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

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.

Morning After Sourdough

Well the party went well – possibly too well for any kind of productive day. So I dusted off an old sourdough recipe to give it an airing. This is a variation of a recipe that produced the first successful sourdough I made, which includes honey and spelt flour.

First the starter. Bertie had been warming up on the kitchen worktop for a couple of days by now after having a good feed when he came out of the fridge. I spooned 130g of him into a bowl. I realised at this point that sourdough is not a morning after bread. He smelt very strongly of beer – not a good thing to smell after a long pub session the night before….

I then added the rest of the ingredients – 200g white bread flour, 50g white spelt flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I dissolved 1 tablespoon of honey into 160g of warm water and then mixed it into the dry ingredients.

sourdough - dough 1

It is a VERY sticky dough so make sure you start kneading that you have a small bowl of flour nearby to clean your hands. I can safely say that your hands will be covered in dough along with everything else that it touches. Mine certainly were!

sourdough -doughThe dough was then put into an oiled clean bowl, covered and left to rise til it had about doubled in size. This took about 3 hours.

I floured my work surface with rye flour, shaped the loaf and popped it into a proving basket til it had about doubled again.

This is how mine looked at the start.

sourdough - before prove

And this is how it looked at the end

sourdough - after prove

I preheated the oven to its maximum temperature with a roasting tray in the bottom.

When it was ready, I put it onto a baking tray and slashed a cross in the top. I put it in the oven and added boiling water into the roasting tray at the bottom.

It was baked for 10min on max and then turned down to about 170C for the remaining 20mins or so it needed to bake.

The final loaf had very dark crust with a chewy and flavourful interior. Just the thing for a cheese on toast lunch after a long night.

sourdough top