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.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Cornbread with roasted peppers

Cornbread is one of the breads I don't make often enough!

I made this recently with some friends in a local care home - so I had to go easy with the chilli, otherwise I'd have included more.

I used a jar of roasted peppers from Aldi.

125g strong white flour
75g polenta or maizemeal
1/2 veggie Oxo cube
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 dsp fresh yeast
125ml lukewarm water
Splash of the oil from the roasted peppers

Plus, 50g or so chopped red and yellow roasted peppers (folded into the dough)

Measure the water and stir in the yeast until it has dissolved. Place the flour, crumbled stock cube and chilli powder into a mixing bowl. Stir the dry ingredients to mix them and prevent any streaky bits in the bread, then pour in the yeast liquid and add the oil.

MIx into a soft dough and knead only until it is smooth.

To add the peppers, press the dough out flat and spread the peppers over. Roll up the dough and gently knead it a few times to mix the peppers through.

Shape it into a round and place on an oiled baking sheet or one lined with baking parchment and make some deep cuts in dough - to expose the peppers - in a pattern of your choosing.

(I made one with four cuts in a 'star' shape, but my students were not so hidebound - their 'rough cuts' made their bread look much more attractive than mine.)

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until it has appreciably grown in size - about half as big again.

Bake at 220C for about 15-20 minutes. It's done when it is brown across the bottom of the loaf.

Place on a cooling rack.

The inclusion of some green chillis would make this bread even more colourful - as well as making it tastier.
Play about with the ratio of flour and maizemeal as you will. Even all maizemeal will work, although you'll only get a minimal rise.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bara brith

400g strong white flour                                                                  
50g soft brown sugar
75g raisins or sultanas
75g currants
50g mixed peel
1 teaspoon each, mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon
250ml lukewarm liquid (but hold back a little if you've steeped the fruit overnight)
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast (or 1 teaspoon of dried)
1 or more tablespoons olive oil     

(Soak the dried fruit overnight in either tea – traditional – or water)

1. Place the flour, sugar, spice and dried fruit into a mixing bowl, and mix to distribute the ingredients. 

2. Measure the liquid and stir in the yeast until it dissolves (dried yeast will take a little longer to dissolve than fresh). Add the yeast liquid, holding a little back, to the dry ingredients, and then the olive oil.

3.  Remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Holding the bowl with one hand begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with your fingers. Check how the dough feels as you mix – it should stay soft and squidgy – and add more flour or liquid as needed. 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.

4. Knead (gently, the fruit will be very soft) by flattening the dough out, folding it over and flattening it again. Knead only until the dough becomes smooth – and then stop before you get fed up!

5. Cover with a dry tea towel and leave to prove for an hour or so.

6. When you are ready to proceed knock back the dough and place in a greased 2lb loaf tin (or one lined with baking parchment). Cover and leave until it has risen appreciably.

7. Bake at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C, 350F or gas mark 4, for a further 15-20 minutes, checking after 10. Look for the sides of the loaf shrinking away from the tin.

8. The loaf is done when it is brown underneath. You may need to turn the loaf upside down and place it back in the oven for a few minutes.

Bara brith means ‘speckled bread’. There are many variations to be found in cookery books and on the web – this is mine (bearing in mind I’m a vegan!:))

This bread (any yeast-risen bread) can also be made using the ‘several short kneadings over a 30-45 minutes period’ detailed here.