No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Why not start with some sizzlers - great for lunchboxes

Yeast is a scary thing for some people, but all my teaching is geared towards removing that fear and showing it to be the simple tool that it is.

All my recipes follow the same path – and they all contain three simple breadmaking rules.


For those who haven’t made bread before, bear in mind that if you mix flour, lukewarm water and yeast together – you cannot stop your bread from rising!

Your dough will be soft and squishy, and it will rise like a dream.

Remember that!

The three simple rules which you should bear in mind when making bread are:

1. Use strong, breadmaking flour – look for the words ‘strong’ or ‘bread’ on the packet. Plain flour will work in an emergency, and a mixture of strong and plain will work fine.
2. Use lukewarm water, and don’t put your dough anywhere too hot. Forget airing cupboards and radiators, the bread will rise on your worktop.
3. Give your bread time to rise before it goes into the oven. White bread will double in size – a pizza base should look puffy compared to when you rolled it out.

And that’s it!

There’s also a couple of things to bear in mind, but aren’t rules a such:
1. Make sure your dough is soft and squishy – never be afraid to add more water whilst you’re mixing the dough.
2. If you have the slightest doubt whether your bread is done or not, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes. Look for colour on the bottom of your bread.

Whatever yeast you’re using – fresh, active dried (comes in a tin) or easyblend (comes in sachets), treat them all the same.

Mix them in the lukewarm water until dissolved, then add them straight into the flour.

Here we go – cheese and mushroom (or tomato, or pepper or onion) sizzlers. So called because when the come out of the oven you can hear the cheese sizzling. They’re like a bread wrap and they’re gorgeous. Check out this video of the method.

Sizzlers

(Makes 8 sizzlers - but this amount of dough will make 8 rolls; or a medium sized loaf; or two large pizza bases! ):

Ingredients:
400g strong white flour 
1/2 tsp salt
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast (or good teaspoon dried yeast, or a sachet of easyblend yeast)
250ml lukewarm water 
Splash of olive oil (optional)

(Or: 2 mugs of flour to 2/3rds water)

Filling:
6 medium tomatoes or 8 mushrooms or a combination of these
150g grated Cheddar

Method:
1. Measure the water and stir in the yeast. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. When the yeast is dissolved (dried will take longer than fresh) pour in all the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil if using. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). 

2. Hold the bowl with one hand and begin to stir with the other. Mix together into a soft dough, stirring and bringing in the flour round the side of the bowl, adding more flour or water as needed. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. Knead until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up! (If the dough is too sticky, instead of putting extra flour on your worktop, place some in the bowl, put the dough back in and turn it round to coat it all over. That way you keep the flour under control and you won’t be tempted to add too much).

4. Divide the dough in two and put one piece to one side. Divide the other into 4 and form each piece into a bap shape. Flour the worktop and roll each piece out into a circle about 15cm across. As you roll out the dough, keep turning it to make sure it isn’t sticking.

5. Place slices of tomato across the middle of each circle. Sprinkle grated cheese over the tomato and fold the sides of the circle over the filling, leaving the sizzlers open at each end. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the other circles.

6. Repeat with the second piece of dough.

7. Leave to prove until the dough is risen and puffy and bake at 220C, 425F or gas 7 for about fifteen minutes. There should be some colour under the sizzlers to show that they are cooked right through.

Suggestions:
For 4 sizzlers use half of the ingredients.
Vary the cheese – Red Leicester or Lancashire, for example.
Use peppers or onions instead of tomatoes/mushrooms.


Have fun!

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