Week Three – Bread
So week 3 and it’s my dreaded nemesis the monster that is bread! I do things exactly the same each time I make bread, and sometimes I have amazing, fluffy, yumminess and the next heavy, doughy blurgh! But undaunted, I went for 2 bakes this week as they did keep it nicely simple on Great British Bake Off with a simple, white cottage loaf and fruited teacakes. Mind you, I was ‘talking’ at the TV when they did the teacakes as virtually everyone on there baked fruit buns, and not teacakes. They were all rounded and to me a proper teacake should be flatter, as it is made to toast (not be eaten as is like Paul and Prue did) so flat ones fit under the grill and in the toaster far better than a round one. And then, low and behold even though I squished mine just before putting them in the oven, they popped up like mushrooms all rounded and fluffy! But first folk……….
SIMPLE COTTAGE LOAF
500g strong plain flour
7g/2tsp dried fast action yeast
3tbs olive oil (plus more for greasing)
small amount of sesame or poppy seeds
- Grease your work surface with extra oil ready for kneading on.
- Put the flour in a large bowl and put the yeast on one side, salt against another side and sugar against another, finally put the oil in a little hollow in the middle. Don’t let the best touch anything until the water is added.
- Add the water in the centre and using one hand bring all the ingredients together to form a loose dough. Tip this onto your oiled board making sure to scrape out the bowl. Knead the bread for around 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Alternatively put all the ingredients into a mixer set with a dough hook and let it whirl for 5-6 minutes).
- Grease the bowl lightly and pop the dough ball back in. Cover (oiled cling, damp tea towel, big plastic bag, plastic shower cap) and leave to double in size.
- Uncover, pluck it from its bowl and gently knead it out. Cut 1/3 off and roll the dough into 2 round balls; gently flatten the larger and put the smaller ball on top.
- Press your thumb, index finger or handle of a wooded spoon into the centre of the upper ball right through to the board underneath (this will ensure they will stay together and form one loaf). Carefully place onto a floured or lined baking tray.
- Place inside a big plastic bag (full of air) at room temp and leave for approximately ½ hour. Put the oven on at max (make sure the oven is ready when the bread has doubled in size, as if not, the dough could over-prove and literally pop like a balloon). As soon as the oven is hot, spray with bottom with water and close the door. Spay the bread with water and sprinkle on the seeds. Put in the oven, turn down to 200°C and bake for approx. 35-40 mins until golden (will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom).
Allow to cool before slicing.
TOP TIPS – don’t rush the rising time, you need the dough to double and it won’t always happen in the magic hour, factors like the weather, air temperature, heating etc will alter how long this will take. You don’t need to have a warming drawer but it will be quicker, roughly 45 minutes, on a warm dry day it will take around 60 minutes in a room, on a wet day, longer time is needed. keeping it covered and away from draughts will also help with the rise. Don’t panic if it takes a while, slow risen loaves usually taste better anyway. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, if you can stick your finger in and the hole does not fill up or, if you flatten the end of the dough a little, twist it fully round and let go and it uncurls, then it’s ready. Don’t be tempted to add more flour if your dough is a wee bit wet and sticky at the start, a wetter dough will rise better. Finally I strongly recommend investing in some clear plastic shower caps (pound shop!!) and some large transparent bin bags (supermarket) if you do a lot of baking, they come in handy for quite a bit.
You will need the following:
500g bread flour
75g castor sugar
7g dry fast action yeast
1 medium to large egg
150g mixed dried fruit (your favourite)
2-3 tbs marmalade
2-3 tbs honey
What you need to do:
- Gently heat the milk and butter (microwave or pan) until the butter just melts, leave to cool slightly.
- To a large bowl add the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon making sure that nothing touches the yeast. Put the egg in an indent in the centre.
- Using your fingers, break up the egg with one hand then add in the liquid with the other and stir everything together to from a wet, sticky dough. Tip out onto an oiled work surface and knead well for 5-10 minutes.
- Your dough should be smooth, elastic and less sticky. Now spread the dough out to a rough, thinnish rectangle and evenly spread the dried fruit across it. Roll up in a sausage shape and knead for a minute or 2 until the fruit is well combined into the dough. Grease the bowl and cover. Set aside to double in size.
- Once the dough has grown, tip back out onto the work surface and gently knead for a minute. Divide into 12-13 even sized pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each ball slightly and space them out on 2 baking sheets. Put them inside large clear bags and set aside to double in size.
- Put the oven on at 200°C ready for when the teacakes have more or less doubled in size. Once they are, put in the oven and bake for approx. 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- Just heat the marmalade and honey (pan or microwave) and using a heatproof pastry brush glaze your teacakes. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Split and toast, enjoy with lashing of butter.
TIP TIME. – not really much left to say on the bake but, a note on the fruit. For those who either know me, or follow my recipes you will know by now I loathe, despise, no dare I say hate currents, raisins and dried peel. So in my teacakes there are dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries a little mango and finally just a smidge of pineapple, use what you like best. If any of the fruit you use is really, really hard (like what my pineapple was) then chop it up small and add a tablespoon of orange juice. I don’t like to pre-glaze my sweet buns as you run into the ‘caramelised’ Russian roulette game – is it getting too well done, but not cooked in the middle – stress. So glazing afterwards means you just wait for the buns to get golden, plus it adds a lovely orangey note to the teacakes. The other thing to note is the rising time, remember, it differs from day to day. These bad boys took nearly 4 hours from start to finish so make sure you leave enough time in your day.
I was a wee bit disappointed, as I mentioned earlier with the fact that my teacakes rose a little too much (I know, madness!), however, both Mr T and the teenage Stepson commented on how nice the bread was – high praise indeed from roughty, tufty, farmery types who believe that a ‘complement’ is eating things without complaint normally!
So that’s it for week 3. I do hope you give these recipes a try; and if you want to see what my fellow Great British Blog Offers have on offer (!) please go to our host site Mummy Mishaps for other blogs and the rules of our little fun competion.