Leaves a sour taste

Not really, but the longer the fermentation with Sourdough, the more developed the flavour it seems. When I look at the most recent run of loaves I have made (and photographed) it appears I may have over-done it on the lavendar linen, my wife Cath used dye on some French linen we acquired at a brocante in France on a recent visit and I think it sets off the golden brown crust a treat! There was no escape even for the Lemon cake. what do you say?

This was a loaf from last week which made possibly the most sensational toast we’ve ever toasted or tasted.

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And here is my latest read which just arrived yesterday, I have been looking forward to this book it’s written by Vanessa Kimbell who runs www.sourdough.co.uk

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Thanks for clicking more soon.

French bread

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Let’s face it we all miss that bread when we get home from a visit to France right? there is something about the taste, the smell, the golden, splintery crust and then there’s the way you get a pretty piece of fancy thin paper wrapped around the middle to carry it home with. So after spending a couple of weeks over there, on our return I decided to make some.

In the picture above there are two items which are definitely needed, at least in my mind to get close to the original: Salt and a good linen kitchen cloth. The salt is dissolved in water to make a brine and brushed on the loaf before it goes in the oven, the cloth is dusted with flour and used to proove the loaf before baking, you make a kind of support for the bread. (A photo of that next time I make it) so here is the recipe.

For 1 loaf, you need:

  • 285g strong white flour
  • 55g plain white flour
  • 7g salt
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1/2 tspn salt dissolved in 70ml water

Mix the flours with the salt and weigh 215g of that mix in to a seperate bowl, add the yeast and 215ml cold water, make a very soft dough more like a batter, just mix until it’s reasonably smooth a minute or two with a wooden spoon is enough. Cover with plastic and leave for about 4 hours, it will first rise and then collapse and that’s ok.

Then add the rest of the flour and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Back in the bowl, cover with plastic and leave to double in size.

Turn out on to a floured work surface and push the air out and form into a long baton according to the size of your oven, if you have a seam, make sure it’s underneath, take your linen cloth and dust with flour, place your loaf in side and gather up the cloth on both sides to keep the loaf in shape.

When it’s risen, roll it gently out of the cloth and on to a baking sheet, line it with paper if you like. With a sharp knife or razor blade score the top and then brush the loaf with the salt water mix and bake* at 230 C for 20 minutes and then reduce heat to 200 c and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. It’s pretty close to the real thing! (Adding your own pretty paper is optional!)

*A tray of water in the oven helps create steam which helps to get a better crust.

The truth about croissants

I am very good at eating croissants, I made those above this morning well last night and this morning actually. I have made quite a few in my time as well, my first real job after I left catering college was in the pastry kitchen of London’s Mayfair hotel, one of my scheduled shifts started at 05.30am and we had to have the first couple of trays of croissants ready by 07.00am we made hundreds, exactly how many depended on how busy the hotel was.
The dough was always made the evening before usually by someone else so you were always relying on their skill to make it just right you had to trust them, although we followed a recipe there was a certain amount of know-how as well, the dough had to have the right consistency a bit more or a bit less milk, the time of year was a factor too, less yeast in the summer and a bit more in the winter and then the timing, not too much mixing on the machine but enough. Proving time as well, not too long but long enough, how do you know? You know because you do it every day and you were taught by someone who did it every day before you came along, you poked the dough and knew it was ready, right consistency.

The right stuff

We used good quality ingredients, the same brand all the time so we could rely on them as well, you get to know your ingredients too. The butter had to be bashed with a rolling pin to make it soft, how soft? you just knew. If someone got it wrong the night before with the dough it was you who suffered the consequences in the morning, it happened (thankfully very rarely)

Making croissants at home is not the easiest thing to do, why? because you don’t do it every day and with all of the variables in there, time, consistency, temperature, ingredients etc etc but it’s not impossible.
The recipe or method is not that complicated they are to be found in most good pastry books but you have to approach it with the right frame of mind and don’t be put off if the first time they don’t come out of the oven perfect, just try again, those around you will certainly encourage you to try again and again because the smell of them and enjoying a croissant you have made yourself, well it does take some beating.    

Paris

We had a great time in Paris for Cath’s birthday earlier this month, it was all shopping and eating and friends joined us from different corners of the world, fantastic! here are a few pictures, we also visited the Catacombes as we stayed near there, you can read more about that here. It was also great to revisit Fauchon once again where I did a stage many years ago when at that time the legendary Pierre Herme was chef Patissier, we make a point to try to have tea and cakes there whenever we are in Paris.

These two look like toytown, who knows why?

This was from the top of a big wheel at the end of the Champs Elysees.