Monthly Archives: November 2009

Fresh from the oven – White Tin Loaf

Since baking my own bread I can’t remember the last time I bought a sliced loaf. As much as I love all the artisan style bread I bake, sometimes only a traditional white tin loaf will do and shop-bought bread certainly doesn’t cut the mustard for me any more. When I found out that this months Fresh from the Oven‘s host was going to be Linda from With Knife & Fork and she had chosen White Tin Loaf I was really pleased.

This recipe uses a different kneading method to what I’m used to and sometimes the urge to whack all the ingredients into the KitchenAid can be to much, but this time I stuck with it and was genuinely impressed with the results. When I initially read the kneading instructions I could see how it could work, but I was proven wrong.

It produced a loaf with amazing oven spring and the perfect texture and size for bacon cobs. Although it doesn’t have the strong taste like some of my bread does this makes it great for simple sandwiches. Everyone once in a while wants a basic, comforting sarnie be the filling ham and pickle or cheese and tomato. Don’t be put off by the long looking method. It is truly worth it.

The 1 tip I would give would be that 10 min before the end of baking turn the loaf upside down in the tin. This helps the bottom of the loaf to crusten up.

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Dan Lepard says he developed this when he was working full time in commercial kitchens (that made artisan hand kneaded bread) because there wasn’t time for full 10 minute knead of all the different bread batches so he switched to short kneads spaced out and found it works just as well, part of the development of a good gluten structure is dependent on the time elapsed not the vigorous kneading. I liked the idea because I’d not been getting good textures with either a machine or a normal hand knead. I am now a wholesale convert.

Note:

You must use oil not flour on the kneading surface and your hands. Something like vegetable oil is good.

The dough must be quite sticky and soft to start with. It will firm up when kneaded and as time progresses.

Steps:

* Once you have soft sticky dough leave it covered in the bowl for 10 minutes.
* Now oil your kneading surface and hands and tip the dough out.
* Knead for about 12 seconds by folding in the edges to the centre, a bit like shaping a round loaf, rotate the dough as you go.
* Flip the dough over, leave it on the surface and cover with a cloth. Wash out the bowl and then oil it lightly. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover.
* Leave for 10-15 minutes and then do another 12 second knead. You will notice the dough is already less sticky and firmer.
* Leave for 20 -30 mins and repeat the fast knead. You are aiming to have kneaded the dough 3 times in the first hour.
* Leave covered to rise until at least 50% larger but not more than double in size.
* Tip out onto the oil surface and press the air out of the dough using the tips of your fingers so its square-ish in shape. Repeat the fast knead process (or fold in to thirds then rotate through 90, flatten again and fold into 3rds again).
* Shape the dough as required for the particular loaf you are making. Put it in a tin, or supported in a floured cloth in a bowl.
* Leave to rise until at least 50% larger and preferably almost double in size.
* Slash top and bake as per your recipe.

White Tin Loaf (based on Dan Lepard’s Quick White Loaf, p63 of the Handmade Loaf)

2lb loaf tin greased and floured or lined with baking parchment (no need to line the short ends just oil them).

Oven to be pre-heated to its maximum setting (R10/250C) and with a tray of water in the bottom to create steam.

Ingredients:

200g semi skimmed milk at room temp (Dan uses whole milk but semi skimmed seems to work fine)

150g water at room temp (remember 1g = 1ml but its easier to be accurate weighing fluids)

1 tsp fast action yeast (or 2 tsp fresh yeast crumbled)

200g plain white flour

300g strong white bread flour

1 ½ tsp fine sea salt

Method:

Mix the flours and salt together in a bowl.

Mix the water and milk together in a separate bowl and whisk in the yeast.

Add the liquid to the flour and mix with the fingers of one hand to a soft sticky rough dough. You may need to add a little more liquid do this a teaspoon at a time until you have a soft sticky dough.

Follow the kneading instructions above.

The first rise will probably take about an hour from the last knead.

To shape for a tin loaf, flatten the dough to a square about the same width as your tin. Roll the dough into a cylinder and press the seam firmly, fold under the two short ends and place in the tin seam side down.

Allow to rise (covered) to 1 ½ to 2 times volume i.e. to the top of the tin.

Slash the top of the loaf along it length and put it straight into the oven for 10 minutes at maximum temperature. After 10 minutes check how it’s browning and drop the temperature as follows (these baking guidelines are from the River Cottage Bread Book):

R6/200C if the crust is pale

R4/180C if crust is noticeably browning

R3/170C if crust is browning quickly

And cook for a further 40-50 minutes.

I usually check again part way through this time and either adjust temperature again or cover the top with foil if it’s brown enough. Also note that with a traditional gas oven (i.e. one without a fan) the top may brown far too quickly on the side near the heat at the initial temperature so you might want to start at a lower setting of R8/9 for the first 10 minutes. Adapt the setting for what you know about your oven and how things usually bake.

When it’s cooked turn it out of the tin and allow to cool.

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Festive Muffins

Yes the C word is around the corner. Coca Cola have aired their annual “Holidays are Coming”, Hellman’s Mayonnaise have shown their credit crunching been-showing-the-same-unremastered-ad-since-1980’s, households are beginning to compete as to who can rack up the biggest electricity bill with gaudy decorations and various z-list “celebrities” are battling out in the OZ jungle by eating various parts of a kangaroo’s anatomy.

A great respite from all this was a trip to the Fabulous Places Christmas Market at Blackbrook House near Belper to discover some great Derbyshire independent businesses and people. I Spoke to Julie at Vintage & Cake about 50’s Swing Dresses, discussed gluten-free cooking with Charlotte from Cupcake Corner, debated the virtues of edible glitter with Wendy at Quirky Cookies, picked up some stunning parrot tulips and anemones from Kerry at The Blossom Tree and finally Claire from Things We Make. I’ve been chatting to these businesses via twitter so it was lovely to be able to put a face to a name. Another great business there was Jack Rabbits. They have a fab new little business opposite the Cathedral in Derby, sell gorgeous food and cook on an Aga…need I say more!

I’ve been playing around with festive recipes for a while. Primarily for my Cookery Club Kids. Mince pies went out of the window as a straw poll of my Cookery Kids told me that kids don’t like mince pies, Christmas truffles not idea, (you wouldn’t believe how long it takes to melt 16 sets of chocolate of chocolate in the microwave!) even these festive muffins couldn’t tempt them away from Stained Glass Biscuits. Some of the children have made these biscuits before, but they still insisted in making them again. Kids are always amazed by the way the boiled sweet melts to make sugar glass. So given most of the Cookery Kids claim to not want to make these muffins due to the dried fruit in them these are for the adults to enjoy.

To make these muffins extra Christmassy I cooked them in my star moulds. I have to admit funky shaped silicone moulds don’t cook as evenly as traditional round moulds, but they still taste great. One thing I would say is don’t over mix as this mixture has a tendency to make dense heavy muffins if mixed too much.

Festive Muffins
Makes 16 regular or 8 large

300g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
225ml milk
50g butter, melted
1 egg
handful of typical festive dried fruit (eg glace cherries, sultanas, citrus peel, cranberries)
1 tbsp mixed spice
flaked almonds, for decorating

1) Preheat oven to 200oc. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar.

2) In another bowl whisk together egg, milk and butter. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, stir until well combined.

3) Carefully stir in the dried fruit and spoon into cake cases into 2/3 full. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 25-30 min until risen and golden.

Quince Jelly and Gooseberry & Elderflower Jam

Hubby is the god of preserving – I’m rubbish. This may be due to my lack of perseverance. If it doesn’t work first time I resign myself to the fact I can’t do it and pass the reins over to Hubby.

In terms of preserve making, here in the UK, jam uses the whole fruit whereas jelly is clear and bright and is made using the juice extracted from the fruit. Hubby decided rub in how good he is at this jam making malarkey by making both a successful jam and jelly. One using quinces and the other using blush gooseberries.

Quinces look a bit like ugly, overgrown yellow pears and in the UK can be very hard to get hold of unless you have a friend with a quince tree. A few veg box schemes were also selling them too. Hubby has a friend who offered us some of his quinces. Only after he had made a cracking batch of quince jelly did he announce that his friend has chopped down the said quince tree. The romantic ideas of making refined quince jelly for all the impressed relatives for Christmas was dashed.

Now for the science bit – when quince is boiled it turns red (leading me to be boring and wonder if it was a pH indicator *yawn*). Be warned this stains the cloth you use to strain the juice with. Strangely this stain is intensified with heat and stain remover. The resulting jelly has a distinctive floral taste, unlike anything I was expecting and goes very well with cheese.

The blush gooseberries had been hibernating in our freezer ever since we picked them at a PYO back in June. They are slightly sweeter than green gooseberries…still won’t make me like them. However Hubby did manage to transform them, along with some elderflower cordial, into a beautiful jam.

Both recipes are inspired by Preserves – River Cottage Handbook.

Quince Jelly
makes 5-6 225g jars

1.5kg quinces
Granulated sugar
100ml cider vinegar

1) Roughly chop the quinces, discarding any bad parts. Don’t peel or core them. Put in a deep saucepan, just about cover with water then bring to the boil. Simmer gently, covered for 45 min. Tip the contents of the pan into a jelly bag or piece of muslin (in our case a clean tea towel!) suspended over the bowl and leave to drip for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

2) Measure the strained juice. For every 600ml, weigh out 450g sugar. Return the juice to the cleaned out pan with the vinegar. Heat to boiling point then add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 10-12 min or until setting point is reached. Remove from heat and skim off any scum.

3) Pour into sterilised jars.

Gooseberry & Elderflower jam
makes 5-6 340g jars

1 kg gooseberries
2 tbsp elderflower cordial
1kg granulated sugar

1) Top and tail gooseberries and place in pan with 500ml of water and the cordial. Cook gently until the berries are soft, but hold their shape.

2) Add the sugar. Stir carefully so not to break down the berries until the sugar has dissolved then bring to a full rolling boil for 9-10 until jam reaches setting point. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 min then pot and seal.

Wishlist – 2009

It’s that time of year when people start to ask me what I would like for Christmas. To be honest I don’t need anything, hey our cottage is no Tardis and the secret hidey holes are becoming increasingly crammed, however here is a selection of a few things I would love to be treated to. I suppose they do show my love of vintage, slightly eccentric things.

I first saw designs by Hanne Rysgaard on Not On The High Street and fell in love her dotty milk jug. It equals my hankering for the Made in England rolling pin last year. I have it on good authority that she also sells other ceramic items including cake stands.

I’m not sure if I would use these vintage Hovis tins for baking as I rarely bake bread in tins now, but I still love them. Like the picture suggests they would be great as a planter.

I’m on the look out for the perfect white china butter dish and cake/cheese dome…I’m still searching.

Ever since the School of Artisan Cookery opened earlier this year I’ve been interested in vising. I love the sound of their patisserie, artisan chocolate and preserves courses.

Vintage cookbooks
, I just love them. I find it fascinating looking at ingredients and how you can witness social history changing by just looking at cookery books through the ages. I’m after a very old edition of Mrs Beeton, but given the prices they go for I could be saving for some time.

Lastly I’m after a vintage glass butterchurn as seen on River Cottage Winter on Thursday. No room for it in the house, but I would love one!

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