Friday, 31 May 2013

Busy Bee!

I've been a busy crafting and baking bee, just not been too good at documenting it! This post is a case in point, as I started writing it in April, and it's nearly June!
I had a particularly successful weekend of crafting and baking point of view (back in April), and I actually managed to take some pictures. First up, i'll show you the baking side of things...

So recently I was given a copy of the new Paul Hollywood's Bread, that accompanies his TV series of the same name. Of course I was a very happy recipient :-) I decided this weekend to take a crack at crumpets, having never made them before, and overall am very happy with the results.

Step 1 - Make the batter.

Hubble bubble toil and trouble...

The batter has both yeast and baking powder in so it's really really bubbly, but then it's for making crumpets so it'd have to be bubbly. This is a much wetter dough than any bread, so you have to beat it with a spoon. I kept taking rests as my arms are not so strong as Paul Hollywood's

Step 2 - Cooking.

So I don't have boring round crumpet rings, and had to improvise, which I did with a heart-shaped egg ring, that performed the job admirably. The chick and sheep cookie cutters, while super-cute, did not perform admirably... the batter stuck very firmly, so I was then stuck making crumpets on a one-by-one basis with the silicone heart.

Step 3 - Eating

The crumpets were really delicious, and well worth a try. Next time i'll make sure I have more rings to cook in, as it was a very slow process. 


Recipe from the wonderful book "Brot Genie├čen" by Oliver Brachat and Tobias Rauschenberger. It's all in German, so it's good for improving my language skills, as well as my baking ones!

So I decided to make a bread I have tried before and loved - the San Francisco sourdough. This bread takes about 7 hours to make, but it's so delicious that it's definitely worth it. Plus it makes two big loaves and freezes really well.

Step 1 - Ingredients

Step 2 - The initial knead

The speckling you can see in the dough is because it's a mixture of 200 g wholemeal spelt flour with 1.5 kg of white bread flour.

Once the dough has been kneaded for about 10 min by hand, you pop it in an oiled bowl, cover it with clingfilm and leave it to rise for 2 1/2 hours.

Step 2 - Proving

One of the key things that I have learnt from this book, is that you don't just leave the bread to prove, at least not all the time. The gluten needs stretching out occasionally, and so every 50 minutes (for this recipe) you take the dough out of the bowl, stretch it out a bit to make a big flat round of dough, and then fold one third over the middle third, and then the other side over the top of that (kind of like a leaflet). This helps to prevent your bread from collapsing later.

Step 3 - Shaping

After the 2 1/2 hours rise comes the shaping.. I decided that I didn't just want an oval, I wanted one of my loaves to be a plait. So I split my dough in two, then split one half again into thirds. These three balls were rolled into long ropes and then plaited together. I tucked the ends under, and hey presto, a plait.

The other half of the dough I decided could stay as an oval. This involves first working the dough into a round (by using your hands on the side of the dough to spin it on the spot on the bench, until it's a nice round shape), then to make it oval. To make an oval you need to flatten your round into a big flat circle, then fold the edges into the middle and pinch them together like a giant cornish pasty. You then flip this so the pasty edge is underneath, and you have your oval.

Step 4 - Second Proving

The bread proves again (covered in a tea towel or cling film), and then it's ready to go in the oven.

 Step 5 - Baking

For most of the bread in this book, you put a tray of water in the oven while preheating, and then for the first ten minutes or so of cooking you have the water in there and the oven temperature high. This helps to make a crisp crust. You then remove the water from the oven, and turn down the temperature for the remainder of the cooking time. Bread comes out of the oven smelling delicious and with that "hollow sound" that you desire.