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Posts Tagged ‘Bread’

Wheaten bread

A Northern Irish classic, wheaten bread is also the classic plain soda bread from further south in Ireland. As Jules grew up near Belfast and went to the same school as Trish Deseine (who knew?), our inspiration for this recipe, we call it “Wheaten”. Whatever you call it, this is an Irish classic and intrinsic to Irish food culture. So simple to make, tasty and versatile, this should be part of any cooks repertoire. We like it with a bowl of soup for lunch and toasted for breakfast the day after.

Northern Irish Wheaten Bread – makes 1 loaf

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 1 barely round tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450-475ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 225C.

Mix the flours in a large, wide bowl, add the salt and sieved baking soda. Run the mixture through your fingers to distribute everything evenly.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk. Stir the mixture in circles with outstretched fingers starting from the centre of the bowl and working outwards. It shouldn’t take long for the dough to almost come together. Give it a very quick knead in the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Sprinkle a little flour on your hands and gently tidy the dough into a round and transfer to an oven tray. Tuck the edges underneath with your hands, then gently pat with your fingers into a loaf about 4cm thick.

Cut a deep cross into the bread and prick the centre of the four sections with a fork.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C for a further 15minutes. Turn the bread upside down and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes or until done – you can tell as it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

(Original recipe from Trish Deseine’s ‘Home: Recipes from Ireland, Hatchette Livre, 2015.)

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Banana Bread

The perfect solution for  the black bananas in your fruit bowl – the blacker the better in fact!

Banana Bread 

  • 100g softened butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/Fan 160ºC/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.

Measure the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes or until well blended. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.

Bake for about 1 hour or until well risen and golden brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling on a wire rack.

(Original recipe from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, BBC Books, 2009.)

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Spelt & Cider Bread

We’ve done this recipe a few times and it works a treat. The texture and flavour balance makes it feel very professional. It keeps well too.

Spelt & Cider Bread  – makes one medium-sized loaf

  • 250g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt
  • 150ml full-cream milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 35g fresh yeast (we used 2 sachets of dried yeast)
  • 250ml dry cider

Warm a large mixing bowl.

Weight the flours into the warmed bowl and stir in the salt.

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling (you should be able to test it with your finger). Dissolve the honey in the milk.

Cream the yeast with a teaspoon in a small bowl and slowly pour in the warm milk and honey. When it is smooth, pour onto the flours along with the cider and mix well with your hands. When the dough has formed a rough ball, tip out onto a lightly oiled or floured surface. Knead gently for one minute.

Lightly flour the bowl you mixed the dough in and put the kneaded dough in it. Cover with a clean, warm cloth and leave in a warm, draught-free place for an hour.

Remove the dough and knead gently for a minute. Return to the bowl, cover and return to the warm place for another 25-30 minutes, or until risen again.

Set the oven to 240ºC/Gas 9.

Knead the dough again, this time forming it into a ball, then put it onto a floured baking tray and dust generously with flour. Cover with a cloth and keep warm for another 15-20 minutes.

Bake the dough in the oven for 25 minutes. When it looks brown and crispy, remove it from the oven, turn upside down and tap the bottom. If it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

(Original recipe from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II, Fourth Estate, 2012.)

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This takes time to make but with little effort and is well worth it. It supposedly keeps well too but ours didn’t last long enough to test this theory. If you’re not keen on fennel seeds you can leave them out or else substitute sesame or poppy seeds.

Pagnotta con finocchietto  – makes 1 oval loaf

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt plus a bit extra for the top
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 10g fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 280ml water, warm
  • 30g salted butter, melted
  • 1 egg white
  • olive oil for brushing

Brush a baking tray and the inside of a large bowl with oil.

Sift the flour into another bowl with the salt, sugar and yeast and make a well in the centre. Sprinkle over ½ tsp of the fennel seeds and pour in the water and butter. Mix with the tips of your fingers until you have a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball and put it in the oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place without draughts for an hour (the hot press is good).

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch dozen. Shape into an oval and place on the oiled baking tray. Brush the top with a little oil and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise in a the same warm and draught-free place for another 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/gas mark 7.

In a small bowl, mix the egg white with a pinch of salt.

Brush the top of the loaf with the egg white and sprinkle over the remaining fennel seeds. Use a sharp knife to make a cut right down the length of the dough.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180ºC/gas mark 4 and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving warm with some cured ham or salami.

Wine Suggestion: A light fruity red will be perfect here – try a Chianti perhaps from the Rufina district.

(Original recipe from Gino d’Acampo’s, Italian Home Baking, Kyle Books, 2011.)

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