Baking Bread 7

Time to bake bread for the freezer again!
This time I was really in the mood for sunflower seeds so I made two types of bread using them in both.
I kind of overmultitasked today and got myself into a bit of a muddle. The results, however, do not reflect that. 🙂

I didn’t have much time so I decided to try out a Blitz-Brot. You all know the term Blitzkrieg so you can imagine what a fast bread this might be. I was sceptical – no kneading, no rising, no proving. But it worked out rather well. You dissolve fresh yeast (42g) in 450ml lukewarm water and throw in the other ingredients (250g whole spelt flour, 250g whole wheat flour, 75g sunflower seeds, 75g sesame seeds, 10g salt, 2tbsp lemon juice), mix it and put into a greased loaf tin (30cm length). The original recipe wanted the seeds on top. I did that and most fell off. So next time, they’ll go into the dough with a few on top because it looks nice… Anyway, now the tin goes into the cold oven. Turn it on to 200°C and bake for 60 minutes. It was amazing to watch the loaf rise! Then take the bread out of the tin and bake without for a further 10 minutes. It looks lovely and fluffy. It tastes fine but I think with the seeds inside it’ll be even better.

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My second bread of the day was a sunflower seed bread with yeast and sourdough. I’ve made it before and it’s got a lovely taste and it’s another recipe that doesn’t take ages. I know the whole point about baking bread is that you need to take your time but sometimes there need to be shortcuts… 😉 I found this recipe on the back of a pack of flour but it’s not on the mill’s website so here it goes: Mix 650g strong wheat flour with 350g strong rye flour, 10g fast acting yeast (or 2 sachets dry yeast), 35g sourdough, 20g salt, ca. 800ml lukewarm water and 150g sunflower seeds until you get a smooth dough. Leave to rise for 30 minutes. Shape two equal-sized loaves and put the into bannetons (or anything, a bowl, a basket, that can do the same job) for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper, and sprinkle water onto the tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 250°C for 15 minutes and at 200°C for 35 minutes. I didn’t have any patience with my breads today so they were rather rough in shape. The taste, however, is great.

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And here are two sample slices, the Blitzbrot is on the left, the sunflower seed bread on the right:

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Onion and Herb Share’n’Tear Bread (AKA Baking Bread 6)

Recently, it was my birthday and this required a special bread. I had come across an onion share and tear bread here and then found a version of the same bread on this blog. Both use the same basic recipe, both use onions – one uses sage, the other rosemary. I didn’t change anything on the basic recipe, used onions, no garlic but dried herbs, an Italian mix with basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and sage. To be honest, I was just too lazy to go down into the garden and get some fresh ones. It was my birthday after all. I wasn’t too happy about the given oven temperatures, they seemed too low and I didn’t really think that it worked. So I’ve looked at a similar recipe to adjust that.

I used
150ml whole milk, plus extra for glazing + 150ml (or more) warm water
400g strong white flour
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 tbsp mixed dried herbs
freshly ground black pepper

To make the dough put the flour into your bowl, add the yeast to one side, the sugar to another and the salt to a third. Pour in your liquid and mix with a wooden spoon. You may need more water, depending on your flour. When it has all come together, tip it out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes or so (I don’t think I ever do that but it sounds good.) until you’ve got a smooth ball of dough. Put it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover (I use a shower cap, specifically purchased for this) and leave to rise for an hour, until doubled in size. (I usually use the same bowl. Is that bad?!)
In the meantime, gently cook the onion in the olive oil. Slowly does it to bring out all the sweetness. When you’re happy with it, take it off the heat and add the dried herbs and ground pepper.
Tip the dough out again, knock the air out, then flatten it gently into a rectangle. Spread the onion-herb mix over it and knead together. When I did that, the dough became very oily so maybe draining the onion mix on kitchen paper before incorporating it may be a good idea. Cut the dough into 8 bits of more or less the same size. (Or you weigh the dough, divide by 8 and then weigh out your 8 pieces accordingly, they’ll probably be around 80g…) Put the first one in the middle of a baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper. Arrange the others around it. They don’t need to touch but don’t put them too far apart either. I then put the baling tray in a large plastic bag which I prop up with a Kilner jar on the tray, and leave to prove for an hour, until doubled in size again.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan). Brush the bread with milk, then bake for about 20 minutes. They are ready when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Leave them to cool. (They are also nice toasted the next day!)

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Apple Crumble and Valentine’s Chocolate Mandarin Heart

Apple Crumble for dessert today, with custard of course, and the Valentine’s Chocolate Mandarin Heart for, well, the clue is in the name. It’s also my birthday but I refuse to make my own birthday cake so this is a Valentine’s cake… 😉

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Crumble in various guises is a staple pudding favourite in my house. I use Jamie Oliver’s recipe from The Naked Chef which I tend to change according to the fruit available. As before, reduce the sugar by a third and it’s still enough. Today I stuck to the recipe (apart from the sugar, of course) because I wanted to try The Spicery‘s “Rumble in the Crumble” spice blend for crumbles. (Some very nice people gave me a curry subscription for Christmas and the blend was a free sample.) It’s cassia, ginger, allspice and nutmeg so perfect to go with an Apple Crumble. I didn’t use quite enough to really get a flavour but it was still a very nice pudding.

My Valentine’s Chocolate Mandarin Heart is basically the Strawberry Chocolate Valentine Gateau from the Chocolate Bible by Christine McFadden and Christine France. Now I don’t know where the authors live but here, strawberries in February are definitely not a good idea. So that needed substituting. I settled on marmalade instead of strawberry jam and mandarin oranges instead of strawberries. For the decoration, the recipe asks for chocolate fondant. I’ve never had it before but it didn’t sound appealing and makes the cake in the pictures look rather sleek which is so not me. So I used a Fudge Frosting (recipe in the same book) instead. I haven’t tried it before but the list of ingredients looked much better without the egg white and the liquid glucose… It has turned out rather nicely, if I may say so myself, and I do hope it’ll taste good too. It certainly smelled good!

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The sponge after baking. I had a swollen heart! And then it cracked… Not a good sign.

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At least cutting it into two wasn’t a problem this time.

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The bottom half covered in whipped cream with chopped mandarins.

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The sponge is sandwiched together.

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Chcolate, butter, vanilla bean paste and icing sugar are melted for the frosting.

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Finally, the cake is covered in the frosting.

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And then decorated.

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I present you: Valentine’s Chcolate Mandarin Heart.

You have noticed: There are lots of pictures today – I didn’t have to keep one eye on the kids, Mr Meike’s Kitchen was entertaining them… 🙂

Baking Bread 5

With the stock in the freezer depleted, I had to put in a baking morning. I was so engrossed in what I was doing I completely forgot to take pictures. Doh!

I spent about three hours and a half, not continuously but in spurts, and even with the kids being round, it worked really well. I actually make a timetable when I bake more than one thing in the same session so I know what to do when. I also weigh out all the ingredients the night before. Always remember the six Ps: Proper Planning Prevents P***-Poor Performance… 🙂

So what did I bake?

I made a Dreikornbrot, or “Bread made out of three types of grain”; those three are wheat, rye and spelt: normal spelt flour, wholemeal wheat and wholemeal rye. (I had to look up the latter; it’s RoggenvollkornschrotRoggen is “rye”, Vollkorn is “wholemeal” and for Schrot I found “bruised grain”. Never heard that one before. Schrot is very rough flour.) The dough also contains natural yoghurt so the bread is very light and airy. I cut the recipe out of a health food store’s magazine so it’s gotta be alright, hasn’t it? It’s the first time I made it so I stuck to the recipe but again it’s a candidate for a bit of spicing up. We’ll see. The recipe makes two loaves with a combined weight of more than 2kg (1450g of flour in the mix) so we’ll be eating that for some time. When I’m happy with the tweaked results, I’ll post more details (and hopefully some pictures!) but it’s very nice. Definitely one for the repertoire.

I also made a sweet loaf, a Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Bread. The recipe is from Kids Baking by Williams-Sonoma. Although my kids didn’t help (they had better things to do on a Sunday morning like running from room to room, leaving toys everywhere, getting on each other’s nerves…), I managed quite alright. By the way, I got that book many moons ago from the Book People, or a similar company, who came to Hampton House which I mentioned the other day. Please have a look at the petition here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/save-hampton-house-stop-scope-from-closing-it – if you haven’t already done so. (Links aren’t working again for me, so apologies.)
It’s made of a lovely yeast dough, normal wheat flour enriched with a bit of butter. The filling is just raisins, sugar and cinnamon. It smells fantastic and tastes great with a blob of vanilla ice cream. It was super-easy to make (well, it’s a book for kids after all…) and a joy to eat. I’m glad I’ve got some in the freezer.

A non-baked aside… Marmalade

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I made marmalade for the first time last year, using just 5 bitter oranges making 5 jars. So I thought I’ll do it again this year buuuuuuut I ended up with 11 bitter oranges, more than one and a half kilos and it was a lot of work. I was so proud of my fine cut peel last year but I couldn’t face chopping up the peel of 11 oranges so I ended up using Monsieur Moulinex. The result wasn’t as good as I expected so next year I’ll go back to five oranges and chopping by hand. I mean what am I going to do with 14 jars of marmalade?!? It’s mental. Since this is the sort of stuff I do to relax (?!) in the evening once the kids are in bed, I didn’t get much relaxation out of this one. Last night I was finished after cleaning up gone 11pm… Not my idea of spending a Friday night but there you go.
I’ve already thought of ways to use up some of that marmalade: sponge sandwiches or that Buccaneer Shortbread I mentioned last time could work really well with a layer of marmalade between the shortbread and the caramel. We’ll see.

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Caramel Oat Squares and Buccaneer Shortbread

The kids have had a couple of late nights so I’m lagging behind with my baking list and have therefore decided to combine these two.
I made the former for a coffee & cake invitation at the weekend and the latter from the remaining half of sweetened condensed milk…

The Caramel Oat Squares are a recipe with a story. I cribbed it off Lynette who was the cook at a home for disabled adults where I used to work. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, at least that’s what it feels like in my memory and I still have a couple of recipes I like to make that come from that time. To go off on a slight tangent: That home is under threat of closure at the moment and family members of the residents have started a petition to keep it open. If you’d very kindly have a look at it and see if that’s something you’d support, I’d be very grateful. It’s the sort of place where you keep going back to visit even when you finished working there a decade ago. You can find the petition