Stromboli – Another Love Baking Bread recipe road test

Stromboli and magazineMy recent baking has had varying degrees of success. The Moroccan flatbreads I made to go with the lamb meatball tagine we had on Saturday night ended up being more like a crispbread.  And the croissant I’m currently munching on whilst writing this tastes lovely but the shaping needs some work and the oven temperature was clearly wrong as I only just rescued them before they tipped over from dark brown to burnt (and that was after only about 5 min of the 18-20 min cooking time). But there have been a couple of successes.

HerdyI’ve already blogged about the rhubarb loaf but the best bake of the weekend (at least as far as LSH was concerned) was the Stromboli. This is another recipe from the Love Baking Bread magazine and another Gino D’Acampo one. I’ve made a few variations of this type of stuffed bread already without realising that I’d actually been making Stromboli. This version is stuffed with a mixture of mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic and lots of basil and I added some Italian meats as well.
Stromboli internal

If you’re going to make this, make sure you line the baking tray with greaseproof paper and don’t just rely on oiling it. I know from bitter experience that melted cheese is better than superglue when it comes to bread and baking trays and there was a lot of cheese in this bread as you can see from the amount that seeped out.

Stromboli baked

As before the colour here is completely different from the photograph which is of a very pale loaf, but it worked well and I suspect that I may find myself succumbing to getting Gino’s Italian Baking book before too long. Certainly this bread didn’t hang around very long…

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Good Weather for Rhubarb

Rhubarb and Date loafI’ve been on a bit of a baking binge. A couple of weeks of eating rather than baking has left me craving the feel of flour between my fingers. So the kitchen has been covered in a faint dusting of flour for most of the weekend. Yet despite this I have a distinct case of “flatness” which even baking isn’t managing to shift. A definite case of post holiday blues has set in to go with the bands of rain that have swept across the garden this weekend.

Rhubarb plant

The upside of this wet weather is that the rhubarb in the garden has done well this year. Usually by now its starting to bolt but the inclement weather has been good for something at least with lots of lush green stalks and no sign of flower heads. In previous years I’ve made crumble and compote out of it but this year I’ve tried something different. I recently came across the British Food Trust website which has lots of interesting British recipes on it including this one for rhubarb and date loaf.

rhubarb

The rhubarb stalks are stewed to start with until they form a purée ( I added a couple of tablespoons of water as it cooked to make sure that it didn’t catch on the bottom of the pan). I blitzed the flour, baking powder and butter together in a food processor until they resembled breadcrumbs and then mixed them with the rest of the ingredients before putting into a loaf tin.

rhubarb loaf

This is definitely more of a bread than a cake – the only sugar in here is through the dates so it isn’t as sweet as banana bread for example. I think it needs to be a bit more moist (I’d add a bit more rhubarb next time) and it could do with some spice (I feel that ginger is needed). But it has the makings of a good tea loaf, particularly when served with a decent dollop of butter and sometimes that’s just what you need.

An American Interlude

pancake 1

I feel I ought to start this blog with an apology to UK readers – as is usually the case, when I leave the country the weather improves but now I’m back and it’s raining heavily and all I can hear is the water pouring down the drain pipe. The delights of the British summer! All this rain is not helping my post holiday blues.

Whilst the holiday itself is fast becoming a memory, we still have the hundreds of photos to go through and sort. So this blog is something of a sneak peak but with a distinctly baked good flavour (despite LSH’s view that I should be posting lots of photos of elk etc. I have explained that my blog is not called “The Monday Elk”…).

One of the things that I love about going abroad is the different food experiences. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets as much of a thrill from scouring the shelves of a local supermarket as from the local tourist attractions. I invariably end up coming back with some dubious food substances carefully wrapped to avoid spillages in my suitcase. This time around it was a bottle of slightly luminous prickly pear cactus syrup that, thankfully, made its way back intact.

pancakes

Being the US, I made it my mission to munch my way through an unseemly number of pancakes in our various stops. The one at the top of the blog is from the small cafe at the Signature Hotel in Las Vegas – possibly the neatest pancake of my trip and my first experience of the choice of bread that seems to come with your average American breakfast. I was surprised (and delighted) to get a choice of 4 different breads for toast no matter what type of restaurant/ cafe/ hotel we were dining in – white, wholemeal, rye and sourdough. I can safely say that I’ve never been offered sourdough as an option in the UK, which I suspect is down to the fact that it’s not as much a part of our food culture as in the US. These pancakes are from the Grand Canyon and from left to right you have buttermilk, buckwheat and blue corn which were eaten with a choice of prickly pear and maple syrup. I loved the buttermilk one and its a shame it’s so hard to get where I live (our closest supermarket looks at you in horror if you ask for lamb mince so my chances of getting buttermilk are pretty much nil!). I’ve heard you can make it with milk and lemon juice so I’m going to have to give that a go. IF you’ve made your own buttermilk do let me know what its like via the comments.

I’d never come across blue corn flour before (I thought it may be something to do with blueberries but it is flour made from the blue corn in the region). We found it again at Monument Valley used in the Navajo breads we ate there. We had Navajo Nachos in both the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley.

Navajo nachos - grand canyon style

This is the Grand Canyon version – like a thicker style of tortilla topped with a mix of lettuce, tomatoes, refried beans and beef.

And this is the Monument Valley version.

Navajo nachos - navajo style

Much more like a fried puri done in the style of a Yorkshire Pudding before being filled with the same mixture. One of my favourite Indian dishes is prawn on puri and I’m tempted to have a go at presenting it in this fashion.

We also had the fried and tortilla style blue corn bread with a couple of different types of Navajo chilli. The one below is pork with a type of corn. I loved the tortilla but thought that the fried version was just a bit too greasy for my tastes.

Pork and corn chilli with breads

We also had squaw bread in Page which tasted a bit like a version of maltloaf to me (I’m currently researching recipes).

It was interesting to find that, despite the fact that we’re exposed to so much American culture here in the UK, there’s still so much that’s new about food. I have brought back a couple of bread recipe books so expect to see some more US influenced breads over the coming months. It would be interesting to here your thoughts – Am I the only one that happily meanders through foreign supermarkets? Is food one of the highlights of your holiday? And what is squaw bread?

Finally a couple of pictures just to keep LSH happy – here are the Elk of the Grand Canyon… Happy Baking!

Elk 1Elk 2

A small taste of summer

Clematis

The LSH and I have been on our hols which has coincided with a period of wet and warm weather. As a result the garden has had a growth spurt and burst into bloom. The rose next to the patio looked like this before we went and now looks like this.

Patio

All the rose bushes are full of fragrant flowers which should last for another few weeks. We’ll then get another smaller flush in September.

More roses

All this colour has put me in the mind to bake something summery. This is one of my favourite summer quiches. The original recipe was from Good Food Magazine but I’ve tweaked it quite a bit since then and this is the result. It’s full of bright red cherry tomatoes and vibrant green broad beans with large chunks of salty feta. It also freezes quite well.

The pastry is a mix of 100g plain white flour and 100g wholemeal spelt. Put into a food processor with 75g of cubed unsalted butter and blitz till breadcrumb like. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time until the dough just starts to come together. Bring together into a ball with your hands and wrap in cling film. Pop it in the fridge for an hour.

Grease a 23cm tin. Roll out the pastry and pop into the tin pressing it firmly into the sides. The pastry may fall apart at this point but you can easily patch it. It’s worth keeping a small bit to one side in case there are any cracks during the blind bake. Prick the base and sides with a fork.
Pastry base

Line the tin with greaseproof paper and baking beans and blind bake for 10 min at 200C. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 10mins.

Meanwhile defrost and blanch 260g frozen broad beans – remove from their skins. Halve about 16 cherry tomatoes (or as many as you can fit into the pastry case). Crumble 250g of feta into chunks.

Whisk 3 medium eggs. Add 150ml of double cream and season – bear in mind that the feta is salty so I go heavy on the pepper with a pinch of salt.

Once the base is baked add the tomatoes (cut side up), cheese and beans. Pour over the egg and cream mixture. Return to the oven for 30 min or until the filling is set.

Feta, tomato and broad bean tart

We served it with new potatoes and salad for a fresh, tasty summer tea.
Tart for tea

Soft Slider Buns

Soft slider buns

Another bun recipe and with it my Dan Lepard “bread roll trilogy” comes to an end. After the soft floury baps and the semolina buns I am now on the soft slider rolls that I planned to bake a few weeks ago until thwarted by the lack of custard powder.

The process starts with an unsweetened custard made with the custard power and milk with only 2 tsp of sugar. This is then left to cool and mixed with the flour, salt and yeast. The custard roux was straight forward enough but it did end up a very scary yellow. It also seemed very thick (I suspect that there is a reason my custard is usually of the ready mixed variety). Tasting it was a bit strange – you expect it to be sweet and absence of this meant it tasted like cornflour rather than custard. In his recipe Dan Lepard does say you can substitute this for the custard powder and after tasting it I can see why.

custard roux

Adding the flour to it made for a very dry dough and it was hard work to knead. It is supposed to be a firm dough so I stuck with it and resisted the temptation to add any extra water. I then left it to rise and shaped into 5 decent sized buns.

After proving they got a coat of milk and I scattered white sesame seeds on the top. The final buns were nice but compared with the other bun recipes, I felt they were too dry and firm. I preferred the texture of the semolina buns to these. The original recipe is for smaller buns and maybe they work better in this form. I think that larger buns need to be softer so I probably won’t do this one again. I just need to make a lot of rhubarb crumble to use up that custard powder…

Soft slider buns

A Perfect Spelt Loaf

Spelt loaf 3

Spelt is one of the oldest grains. It’s been used in Britain since before the Romans landed on these shores but fell out of fashion and was replaced by wheat. It’s lower in gluten than wheat and supposedly helps to protect against bowel cancer. All of which makes it sound like its going to produce a loaf like a brick, hence whilst I’ve used both white and wholemeal spelt in loaves, I’ve shyed away from just using spelt. Then I came across this during one of my Waitrose outings.

Spelt flour

Sharpham Park specialise in spelt flour. As well as white and wholemeal they also do a 60:40 mix they call Baker’s Blend. It sounded appealing and the recipe on the back of the pack looked straightforward enough so I decided to give it a go. However I didn’t follow the method as, according to Paul Hollywood, spelt is prone to spread and so I decided that a loaf tin was the best way.

I mixed 500g of the Baker’s Blend with 1 tsp salt,1 tsp easy blend yeast, 2tblsp olive oil and 300g warm water. As its lower in gluten I decided to mix it into a rough dough and leave it covered for 15 minutes before kneading.

I then gave it a quick 10 second knead on an oiled work surface before leaving it another 10 minutes. I repeated this twice more before adding a touch more water on the second knead as it seemed a bit too dry (I just dipped my hand in water so it was damp before kneading the dough).

lt was then given a light coat of olive oil and left covered for about an hour in black bin bag.

By this time it had risen quite a bit. I floured the work surface and turned it out, padding it into a small rectangle. This time I decided to devote a bit more time into shaping it rather than just plonking it in the tin. I didn’t take photos of the process but if you have the River Cottage Bread Handbook it’s essentially the stubby cylinder in there.

Spelt - pre prove

After another hour it looked like this. As you can see it had risen a lot and was very “bread” shaped! I clearly need to shape it properly in future.

Spelt loaf - post prove

I preheated the oven to 220C with a roasting tin in the bottom. When the loaf was ready I gave it a decent topping of flour and slashed it before putting it in the oven before quickly pouring boiling water into the roasting tray.

It was then baked for about 30 minutes to produce this.

Spelt loaf 2

This is probably the prettiest loaf I have ever baked! All it needs is Hovis imprinted on the side. I am completely in awe of the amount of oven spring it got, the way it kept its shape, the colour… Seriously I didn’t even want to cut into it, it was so pretty.

But cut into it I did. It had a good crunchy top crust and a sandwich worthy crumb.

Spelt loaf - sliced

Tastewise it’s difficult to describe. It’s not wheat – it tastes “softer” than that, but it’s not so different that it’s hugely noticeable. In fact LSH has been eating it for the last couple of days and hasn’t noticed that he’s been eating a “health food” (well not til he reads this anyway!) I would definitely make this again – my only worry is that on the website it is listed as sold out. Hopefully I’ll still be able to get this from my supermarket. I may have a go at making my own “Monday Baker’s Blend” and see if I can replicate it.