Monthly Archives: August 2013

New breads

Been using a spare day to try out some new recipes.  Cooking a large granary sourdough in a cast iron casserole worked well.  I made the dough wetter than I would have a for a free form loaf and kept the lid on for the first 2/3 of the baking time then cooked it uncovered for 15-20 mins.  Good taste and texture but now I know it works I will try it even wetter next time hoping I can create those lovely big holes!

Casserole baked granary sourdough

Casserole baked granary sourdough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another success was the Turkish Pide bread (http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/12772/turkish+pide).  Our neighbour brought us back a loaf from the Turkish end of Cyprus and it was delicious: sesame, fennel and nigella seeds give it a gorgeous flavour and it is great with cheese so I am taking a loaf as a ‘guest’ bread to Toby (The Cheeseplate, Buntingford; http://thecheeseplate.co.uk) tomorrow in the hope that it may become a regular.

Turkish Pide bread with sesame, fennel and nigella seeds

Turkish Pide bread with sesame, fennel and nigella seeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also made some mixed peel with orange predominating in preparation for Panetonne. Made this last year for the first time and the difference between shop bought mixed peel and home made is enormous; well worth the effort (http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recipe_directory/h/homemade_candied_peel.html). I made some buns and paired the orange candied peel with chopped plain chocolate but made the mistake of adding some mixed spice.  Not only did this turn the buns a dark colour but the spice, seriously upset the yeast, as do alcohol and sugar, so it was touch and go whether they would rise even after many hours.

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Health and safety madness!

Recently came across some recipes using spent grains in bread and raving about the results.  So, contacted a local brewery to ask if I could collect a small quantity of their spent grains only to be told it could not be used in food because of health and safety regulations! Given that the grains have been in contact with the water/beer which will ultimately be drunk, this is another example of the idiocy of food regulations. I am not a home brewer so can anyone tell me how to make my own ‘spent’ grains?  Is it just soaking wheat, barley or other grains?

If you do have a source, here is a recipe: http://lifehacker.com/5975474/spent-grain-bread-is-a-great-way-to-use-homebrewing-leftovers

Hints and tips

Steam!  One of the advantages of a commercial bread oven is the ability to inject steam into the oven and, at a later stage, remove the steam.  This creates a nicely coloured, crisp crust because the water/steam solubilises the sugars in the surface of the bread and the heat caramelizes them.  Enough of the science.  How to replicate in a domestic oven?  Lots of ideas here: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/tentips_1_steam (and a great web site for amateur bakers) but what works for me is:

placing an old, shallow but wide baking tray in the bottom of the oven and pouring water into this as the oven heats up (another advantage of this solution, especially if the pan fills the bottom of the oven, is that it catches any drips from loaves etc and keeps the oven floor clean!)

spraying the loaves and interior of the oven with water when I place the loaves in the oven (a small garden sprayer is ideal).

Theoretically you should remove the tray of water half to two thirds the way through the baking but this can be tricky and dangerous so I leave it in there.  If your oven is hot enough it should still give you a crisp, brown crust.  I recently bought a new oven and the difference in temperature is amazing.  Be warned, if there is a lot of water/steam in the oven and it is on at a high temperature and there are few leaks, you will get a blast of steam when you open the door so stand well back!

Airing cupboard.  Many bread recipes suggest placing the dough to prove in an airing cupboard or other warm place.  This is not strictly necessary.  The speed at which dough rises is a function of several variables including the amount of yeast, the temperature of the flour and water, the air temperature and time.  It is also affected by the concentration of salt, sugar and alcohol (see below).  Dough will rise overnight in the fridge if there is sufficient yeast and overnight in a warm room with very little yeast.  So, no need to block the airing cupboard with rising loaves, simply work out the most convenient rise time and adjust the other variables accordingly.  Generally, the longer the rise/prove, the more flavour is developed.

Hints and tips 2

Airing cupboard.  Many bread recipes suggest placing the dough to prove in an airing cupboard or other warm place.  This is not strictly necessary.  The speed at which dough rises is a function of several variables including the amount of yeast, the temperature of the flour and water, the air temperature and time.  It is also affected by the concentration of salt, sugar and alcohol (see below).  Dough will rise overnight in the fridge if there is sufficient yeast and overnight in a warm room with very little yeast.  So, no need to block the airing cupboard with rising loaves, simply work out the most convenient rise time and adjust the other variables accordingly.  Generally, the longer the rise/prove, the more flavour is developed.

Teatotal yeast.  I make a lot of breads with dried fruit: love buns, caraway and raisin knot rolls, Stollen and Panettone at Christmas and malted granary.  These sweet doughs take longer to rise because of the sugar content and, if you decide to add alcohol to your recipes, maybe by soaking dried fruit in brandy, the same thing will happen.  The reason is that yeast does not work so well when the concentration of sugar, salt or alcohol is higher than optimum.  It’s all to do with osmosis and , if you are interested in the science: www.theartisan.net/The_Artisan_Yeast_Treatise_Section_One.htm or, for a simpler explanation: www.joepastry.com/category/baking-basics/ingredient-basics/yeast/a-yeast-primer/

My solution is to increase by 50% the weight of yeast in a recipe with additional sugar, fruit or alcohol.

Hints and tips

We will post some hints and tips re: breadmaking as part of the blog and they can also be found on the Hints and Tips page.  Hoping they will be helpful and, if there is any aspect of breadmaking you would like some advice on please comment/ask me.

Fresh yeast.  There is nothing wrong with using dried yeast though I find it a little more fussy than fresh but finding fresh yeast can be a bit of a challenge.  A local baker may sell you a 1Kg block and you should not pay any more than c. £2 a Kg though some charge 10x this!  Most supermarkets will also let you have around 100g if you ask at the bakery and generally don’t charge for it.  If you wont use all the block it will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 weeks or you can divide it into smaller blocks and freeze it.

Water temperature.  Beginners seem to struggle to get the right temperature for the water added to the flour and yeast and the simplest way of ensuring you don’t kill the yeast and get the dough moving is to use 2/3 cold from the tap and 1/3 boiling water.

White sliced; what’s it for?

Spent a week in the Outer Hebrides with my son recently.  Fantastic scenery and stayed in some very comfortable B&Bs serving good food, except, along with the delicious cooked breakfast, came white sliced toast or, if we were lucky, brown.  After a week I was dying to get back to my sourdough, granary and the like.  As a plant scientist once told me the soil was only there to hold up the plant, I think this sort of bread is simply there to keep your hands from getting messy and to convey butter and marmalade to your mouth without spilling too much.  Is it cheapness (though it is not that cheap) or convenience which drives people to use this pap?