Saturday, 7 January 2012

Living on the Edge...

It’s been a long time since I have made bread using any other recipe than one of St Hugh’s, or made pizza base without consulting Lord Jamie, but never let it be said that I don’t live on the edge. I made not one but 2 dramatic departures from the Recipe Junkie repertoire today, prompted by baking withdrawal. I haven’t had to bake anything for weeks because the Christmas cake lasted, as it should, until the early part of this week, and I had baked and frozen quite a lot of bread before Christmas to see us through (you’d think we were being blockaded or something), and that alone had my fingers itching to do something with dough. Secondly, despite, the arrival of Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard, and Veg Everyday, HF-W’s latest over the festive period, I was somewhat delayed in my reading of both tomes – Dan’s because I got absorbed in Emma Kennedy’s ‘I Left my Tent in San Francisco’ – which I would thoroughly recommend, but the reasons are probably the subject of a different blog altogether – and HF-W’s because the Husband acquired it by swapping some of the other, duplicate, books he’d been given over Christmas (I mean, how many copies of ‘Fifty Ways to Kill a Slug’ does a man need to own...) Anyway, quite sensibly, he wanted to have a perv – I mean read – before I started to use it and covered it in the same light coating of olive oil, cumin and cocoa powder that all my cook books seem to acquire just from being present in the kitchen. As a result I have only just got stuck into both books in the last couple of days.
Anyway, Dan – what a man. The book is fab and I’ve only read about bread and cakes so far. I am planning much cakeage next weekend (watch out for ‘the alchemists chocolate cake’ – only 220 calories per slice and appears to use a can of pears instead of butter. This I have to try). The Husband is currently dentally challenged, and has requested a postponement of further sourdough activity on the grounds that the bread is more chewy, so in the interests of trying something new rather than reverting to my old standard recipe for bread with quick yeast (loosely, the old HF-W recipe that’s in the Family Cookbook but I haven’t read a bread recipe for ages), I decided it was only fair to give Dan’s bread (and besides I didn’t have any tinned pears in the cupboard and the chickens aren’t laying so well so I didn’t have enough eggs). I went for his farmhouse white tin loaf. It uses a ‘half sponge’ method so you mix flour warm water and yeast together and leave for a few hours then add the rest of the flour and salt to that. But first you rub butter in to the flour. Bizarre. I felt like I was making crumble, not bread. I guess my previous method involved olive oil, so using butter is just an alternative to that. He’s got lots of top tips for bread making. I haven’t kneaded a loaf myself for a long time, preferring to take the easy route and chuck it all in the Kenwood, but I thought I’d do it as instructed, which involved kneading the bread 3 times, each time only for a short time, and with a break of 15 or 30 minutes, and then leaving it rise in the tin for a long rise, which is kind of the opposite of how I’ve done it before (without the multiple kneading). The other thing that was different was the cooking time – much longer – but dare I say it, the end result looks and smells totally fabulous. I am desperately trying to resist the urge to cut off a slice, smother it in butter and marmalade and devour. But I fear that once I start, I won’t stop...
But what would a day be without Hugh? Nigella featured at lunchtime with her Sunshine soup (out of Kitchen – basically cook frozen sweetcorn in stock and roast 2 yellow peppers in a hot oven then blitz together. A big hit indeed). I couldn’t leave him out of the party, so I decided to use his ‘magic bread dough’ out of Veg Everyday to make the pizza bases. I was a bit surprised because it uses half plain flour which I’ve never come across before, but it made very good pizza base. The pizzas were great too – I mixed together a tub of frozen homemade tomato pizza topping with a portion of frozen red pepper pasta sauce that I must have squirreled away at some point in the past, and combined they made a lovely tomato sauce to top with the rest. I confess that meat did make an appearance – the Husband’s pepperoni and some anchovies – along with the usual. I flung them in the oven, and set the timer.
“Why did you put someone else’s pizza on top of mine, Mummy?” asked Pink. “Well, to fit them all in” I said. “But you put it RIGHT ON TOP of my one” she persisted. “No, no, the shelves are just quite close together”.

8 minutes later, tea towel to the ready, I confidently took out the first pizza. A crash as Pink’s pizza and baking sheet fell off the bottom of Blue’s, olives scattering onto the floor, and a howl from Pink “My PIIIIZZZZZZZZAAAAAAA!”. I really had put them on the same shelf, one on top of the other. Forget recipes – I need a basic oven driving book...

No comments:

Post a Comment

I LOVE comments - please leave one. Unfortunately, I have been getting hideous amounts of SPAM so please can you do the word verification thingy?