Home baked bread

At the end of the day this is what it’s all about right?

Over recent weeks and not that I am one to obsess about such things (yeah right!) but I have trawled through almost every resource on the subject of sourdough bread on the web like: bread/baking/cooking blogs, ingredients manufacturers, bakers etc etc and have narrowed things down to some very basic sourdough principles:

  • a smelly healthy starter
  • a very simple recipe
  • choosing your hydration (what?)
  • the right flour(s)
  • Allow plenty of time

I have had failures but also a lot of successes and here below are some pictures of  (the better) bread recently baked in our kitchen. The recipe I have settled on as a “norm” if there is such a thing in sourdough is from the excellent blog THE CLEVER CARROT which in my opinion is a great place for anyone who wants to start with this type of bread. Actually the last picture of bloomers has got yeast in it (tut-tut I hear you sourdough purists say!)

22441587615_b15160d505_z

22415668146_538e51905e_z

21753824990_4318b0a212_z21040245125_fe12b1fa06_z

20823541180_22bbf25ca0_z

22249274976_82c9108b97_z

More Focaccia and milky chicken

That was a busy couple of days, some quick bread-making with this Fennel Focaccia that was just perfect with this chicken braised in milk with lemon, sage and cinnamon, you more or less throw it all in a pot (after browning the chicken) and 90 mins in the oven does the rest. It’s not my recipe but here’s a link to it elsewhere, it’s pretty good.

_NCH4789-2_NCH4796-2

Then it was off to judge a local photographic competition held here in our community and next was the start of another journey down the sourdough road which last time, I’m sorry to say didn’t go that well, you can read about that here. This time I am following the advice of the brilliant Justin Gellatly of Breadahead in Borough Market. (His book; Bread Cake Doughnut Pudding is well worth having on your bookshelf)

It starts with rhubarb, strong white bread flour, wholemeal rye flour and water. The fermentation of the natural yeast will take a week, Justin says in his book that he is using the same starter from 14 years ago made with rhubarb from his garden, this is how mine looks on day 2.

_NCH4807-2

So confident am I that this will work, that I went out yesterday and bought one of these, a bamboo proving basket (for 12 quid!) ready for next week’s first sourdough loaf.

_NCH4799-2

Let’s see.

Strawberries and cream

_NCH4418-2

_NCH4442-2Well it’s a big part of the summer pretty much everywhere I guess, I’ve certainly had fantastic strawberries from Romania to The Netherlands plus a few places in between like Denmark and Sweden and most certainly France. Strawberries and cream are one of the natural partnerships in the food world you know like; lamb and mint, asparagus and hollandaise, bacon and tomato ketchup (?) Pancakes, sugar and lemon etc etc…

_NCH4428-2_NCH4427-2

These photos I _NCH4434-2took in a banquet room in a hotel for a summer promotion and I wanted to recreate the look of being outside on the grass (think Wimbledon) on a sunny day. The setup was simple with some artificial grass and a large net-curtain with a couple of flashes to simulate some sunshine.

What are your favourite food partnerships?

hit me in the comments section and I will see what I can create for you in pictures.

Cured salmon and rye

_NCH4184-Edit-2
Untitled-1

What a mad colour beetroot is! I used it to cure some salmon with horseradish, dill and citrus but to go with it I made this rye bread which was the star of the show, it’s got such an honesty about it, proves slowly and then gets baked and just sits there waiting for butter. Apparently it can last in the same condition for up to a week. Something for sure we will never know!

you need:

  • 200g strong white flour
  • 340gr rye flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 140ml milk
  • 140ml buttermilk
  • 1 tblspn black treacle
  • 1 tblspn malt extract

Make a dough with all the ingredients and knead it for at least 10 minutes, it’s sticky but don’t worry. Leave to double in size for 2 hours or more then knock back and work for a minute or two.

Shape in to a loaf and leave to double in size again covered with plastic or a damp cloth. When ready, bake at 200 C for 35 – 45 minutes and leave to cool completely on a wire rack, you can cut it quite thinly and it’s super tasty. I have made it with more and less rye flour, the more rye you use the heavier and more dense, so if you prefer it lighter add less rye and more white flour.

 

Lemon, garlic, rosemary chicken

_NCH4062-Edit-2

Some things are just so simple and so tasty and this easily prepared chicken dish is right up there with the best, the most important thing you need is time. It takes nearly 3 hours to make. That is 5 minutes to prepare and 2 hours and 55 minutes in the oven!

You need:

  • Your oven set to 160C/Gas mark 3
  • A whole chicken cut into pieces, leave the skin on
  • 2 lemons cut into 8
  • 1 head of garlic broken in to cloves but not peeled
  • A good splash of olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Black pepper and sea salt

Put everything in a roasting pan and give a good mix together with a couple of table spoons of water, cover with tin foil and put in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the oven up to 200C/Gas mark 6 and remove the foil and leave for another 45 minutes or so until the chicken skin is brown and the lemons starting to caramelise.

We had this with couscous with almonds and sultanas and was delicious, next time I will add to the chicken some cinnamon sticks and whole almonds and maybe some green olives too.

Bite-sized pastries

Or petit four which literally translated from French means “little oven” (come on, any of you really not know that?) they are supposed to be small, dainty and able to be eaten in a single mouthful. They are appearing more and more on buffets, coffee breaks, receptions etc as an alternative to the cakes, pastries, flans and gateaux of yesteryear. Suppose you just have to eat more of them to get the same effect? Discuss…
Here are some I snapped last week

Midsummer murmurs

Here we are on the countdown to Midsummer in Scandinavia (it’s raining quite hard as I write this) and things are shaping up pretty good, days so long that it gets dark for a mere hour or two at the most and bright sunshine from 5 in the morning, the local neighborhood is busying itself tidying up already tidy gardens and folks are organizing get-togethers and the associated food and drink, the majority of the events in Sweden take place on the 20th with the 21st being a “rest day” there is herring to be eaten with new potatoes and then strawberries and cream oh and a little snaps apparently!

Whilst in Denmark the midsummer happens on the 23rd/24th (known as Sankthans) with huge bonfires in public places and I dare say some snaps too! Food wise amongst the traditional Danish hot-dogs, potato salad etc is this fantastic dessert made from buttermilk, egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla and some small biscuits that are like farleys rusks (remember?) all together with some super fresh local strawberries it’s a real delight on hot days.