 mins but basically, you’ll want to pop it in the oven as soon as it rises to the top of the tin.  It’ll spring a bit further once it hits the heat of the oven.

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15 mins at 220C then take it out of its tin, knock the temperature down to 180C and bake for a further 30mins.  Leave to cool and slice for sarnies.

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Delicious and easily sliceable!

MAKE IT: Easy bread

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This is my easy-peasy standard white loaf recipe which can be adapted by adding all sorts of bits and pieces.  My favourite variations are poppy seed, sunflower and pumpkin seed, cheddar and rosemary, sundried tomato and olive, dried fruit and mixed peel… you get the picture.

Bread ingredients

1 lb strong white bread flour
1 pkt fast action dried yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
300ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Mix the flour, salt and sugar together first and then mix in the yeast (you don’t want the yeast to sit directly on the salt) and pop it the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached.  Add the water and olive oil and mix on a low setting for 10 mins.  Alternatively you can roll up your sleeves, get your hands in and knead like crazy for approximately the same length of time.

Once the dough is smooth – it should be elastic, a bit sticky and sort of translucent when you thin a bit between your fingers – pop it back in the bowl and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and stash it in a warm place like a window sill or airing cupboard.  Alternatively, pop it in the fridge overnight for a long slow rise.   I like to put mine in this jug so that I can clearly see when it’s risen.

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Yup, that’s definitely risen.

Pop it out on the work top and press the air out of it, knead it lightly  incorporating any extra ingredients and gather into a tight round or oblong.

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Put it on a lightly-greased baking tray and slash the top a couple of times with a sharp knife so it can expand easily.  It’ll take between one to two hours depending on the room temperature but once it’s risen again and is sluggish to spring back when you press your finger on it, it’s ready to bake.

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Into the oven at about 220c  for 25 – 30 mins.

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Yum, yum, yum!

If you want a soft crust, rub it with some butter as soon as it comes out the oven.  If you prefer a really crunchy one, spray the inside of the oven with a bit of water just before you put the loaf in and shut the door.

You can divide it into rolls, plaits, sticks – whatever takes your fancy.

What are your favourite additions?

 

 

MAKE IT: Crackers

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Today I had a bit of time on my hands whilst my nearest and dearest busied himself building a Shepherd’s Hut (more about that to come) and decided to try something I’ve never baked before.  Crackers.

I love crackers.  Ryvita, Carr’s Water Biscuits, Cheddars, Jacobs’ Cream Crackers, Hovis etc.  Love ’em all. They’re just handy to have in the cupboard ready to smother in pate, marmite, or cheese and pickle and the smaller ones can be popped in as a “hole in one” as my husband would say.  I find them indispensable for lunch as I rarely buy bread and of course home-made bread doesn’t keep well and is only really serviceable for sandwiches on the days it’s made. Pretty impractical to be making bread at four o’clock every morning in time to make sandwiches for a lunchbox!

Anyhoo, I found this recipe at kitchn.com http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-crackers-at-home-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-186144,  thought it looked fairly straight-forward and so this morning I gave it a go.

Now, I’m a fairly seasoned baker so it’s fair to say that the methods weren’t a complete mystery to me but after the first couple of batches, I’d found a few simple tricks that helped to make the last batches better looking and much closer to the type of water biscuit that I often buy.

A word on oven temperature.  This was a US recipe and the oven temperature given was 450C which equates to approximately 230C.  If you have a fan oven you’ll need to either reduce the temperature by 20 degrees or drastically reduce the cooking time – a dangerous game.  A good rule of thumb is to stick to the timings given in the recipe, (checking on progress a few minutes early just in case) and always set the oven 20C lower than the given setting.  It saves having to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions (who actually keeps these?) and then, some potentially complicated mathematics which probably involves a calculator. Credit to Delia Smith for that little gem!

I used –
1 lb plain flour
60 ml olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp granulated sugar
9 floz water

and followed the method described on the site.

Cracker ingredients

Here are my extra notes –

I threw the ingredients in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment and ran it on the second slowest speed.  Lazy? Yes.

I found it quite difficult to roll the dough out thinly and evenly enough and the first two batches were probably a little thick and not quite crunchy enough in the middle.  Time to bring in the pasta machine!

The pasta maker was an obvious attachment to get for the Kitchenaid as we keep chickens and have a lot of eggs to deal with.  Making pasta, either to eat fresh or to dry and store for later is a beautiful thing, though it scared me half to death when I first tried it.  But, with a bit of practice, a pasta machine can be quick to use and a lot of fun.  It made the next few batches of crackers a doddle and I’ll definitely use it again next time.

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I didn’t dampen them before I cut them out simply because I was using a pastry cutter to make circles and wanted to be able to re-roll the dough to make more. Brushing it with water would have created a soggy, mushy mess so I left that until I’d transferred them to the baking sheet.

I used baking parchment rather than dusting the trays with flour because I’m not keen on floury bottoms on my bread or biscuits.  I wouldn’t recommend using greaseproof paper instead because it’s not the same thing.  Greaseproof works well with recipes that have a lot of oil or butter in them, like biscuits or cookies, but it sticks like a limpet to bread-based stuff and I didn’t want to run the risk of ruining these little babies.  Once you’ve spent half an hour picking greaseproof paper off the bottom of your beautifully baked loaf of bread, you won’t confuse the two again!

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When pricking them, a fork is fine but a skewer is better if you have one.  It’s important to take a bit of care over your prick marks (ha ha) because not only will they look much prettier, but an even distribution of holes will stop them puffing up.  See what happens when you get lazy?

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Ok, so this recipe makes a lot of crackers here and it’s easy to be a bit blasé but, if you’re looking to impress, it’s worth taking a bit of care.

Similarly, if looks are your thing and you want an even shape, try not to pick them up with your hands as they inevitably stretch a bit and look wonky.  I don’t worry too much ‘coz that’s how you know they’re hand-made.  On the latter batches I swapped to using a baker’s…what on earth are these things called?  A scraper, divider, pick-er-up-a-rer?  Anyway, one of these –

Pickeruperer

If you’re going to ’sprinkle’ with seeds and the like, you might want to press them into the dough a bit otherwise they just fall right off after baking.  Grrrhh.

Final note:  Don’t answer the phone while they’re in the oven as they’ll happily overcook while you chatter away.  Oops!
Happily the dogs will generally polish off any rejects and can be relied upon not to tell tales.

Eh voila!  Crackers…made, and without too much kitchen calamity.???????????????????????????????
I’m off to try them out with some cheese, pickles and a cuppa.???????????????????????????????

Let me know if you try them out and if you have any tips to share.