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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
It’s still hot. The news is dealing with this in its usual positive way which is that widescale death and devastation are going to result. Whilst that’s possibly true of our back lawn, I suspect that most of us are going to muddle along quite nicely until it breaks and we go back to complaining about the rain and cold again.
LSH and I headed for the Lake District for a couple of days walking. We had planned on heading up some fells but as the temperature was over 25C when we got there at 10am , we decided to stick with a low level walk broken up nicely with a couple of pub stops. This included one owned by the National Trust (The Sticklebarn) so I’m chosing to see my half of cider more as a charitable donation than a drink. We still managed to do just over 8 miles which we felt was an achievement given how hot and muggy it was. Too hot to walk in the Lakes! Has to be something of a first there.
Back home the bread is rising quickly, possibly too quickly. What would normally take about an hour on my kitchen table is taking half that. So instead of bread I’m making a quick pastry instead. I’ve had my eye on Dan Lepard’s Sweet Potato Crescents in his Short and Sweet book for a while. I’m missing a few things – sweet potatoes, a red pepper, spring onions and ground cumin – but otherwise I think I have everything I need. Sharp eyed owners of this book will quickly realise that what I’m missing are pretty much all the ingredients needed for the filling but I have a plan. Instead I’m going to use butternut squash, the emergency bottled pepper lurking in the fridge and a red onion along with freshly grinding some cumin seeds.
The pastry isn’t too difficult and turns out a lovely vibrant yellow from the turmeric. Clearly my seed pounding technique needs a bit more work as it also has little flecks of cumin running through it, but the overall effect looks good.
Whilst Dan doesn’t say to do this, I end up wrapping it in clingfilm and popping it in the fridge whilst I do the filling as it is already really sticky to work with and I fear that another 30mins will make it unrollable.
For the filling I steam 300g of chopped butternut squash until tender. Then I fry half a finely chopped red onion in 1 tbsp of sunflower oil.
After about a couple of minutes, I add 2 cloves of garlic (thinly sliced) and a finely chopped red chilli. Then I added the squash with the ground coriander and let it cook down for a few minutes. I mashed the squash with a fork and added the chopped red pepper. I gave it another minute or so before 2 tablespoons of frozen coriander leaves were stirred through it and the whole thing left to cool.
I then assembled as per the recipe and baked (we don’t have a deep fat fryer and I’m a bit squeamish about deep frying without one). The baked versions didn’t have the crispness you’d get with the fried ones but they came out OK with a nice golden sheen to them. I did feel that they lacked a bit of taste which may have been down to steaming the squash – I think that roasting it before adding to the onion etc would have given a better result and I’d probably add a bit more chilli and maybe some cumin to the filling as well. But as LSH was happily drowning them in sweet chilli sauce I don’t think he noticed. One to experiment with I think so let me know any suggestions you have. Enjoy the summer!