what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

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Top Tea Cakes – Dan Lepard recipe

Hello again! I’ve been away as I had an accident in June that kept me off my feet for two months and I’ve only just got my baking mojo back. You’ve missed the tomato, parmesan and basil bread, some fruit cake and a huge home-made Jaffa cake I’m afraid, but today I’ve made Dan Lepard’s Top Tea Cakes from Short and Sweet. There’s a recipe from the Guardian over here, the main differences are in the kneading and resting times and the number of tea cakes you make.

This is an enriched recipe with lots of fruit, sugar, syrup, eggs and, instead of butter, white chocolate. So what’s not to like? I’ve not used white chocolate for the fat before, but the recipe says it will stay softer than using butter.

I used fresh yeast instead of packet dried yeast. The recipe calls for ingredients to be added to hot milk one after the other which cools the mix down to a usable temperature within the 15 minutes that you leave the yeast to bubble in some water with some flour. Pictures below show the various stages of working the dough. And I went for a tray of 12 tea cakes, not the 9 or 14 suggested by the two recipes. Going for 9 would make them humungous!

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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

 

Scandinavian cinnamon buns – Guardian recipe

Tired of mince pies? Can’t face another bit of stollen? Don’t want to eat your Christmas cake yet? Need a bit of something sweet and bready? Today’s Cook supplement in the Guardian had a lovely front page picture of cinnamon buns and the recipe couldn’t be easier. I did give the dough a couple of quick Dan Lepard style 10 second kneads while it was resting. I used some spelt flour because I had some, and I didn’t have any demerara sugar so it got topped with some soft brown sugar. My tin is also a bit smaller than required, so I added a few extra minutes baking time. Here’s some pictures while I wait for it to finish cooling.

after mixing

after mixing

a quick knead after 10 mins

a quick knead after 10 mins

another quick knead

another quick knead

dough patted out to size

dough patted out to size

filling spread across

filling spread across

rolled up into a sausage

rolled up into a sausage

popped in the pan

popped in the pan

after 30 mins rising

after 30 mins rising

with egg and sugar before baking

with egg and sugar before baking

baked, but in the tin

baked, but in the tin

out of the tin in one go

out of the tin in one go

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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Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100

Nothing much to do with baking, but mostly fuelled by Paul Hollywood’s Malt Loaf. Just a very short blog to say that the first Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 bike ride was a totally epic event and I had a very nice time, so much so that I didn’t want it to end! So much so that I’ve entered the ballot for next year already. They gave out very nice, very large medals too!

And are we excited about the next series of Great British Bake-Off? You bet! Bring on the cake!

 

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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Mill Green, Hatfield, flour

On Tuesday this week I took my son to Mill Green water-mill in Hatfield. There isn’t a whole lot to see there apart from the mill itself, and some small displays of Hatfield history. The miller was great, and talked a lot about how the flour is made and how the mill itself works. There’s a couple of hands-on milling exhibits for small people to use up some energy on. And to my slight surprise my son was actually rather impressed by the whole thing, the size of the mill, the water power, how hard it was to grind flour by hand. He spent quite a long time grinding about a big tablespoon of flour from some wheat grains they had there. So I think he learned something. Being a bit of a smarty pants he commented on some other children who came later who didn’t read the direction the stones had to go in and were therefore doing it wrong.

We bought some flour and today I baked a couple of wholemeal loaves with it. I wish this was smellyvision because they actually smell like roasted wheat. So if you’re down that way, do drop in, they are open Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Sundays, which is twice as much as nearby Redbournbury,  as featured by Paul Hollywood, which opens only at the weekends. The more cunning of you could get both flours and do a compare and contrast. We had to go Tuesday as it was the only chance this week, but I’ll definitely try to hit both one weekend soon.

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Coffee and ricotta marbled cake in the oven which I realise I haven’t made for nearly a year. Can’t wait to try both the bread and the cake!

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.

Cardamom Coffee Cake – post-Easter cake

I like chocolate cake at least as much as the next person, but after the Easter goodies have gone it can be time for a change from chocolate and Simnel cake. I had a small window of opportunity to bake this afternoon while I was making pizza dough and hit upon the Hairy Biker’s Cardamom Coffee Cake, from the Bakeation book and their visit to Norway. They didn’t make it on the show, so I can’t give you a link to the recipe. There may be others who have repeated it but I don’t do that.

So we have a simple cake mix, with a slight twist which is handy if your butter is cold, you melt the butter before adding it to a mixture of eggs and sugar that are beaten with a hand whisk. In goes flour, cardamom, baking powder and milk. Then it’s topped off with flaked almonds and demerara sugar. Ever so easy! The result is very light and fluffy and I must say delicious.

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