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.

Yoghurt Bread Rolls

Yoghurt Rolls - bacon 2

I had a lot of natural yoghurt left after my pitta breads (I can only seem to find it in giant pots) and I had bread rolls to make for LSH’s lunches. Whilst I’ve used milk in bread recipes I’ve never used yoghurt. Given the amount I had to use up I thought I’d see what difference it makes. The results were lovely and moist rolls with a bit more depth to their taste – not tangy exactly but definitely something different. I’ve made this a couple of times since with the latest version in loaf form. LSH had complained that the last one was a bit on the dry side but this version was described as one of the best breads he’d had! Not a bad result and enough to add yoghurt to our regular shopping list. So here is the recipe so you can try it yourself.
Yoghurt Rolls - post bake

You need: 420g strong white flour;
80g stoneground wholemeal flour;
100g natural yoghurt;
250g cold water;
1 tsp salt; and
1 tsp easy bake yeast.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix together the yoghurt and water and then add them to the bowl.

Bring together all the ingredients into a rough dough and then knead for about 10mins.

Cover and leave to rise for about one and a half hours when it should have doubled in size.

Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 5. Shape each roll into a round and pop onto trays to proof. Leave for about 40min or whenever the dough comes back slowly when prodded.

Wash each roll with water and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top (or whatever you have to hand).

Yoghurt Rolls - before bake

Bake at 200C for about 30-35 minutes when the rolls should be well risen and golden. Eat. Simple straight forward baking but a definite improvement on the standard white roll. Yoghurt Rolls - post bake 1

And here’s the crumb shot…..

Yoghurt Rolls - crumb

Timing Issues

White Bread 2 - side shot

The weather has played havoc with my timings. Things that used to reliably take an hour are taking half that time and I’m having to watch my loaves like a hawk. This time I was caught out by an over enthusiastic white tin loaf.

I make this pretty much every week and it usually takes about an hour for each stage but not this time. Once it had been shaped and popped into its tin it seemed to speed up. When I tested it after about 20 mins it was already springing back slowly – a sign that it was ready to go in the oven. But the oven wasn’t even on yet, let alone hot enough for bread. Pretty much all my recipes say you should get the oven up to temperature before the bread goes in but this wasn’t going to be possible. The best I could do was put the oven on for about 10 minutes before putting the bread in.

The oven was barely 100C when the bread went in. It wasn’t even hot enough to create steam when boiling water was added to the roasting tray (which obviously hadn’t preheated enough). I feared a bread disaster was on the way….

But look at it. It’s the best oven spring I’ve had from a tin loaf. It took about 10-15 min longer but somehow that lower starting temperate has given the bread more of a boost than it usually has.

It may be a one off but I’ll try this approach again and let you know. I’ve heard of people putting sourdough into a cold oven to proof and bake in one step but not conventional bread. Maybe it wasn’t as far gone as I feared and it just finished the process in the oven so possibly slightly under-proofing and a lower initial temperature gives better results. Let me know if you’ve had a similar experience.

White bread v2  - top

The Guildford Manchet

Guildford Manchet

I think that it’s fair to say that I’ve baked more breads from other countries than my own. Crispy French baguettes, airy Italian ciabattas and spicy Indian flat breads have all formed part of my baking repertoire. Even Algerian breads have graced these pages. But traditional British breads have been few and far between.

Somehow this doesn’t feel quite right so I’ve started to look at some of the British breads that have fallen from favour, starting with the Guildford Manchet. First, the history bit.

The manchet dates back to Tudor times and was a white bread made from the finest wheat and hence eaten by the wealthy. It’s size was described as being not enough for one person so was a roll rather than a loaf. Elizabeth David describes it as “the common ancestor… of most of our breakfast breads, baps, tea cakes, muffins [and] soft rolls.” In Surrey the Manchet took on a slightly different form and this is the version below.

The Guildford Manchets are constructed in a similar way to puff pastry or a croissant. Like its continental cousin it’s supposed to be torn apart rather than neatly cut with knife and is best served warm with butter. Recipes vary with some being all butter, but this one is a combination of butter and lard. You can find the original version here but these breads don’t keep well (though you can freeze them) and so I’ve come up with my own slimmed down version.

Guildford Manchet - rubbed in flour

First rub in 15g of unsalted butter into 250g of strong white flour as if making shortcrust pastry. Add 1/2 tsp of easy blend yeast, 1/2 tsp of caster sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

Then add 85g of milk and 80g of water. Mix and then knead til soft. Leave for about an hour until doubled in size.

Guildford Manchet - blended fats

Meanwhile mash together with a fork a further 45g of butter with 15g lard. Leave in the fridge until the dough is ready.

Guildford Manchet - post rise

When the dough has risen, pop it onto a floured work surface and slash a deep cross into it. Ease each of the quarters out to form a cross.

Guildford Manchet - post fat
Put the butter and lard mix into the middle of the square to form a thick layer.

Guildford Manchet - folding

Fold each of the lobes over the butter and lard so that it is completely covered in dough. Then roll it out into a rectangle about 30cm long.

Guildforr Manchet - fold

Fold the bottom third up over the middle third and then fold the top third down. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat 3 times. If the fat starts to seep through the dough, wrap it in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for about 15 min. Use more flour if it starts to stick to the work surface. 

Gulidford Manchets - shaping

When you’ve done your final rotation, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Pull the edges of each piece into the middle to form a small bun. Make sure to seal it on the bottom. You want the keep the distinct layers so make sure you don’t just roll it up. If you want to freeze some you can open freeze them at this stage and defrost and prove before baking.

If not leave to prove for 20 mins on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the manchets with milk and bake for about 25min until golden and crispy.

Guildford Manchet - internal

Eat whilst still warm with butter or possibly apricot jam.

They won’t keep for more than a day so if you find you have any left they can still be frozen once baked.  Just defrost, coat again with milk and bake for 15 min at 150C to refresh them and bring them back to their crispy best. These little rolls have quickly become one of my favourite breads to bake and eat so do give them a try. Let’s get the Guildford Manchet back on British breakfast tables!

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…