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Posts Tagged ‘yeast’

When you have good butter you really need some good bread to enjoy it with. In such cases bread and butter becomes a real treat. When I was little Mum would feed my brother and I bread and butter as a snack if we said we were hungry – it’s good wholesome food for growing kids but not exciting enough that we’d ask for it when we weren’t really hungry. I used to love having a piece of hot buttered toast with a glass of milk before bed and, although I’ve long since given up bedtime snacks, I still enjoy my bread and butter. I spoiled myself to some wonderful raw butter from Isigny-sur-mer, it’s so creamy, almost a little farmy in flavour, and is flecked with big, crunchy grains of sea salt from Guérande. I’ve been happily spreading it on the lowliest of bread including the scraps of crust leftover from my blackberry and sloe gin puddings but I can’t help but feel it deserves something more. Something with a little more sophisticated than a slice of Hovis. (more…)

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Can you tell I’ve been on a bread-making kick since my course with Emma? Every weekend I’ve been baking something new and sitting on my bedside table is Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery with tags sticking out left, right and centre. And despite flagging up so many recipes to try; last weekend I went ahead and made a loaf without following a recipe, just using my “bakers instinct”. It actually turned out really well, I’m so pleased I made a note of the ingredients as I went because I know I’m going to be making this again. It is superb with cheese and wine, alongside a salad or simply smeared with a little butter and devoured.

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Bread making has always been something I’ve enjoyed but not been particularly good at; I think it all stems from the dismal cookery lessons I had at school where our teacher instructed us to knead rock-solid little balls of dough that baked up so dense not even the park ducks would touch it. Salvation came in March when I finally got to go on an eagerly anticipated bread making course at the Real Food Store in Exeter.

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Uff. I tried out three recipes for the blog today and all of them turned out great but now afternoon seems to slip right into night, bypassing any kind of evening, there’s no decent light for taking photos. All the photos I took, no matter what the white balance setting turned out rubbish, bad enough to put you off ever trying any of the recipes. So I’ve decided to sulk about it. There’s not much chance (read none) of me being able to invest in any special photography equipment or set up but the blog must go on. I guess I’ll be cooking first thing in the morning to make the most of any sunlight. Meh, I don’t like mornings.

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I’ve decided that it is now time to proceed to phase two of the marrow rum project and, unlike the underpants gnomes*, I sort of know what I’m doing. I’ve been feeling up my marrows every few days and for the last week or so they’ve been making the spare room smell a little boozy. Once the marrows were very, very soft – to the point that I though the skins were going to give out at the slightest movement – I cut them out of the tights and pierced the bottoms to drain the liquid. Once I’d caught all the juice I mashed the softened flesh through a sieve and strained it through a jelly bag to remove any bits. I stirred in the juice of an orange, soft brown sugar and some more yeast  before decanting it all into my home-made demijohn.

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Sunday mornings in our house follow roughly the same pattern every week. We get up, mooch around in our PJs and treat ourselves to a special breakfast (beyond the usual cereal) while watching the news or reading the papers. For health’s sake there’s always half a grapefruit carefully carved by the husband and smothered in brown sugar. For the treat we like croissants – almond for me, chocolate for him; crumpets, muffins, pancakes or, on very special occasions, cinnamon rolls. Come Saturday evening I realised I hadn’t bought anything for breakfast so I decided to whip up a batch of this incredibly quick, supremely tasty bread. It’s more cake-like than bread, less buttery than full-on brioche, subtly sweet and studded with apricots.

Unlike most bread, batter breads don’t have to be kneaded. As the name suggests, the dough is a thick batter which takes all of 5 minutes to put together. This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recent post. I just couldn’t resist tweaking it a little, please forgive me! I swapped the plain flour for white spelt flour which is sweeter and creamier than wheat flour, added chopped apricots and sprinkled the top with crunchy pearl sugar. Both versions disappeared within a day; the original is perfect for slathering in preserves whereas the apricot loaf  is best served unadorned in thick slices.

Spelt and apricot batter bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 200g white spelt flour
  • 50g strong white flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ sachet of fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175ml milk
  • 60g butter
  • 1 egg and 1 yolk
  • 100g semi-dried apricots, chopped
  • pearl sugar for decoration

In a large bowl mix 150g of the flour with the sugar, yeast and salt.

Warm the milk and butter until hand-hot, don’t worry if the butter isn’t melted. Pour into the flour and beat for 2 minutes with a hand mixer or 3 minutes by hand. Add another 50g of flour, the egg and yolk and beat for another 2 minutes (3 by hand).

Pour in the 50g strong flour and beat until smooth. Fold in the chopped apricots. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour or until the batter has doubled in size.

Line a 2lb (900g) loaf tin and gently pour in the batter. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for another 30 minutes, removing the cling film after 15 minutes. Sprinkle the pearl sugar on top.

Heat the oven to 190°C, bake the bread for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the tin and allow to cool.

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