what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the category “bread”

Saffron loaf

A work colleague brought in a fruited saffron loaf she’d been given as a present and no-one at home wanted to eat (wouldn’t happen in my house but there you are). I think it was one of these from Warren’s Bakery. Very nice it was too, but a bit on the yellow side, so I thought I search out a recipe and see what I could do.

In Dan Lepard’s Hand Made Loaf I found one that didn’t look too taxing. It starts with a sponge of plain flour, milk and yeast, and then in go some saffron threads soaked in hot water, strong white flour, caster sugar, sea salt, butter, more milk and currants. Only a couple of quick kneads and two proving stages. Baking was started at 210 deg C and then turned down, I had to turn it down earlier than the recipe said as it looked like it was going to burn, and I turned it even lower for the last 10 minutes. Result – very nice – fruit loaf without spice but with a definite flavour of saffron. I’ll be doing this again!

Sponge just mixed

Sponge just mixed

Sponge after an hour

Sponge after an hour

Ingredients all mixed

Ingredients all mixed

After kneading

After kneading

After forming and resting

After forming and resting

Shaped

Shaped

Brushed with egg

Brushed with egg

Baked

Baked

Cooled and cut

Cooled and cut

 

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Dan Lepard’s stollen

Finally getting somewhere near the Christmas spirit, so to keep us going until the big day (well probably until next weekend at any rate), here’s Dan Lepard’s stollen as printed in the Guardian some time ago. The slightly tricky bit about this recipe is the first stage of boiling some milk and rye flour together. The pictures below show how this goes in my house, blend milk and flour together cold and introduce some gentle heat and keep stirring until it makes a thick goo, but don’t let it boil. You then thrash in some melted butter, eggs and yolks, lemon zest and in my case brandy. If you are using fresh yeast you can keep back a little milk and blend it with that. The rest is easy peasy and while I’m not a fan of shop marzipan, this is an ideal use for it. The recipe didn’t call for cherries, but I didn’t have enough peel, so I made up the weight. Makes a terrific breakfast too, natch to muesli today!

milk and rye flour cold

milk and rye flour cold

milk and rye flour after heating

milk and rye flour after heating

after adding egg, yolks, brandy and lemon zest

after adding egg, yolks, brandy and lemon zest

mixed with dry goods

mixed with dry goods

after kneading after resting for 10 mins

after kneading after resting for 10 mins

after leaving for 90 mins

after leaving for 90 mins

oval shape with marzipan

oval shape with marzipan

rolled up ready for second rise

rolled up ready for second rise

after second rise before baking

after second rise before baking

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

With coating of butter and icing sugar

With coating of butter and icing sugar

Inside view

Inside view

Breadmakers, the PM, and basil, tomato and parmesan bread

Our Prime Minister caused a bit of a media political party conference silly-season frenzy a few days back when he was asked if he knew the price of a loaf of supermarket bread, not just any bread, but the budget stuff. Obviously he didn’t and gave a horribly wrong answer and at the same time tried to show himself in a good light by plugging a local flour producer in the Cotswolds and the fact that he could actually manage to load a breadmaker and therefore make his own bread. So 9/10 for the plug for FWP Matthews and 0/10 for having his eye on the ball when it comes to the price of bread that many people have to make do with. The sad thing is that for 47p, which is was apparently the price of supermarket budget bread, those same people could make themselves a decent loaf of bread with supermarket white bread flour, and that’s including the price of the electricity to bake it, even in an oven. You might have to be a bit clever and do some bulk baking and freezing to get the price down a bit per loaf, but with a bag of strong white flour being about 80p in Tesco’s now and you can get yeast for 1p at the bakery counter it might make sense to have a go at a basic loaf, even adding in the price of fuel and maybe some oil and salt it will still come out less than 50p per loaf. Breadmakers are quite stingy on the old electricity so quite an economical way to bake a single loaf – Which? says about 0.34 kWh per go, so about 5p. I don’t mind that the PM can’t bake bread by hand, he should have better things to be doing with his time. Like Boris and the Ride London-Surrey 100, I would have been sad if he had been faster than me because he really does have better things to do with his time than train to cycle fast.

I used to own a breadmaker, but like a lot of gadgets, once the novelty wore off it didn’t get used and then it was thrown out. However, I have hung on to my recipe books. I’ve had some sundried tomatoes hanging round the kitchen for a while and finally decided that today was the day on which they were going to be used up. So here is some basil, tomato and parmesan bread from The Bread Machine book by Marjie Lambert. Which may well be out of print by now.

So: 350g white bread flour, 2 teaspoons fresh yeast, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon sugar, 60ml milk, 125ml water, 2 tablespoons olive oil. Given the Dan Lepard treatment – mix,

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leave 10 mins, knead briefly and leave twice more adding 40g sundried tomatoes, 2 teaspoons dried basil and 25g parmesan cheese during the last knead and working it well in.

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Leave for 45mins, shape, rise again, shake flour on top, slash

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and bake at 220 C.

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Black pepper rye bread – Dan Lepard recipe

I’m killing time with baking things I like because I’ll be getting on with other things like preparing for the LondonSurrey 100 mile bike ride if the weather ever gets better. Today is a rest day because I did 50 miles yesterday.

Back to Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet book and an interesting loaf with a bit of a punch to it, the black pepper rye bread. Black pepper, and in my case fennel seeds, he gives you the choice of fennel, anise or caraway, are added to the mixture, and it’s all topped off with poppy seeds.

I have tried this once before and found that heating the coffee and the rye to boiling point means you get a really tough mixture and it doesn’t work too well. The good people over on The Fresh Loaf solved the problem years ago, which will teach me not to do the Googling before I get it wrong. Anyway, the recipe says “heat half the rye flour and the coffee until just reaching boiling”. DO NOT DO THIS. If it gets too hot and the mixture boils and is like polenta you’ve gone too far and you will need more water when you add the other flours, up to 75ml seems to be the quantity required. At least now I have the confidence to fix it when it’s gone wrong. If I did it again I think I might just use hot coffee and bypass the boiling bit. No-one seems entirely sure why you do it. I used fresh yeast rather than fast action yeast. I used milk instead of egg wash and slashed after I’d put on the poppy seeds.

Results – quite peppery, and browner than the book suggests. I used Bacheldre Watermill rye, maybe a light rye would not be so dark. It would be great with soft creamy cheese and/or smoked salmon as suggested by Dan.

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National real bread maker week and disappointment in Waitrose

Just a little plug for the Campaign for Real Bread’s National Bread Maker Week.

“Real Bread Maker Week is Britain’s biggest annual, national celebration of Real Bread and its makers.

Its aim is to encourage people to get baking Real Bread or buying it from independent bakeries to support their local communities.

This year, as well as raising awareness for Real Bread, we knead your help raising cash.

The Real Bread Campaign has great new plans to help people who, for one reason or another, have a tougher time than most of us enjoy the social, therapeutic and employment opportunities Real Bread making offers, but we need the dough to do it!

Can we count on your support?”

If you’ve never made bread why not try – you’ll be surprised how easy it can be. I’ve suggested lots of recipes on various pages of the blog, or search for Dan Lepard’s recipes as a very easy way into making bread at home.

Still not convinced? Then why not try your local independent café or bakers or farmers market and see what they make and check out the difference between factory-made bread and bread made locally.

If you’ve never bought flour from a local miller, then why not search one out. To coincide with the week there’s a number of water and wind powered mills open. Check out this list and see if you can find one to visit this weekend. We had a fab visit to Mill Green in Hertfordshire recently, we learned a lot and got some great flour. If you can’t get out there’s some deals on mail-order flour on the campaign website.

Disappointment in Waitrose? They have opened a spangly new supermarket near us and it doesn’t have an in-store bakers. They’ve just got ovens to give factory prepared loaves a suntan. A real opportunity missed by Waitrose.

Me? I’ve been baking sourdough again – got a lovely sweet starter going right now and I bake it with white and wholemeal flour. The warmer weather still means it takes about 10 hours to do its stuff, but it’s been great, but doesn’t seem to hang about long enough to get a photo taken. And I’ve been doing a bit of biking too for my LondonSurrey 100 mile event, so haven’t had a lot of time at weekends to do much baking. But least I use the calories I’m scoffing the rest of the week.

Paul Hollywood’s pitta bread

Still working my way through his TV series recipes. This one is over here.

Pittas are often the first bread that people try to make at home because they are essentially easy and don’t require much effort. I remember making them back in the dark ages, as a student in the late 1980s I can even remember making the pancakes that go with Peking Duck, although I’m not sure I ever did the duck to go with them. Back then I used the pitta recipe in Arto der Haroutunian’s Yoghurt book. Back in those days yogurt had an ‘h’ in the middle of it and the book had no pictures. If you can get one second hand on under the Penguin imprint I commend it to you. I never thought much about the author back then, but the book reads like he knows what he’s talking about from personal first hand experience. It also contains a fantastic banana gateau recipe which I may try again sometime soon. Checking out his website today you’ll see he’s been dead a while but as he was born in Syria of Armenian parents under difficult circumstances, he’d probably not be happy about what’s going on in Syria today.

Nothing particularly tricky in there, nigella seeds can be got from the supermarket, but note that there’s quite a lot, so if you take to them you’ll be spending about 75p per batch just on seeds if you get the Bart ones from a supermarket (like I did – idiot!) I’ll be getting some Kalonji seeds from an Indian grocer or the ethnic bit of the supermarket they have them, not spending another £1.69 or whatever it was in Waitrose for 45g of Bart’s seeds. I’m not entirely sure why they are in the pittas when they normally turn up in naan breads.

There’s quite a lot of yeast for a small amount of flour and also the salt is high at 1 tsp for 250g of flour. Other recipes may vary, like Dan ‘ over here, so let’s see how it turns out. I’m still fascinated by the idea that ‘professional’ bakers can give such different recipes for essentially the same thing.

OK – pictures below. Nothing particular to complain about there. We ate some with some curried chicken leftovers, mango chutney and yoghurt, in deference to the almost naan bread flavouring the nigella seeds give them.

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Baguettes the Daily Mail way

Words I’d never thought of putting together. But the Daily Mail newspaper kindly published a little booklet with some bread and other baked goods recipes adapted from How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. I don’t have the book so can’t comment on what the adaptations might be or whether the book is any good but the recipes in the booklet seem straightforward enough. They don’t appear to be available online (although I’m happy to be corrected). What is nice about them is that they generally make a 1lb loaf size, which if you are new to trying to make bread might be enough and not too scary or expensive in terms of time or resources. When I’m trying recipes I often half or third or quarter to get a small amount to prove the concept. So good on the Daily Mail for starting small.

I wanted to try the baguettes after criticising that Paul Hollywood for dousing his in olive oil. This recipe only has yeast, salt, water and flour. You make a poolish (love the word, but it is something that can be off-putting, all that new lingo – I prefer the term sponge). Now here’s a case when the recipe says ‘leave over night’ and then ‘next day’. I really hate it when they aren’t precise about timings. So do I make it last thing at night and get on with it when I wake up? Can I leave it until I get home from work? I decided to make the sponge this morning, giving it about 7 hours until I got home from work and the school run before I did the next stage.

So the sponge is a bit of flour, a tiny bit of yeast and some warm water. 1g of active or instant yeast (2g of fresh) 125ml warm water, 125g flour.

The recipe calls for plain flour, but I’ve gone with the strong white bread flour, for no other reason that they didn’t explain why it should be plain flour. I know there’s a difference between French flour and ours, which is I think because the French flour has lower protein but we’re going to have to go with it for today. I’ve used the French flour from Shipton Mill before, and really must get some more.  There’s a picture below of what it looked like when I added the other things. Then you add more water, yeast, flour and the salt. 155ml warm water, 1g of active or instant yeast (2g of fresh), 300g flour, 1 tsp salt (and I did go all the way as it isn’t far off the 1% salt we  be targeting).

The recipe uses the Dan Lepard approach of bringing it all together, leaving 10 mins, kneading briefly, and then doing all that another 3 times. Nice! I made a marmalade cake in the rests. Pictures below of the dough after the kneads.

Then it is left for an hour. Divided, folded, rested, rolled out, and left to rise. There’s lots of rising time because there’s only about half a teaspoon of (fresh) yeast in the whole thing, so the rising is made nice and slow.

Then baked really hot at 260C for about 10-15 minutes, in a steamed oven.

So, what do we have? Long, brown bread sticks, made without fat of any kind. Got a bit of oven spring out of them, but could have done with more. Could also have been a bit more crunchy, so also maybe proving a bit longer, but will do nicely for sandwiches tomorrow.

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my bread doesn’t rise

I’ve had quite a few people arriving at this blog because they are searching for reasons why their Paul Hollywood bloomer hasn’t risen. Obviously I don’t know why ‘yours’ didn’t go quite the way you wanted, but here are some points to look out for next time you try, in the order that they might have happened. You might have had several of these things not quite on the button which also would influence what happened.

  1. Water – the recipe says to add two thirds of the water first then gradually add the rest. Different types of flour absorb water at different rates, so you might not need all of the water. If you used a flour that couldn’t absorb it all, the dough would be sticky and hard to work. Try a bit less water next time. The dough should be easily workable but not sloppy and sticky. River Cottage bakers suggest 300ml to 500g of flour, so 320ml might be too much, but don’t go below 300ml.
  2. Flour – low gluten flour can affect the rise and make the bread dense and ‘cakey’ according to the River Cottage bakers. If you are new to bread baking make sure you are using ‘strong bread flour’. Supermarket brands are just fine for starters, also try Allinsons or Shipton Mill if you can get it.
  3. Oil – did it mix in with the yeast? Getting oil on the yeast can slow the activation of the yeast and your rising may have been slow as a result. Too much oil? If too much went in that can affect it as well.
  4. Temperature – of everything including the water. If your kitchen has been Baltic like mine recently, you might not have got much of a rise if the water was cold as recommended by Paul. I tend to use water that is 1:3 boiling to tap water just to get the yeast going. If your kitchen is nice and warm you can go cold. The water should not feel warm to the touch in any case. If your kitchen was Baltic, then the length of time you need to get everything going for both rises will be longer than Paul says, but bear in mind the touch test below. You can also warm your utensils if you think it is too cold, ie warm a ceramic bowl with hot water before starting.
  5. Adding extra flour to counteract the stickiness of too much water. If you found the dough hard to work because it was too wet and added extra flour it will have weighed the loaf down and made it less keen to rise.
  6. Kneading – River Cottage bakers might say you should knead more than you did. Dan Lepard might tell you that you don’t need to knead so much (see my blog on the bloomer loaf). So long as it got folded over a few times you’ll like as not get a loaf of some sort or other, but if you choose not to knead you should take it into account during the rising time and not leave it too long.
  7. Rising time – Paul says to leave until it has tripled in size – that could be too long and your yeast wore itself out. Other bakers like Dan Lepard say 50%. If the dough smelt yeasty when you knocked it down after the rise, then it might have been left too long. Not leaving it long enough can also make it solid and dense with a rubbery texture, so it is important to get it right. If your kitchen is toasty warm then you may have left it too long. If you kitchen is Baltic cold, you might not have left it long enough.
  8. Shaping – I like to fold mine over several times when I shape my loaves, so it was a bit taller than Paul’s but not so long. You can also fold it in a ‘blanket fold’ while it is rising, just to keep all the protein lined up and tight. So pat out into a rectangle fold top in, then bottom over, repeat twice during rising. Or add an extra set of fold during by turning through 90 degrees and do a double blanket fold. This fold can also be used for shaping.
  9. When to bake – Paul says to leave for 1 to 2 hours until doubled in size. Again, this could be too long, and Dan Lepard says 50% change in size again. You need to have some ‘spring’ left in the loaf. If you poke your loaf with a finger, does it spring back or leave a dent? If it leaves a dent, it is almost too late, and it could fail to rise in the oven. The loaf should spring back a bit before it goes in, so try getting it in a bit earlier next time.
  10. Oven temperature – Paul says 220C which is hot, but if your oven is not entirely accurate it might not be hot enough. Try upping the temperature by 10C next time and see how it goes, if that’s not enough keep going higher next time but reduce the time for the first stage in case it burns. If you’re stuck with a fan-only oven, put it on as hot as it will go. If the loaf still has some ‘spring’ then it will rise during the first stage when the oven is really hot. Then turn down if it looks like burning.

So lots to think about there. Keep trying and I’m sure you’ll end up with something beautiful soon. Other ways of making bread are available, and I’d encourage you to try a different approach such as some of Dan Lepard’s methods as they are less industrial and more suited to home baking.

Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes

I wondered how long it would be before he got out a machine to do the hard work. Really, a machine that can cost hundreds of pounds needed to make a mix of 250g of flour? I think not. If you don’t have a food mixer then don’t despair, all you need is a bit more time in the preparatory period. Let’s do it the Dan Lepard way instead, but we’ll use Paul’s ingredients. Of course you could just knead it by hand the Paul Hollywood way, but this is a bit easier.

So, put all the ingredients in a bowl. flour, oil, salt, yeast and water. I’m using fresh yeast today and warm water not cold, because my kitchen is positively Baltic and I want to give it a chance to get going. Warm water means 1 part boiling water to 3 parts cold tap water, it should not be warm to the touch. I also cut the salt by half. Let’s also not get into arguments as to whether proper baguettes need a lot of olive oil slopping in, we’re just going with it today. If you want a loaf without a lot of oil, try the Hairy Biker’s version from the Bakeation book, but you need another day or two to get that one going.

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Mix it all up, with a fork or fingers, it doesn’t matter, into a rough ball. Leave it for 10 minutes.

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Oil the work surface, tip it out, pat it down then do a Dan Lepard knead, just fold it over on itself 10 or 12 times. Leave for another 10 minutes.

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Knead again, leave again, knead again, then we’re back into Paul’s recipe so pop it in a bowl for about 2 hours, I left mine for about an hour and a half.
And it was all nice and stretchy.

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I don’t have a fancy baguette tray either so today they’re going on a heavily floured tea towel for the rise.

The online recipe doesn’t have the semolina mix that the TV programme did, so I’m leaving that off as well.

I put a baking tray in the oven to get nice and hot before I put the bread in, and I did steam the oven. And I reduced the total baking time by 10 minutes by doing that.

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Slightly disappointed that they didn’t spring much in the oven, but they were quite crunchy and went down well with some cheese and salad.

Salt in bread

Since I posted about making Paul Hollywood’s bloomer last week and pointed out that the salt content was a bit higher than recommended by the Campaign for Real Bread I’ve had quite a few hits by people looking for information about the salt content of that loaf and of bread in general. So just a quick post to summarise what I said and the advice you can find about salt in bread.

The basic Paul Hollywood bloomer has 10g of salt to 500g white flour, and that’s twice the amount recommended by the Real Bread Campaign for home bakers to use. They are following the advice of the Consensus Action on Salt and Health where you can find some quite startling facts about the effect of salt on health, specifically the evidence which links high levels of dietary salt with high blood pressure, which in turn can affect the chances of an individual having a stroke or heart attack, or contributing to the worsening of symptoms in a whole range of other things. So, salt is generally bad for you. The recommended daily maximum amount of salt in the diet of an adult is 6g. Most people have more than this, currently over 8g per day, and one of the major contributors has been found to be bread, which most people eat quite a lot of these days. Bread has accounted for 18% of salt in the diet, and is therefore an easy target for reduction. There have been successes in getting industrial bread producers to reduce the amount of salt in their baking, and most supermarket loaves have reduced it. However, some craft and other bakers still seem to think they are immune from the requirement to get their salt down, which is where the Campaign for Real Bread has stepped in.

I usually follow the advice of the campaign and use approximately one teaspoon per large loaf. I’ve made Paul’s bloomer and it really is quite salty if you use 10g of salt. If your palate is used to store-bought bread that comes in bags you’ll probably find the bloomer recipe too salty as most large retailers have reduced the salt in the bread that goes into supermarkets.

In Real Bread and industrial loaf baking salt in small quantities helps to:

  • Enhance flavour – if a loaf isn’t hanging about the kitchen for too long while it is rising, then it obviously helps to put some taste in.
  • Strengthen the gluten network
  • Aid the browning process
  • Act as a natural preservative – although I find real bread doesn’t hang about in our house and this isn’t a reason we need salt in our bread

The bloomer recipe uses olive oil, which is obviously not a traditional ingredient in British bloomers, and can be quite flavourful in its own right, so using extra salt doesn’t seem necessary to me.

Dan Lepard says in Short and Sweet to go up to two teaspoons of salt for 500g of flour and it won’t affect the rising of the bread. He also says you can leave the salt out but you might find that the dough is a little sticky to shape, that it rises faster, and that the bread doesn’t colour as quickly.

The guys over at River Cottage also recommend 10g of salt to 500g of flour, and even more if it is sourdough. Well, I think these people are going to have to adjust to the changing tastes of their customers.

So if, like me, your kitchen is cold, having the bread rise a little faster because you’ve left some of the salt out might also be a good thing. I also tend to use the half sponge method that Dan endorses in his white farmhouse loaf method. Half  of the mix sits on the counter for at least six hours while I go to work and it’s ready for me later. This long period gives the yeast time to do its stuff properly. Using wholemeal for the other half of the flour is also a great way of making bread that has some texture and flavour without resorting to the salt pot.

Also, if you’re baking for children, don’t forget they need a lot less salt in their diet than grown-up people do, so it is definitely a good thing to reduce salt in any bread that children may eat, even if you’ve made it yourself.

If you didn’t like Paul Hollywood’s bloomer first time round, reduce the salt and try again. You’ll soon find a level you like, and one that won’t add to your daily salt intake. However, if you like your bread salty then you might want to think about the other things you eat and how much other salt you’re eating. If you make a lot of your own food from scratch you can control what you add, but if you buy prepared food, or eat out a lot, then you might be getting more salt than you think, and maybe it is time for a review of salt.

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