Category Archives: Breads

The ultimate ‘no knead’ bread

This loaf has become our favourite at home. Crusty, with a good crumb, and excellent sourdough flavour. The emmer and spelt make it rather nutty. Experiment with flours, or make it entirely white if you prefer. Once you become really good at it, on day 3 you can start adding grains like e.g. toasted buckwheat, which provide a really nice texture.

The recipe is for Piers, by the way. A good friend, who has sadly closed his lovely little wine shop, and therefore has a bit more time to cook and bake. Best of luck!

5 tbsp sourdough starter

150g cold waterno knead 2

75g emmer*

75g spelt (dark)*

(53g wheatgerm)

540g lukewarm water

150g spelt (dark)*

600g strong white flour

15ml water

15g salt

Day 1

Two days before you intend to bake, refresh your starter by discarding everything but a teaspoon, then adding water and flour until you have about 2dl. It should look like wallpaper paste or thick glue.

Day 2

Just before going to bed, mix the sourdough starter, cold water, emmer and spelt roughly in a very large bowl (i.e., the largest you have). Cover with a cloth.

Day 3

8 a.m. Add the wheatgerm, flour and water to the starter mixture (if you are not using wheatgerm only add 525g water). Mix roughly with one hand, making sure everything is well blended. Leave to sit for 30 minutes, covered by a cloth.

8:30 a.m. Add the salt and water, and mix again with one hand.

9 a.m./9:30/10/10:30/11/11:30 Slide one hand down the side of the bowl and under the dough. Pull the dough up and over the top of itself (like folding a napkin). Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Do four turns in total.

Noon. Dust your proving basket with plenty of semolina (and some sesame seeds, if you like). Dust the dough with semolina, and form into a ball shape (still in the bowl). You do not want to work it too much, and it does not need to stay this shape – you just want to build up some tension and make sure the dough is not too sticky. Transfer quickly to the proving basket, and dust the bottom with semolina or polenta. Tricky bit done! Now, leave to rise for 2-3 hours in a warm place.

2:30 p.m. Turn on your oven to its absolute hottest setting (not grill, though). Place a large cast iron pot with lid in there. When the oven is hot, take out the pot, (pour in a little polenta if you want to make a nice crust), and carefully tip in the bread. Score quickly with a very sharp knife, put on the lid, and return to the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. After the 40 minutes have passed, open the oven door and bring the temperature down to 180 degrees (fan). Remove the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes. If you like your bread less dark, bake at 160 degrees instead, but for a couple of minutes longer. Leave to cool.

* or white, or rye, or whatever you fancy, really.

Rye sourdough

I have not baked rye bread in ages, mainly because I have not been able to get chopped rye. However, since discovering Shipton Mill there is chopped rye and flours aplenty. In line with my mission to seek inspiration from Claus Meyer this year, here is my version of his dark rye (mørkt kernerugbrød).

Makes 1 loaf:

2 dl water
1 tsp easy bake yeast
5 tbsp sourdough starter
275g rye flour (dark) (as fresh as possible)image

330 ml water
170g chopped rye
100g sunflower seeds
75g hemp seeds

14g sea salt
1 tbsp molasses

1 loaf tin (2 litres)

Day 1:
Mix 2 dl water, yeast, starter and rye flour in a bowl, cover with a lid or damp cloth and set aside for 48 hours.

Day 2:
Pour the remaining water over the chopped rye and seeds. Leave for 8 hours or until the water has been absorbed.image

Day 3:
Combine the rye flour mixture with the seeds and add salt and molasses. Use a ‘robot’ to knead the dough for some 10 minutes, taking care to push the wet dough down if it clings to the side of the bowl.
Grease the loaf tin well with sunflower oil. Pour in the dough and leave to proove somewhere warm for 3 hours (or longer, if the rise is slow).
Bake the bread at 180C (fan) for 1 hour and 20 minutes approximately. Leave to cool for a few hours. Enjoy with leek and potato soup or with pastrami, emmenthal and cornichons.

 

 

 

Emmer bread

Bread we eat a lot of in this house. Spelt, plain white wheat, dark rye. But almost always sourdough. Last week we took delivery of a load of flower from Shipton Mill. Some 15 kilos, in fact, as I got over-excited when browsing their stock. We now have chestnut flour, strong white flour, wholegrain spelt, white spelt, self-raising flour, dark rye, chopped rye, and emmer. Today I am putting the emmer to good use. It is a heritage type of flour that has witnessed quite a revival in Denmark over the past 10 years, but I have not seen it in the UK until now. Emmer has quite a strong flavour – nutty and sweet, and more rounded than traditional wholewheat. You find emmer a lot in the Middle East (e.g. Turkey and Egypt), and the grain (farro) is frequently used in Italy too, particularly in the north. It is excellent served alongside savoury dishes, but I like it with marmaladeas well. The structure is more dense than a standard white sourdough, but it is not at all cloying like a bad soda bread can be.

Makes 1 loaf

3 1/2 dl water (cold)

7g live yeast (or 1 tsp of easy bake yeast)

1 dl sourdough starter

300-350g emmer flour

200g stong white flour

10-15g sea salt

Day 1:

Dissolve the yeast in the water, then add the starter, flours and salt. Knead for 5 minutes on a low setting, followed by 10 minutes at a high detting (or knead by hand for 20 minutes).

Grease the dough with rapeseed oil and place in the fridge in a large bowl covered with cling-film. Leave for 24 hours, or over night if you are pressed for time (but the final result is inferior – much more dense).

Emmer whole

Day 2:

Take the bread out of the fridge and transfer to a basket (if you have one) dusted with semolina. Leave to rise again somewhere warm for 2-3 hours.

Place a baking stone in the oven (or a baking tray, if you do not have a stone). On the shelf below, leave a shallow dish full of water. Now preheat the oven to 240C.

Once the oven is hot, carefully take out the hot baking stone. Dust the bottom of your loaf with polenta, then gently tip it out onto the baking stone. Score the bread, transfer to the oven, and reduce the temperature to 220C. Bake for approximately 35 minutes.

 

Sourdough – my base recipe

Sourdough. Lots of it. fresh with salted butter and homemade blackberry jam. Toasted with serrano ham and aged comté. After a week of non-chewy food, I was ready for bread. Proper, crusty, chewy bread. Sourdough, in other words. After all, there is only so much polenta, mash, porridge, riz au lait and yogurt one can eat before entering a state of depression.

I pretty much bake a sourdough loaf a week. Sometimes I use a spelt starter, at others a rye-based one. I also vary the flours used in the main dough. strong, organic white mixed with spelt (usually), or once in a while rye, or just plain white. I know you are supposed to be exact when you bake, but I am not at all. Probably the reason why I will never be a great pastry chef. But then, again, I am not much for cake anyway. That is, unless it is really exceptional, or an apple galette.

This recipe makes one (very) large loaf. It will keep for about a week if you use organic ingredients. It can be done in a day (morning to eve kind of thing), but it tastes much better if you do it properly. And you have to leave one hour between the folds. That cannot be skimped on. Sorry.

image

6 dl water

4-5 tbsp starter culture

400 g strong, white flour

200 g spelt

1-2 tsp sea salt (not heaped!)

Day one: Mix 1 dl water and starter in a very large bowl. Add 100 g flour. Stir and leave overnight on the kitchen table or somewhere else that is not too warm, not too cold, and also not drafty.

Day two: Add 1 dl of water and a further 100 g of flour. Stir and leave overnight again.

Day three: Add the final 4 dl of water, the rest of the flour, and then the salt. Give it a good stir. Knead in a ‘robot‘ for 10 minutes (no longer for spelt, please), or for 20 minutes by hand. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour after a few minutes of kneading. The dough should be wet and springy, but not impossible to handle. If it is too dry, the bread will be dense. Leave to rise for 2 hours or so.

Take the dough out of the bowl and slam it on the table (literally). Pull and stretch the dough as much as you can without tearing it. Then fold the top third of the dough towards the middle, and afterwards the bottom third over the top. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. Turn a final time and repeat again. Return to the bowl and leave for another hour before repeating this process once more. Then repeat again (a final/3rd time) after a further hour’s rest. This time, transfer the dough to a large proving basket dusted with semolina, sprinkle the bottom of the loaf with polenta (corn meal), and cover with clingfilm. Leave the dough in peace overnight somewhere quite cool.

Day four: In the morning, turn on the oven to the maximum temperature, leaving the baking tray on the second-to-bottom shelf, and a loaf tin full of water on the shelf below. Mine gets to 240 C (fan). Go have a shower, grind some beans, and have a good coffee. Your oven should now be ready.

Take out the very hot baking tray, and turn the dough out straight onto the tray. If you please, score deeply (almost to the base) with a very sharp knife. Transfer to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, keeping a watchful eye, then turn the temperature down to 190 C (fan) for a further 20-25 minutes. The bread is baked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

 
image
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

It is a rare day, we do not enjoy sourdough.

I got one of my proving baskets here. A great, big round one: Masterproofing Round Banneton Basket (500g dough)– 22*8.5cm

Bagels

My first post is about bagels. Because I love them. And because I made them this morning for a lazy, cosy brunch. Fill them with what you like. My favourite is pastrami with French mustard, gherkins, and cream cheese. My boyfriend is partial to poached eggs, paper-thin slices of fried, crisp speck, and sauce mornay. Or just Nutella.

Bagels – 12 pieces

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsb cane sugar

300 ml water

7g dried yeast (1 sachet)

400g strong, white bread flour

100g spelt flour

(1 tsp bicarbonate of soda)

Optional: various seeds (nigella, sesame, poppy)

Mix all the ingredients but the flour together. Once the yeast has dissolved, add the flour. Knead in a food mixer for 5 minutes (or by hand for at least 10 minutes) until the dough is springy and shiny. Leave to rise on the kitchen table for some 3 hours or overnight, covered by a damp kitchen towel or a piece of oiled clingfilm.

Set the oven to 175 C (fan assisted, otherwise 200 C).

Divide the dough into 10-12 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, and pierce in the middle. Stick two fingers in the pierced hole and twist the piece of dough around to enlarge the opening. It needs to be big as the dough will contract.

Bring a large (pasta) pot of water to the boil. Once at boiling point, add 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Add 2-3 bagels to the pot of boiling water, making sure they do not touch. After 30 seconds of poaching, turn the bagels over and poach for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a lined baking tray, brush with a little milk, and sprinkle with seeds. Repeat for the remaining bagels.

Once all the bagels have been poached, transfer the baking tray to the oven (middle rack) and bake for 14 minutes. Check on them after 12 minutes or so. They may need 2 minutes more, or even 4, depending on your oven. You want them only slightly golden.

Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool. They will have a slightly crisp crust at first, but after 15-30 minutes they should turn perfectly chewy.

Enjoy!

P.S.

My 4 year-old happily assists in making these. They only take about 30-45 minutes to make after proving over night, so perfect for a brunch or lazy breakfast.