Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Recipe: Simple Rye Bread

I think discovering rye bread will be a journey.  I've found a recipe that involves making a sourdough started for seven days before making the dough and baking but I need time for that.  I carried on searching and found this:  A half and half and I used wholemeal instead of white (a mistake but it was OK)

250g rye flour
250g strong white bread flour (or ditto of wholemeal)
10g fresh yeast or a tsp of the instant dried which is what I used.
1.5 tsp salt
350mls warm water
25g caraway seeds, lightly cracked with a rolling pin (I didn;t have any spo missed this out but will get some next time)


Combine the lot in a bowl and stir with a fork.  Then put in the bowl of a mixer and gove it a good seven minutes at top speed with the dough hook


Put the lot in the bowl of your thermomix and knead for 10 minutes

Line two 1lb loaf tins (or oil and flour)

Divide the dough into two equal amounts.  Shape each into a sausage and place in the tins.
Cover with cling film or a tea towel.
Leave to rise.  It might take a fair old time.
Half an hour before baking, heat the oven up full.  Five minutes before, place a small tin of hot water in the bottom of the hot oven and place a baking sheet on the shelf.

Quickly pop the two loaf tins into the oven and shut the door quickly.  Give them ten minutes and then drop the temperature to 180. Open the oven door for about 20 seconds, then bake for another 20 mins.

Check by turning out each loaf and tapping it underneath.  If it is baked it will sound 'hollow'.

Allow to cool thoroughly before slicing.

It makes a dense, dark loaf that tastes delicious.  Great with strong cheese and chutney or well flavoured meats.  Filling too!

I got the recipe here
and, as you will see, adapted it a little bit.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Recipe: best ever soda bread

I have a friend who cannot eat yeast based products so when she comes to stay I either buy or make soda bread for us.
She was with me this weekend, supporting me through an emotional time.  She has responsibility for Student Support in the OU Students' Association, and she does a great job.  Words cannot say how grateful I am to her for this weekend . . .

This weekend I adapted my soda bread recipe a bit.  I cut down on the liquid (because last time the dough was very soft and flattened) and used strong flour instead of ordinary.
Her comment was 'This bread is very good' or words to that effect (and it was) so I have annotated my recipe accordingly.  Sorry, no photo . . .

Here it is.

400g strong flour (I use 200 white and 200 wholemeal)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250 mls buttermilk (because that's how Morrisons sells it) - although I now use yogurt
50 mls milk

Ten minutes or so before, turn the oven on to 230C so that it is hot when you mix the ingredients because it is literally a couple of minutes, if that.

Bung the ingredients into a bowl and mix well.  Knead briefly but not too much
(I used Thermione and used the knead function for about 15 seconds after mixing it together for about 10 seconds).
Shape into an oval loaf shape.
Place on a baking sheet (I put a teflon sheet on first).
Make several deep diagonal slashes across with a sharp knife.
Bake in the hot oven for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 180C and bake for another 25 mins or so.

Cool on a wire rack.

It is absolutely gorgeous still warm with butter and a good flavoured cheese and home made pickle or a home made jam or curd.

It dried out quickly and then it toasts well and is great with scrambled egg.

If you want to freeze it, you can - wrap it well as soon as it is cool or, even better, individually slice and wrap.

Even when using strong flour (from Aldi, 75p for 1500g), it is a frugal and delicious bread.  Go on - have a go!

Monday, 20 July 2015

No-cook breakfast

This looks a good idea.  I shall try it and report back!

Recipe: fruit bread

I take absolutely no credit for this one whatsoever in that it came to me from Thrifty Lesley, via Pat Parker, in the 'Feed yourself for a pound a day' page on Facebook.  If you want to be more frugal with your cooking, eating and shopping, that is the page for you.  It's brilliant.
And Lesley has a great web site which I have mentioned before in this blog.  Ditto as far as brilliant frugal ideas is concerned.

I whole-heartedly recommend both places to you.

I made this.  It is a proper bread, not a cakey or puddingy version, substantial and wholesome.  It is truly delicious and, when it dries a bit, as bread is wont to do, it will toast like a dream.  The list of ingredients looks long but it isn't really, it is all stuff you will have in, if you bake.  If you don't - go on, try it!  It can be addictive.

Here is the recipe.  I've given half amounts that work perfectly with a 1 lb loaf tin.  Choose your ingredients wisely and it is a frugal treat.

200g strong white flour
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tbsp oil (veg or sunflower - or you can use 37g butter)
half teaspoon salt
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 medium egg
50 ml milk
50 ml water
half tsp dried yeast (the kind for for bread makers)
70g mixed dried fruit.  I used some cranberries that were drying up and some value mixed fruit.  Any dried fruit would do and you can also vary the spices you use.  I am wondering about garam masala . . .

The Thermomix method
Put all the ingredients apart from the dried fruit into the bowl.  I added flour first, then the rest.
Knead for 10 mins.  Add the dried fruit and reverse mix on 3 for a short time until the fruit is evenly dispersed.
Place all ingredients into a bowl, mix well and knead on a floured surface for ten minutes or so.

Shape by hand into a loaf shape and place in a 1 lb loaf tin.  Cover with cling film.   It may seem quite heavy and I found it needs longer than the usual time to rise.  Give it all the time it needs.  If you are short of time or make it overnight, pop it in the fridge.  Just go with the flow . . . talk nicely to it!

Preheat the oven to 230C.  As soon as the loaf goes in, reduce the heat to 180C.  It takes about 30 to 35 minutes to bake.

So, so delish!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Recipe: half and half loaf

Bread is so easy.  All it takes is time which is a somewhat precious thing in this day and age.  It is frugal, tastes like a million pounds, makes the house smell fantastic as it bakes and makes me feel so good!

This is my bogstandard, weekly bread loaf recipe.  Works for me every time.  I do the kneading in Thermione - or, rather, Thermione does the kneading for me.  It is just the right amound for three 1lb loaf tins.

300g strong white bread flour
300g strong wholemeal bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast (the breadmaker kind)*
1 tbsp dried milk powder (optional but does make a nice dough)
about 30g oil (I use veg or sunflower)
400 mls warm water **

Three 1 pound loaf tins

Place all the ingredients in the bowl and either mix and knead until your arms drop off or put the lot in Thermione and let her do all the hard work - ten minutes on knead.

Shape the dough into a ball and drop into an oiled bowl.  Smooth some oil over the top, cover the bowl in cling film or similar and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Tip the dough our onto a floured surface and knock back briefly which means thumping the divil out of it.  Cut into three equal amounts.  Shape each part into a loaf and place in a 1lb loaf tin.  I line the tin but you could just oil it.
Cover the tins with cling film (I use the same clingfilm so as not to waste it) and allow the loaves to rise until they reach the top of the tins.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven as hot as it will go.  When you put the loaves in, turn it down to about 180C.  Bake them for about 30 mins, then remove them from the tins and put them back in the oven.  Turn off the oven and leave the loaves in the cooling oven for about five minutes or so.  That gets a nice crust all over.

Cool on a rack.  I then wrap and freeze two of the loaves.

*  If you use the other kind of instant yeast, start it off by putting it in a jug, adding the sugar and 150mls of the warm water, mix it well and leave it for ten mins by which time it will have gone all fluffy and yeasty!  Then add to the other ingredients.

**  There's a formula for knowing how much water you need.  If it is a pure white you need 63% of the weight of the flour.  A 100% wholemeal requires 70% of the flour in weight.  My half and half is half way between the two.
To find a percentage, input the weight of the flour (yes, I use a calculator), divide that by 100, then times it by the percentage you want.  I round up or down if needed.

Recipe: strawberry jam

Borrowed from Google with thanks.
I'm sure I have posted about this before but seeing as I made some last week I thought it was worth another write up.

I know people talk about setting issues with strawberry jam because strawberries are low in pectin but I get round that by using jam sugar (I got some in Aldi, great value) and also adding a squeeze of lemon juice.  I've never had a jam not set although once I had to reboil!

Fresh strawberries
jam sugar
squeeze of lemon

Prepare the strawberries by pulling or cutting out the leafy bit and any hard core.  Try to keep the berries as whole as possible but cut off any soggy bits.

If you use the saucer method for testing set, put them in the fridge now.  Also get the jars ready.  I wash them and place them on an oven tray and in a just turned on oven.  Works a treat.

Weigh the prepared berries and add the same weight of jam sugar.  Carefully mix together and leave for an hour or so.  This draws some moisture out of the berries, enabling them to stay whole in the finished jam.  Place in a maslin (or other suitable) pan and heat very slowly, stirring from time to time, until all the sugar has dissolved.  Add the lemon juice and stir again.

Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring well.  Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the jam looks as if it might be setting on the sides of the pan.  Remove the pan for the heat and check using a cold saucer.

If set, add a knob of butter to reduce the scum and skim off any remaining scum.  What you skim off is perfectly edible.  It sets foamy and can be added to yogurt, etc, if you don't fancy it on toast.  Waste not, want not, etc.  Leave the jam for about ten minutes before giving it another stir.  This is because the jam has reached setting point and cooled a bit and doing this will stop the berries from rising to the top of the jar, will keeping them evenly distributed.

Decant into warm and clean jars and cover immediately.  Label when cool.

If not set, repeat the boiling and checking process until setting point is reached.

If by any chance the setting isn't as firm as you want, you can always pour it all back into the pan, reboil and recheck.

Home made strawberry jam is nectar.  There's little quite as delicious.  It's well worth the effort, especially if you have a pick your own farm nearby.  I got my berries on special from Morrisons which makes the jam a bit more expensive, I think, but still wonderful!
Mmmmmm - delicious!
The saucer setting test, aka the wrinkle test, works a treat.  I never use any other way now.
See here.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

A new life

School's out, the holiday has begun, a new life beckons.

Time to sew, time to swim, time to cook or bake and blog about it!

You, my lovely readers are still logging in to read nothing new.  So sorry but I promise I will make it up to you in the next weeks, months and, hopefully, years.

Thank you for staying around!

I have two new books.  Well, one new book and one old book.  The old book is a 'Times book of bread' - at least that's what I think it is called but it's upstairs and I am too lazy to go up and find it.  I looked for it on Amazon after a recommendation in a bread forum and found a hardback in great condition for £1.00 plus postage.  At that price I can forgive that it is primarily written in imperial units (although metric equivalents are given, thank goodness!).  It is a very earnest look at bread making and is dated some time in the 1980s. There's some great looking bread recipes and I would rather like to try one new one each week and, of course, feed back on the results.

The other is a new book called 'Preserving through the year' and it has some really interesting recipes including cordials, etc, as well as the usual jams and chutneys.  I think I will really HAVE to go blackberrying come the autumn.  During the week, yay!

Then I will still be looking out for frugal ways to feed myself too.

Watch this space . . . it should be good!