Tag Archives: bread

You Can’t Hurry Bread

2 Dec

BR buttered

You can’t hurry bread,

No, you just have to wait

She said bread don’t come easy

It’s a game of knead and wait.

Well let’s be fair, bread and love are remarkably similar.  When done properly they both fill you with warmth and make all that is bad disappear and like all good things they take time to get right.  In as much as my twenty-five year old self would have loved to tell  my fifteen year old self to be patient and that love would happen, my thirty-five year old self would love to travel back to my twenty-five year old self standing over a loaf that only a dwarf would be happy to eat and tell her that it would all be okay.  One day.

You see bread has always been a bit of a problem for me.  I never quite got the hang of the kneading, proving, rising, waiting quasi-religious steps that other people took for granted.  My bread has always been a heavy let down.  There was even the time I tried to make a sour dough starter from scratch.  It looked good, had the right texture, but it was sour .  No, seriously, so sour it got spat out and we couldn’t eat it.  I’ve heard every joke about my bread breaking plates and being used as doorstops and yet, while I could manage some really tricky culinary tasks, bread has managed to elude me.  Then about two months ago I had a revelation.  I was eating a calzone and the corner was light and fluffy and soft and EVERYTHING bread should be.  So I took the  pizza dough recipe I had used for the calzone and tried to make bread with it.

It worked.

I tried again and it worked again.

I tried it the third time and wouldn’t you know it, it worked again.

I now have my very own bread recipe steps that I’m sticking to with all the fervour and zeal of the newly converted.  And as is the want of the newly converted, I’m sharing it with you.

BR IngI’m always amazed at how few ingredients bread needs; take:

  • 500 gm of bread flour
  • 2 tps of quick yeast
  • 1 Tbs of sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • a grind of salt to taste
  • 200mls of lukewarm water and
  • oil for kneading

Add all the dry ingredients into your food processor and process for five  seconds until completely combined. With the food processor running slowly add the eggs and then the water.  Process for about a minute until you have a thoroughly combined, wettish dough.

BR doughPlace the dough on the surface you’re going to use to knead.  Do NOT flour the surface, instead wipe it down with some oil of your choice, I like olive oil.

BR kneaded doughKnead the bread dough for ten minutes.  I set a timer to ensure I’m not lazy about it.  When you’re done kneading you should have a springy,smooth ball of dough. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover the bowl with cling film.  Leave in a warm place to rise for just over an hour or until doubled in size.

BR risen doughOnce the bread has doubled in size place it back on the kneading surface and knead for a further minute.  Shape the dough into the shape you want for your bread or place it in a loaf tin.  At this stage preheat your oven to 200°C.

BR dough in panCover the tin with the clingfilm and leave for about forty-five minutes to prove.

BR proved

Then place the bread in the oven and bake for forty minutes.  When you remove the bread from the oven and tap on its bottom, it should make a hollow sound to indicate it’s ready.

BR bakedRemove the bread from the load tin and allow the bread to cool slightly for about five minutes before you cut it.

BR cutSlice the bread and serve hot with lashings of butter.

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Tear and Share Bread

4 Mar

There is something wonderfully decadent about weekend breakfasts. Especially when the day is grey and rainy and you have a full day of nothing to do stretching out in front of you. If you’re like me though, you’ve probably had your fill of full English fry ups. Don’t get me wrong, I love bacon just as much, if not more, than the next born again carnivore, but sometimes I want something a little less greasy. I also want something a little more satisfying and indulgent than muesli and this bread is the perfect balance between the two.

This is definitely a lazy morning breakfast, if you’re rushing to get somewhere it might not be the breakfast for you. It doesn’t require much work on your part, but it does need 40 minutes or so to rise and about 20 minutes to bake.

Again this is one of those wonderful recipes where you can adjust it to suit your own tastes and use whatever you have to hand. Start with

  • 1 quantity of your favourite bread dough (bought, made up from a packet or from scratch)
  • 60gm of butter
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 2 Tbs of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of toasted walnuts
  • 2 tsps of vanilla essence

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the vanilla essence. Roll the dough into a rough rectangle and then brush on the butter, leaving a space of about two centimeters on one of the long sides of the rectangle . Sprinkle on the sugar, the cinnamon and the walnuts.

Then starting on the side where the butter is brushed to the edge, roll the dough into a long cigar shape finishing on the side where you left the space.

Using a sharp knife dusted in flour cut the cigar into seven or eight equal pieces and place in a pie or spring form tin.

Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes. This is usually where I take the dog for a walk while the BH serenades me with sonorous snoring from the bedroom.

Once the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to about 220ºC and bake the bread for about 20 minutes.

Once the bread is baked, leave to cool for about 10 minutes then tear off a hunk and serve hot with coffee and orange juice.

Now while breakfast is all very well this also makes a great alternative to dinner party rolls. It also works as side at a BBQ (Braai) and as tea bread. All you have to do is juggle up the dough you use and filling.  In this one, I spread a layer of sun-dried tomato pesto on wholemeal dough and topped it with cheese and fresh basil. On other occasions I peal, core and chop 2-3 apples and then soften them with some butter and vanilla essence in a saucepan on medium heat for about 10 mins and then puree.  Spread this puree on the bread and sprinkle on some cinnamon.  Sprinkle the top of the rolls with sugar before baking and enjoy.  The possibilities are endless.

The Greatest Sandwich EVER!

12 Feb

The BH and I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day.  Why spend a fortune telling someone you love them on Valentine’s day, when you really should be doing it everyday?  OK, maybe not everyday, but at least more than once a year.  That said, it’s also important to spoil them around this time of year, so last night I offered to make him anything he wanted from the kitchen as his gift.  You can imagine how floored I was when he opted for a sandwich, and not just any sandwich, but a VEGETARIAN  sandwich.

Most people find it hard to believe that the BH and I were vegetarians for over ten years.  We just don’t fit the pale, skinny and interesting look most people associate with vegetarians, which probably has something to do with my love for cooking with cream and butter.

It was during the Vegetarian Years that we went looking for a sandwich that would satisfy the burger craving.  Had we been in the West with ready access to quorn, we might never have discovered it. Even though we are now hardened carnivores with all the meat-eating zeal of the reformed, we still enjoy this at least once a month.  I hope you do too.

There are no exact measures on this one, so go with your gut and eyeball it, to mix metaphors.

You’ll need:

  • Aubergine/Eggplant (depending on which side of the pond you live)
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Cheese (the meltier, the better)
  • Bread
  • Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

First chop the garlic as finely as possible, pour the olive oil in a cup or ramekin and allow it to infuse for about 15 min

Preheat the oven to 200 ° C.  Slice the aubergine in 1cm thick slices an place on an oiled baking tray. Brush with the garlic infused oil making sure at least one piece of garlic finishes up on a piece of aubergine.   In Taiwan I used to use Japanese eggplant which are longer, thinner and less bitter than the aubergines found here, but with the advances we’ve made in food cultivation,  I don’t think it’s necessary to peal, salt or soak, this vegetable.  Tear up the rosemary and scatter about the tray.

Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until they are soft and golden brown.

Slice open the bread and spread the SDT pesto on the bottom and then top with as much cheese as you can.  Place the hot from the oven aubergine on top of the cheese and close the sandwich and leave for 3-4 mins so the aubergine melts the cheese.

Serve with potato wedges and a green salad.

For the potato wedges, mix canola oil (or any other oil that has a high smoke point and a mild flavour) in a large bowl with a tsp of smoked paprika, pinch of salt and a tsp of dried thyme.  Cut your potatoes into wedges and toss in the oil.  Bake at 200° C for 30-40mins, until soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

oh.four.one.

the port elizabeth blogger

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