Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sourdough: bloom, ear and open crumb

I always hesitate before posting about bread in general and sourdough in particular. When I write up a 'normal' recipe, it's easy enough to work out what levels of knowledge to assume - I don't need to explain how to chop an onion, although I might say how finely it should be chopped if I think it's important. With bread, though, one is caught between writing for the complete beginner and writing for the experienced baker. If you assume no knowledge, then the recipe becomes unmanageably long, as every technique and term has to be explained. And if you write for those who already know how to make bread, then your recipe will be incomprehensible for anyone else.

So no recipe this time, just some shots of my latest sourdough, made with white wheat flour from Shipton Mill, together with a little white spelt flour. My bread usually gets eaten before I have a chance to photograph it, but I managed to get some photos of this loaf that nicely illustrate three of the things sourdough bakers aim for: bloom (the way the bread opens as it bakes), ear (the crusty flap where the loaf has been slashed) and a nice open crumb.

bloom


ear




open crumb

Oyster men

It's always nice to be able to share the food you enjoy with the people you love, so I was thrilled when Sammy said he wanted to try oysters:


And even happier when he decided he liked them:


Now I have somebody to eat oysters with!

Aubergine dip (baba ghanoush) - microwave version

Summer is here again, and the root vegetables in my veggie box are gradually being replaced by more exotic fare. For the last couple of weeks, this has included a lone aubergine, so I decided to make a quick aubergine dip. I couldn't be bothered with roasting or grilling it, so I thought I would try the microwave instead, and I was really pleased with the results. Unfortunately I seem to have mislaid my photo of it.

Ingredients
1 aubergine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
handful of chopped parsley
2 tbsps of olive oil

Method

  1. Top and tail and peel the aubergine, cut it into chunks, and cook it on full power in the microwave for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the cooked aubergine with the other ingredients in a food processor, and blend.


Monday, May 13, 2013

White bread with spelt

These white loaves tempered with some wholemeal spelt flour were made by my son, Sammy.



Ingredients
775g warm water
1125g strong white flour
100g wholemeal spelt flour
7g instant yeast
20g salt

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, mix very thoroughly with a spoon, then stretch and fold in the bowl. (Do about 12 'stretch-and-folds', turning the bowl as you go.)
  2. Place the bowl inside a large plastic bag, leave to rest for 15 minutes, then do another 12 'stretch-and-folds'. Repeat the 'rest/stretch-and-fold' cycle three more times, then leave the dough to rest for a further hour.
  3. Prepare two large banettons by lining them with plenty of spelt flour.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, divide into two even portions (1kg each) and shape.
  5. To make a round boule, form the dough into a ball. To make a long batard, form the dough into a ball, then flatten slightly and fold both sides into the middle. Rotate through 90o, then fold into the middle again. Without rotating, fold a third time, then fold in half and press the edges together to seal.
  6. Place the shaped loaves seam-side up in the floured banettons, cover with a linen cloth and leave to rise at room temperature.
  7. After 30 minutes, put your baking stone onto the middle shelf of the oven, put a baking tray on the bottom shelf, and turn the oven to maximum. Leave the loaves to rise for a further 60 minutes.
  8. Boil some water in a kettle.
  9. Transfer one loaf onto a peel and slash the top (lengthwise if it is the batard, with a criss-cross or circular pattern for the boule).
  10. Pour some of the boiling water into the baking tray, quickly transfer the slashed loaf, spray a little more water into the oven, and close the door.
  11. Bake at maximum for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 225oC and bake for a further 25 minutes. Remove to a grid to cool.
  12. Repeat steps 8 to 11 above for your second loaf.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Chocolate swirls

Sammy is a fan of all things chocolate, and when I asked him what he fancied as an alternative to the ginger crush in my ginger swirls, he immediately suggested these. The results were great. Adding chocolate to dough tends to be disappointing, as it makes the dough dry while also diluting the impact of the chocolate. But spreading chocolate across a layer of dough and then rolling it solves both of those problems, and the result is both light and chocolatey.




Ingredients
the dough
175ml warm milk
300g strong white flour
1/2 egg, beaten
2.5g instant yeast
12g demerara sugar
25g melted butter
2.5g salt

the filling
1/2 egg, beaten
100g dark chocolate

the glaze
25g demerara sugar
25ml water
caster sugar for sprinkling

Method
  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix well. With the dough still in the bowl, stretch and fold, leave for 15 minutes, then repeat the 'stretch-and-fold'/15-minute rest cycle three more times. Leave dough to stand for a further hour at room temperature.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bain mairie. Form the dough into a boule, then roll out on a well-floured surface to form a rectangle. Brush the surface with the remaining beaten egg, spread the melted chocolate over it, and roll it to form a swiss roll.
  3. Cut the roll into slices, and arrange them next to each other in an oiled and floured flan tin or on a baking tray, and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  4. In the meantime, make the glaze by heating 25g of demerara sugar in 25ml of water until all the sugar has dissolved. 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, set the oven to 200oC.
  5. Once the swirls have risen, brush them with the glaze, sprinkle with caster sugar, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pot roast chicken

Gemma bought a big orange casserole dish the other day, and I have been rediscovering the joys of pot-roast chicken with vegetables.



Ingredients
1 whole chicken
potatoes
carrots
onions
olive oil
bay leaves
garlic
butter
English mustard
salt
pepper
water

Method

  1. Set the oven to 190oC. Peel and roughly chop the vegetables, and put them in the casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and a couple of bay leaves.
  2. Finely chop a couple of cloves of garlic, mix with plenty of butter, some mustard, and some salt and pepper, and smear generously over the chicken.
  3. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, add a little water, put the lid on and roast for about 2 hours.


Ginger swirls

These ginger swirls are sweet and spicy, and go brilliantly with a cup of coffee. 


Ingredients
the dough
175ml warm milk
300g strong white flour
1/2 egg, beaten
2.5g instant yeast
12g demerara sugar
25g melted butter
2.5g salt

the filling
10g melted butter
100g ginger crush

the glaze
25g demerara sugar
25ml water
caster sugar for sprinkling

Method

  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and mix well. With the dough still in the bowl, stretch and fold thoroughly. Cover dough and leave  to stand for an hour at room temperature.
  2. Form the dough into a boule, then roll out on a well-floured surface to form a rectangle. Brush the surface with melted butter, spread the ginger cross over it, and roll it to form a swiss roll.
  3. Cut the roll into slices, and arrange them next to each other in an oiled and floured flan tin or on a baking tray, and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  4. In the meantime, make the glaze by heating 25g of demerara sugar in 25ml of water until all the sugar has dissolved. 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, set the oven to 200oC.
  5. Once the swirls have risen, brush them with the glaze, sprinkle with caster sugar, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are golden brown.


Rolled, filled dough


Filled slices, waiting to prove