Mint Parathas

Mint paratha - final

This week LSH and I were eating out at a friend’s. She had a curry evening planned and so she asked me to bring bread (with wine obviously!). I was surprised by this – last time I took Indian breads they looked more like crispbreads than naans. So having been given a second chance I was keen to impress. So alongside the Missi Roti and some pistachio naan breads I made this flatbread. It’s a simple recipe,although it does involve a bit of “bread origami”, and is just a bit different with its flaky texture and flecks of mint.

Mint paratha - fan

Take 225g of chappatti flour (or a mix of 50:50 plain and wholemeal) and put in a bowl. Grind 1 tsp of dried mint into a powder and add to the flour along with a handful of roughly chopped fresh mint leaves. Mix together with a pinch of salt and then mix in 140ml of warm water. Put to one side for about an hour.

Divide into 6 balls. Take one and roll it out thinly into a rectangle. Brush with melted butter and then fan or pleat together. Then coil it into a snail.

Mint paratha - coil

Roll the coil out into a circle before dry frying on a medium heat for a couple of minutes each side. Repeat with the rest of the bread. Serve warm with your favourite curry.


A Spanish Interlude….. and (at last) bread.

Spanish Bread
Baking and blogging have both been a bit on the quiet side recently as I’ve been on a late summer break to get a last burst of sun before Winter starts to set in. LSH and I have spent the last week on Menorca doing as little as possible. The island was lovely but unfortunately the most exciting bread on offer was a baguette (it was either that or a miserable looking white sliced…)

The nearest we got to a decent baked item was from a small bakers in Mao where we had a couple of delicious pastries and a coil of sweet bread liberally dusted with icing sugar.

So on my return I’ve come up with a “Spanish” bread of the kind I wished I’d seen over there. This is a spicy bread stuffed with Serrano ham, manchego cheese and chilli stuffed olives to counteract the Yorkshire autumn we’ve come back to.

Spanish Bread - fillingTo 375g of strong white flour add 1/2 heaped tsp of salt, 3/4 tsp of yeast, 1 tsp of chilli flakes and 1tsp smoked paprika. Stir in 40g of extra virgin olive oil and 235g of water. Knead until silky and leave for an hour.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle 30-35cm wide and about 5mm deep. Line it with 5 slices of Serrano ham. Coarsely grate manchego cheese over the top to taste ( I used about 150g). Keep some cheese to one side. Roughly chop 75g of olives stuffed with chillies. Tap them with kitchen paper to remove any excess water and scatter over the cheese.

Spanish Bread - pre roll
Roll the bread up to create a long sausage. Cut in half longways and twist the two halves together before connecting them to form a garland.
Spanish Bread - pre bake

Leave to proof. When ready, wash with beaten egg and finely grate some manchego cheese over the top. Bake at 200C for 35-40 min, turning down to 180C for the last 15 min.

Spanish Bread - inside

I apologise for the fact that mine looks a bit doughy – I had to take it out 5 min earlier than I wanted as LSH was prowling. Nor would he wait for it to cool which didn’t help its texture. It didn’t affect the taste though which has a definite kick from the chillies both in the dough and the filling. The next door neighbour has already put in a request for seconds. Hopefully I’ll get to leave it the oven for longer next time.

Catching up with the Bake Off Family.

Dukkah bread - final

With the ending of summer comes the return of the Great British Bake Off with in all its floury, pastel shaded loveliness. But it’s no longer the only Bake Off kid on the block with the US and Australia both having their own versions. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet I’ve been able to tide myself over waiting for our UK version to start by following the Great Australian Bake Off.

And it’s been brilliant! Instead of Paul Hollywood they have the Guardian columnist Dan Lepard (one of my baking icons) and Mary Berry has been replaced by Kerry Vincent, wedding cake designer extraordinaire. They even have two hosts with comedian Shane Jacobson and tv cook Anna Gare in the Mel and Sue roles. It’s still set in a giant marquee furnished with pastel workstations and envy inducing stand mixers. And it even has its own version of the infamous squirrel with lots of kangaroo shots scattered throughout the show.

Dukkah blend

Dukkah blend

I have been totally addicted and was even persuaded to bake the Dukkah and Macademia bread baked by Nancy in their Bread episode. It was Dan’s comments about being able to smell the Dukkah before even eating it that sent me scurrying to the GABO website to print off the recipe. A bread that fragrant had to be tried and, more importantly, eaten.

Dukkah means “to pound” and is Egyptian in origin. It is a mix of nuts, seeds and spices that are roasted and ground into a powder. It is traditionally served with bread and oil but in this recipe the oil and Dukkah are combined with the flour and yeast to form the dough. I couldn’t find Macademia nut oil so I used a mix of toasted sesame oil and olive oil instead.

Dukkah bread - plaited

More of a challenge was the plaiting. The last thing I plaited was my hair when a small child and this was many years ago. So it took me a couple of goes to get the plait to look attractive. The loaf is formed from two plaits which are laid side by side before proofing. Nancy drew an attractive design into hers – my artistic abilities are distinctly lacking so I stuck with just glazing with egg and scattering with nigella seeds.
Dukkah bread - crumb

The result was a beautiful fragrant bread to be proud of – even for a novice plaiter like me. The coriander is the strongest smell and flavour but it’s not overpowering. Instead it complements the rest of the flavours producing a bread that will take pride of place on my table any time. Check out the Great Australian Bake Off website for more recipes including a 4 hour(!) croissant ideal for the impatient baker.


Red Onion Rolls

Red onion rolls - rolls

We’ve actually managed to grow some decent sized red onions this year for once – the first time for a few years. It’s frustrating as I love red onions and they are supposed to be easy to grow, but each year I end up with onions that are only a little larger than the sets I planted many months before. Not good… This year was their last chance. Whilst my garlic crop has done well I have only a handful of onions to show for my troubles and given how easy they are to buy I’ve decided that enough is enough. Next year I’ll give the area over to strawberries instead and hope for better luck.

Red onion rolls - roux
In celebration of my meagre harvest I decided to make red onion bread. This is another Dan Lepard recipe from Short and Sweet and it starts with the creation of a red onion roux. The onions are sweated in lots of butter until soft and flour is added to create a thick roux. Finally a good splash of red vinegar is used to help retain their colour. You can’t taste it at all in the finished bread so don’t be tempted to miss it out.

Red onion rolls - post rise

I forgot to add the olives until after the roux had cooled but that didn’t seem to matter. And I added black olives rather than green as that was what I had in the fridge. I found the mixture hard to knead. It is the wettest dough I’ve dealt with in a while, nearly as bad as ciabatta, and it took a lot of will power not to add extra flour. Eventually it came together and after about an hour it had risen considerably to form something that looked worryingly like spotted dick.

Red onion rolls - pre proof
Having found the kneading bad, it didn’t get any better with the shaping. As with the semolina buns I made earlier, these were rolled and then cut into rectangles. But it had lost none of its super stickiness and despite a generous coating of semolina, I had a devil of a job trying to get the dough to separate at all, let alone neatly. As you can see from these photos I ended up with a few odd shapes!

Red onion rolls - rolls 1

They continued to rise well and by the time I popped them into the oven, they were considerably larger. By the time they came out of the oven, they were plump and golden with a texture not unlike ciabatta which is not surprising given how wet the dough was.

These are definitely bread rolls to eat warm from the oven with a delicious smell and flavour. I thought that they were much nicer warm so if you have to keep them longer I recommend popping them back into a warm oven for about 15 mins to crisp up again. But no matter how tasty they were, it’s still not enough to motivate me to attempt growing onions again. Next time I make this it will be onions from the local shop…

Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread - cut

Asda has a special place in my heart. When I was a child we still had butchers, grocers and bakers within walking distance so most shopping was done daily. But for the big stuff like washing up liquid, cereal, frozen food etc we had “the monthly shop” which involved a family outing to the nearest big supermarket which was Asda.

Food shopping has changed significantly since then and so has Asda. Today the branch of Asda nearest to where I work sells plantains and okra as well as potatoes and milk. This visit I came away with samphire and smoked garlic. The samphire came with cooking instructions telling you not to add salt, which on tasting it I can see why. I like salty food and this certainly didn’t need any extra! Poor LSH is not a fan of salt and I doubt it will find its way back into my shopping basket any time soon.

Garlic Bread - smoked garlic

The smoked garlic was more successful. For starters it smelt delicious – very rich and smoky! Just the thing to pop into a chicken for roasting. But I thought that it might be good to try it in bread and so I gave Paul Hollywood’s recipe for garlic bread in How to Bake a go.

Garlic Bread - roasted garlic

The recipe is pretty straight forward as it’s essentially a basic white dough with roasted garlic cloves. I made a half the quantity as I only wanted the one, so I used just one bulb of garlic. The bulb is split into cloves and all the skin is removed before it’s roasted in olive oil until soft and golden.
When the dough has completed its first rise the recipe tells you to knead the cloves into the dough and then to shape it before proving. Once proved you are then supposed to coat with olive oil and oregano before baking. Trying to get the cloves evenly distributed through the dough was a challenge and I didn’t have oregano so I used finely chopped fresh rosemary and the olive oil that the garlic had been roasted in to increase the overall “garlicness”

Garlic Bread - baked If you have the book you will see couple of key differences between my version and the one illustrated there – the location of the garlic and the shape of the loaf. In the book they are all at the top of the bread and sit level with the crust. In mine they are towards the bottom of the loaf. The bread itself is much flatter, more ciabatta like in shape, whereas mine was more domed and loaflike in shape, which was largely a result of trying to get the cloves spread through the dough. With the cloves incorporated I found it difficult to flatten it out. I suspect that the book version was shaped first and then the cloves pushed in before baking and this is what I would do in future.

The final bread had a lovely crisp rosemary scented crust with garlic cloves dotted through the crumb. Alas there was not much sign of the smokiness that I loved in the unroasted bulb though – I suspect that this lies in the skin that was removed at the outset. Despite this though it was tasty. So tasty that LSH managed the beat his own record for bread eating as within 15 min all that was left of it was this!

Garlic Bread - the end

Baking in Hot Weather

Summer fruit pavlova

At last the British summer has arrived! Hurrah! And for once it’s not going to be a “blink and you missed it” affair. We’ve got a whole week of decent temperatures and blue skies ahead of us (readers in Yorkshire ought to be aware that I’m off work next week so get your barbecues out of the way before then…)

Messing around in the kitchen when I could be out in the garden is not hugely appealing, even for a baking addict like me. However we need bread for our barbecue tonight as well as a pudding to use up some our newly ripe blackcurrants so I’m up early to get it done before it gets too warm. Both these recipes were really easy to do.

First it’s another of my stuffed breads so I’m sure you know the basics by now (if not try here and here.)

Pear and gorgonzola filling

I’ve gone back to Bertinet’s olive dough and this time I’ve gone for a pear and gorgonzola filling. Chop about 3 small pears into quite small pieces (be sure to cut them in thin pieces as you want to be able to roll the bread). Take some Gorgonzola picante and roughly chop into similar size chunks and finely chop some walnuts. Roll the dough into a rectangle after its first rise (you want it about the size of a Swiss roll tin). Then scatter liberally with the filling.

Pear and gorgonzola - bakedRoll like a Swiss roll and pop onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. I managed to get a bread that was too long for my tray so its more of a strudel shape (or as it looks in this photo, a travel pillow!). Leave to prove. Coat with olive oil and bake at around 210C until golden (about 30mins).

Apologies for the final shot. We were mid barbecue (and mid wine!) before I realised I hadn’t taken a photo of a slice so had to rescue these 2 from our guests who had happily polished off the rest.

Pear and Gorgonzola - slices

This pavlova recipe is based on this pistachio pavlova on the BBC Good Food site but I’d run out of caster sugar so the base was 175g caster sugar with 50g icing sugar to 4 medium egg whites. Once the sugar and eggs were combined I folded 55g of finely chopped pistachios through it before baking. I topped the meringue with extra thick double cream and a mixture of strawberries and home grown blackcurrants. A wonderful taste of summer!

summer flowers

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…