The country is in the grip of a baking frenzy, like it’s something new. It’s been building slowly starting with the fervour for cup-cakes, but now it’s gone wild and spread to all types of baking. The fuel for this passion for home baked goodies must be attributed to the current BBC 2 televison show ‘The Great British Bake-Off’.
Paul Hollywood, the nation’s baking guru and one of the judges in the show, describes baking as a science, and cooking as an art. Well, that explains it. I achieved an A’level in art and such a woefully low score in my chemistry O’level, I was ‘not classed’. Little wonder then that my cottage pie out-strips my cottage loaf and my Panna cotta, my Panettone. Science is a struggle for us arty sorts.
The increasing range of breads and pastries now sold at Ludwell Stores, together with their range of specialist flours, made me think that I ought to give it another go. I’ve matured and since losing my arty bent, I’m hoping to have absorbed some scientific understanding. Baking is so therapeutic and extremely rewarding when it works. This month therefore I am giving you an almost fool proof bread recipe made all the more attractive and individual, by cooking it in flower pots. (Even if as solid and heavy as a brick, it will look nice).
Note about flower-pots. These should be earthenware, new and tempered. To do this, you need to liberally brush the pots, inside and out with oil. Bake them in a medium oven for 20 or 30 minutes. Cool and repeat the process several times before using. Once tempered, they can be used again and again and will need little greasing. Never put your flower pots in the dishwasher or scrub with detergent, just rinse out. Serve in the pot with a delicious pate or soup, see bottom of next page for a quick easy recipe.
There are numerous speciality bread flours. I’m using a mix of flours but it’s down to individual choice. So, some basic rules when bread making:-
a) Whilst proving - stand dough away from draughts, covered loosely with oiled cling film or an oiled polythene bag.
b) Pre-warm tins (flower-pots) and bowls for best results.
c) Brown flour generally absorbs a little more water than white flour and needs less kneading.
d) I read that rubbing in and kneading can be done successfully in a food mixer, although if truth be told….not in my experience.
e) Dried yeast is absolutly fine but the baking guru turns his nose up at the sort you disolve in water first - Ludwell stores sells the 7grm packs of fast action bread yeast, which are ideal for this and most bread recipes.
f) Use a timer when kneading - four minutes of an upper arm and shoulder workout is four times longer than you would ever believe.
g) Try adding seeds: sunflower; pumpkin and poppy all work well. aif
Poppy Seed Flower Pot Bread.
Makes 2 x 1lb (450 grams) equivalent £1.70 when all ingredients purchased at Ludwell Stores.
Preheat oven to 220°C / Gas mark 7 / AGA grid shelf on floor of top oven
675g Flour mix. e.g. equal quantities of Organic strong white and six seed bread flours
2tsp Salt - sea salt preferably
20g Butter (room temperature)
10g Dried yeast
450ml Hand hot water
3tbls Poppy seeds
1. Lightly grease your flower pots or tins and put somewhere warm
2. Measure flour; salt, poppy seeds and butter into warm china/glass bowl.
3. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water.
5. Mix by hand and knead into a ball in the bowl.
6. Turn dough out onto a clean surface (do not flour the surface).
7. Knead for about 4 minutes really pushing it away from you before folding back over to repeat (YouTube has some great demonstrations)
8. Return the dough to the bowl and leave to rise in a warm, draught free place, for 60 - 90 minutes until double the size.
9. Knock back the dough (prod your finger tips into the dough) and knead again for 2-3 minutes. Divide in half or as many tins/pots you are using.
10. Slightly flatten the ball of dough with the heel of your hand and fold like a fat swiss roll. Place in the pots with the fold at the bottom. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for 30 minutes more in a warm place.
11. After the second proving, you can cut fairly deeply, with a bread knife; one or two simple diagonal slashes into the top and for a shiny top, glaze with egg wash (beaten egg with a little water.) Recommended.
12. Fill a roasting tin half way with boiling water. Place in the bottom of the preheated oven and immediately place the pots/tins on the baking shelf above the bain-marie, and bake for 20 - 45 minutes depending on loaf size.
13. When evenly browned, remove from the oven and knock out of flowerpot. If it sounds hollow on tapping the bottom of the loaf, it’s done. If not return it to the oven for another five minutes.
14. Cool on a rack. Never cut hot bread, you must let it finish in its own time or you will have steamy, heavy, squashed and doughy bread. Rolls are the exception if torn apart.
Serve with fish pate. Try… 300g smoked mackerel, trout or salmon; 200g cream cheese, juice of half a lemon; fresh chopped dill; tsp horseradish sauce. Mash together, season and adjust to taste. If using a food processor, don’t over mush the fish.
A truly, truly scrumptious lunch idea.
These musings and recipes are gleaned from The Donhead Digest with the permission of AIF, their author.