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

Baguette Torment

Baguettes

I love baguettes. I love their crunch, their colour, their texture. Pretty much everything really. I think that they are the ideal bread for a light lunch on a Saturday with a tasty slab of pâté or cheese.

But baking the things is proving to be more problematic. They are proving to be my baking nemesis. They seem really straightforward – a white bread dough just shaped differently. How hard can that be…?

“Very” in my case. My first goes didn’t rise at all – probably because I followed some advice that you could add dried yeast straight to flour in the same way you can easy blend. This may work in a hot bakery but not in my kitchen where the yeast granules just remained resolutely undissolved, studded throughout the dough like seeds. As a result the bread itself didn’t rise at all. Poor Long Suffering Husband still had a go at eating it though…

So I switched back to easy blend. Now it rose but I had a different issue. I was proving and baking on a silicon baguette tray but whilst I got a good shape only the top of the bread would colour as if the tray were blocking the heat somehow.

I tried taking them out of the tray and putting them onto a metal one part way through. Whilst this gave me colour and crispness, the bread had stuck through the holes and it tore as I tried to remove them.

This is my latest effort. (I’m currently using Richard Bertinet’s recipe in Dough.)

Still not great but the potential is there.

Baguettes

You can tell from this shot there’s quite a bit of oven spring but the bread is tearing at the side and expanding that way rather than through the slashes. I think that this is partly a result of it adhering itself quite so firmly to the tray.

Baguette

The insides look good but I need to sort the shaping. As you can see its incurred quite a bit of damage as a result of my attempts to get it out of the tray. I think a linen proofing cloth is called for for my next attempt.

Love Baking Bread

Bread magazineI’ve often wondered why there isn’t a magazine devoted to bread. My local newsagent is full of ones dedicated to cupcakes and cake decorating but not one on bread – till now. Love Baking Bread is brought to you by the same people who bring you those pesky cake mags but thankfully (with the exception of an ad on page 88) it’s a cupcake free zone.

Instead there is page after page of bread recipes and other bread related stuff. I’m already making a list of recipes that I want to try and there are quite a few. I couldn’t find any information on whether this is a one off or whether it will be coming out on a quarterly basis so fingers crossed this is the first of many.

However, I do have a slight reservation about it which is that none of the recipes look to be original to this magazine. If you already have recipe books by many of the bakers included here then you may find there’s little new for you. But if, like me, you’re at the beginning of your bread making journey then you’ll find the magazine acts as a good “sampler” of what various bakers’ recipes are like. So if you want to try recipes by the likes of Hollywood, Bertinet, Hadjiandreou, and others before committing to buying an entire book, then give this magazine a go.

Kamut Bread

Kamut Bread

My First Kamut Bread

I have had some kamut (also known as khorason) flour in the cupboard for a while. Its a grain that was supposedly originally grown in ancient Egypt and has a lovely yellow tone to it so on novelty ground alone I was keen to give it a go.

Another of my Christmas presents was Richard Bertinet’s “Crust” book which focuses more on sourdough and preferments. I made a smaller amount as didn’t fancy being left with 5 loaves if I didn’t like it- so my scaled down version made 2.

The final loaf was a lovely golden colour with a firm crumb, ideal for sandwiches (so ideal that LSH used it for his pack up during the week).

It needed cooking for longer as it felt far to soft when it came out of the oven. So I cooked it until the internal temp of the loaves was 200F.