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.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Marzipan and apple tartlets

1 mug (or 200g) strong white flour
1 dessertspoon sugar
1/3rd of a mug (or 125ml) lukewarm water
1 rounded teaspoon fresh yeast
Splash of olive oil (optional)

Small circles of marzipan
Slices of eating apple
1 dessertspoon sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Measure the water and stir in the yeast. Place the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and pour in the yeast liquid. Add the oil if using.

2. 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). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. 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 stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – and stop before you get fed up!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5.

5. When you are ready to proceed, take the dough out of the mixing bowl and place it on your worktop. This time, don't 'knock the dough back'.

6. Form the dough into a cob shape. Have plenty of flour to hand and scatter flour over the dough and worktop. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a large circle. Using pastry cutters, cut the dough out into circles and place them on a prepared baking sheet. Press out acorn-sized lumps of marzipan into small circles and place them on the pieces of dough. Cut a quarter of an apple into fairly thin slices and place two slices on top of the marzipan, facing each other. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

7. Cover and leave to prove until they have grown appreciably in size. Bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7, for between 10 and 15 minutes.

Baking weekend at Trefriw, Nth Wales

After a traumatic, stop-start, journey in the rain, up the M5 and M6 and over the top of Wales, I arrived at the rugby club around 8.30 to be welcomed by some old and new friends - and a terrific vegetable stew, with lots of crusty bread!

When I finally got around to do some breadmaking I thought I'd just prepare a couple of overnight doughs - a sweet one and a savoury one in preparation for the morn. There was a huge selection of flours and other ingredients to choose from - plus several assorted buckets full of sourdough starters. 

1 sweet dough – 1 cup starter, 3 cups white flour, 1 cup water, 2 dsps sugar, olive oil
1 savoury dough – 1 cup starter, 3 cups white flour, 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt, olive oil

Both of these made a very wet and sticky dough - I simply gave them both a quick knead and left them, covered, on the worktop.

The following morning I slapped and folded both doughs - starting with the sweet one, which I eventually shaped into a cherry and chocolate fougasse:

Very disappointing! My first go at this was a far more attractive loaf. Still, it tasted wonderful!
My first chocolate and beetroot sourdough loaf - which was a revelation! The keeping qualities of this loaf are such that ten days after baking I used the last crust as toast.
Upper shelf of one of the racks...

...and the lower shelf.
Another rack.

Vegan bread wraps in preparation for Sunday lunch. They were first spread with mushroom pate, then with vegan pesto, then the tomatoes were placed on top.

Alison with one of the busier tables!
Jay having a well-deserved break - whilst his bread was proving, no doubt! 

The sizzlers (wraps) proving alongside a vegan pizza topped with the same ingredients. 

Pasties filled with new potatoes, onion and cheese

Jack's meticulous croissants...

...and his equally meticulous pain au chocolat
Joe's lizards in preparation

Looking a little more life-like...

To my shape I can't recall the painter's name

I'll find out and report back

My rolls are nearest the camera - my protege Jake's rolls further away - more of Jake and his rolls later

Friday, 6 July 2012

My Daily Bread (5)

This is the 5th post with this title. The first, begun in February 2011, was fairly long - and the second, begun in May, was even longer. The third and fourth were more restrained, lasting around 5 weeks each.