Baking Bread 20

Oh yes… I’ve been baking again. And it’s not just been me. It’s been a whole baking day. Mr Meike’s Kitchen made a superb Toad in the Hole for lunch and later on knocked up a batch of Rock Cakes. I swear he doesn’t even need to look at the recipe anymore. And I stocked up on Bread. I made a Bauernbrot, which I’ve made before and tried out another Dan Lepard recipe. I’ve tried four now – and three of them contain raisins… 😉

This time I thought I actually work on my technique and there’s a section in The Homemade Loaf that describes – in words and pictures – how to shape dough into a baton. I usually do round loaves so why not extend my repertoire to oblongs?

Here’s the Bauernbrot:

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And now to the latest Dan Lepard recipe, a Cassis and Currant Loaf. I’ve wanted to make that for a little while because I knew I had a little bit of cassis left in the bottle… The recipe is out there on the interwebs… I used half currants, half sultanas because that’s what I had. It was a very sticky dough and is now a dense loaf but it works like that. It tastes lovely and it’s got that dark brown colour from the rye flour. As with the Cinnamon and Raisin Loaf, I found that the baking times and temperature given in the book were not quite right. For the last fifteen minutes I turned the temperature down and the raisins sticking out are still quite burnt. So that’s something I need to keep an eye on when I bake this again but apart from that – three stars.*

* My star rating is as follows: one star = try out this recipe; two stars = tried it but won’t make that again and three stars = keep the recipe, make it again. Differentiate further and it gets too complicated… 😉

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We had a bit of a tasting session:

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Top: today’s Cassis and Currant Loaf
Middle: Spotted Soda Loaf
Middle right: today’s Bauernbrot
Bottom: Simple Milk Loaf
Middle left: Roggensauerteigbrot (rye sourdough bread)

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Baking Bread 19

I tried two recipes from Dan Lepard’s Handmade Loaf the other day. I got the book for my birthday way back in February and had so far only tried one bread, the Raisin and Cinnamon Loaf.

This time I made a Simple Milk Loaf. I’m always looking for nice white breads to please Mr Meike’s Kitchen (as if…) and this one is definitely a winner. It did help that we’ve been having quite warm temperatures so the dough was rising beautifully. It was fantastically easy, mix, rest, knead, rest, knead, rest, knead, rest, shape, rise, bake. Those kneading periods at the beginning are very short, just 10 seconds, and the rest in between is 10 minutes. For some reason this produces a lovely light loaf, it’s absolutely amazing. It tastes nice as is and toasts well. Everybody likes it.

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The other loaf was more for me and the kids, a Spotted Soda Bread. Why it’s called a Soda Bread, I don’t know. I always thought the defining ingredient for these is bicarb but this one only uses baking powder. It’s not very heavy on the raisins and I did contemplate putting more in but it’s just right. Master Meike’s Kitchen, lover of everything raisin, likes this bread a lot. Maybe because it’s more like a cake than a bread but it’s also definitely a keeper.

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Baking Bread 18, a Jam Tart and Cinnamon Buns

Oh yes. We’ve got soem catching up to do because I’ve got to bake some bread for Mr Meike’s Kitchen’s return on Thursday and there’s a few things from the weekend and even from the days before.

Before I got all my lovely new flour, I decided to make a rye sourdough bread, pure rye, nothing else (mainly because there wasn’t anything else left in the flour box). I tried out this recipe, which I more or less adhered to… Apart from the little fact that I didn’t have that particular rye flour so came up with a mix and it didn’t end well. It only occurred to me this evening what was up with my bread. It tastes like pumpernickel, which is fine when that’s what you want and expect but is decidedly odd when you expect ‘just a rye bread’. The loaf looked impressive though…

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And then I made some, three to be precise, jam tarts for the kids and me for dessert. I had a tiny amount of hot water pastry in the freezer from New Year’s Eve. Every year, since New Year’s Eve 2008, I’ve made a New Year’s pie using hot water pastry. The recipe has evolved a bit since the kids were born to make it child-friendly but it’s more or less as it’s printed in Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook. If you stick around long enough, you’ll hear more about it at the end of the year. Anyway, I baked a tiny amount of pastry as a shell but unfortunately to put in any weights so they flared up. It was possible though to fill them with two teaspoons of jam (the bright red one is strawberry, the more matt one is strawberry with gooseberry). The kids liked them so everything was alright.

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For quite some time I’ve been reading recipes and looking at (i.e. drooling over) pictures of cinnamon rolls. I’ve collected a couple of recipes, enough to warrant their own board on Pinterest. And now it was time to try one out. I decided to make these Overnight Cinnamon Buns. The idea of leaving them overnight in the fridge appealed to me immensely so I prepared the dough and the buns while watching the World Cup. The only changes I made to the recipe were the obligatory 30% less sugar and I used kefir instead of buttermilk. And I also messed up the frosting, I reduced the sugar too much and put too much milk in so it was a rather too sticky affair. The taste was fine though, we absolutely loved them. Oh, and I made them smaller. The recipe is for 8 large buns, I made 16 and some of them were pretty massive. I’m also very sorry I didn’t take a picture before the buns went into the fridge to prove overnight. The rise was spectactular! I can only recommend this recipe!

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Baking Bread 17 and some Empanadas

… and something else. A teaser because this post hasn’t really got anything to do with a berry tartlet. The other day, when I made that Strawberry Cake, I also made a small base with the intention of using it for a quick desert one of these days. I froze it and it defrosted really quickly on the day. Then I covered it with sliced bananas, spread with a mix of quark, yogurt and puréed berries sweetened with a bit of agave syrup. Serve chilled and it’s really nice.

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You know I’ve been running out of flours. We’ve been out of wheat for what feels like ages so spelt has been the grain of choice. I found a spelt bread recipe on Pinterest and it caught my attention because it sounds so mad.
One sachet of yeast for 300g of flour? It’s enough for 500g. Double the recipe, like me, and it sounds even madder: two sachets for only 600g. And I’m not even talking about the suggested 42g of fresh yeast in the original recipe which on its own can be enough for 1000g of flour. I think the massive amount of yeast is supposed to make up for the missing second rise because there is only one rise for 30 minutes and then the bread is baked.
It comes out really lovely though, light and airy. I made one loaf in a small tin and a round one in my 20cm-springform tin but it would have comfortably gone into a large loaf tin so I’ll do that next time. I’ve already changed a few other things but I want to try it with less yeast and a second rise before I write up my spelt bread recipe.

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And then there was dinner. Silly me decided to make Empanadas. I’ve got a recipe where the pastry dough is made in a food processor so I thought I’d give that a try. I’d never made dough in one before. I should have stuck to what I know and made it by hand. It was a case of very bad over-working. The dough was so sticky, I was about to leave everyone without dinner and go to bed when Mr Meike’s Kitchen came to the rescue. With some emergency freezer treatment and loads of additional flower, we finally got a workable pastry although it was still quite sticky so we left out the step of rolling out sheets, brushing them with melted butter, stacking them and rolling them out again. We just didn’t want to make them any stickier. We were able to get some roundish shapes, get them filled (with refried beans, beef-carrot-green pepper mix and grated cheese) and closed. And in the end they came out of the oven and were very nice indeed. Even the pastry started being flaky out of its own accord… So it wasn’t a complete fail but could have been better.

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To round matters off: We’ve been to t’mill and stocked up on flour….

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***** EDIT: This post and its title originally referred to “Enchiladas”. That was wrong since enchiladas are are completely different kettle of fish. They are tortillas with a filling which are covered in sauce. What I made are very clearly empanadas. Thank you, Wikipedia, for clearing that one up! 🙂 *****

A Strawberry Cake

… and a bread picture. Let’s talk bread first, then cake.

I took a picture of the last slice Rye-Spelt-Flax Seed Sourdough and one of the Rye-Spelt-Flake Sourdough breads. (I really have to work harder at giving my breads nicer names. This is just awful! 😉 )

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The former is the top one, the latter the bottom one. The Flax Seed is much darker (from the seeds) and also tasted more “grainy”. By the time I took the picture it was quite dry too… The Flakes is much lighter in texture and also tastes lighter. Saying all that, I think the lightness of the crumb in the Flakes is due to my actually attempting to knead it whereas the Flax Seed dough was only stirred through with a wooden spoon because I didn’t fancy sticky hands that day… From now on, it’ll be kneading every time. It really makes quite a difference even though this dough will drive you insane.

And now, for the cake.
My auntie and uncle were coming over the other day. So my mum (we live in the same house) asked me to make a cake. What cake? Strawberry. Alright then. On a sponge base? Yep. (Here in Germany sponge cakes that are topped with fruit are usually made without butter – just eggs, flour, sugar and a bit of baking powder.) Okay, I’ll make a custard to go between the sponge and strawberries otherwise that’ll be quite a boring cake. But only if you’ve got lactose-free milk – uncle has an intolerance, remember? No… Already made the custard… Well, we’ll have that for dessert then. No layer in between sponge and strawberries then. What do I do with the strawberries? Halve them? No. It’s a strawberry cake. Put them on whole. Really??? Yes. Strawberry cake. Alright. I did that. It’s a pain to keep them staying upright. The whole lot was then covered with a starchy-kind of glaze which is comes as a powder in a sachet and has to be boiled up in water with a bit of sugar so that it thickens. I don’t remember ever seeing something like that in England but I never looked as I’m not that keen. So I did that too and when it was all set, took it down. Ah, you haven’t put the glaze on yet? It’s on, all done. Oh.

Surprisingly enough, the cake went down a storm. There was only one slice left for us to take back up and I had to quickly take a picture before Master Meike’s Kitchen devoured that as well. I didn’t like the cake. The sponge was great, airy and light, tasting a bit different since I made it with spelt flour (still haven’t got round to going to the mill to stock up). The fruit layer was just stupid. The strawberries were too big and it kept falling apart. But what could I do? A strawberry cake. 🙂

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Baking Bread 16

Time to bake bread again!

Since the last sourdough bread turned out rather nicely, I’ve used the same recipe again but with whole grain flakes instead of the flax seeds. It looks different and it tastes slightly different. And, obviously, once again, this is based on this recipe. So this is my Rye-Spelt-Flake Sourdough Bread:

Ingredients:
175g dark rye flour
175g light rye flour
210g spelt flour
100g mixed whole grain flakes
1 sachet dried yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
20g salt
300ml water
Sourdough made from starter plus 375g rye flour and 300ml warm water, left covered for about 12 hours

Method:
Mix the flours and the whole grain flakes in a bowl.
Add the yeast to one side, the sugar and salt to another. Add the water and start mixing it together. Then add the sourdough and mix well.
Cover and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
Dump the dough onto a baking sheet in roughly a round loaf shape (let’s not pretend this dough is in any way shapeable, it isn’t, just dump it). Dust with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour (not longer!).
Preheat the oven to 225°C, pour two or three cups of water into a small baking tray and bake your bread for about 70 minutes.
Let the bread cool on a wire rack, then wrap it into a plastic bag and leave for 48 hours before slicing.

This time I thought I’d be clever and sliced my bread before the 48 hours were up. Don’t do it. It’ll still be too fresh.

I’ve also read a lot a out using baking stones for better results so I tried something different this time: I preheated in the oven the baking tray and just slid the loaf on the baking parchment onto the hot tray. I’m not quite sure whether it has made a difference because I think the tray wasn’t hot enough. I’ll keep experimenting.

The other thing I tried out was keeping the loaf in my spring form ring in order to get a higher loaf and stop it from spreading. This has actually worked really well and is quite advisable for this bread.

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Top and bottom of this bread. I don’t think the bottom looks any different to a loaf put in the hot oven on a cold baking tray but then I never really looked…
And I did burn the top a bit. I was busy with the kids and couldn’t keep an eye on it during those last minutes. It wasn’t supposed to look quite that dark.

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Baking Bread 15, a Cake and Cookies

It’s not as if I haven’t baked anything for weeks and it’s not that I’ve forgotten to blog (blag?) about it either. I wrote a post about 10 days ago, then accidentally deleted all of it (bar one link…) – and then mayhem started. Miss Meike’s Kitchen threw up every hour from 9pm to 5am and didn’t sleep one bit in between. Master Meike’s Kitchen did the same two days later and in between I managed to get a panic attack. It wasn’t much fun but we all survived, I’m pleased to report.

So before things started to go wrong, I made two types of bread, a rhubarb cake and cookies.

I made a Rye-Spelt-Flax Seed Sourdough Bread that I based on the Roggenmischbrot I told you about here, which in turn was made following this recipe. It turned out rather nicely even though I didn’t use enough salt at the time, I’ve made a similar bread again in the meantime (post to follow!) and I’ve put the right amount in the recipe here.

Ingredients:
175g dark rye flour
175g light rye flour
210g spelt flour
100g flax seeds, coarsely ground
1 sachet dried yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
20g salt
300ml water
Sourdough made from starter plus 375g rye flour and 300ml warm water, left covered for about 12 hours)

Method:
Mix the flours and the linseed in a bowl.
Add the yeast to one side, the sugar and salt to another. Add the water and start mixing it together. Then add the sourdough and mix well.
Cover and leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
Dump the dough onto a baking sheet in roughly a round loaf shape (let’s not pretend this dough is in any way shapeable, it isn’t, just dump it). Dust with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for an hour (not longer!).
Preheat the oven to 225°C, pour two or three cups of water into a small baking tray and bake your bread for about 70 minutes.
Let the bread cool on a wire rack, then wrap it into a plastic bag and leave for 48 hours before slicing.
It’s all worth it!

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I also made a so-calledEnglish Tea Bread. It was for Mister Meike’s Kitchen so therefore it was a white wheat loaf, an enriched dough with melted butter and milk. I wasn’t that pleased with it because it turned out a bit soggy at the bottom and it is rather dense. (I prefer the Viennese Bread I’ve made quite a few times.) This bread also gets an egg-wash and I thought I wouldn’t waste the egg so I gave it a couple of coats, including an extra one after the loaf had been in the oven for a bit. Well, it tastes like it’s got a very thin omelette on top… 😉

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I made a Hardwick Hall Rhubarb Cake but because I’m still fiddling with the recipe I won’t include my version (yet). Suffice to say, I’ve reduced the sugar and I’ve upped the amount of fruit. However my last cake was too soggy and dense. I think my stewed rhubarb was just too wet, I should have drained off some of the liquid. This screwed up the cooking time and I took the cake out too early, then had to put it back in the oven covered with foil. Oh, it was a disaster.
The original recipe is nice, I have actually made it exactly like that (well, with less sugar) before I started putting more fruit in (you can find it on the National Trust’s website). And I’ve got a note on my scrap paper with the recipe on that says it also works with apples and cinnamon. There you go.

Finally, some cookies. I call these Espresso Choc Chocolate Cookies. They are awesome. I used my normal cookie recipe which I copied from the cook at the Scope home where I used to work. (Oh yes, that was a rather culinary employment… which I’ve mentioned a few times before.) And then I threw in some Espresso chocolate, oh yes. They are quite grown-up cookies and definitely not for sharing. I didn’t anyway…

Ingredients:
140g plain flour (I used spelt because I’ve run out of wheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
130g soft butter
60 g brown sugar
40g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
30 g cocoa powder
1 100g bar Espresso chocolate

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together.
Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture on the baking trays, spacing them well apart to allow for spreading.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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I took that picture just after I’d taken them out of the oven.
These cookies are lovely whilst still warm or, when cooled, with a nice glass of cold milk. Yum.