Low-knead bread – no really this time

Loyal readers (hah, I just really wanted to write that) will know that I have tried a number of different bread recipes over the years, all hindered by the fact that kneading is BORING and I don’t knead enough. Because it’s boring. And I get fed up.

I’ve tried overnight breads, and “no-knead” breads, and I’ve learned that I don’t like the taste of soda bread. I have not yet tried sourdough but that’s mainly because bollocks to any bread that requires you to start it 3 days ahead of time, or to permanently keep a “starter” alive (I’m not calling it Humphrey or Herman or whatever it is called by the kind of people who refer to it as “friendship cake”).

This recipe works though. And I have not improved my kneading technique or my patience. It does require you to hang about a bit, so it’s a job for a day when you are going to be in, but you can spend most of the day watching Netflix (The Crown, for preference).

The magic ingredient seems to be sour cream. Mix 125g sour cream (just under a small pot – I’ve no idea what you’ll do with the remaining 25g), 100ml boiling water and 150ml cold water (or 250ml warm I guess, but I like the precision this gives for “how warm should it be?). This did not mix nicely but it didn’t matter. Add a sachet of dried yeast and 2tsp each of salt and sugar. Then put in 550g of bread flour and make dough.

I don’t know if ingredients come in different sizes in Australia but 125g of sour cream and 550g of flour are both slightly-annoying measurements for me (flour comes in 1kg or 1.5kg, so can make slightly under 2 or 3 of these). I’ll forgive it though on the basis that it ACTUALLY WORKS. Cover it up and wait a bit. I just draped a tea-towel over the bowl.

It grows a bit even in that ten minutes

It grows a bit even in that ten minutes

After 10 mins, knead for 10 seconds. Yes really, 10 SECONDS. I think I counted 30 “pushes” on the dough, which was probably more than 10 seconds. This is the only time I have ever kneaded for LONGER than I was told.

Cover, wait 10 more mins, knead for 10 seconds again. Cover, wait 10 more mins, knead for 10 seconds again. Cover, wait for an hour, then squish it into a rectangle, roll up like a swiss roll (note to self for next time – put something IN it at this point?), and put into a buttered loaf tin. Cover, wait 90 mins.

Wait for it...

Wait for it…

..Whoosh! Look at that!

…Whoosh! Look at that!

Into oven at 180C fan (everyone has a fan oven these days right? 200C if not fan, if you have an Aga you’re on your own).

45 mins later… BREAD.

Looks like bread on the inside too

Looks like bread on the inside too

It actually looks like a loaf of bread

It actually looks like a loaf of bread

 

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Homemade tiger bread.

The finished rolls - notice how they spread EVEN MORE in the oven and had to be manually separated

The finished rolls – notice how they spread EVEN MORE in the oven and had to be manually separated

I’ve always assumed that “how to make tiger bread” goes something like this:

  1. make bread dough
  2. put something very addictive on top
  3. bake

But this is the first time that I’ve had a go.

I’ve also incorporated some techniques that I learned while visiting Bread Ahead in Borough Market, but I haven’t fully followed their recipe (not even close) so if this doesn’t work out then it’s not their fault.

Ye, I’m writing this while the bread is in the oven. I don’t know if it has worked yet. That picture that you see at the top of the post – I have not yet seen it. Fingers crossed?

Method:

  • 500g bread flour, 1 sachet yeast, some salt. How much salt? I don’t know. A pinch? Half a teaspoon? Just SOME, OK?
  • Mix it up and add 400ml warm water. This is a lot of water. Things will be gooey. Don’t worry, this is the plan.
  • Go phone your mum for 20 minutes. This is not compulsory, but it’s what I did.
  • Remember that you are supposed to knead the bloody stuff.
  • Feel pleased that the mixture is expanding already – at least that confirms that the yeast is alive.
  • Knead – sort of. Grab a big handful of the mixture and lift your hand high above the bowl, stretching out the dough. Release your hand a bit to let it drop back down, stretching different bits
  • Keep doing this for a while – say 100 stretches
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it for a few hours – at room temperature – til it’s at least doubled in size
  • Grease two baking trays
    • (note from afterwards – best use greasproof paper as well)
  • Grab handfuls of the dough and put them onto the trays – you will lose a lot of the air but that’s OK – leave plenty of room for expansion
  • Now put your oven onto the highest it’ll go and wait for the light to go out – you really want the oven as hot as it can be
  • Mix together in a little bowl some paprika, celery salt, and salt with olive oil – again I don’t know what quantities I used and even if I did I might not recommend them to you
  • Once the oven has heated up your blobs should have gotten bigger than they were – paint them with your paprika mix using a pastry brush (or just blob some on if you don’t possess such an implement)
Here are my blobs

Here are my blobs

  • Put into oven, set timer
    • (note from afterwards – I set mine for 15 mins and this was a bit too much)
Mmm, shiny!

Mmm, shiny!

  • Take out of oven, remove from tray and leave to cool for as long as you can manage
  • Now you have homemade tiger ciabatta

Verdict:

I sort of made this up, and it sort of worked.

The texture is more like ciabatta than your standard tiger loaf, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The topping is not “right”, but it is “nice”. Further experimentation needed.

Nice big bubbles inside

Nice big bubbles inside

 

 

Meat free monday – garlic soda bread and roast tomato soup

You know I’m a sucker for supposedly easy bread, and the last recipe from A Girl Called Jack worked really well, so I’m trying another.

Easy Peasy Garlic Bread – there’s even lemon juice in the recipe so if it’s properly easy we can all say “easy peasy lemon squeezy”.

I’m also making roast tomato soup with tomatoes from the garden, so this counts as Meat-Free Monday, but only by accident. It’s a very approximate kind of soup, so I’ve included no quantities here.

The finished article - bread and soup

The finished article – bread and soup

Tomato soup and garlic bread

  • Halve some tomatoes (and cut up a red pepper if you want)
  • Put into a roasting pan with some olive oil
  • Put oven on to 180 (and think that you should have put it on already)
  • Go have a cup of tea while oven heats up
  • Go back to kitchen and follow Jack’s instructions for bread
  • (200ml milk, add 2 tsp lemon, wait a bit. 200g self-raising flour, 1tsp bicarb, crushed garlic, parsley, mix it all up, put in tin)
  • I love garlic so I used 2 very large cloves of garlic
  • Put bread in oven
  • Look at tomatoes – are they looking nice and shrivelly?
  • Gently fry some onion and garlic in a saucepan if you want (with the garlicy bread I just did onion)
  • Chuck tomatoes (and pepper if using) into the saucepan with the garlic/onion, add some hot stock (from a cube,, or gel thingy, or from boiled bones if that’s how you roll), cook for long enough that you think everything is soft, blend with a stick blender
  • Taste soup. Is it too thick? Add water. Too bland? Add salt. Want it creamy? Stir in some creme fraiche or yoghurt. Fancy some herbs? Chuck in some fresh basil.
  • At the appropriate point, take the bread out of the oven

A note about herbs. Parsley is on my personal list of “difficult herbs”. Rosemary and sage – put them in the ground and they will live forever. Thyme, oregano, mint, put in a pot outside, water occasionally, they will live forever (even though they might look dead over winter). Basil – put in a pot inside, water when it looks wilty, chop the tops off when you want some, it will live for months. Coriander and parsley – no matter what you do they will start looking weird and then keel over.

Here come the pictures

Here is my fally-over parsley. A bunch is 90p and a plant £1, so I always try.

Here is my fally-over parsley.
A bunch is 90p and a plant £1, so I always try.

"More like a thick batter than a dough" - if you say so Jack

“More like a thick batter than a dough” – if you say so Jack

Do home grown tomatoes taste better? I don't know, but they taste smugger.

Do home grown tomatoes taste better? I don’t know, but they taste smugger.

Does having to lever it out with a fish slice mean it's not cooked properly? I'm not sure.

Does having to lever it out with a fish slice mean it’s not cooked properly? I’m not sure.

The verdict: I thought I would have spare leftover soup. I did not. It’s surprising how many tomatoes you need to make soup for 2 people. My boyfriend liked the bread. I was unsure about it – possible I just don’t like the cakey texture of soda bread? The 2 giant cloves of garlic did not make it as garlicy as I expected so if I make it again I’ll add more garlic.

Was it easy peasy? Yes it was. It wasn’t quite to my taste but that’s probably just me not really being keen on soda bread – oops!

I love my slow cooker – slow cooker soda bread

As you may remember, I don’t have the greatest track record with bread (no knead bread part 1 and part 2). But I’m nothing if not optimistic.

Actually that’s a lie, I’m not particularly optimistic at all. It was once said of me that where some people see things through rose-tinted glasses, my glasses were mustard-coloured.

But in this case I am optimistic. One day I will make a nice bread.

I wasn’t looking for bread this time, it came to me in the form of a tweeted blog post from plus2point4 on slow cooker soda bread.

I am a big fan of my slow cooker, and I like a recipe that says only “knead briefly” so I thought I’d give it a go. As I write this I haven’t seen the results so I can’t do any clever foreshadowing about the result.

I used this tip to fake butttermilk because buttermilk is not something that I find easy to get hold of, and I added some seeds into the mix to make the bread more interesting. I looked at a few other soda bread recipes and they all included bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), so I am feeling a little apprehensive as to whether this “soda bread with no soda” is going to work out.

I also discovered that plus2point4 has a bigger slowcooker than me (she told me on Twitter than she has 3!) because none of my loaf tins would fit in, so I improvised with a foil takeaway tray. I have them for making potato dauphinoise, because my boyfriend claims that there is no potato product that is worth the washing up pain that is caused by making dauphinoise in a non-disposable container.

Wish me luck!

—LATER—

After the prescribed 3 hours I checked out the bread and it seemed little soggy so I transferred to to the over (with the tinfoil off) to dry out a bt and maybe get more of a crust.

Slow cooker dwarf bread

Slow cooker dwarf bread

We have dwarf bread.

Rather nice dwarf bread, but dwarf bread nonetheless. I’m getting pretty good at dwarf bread 🙂

“No knead” bread – is it really?

Inspired by this post on Jen’s Place.

I’ve seen recipes for “no knead” bread before – what they really mean is “not as much kneading as usual”, which is still too much kneading for me. This recipe is different – you really don’t knead the bread at all.

Given that I’ve tried bread before and it’s been horribly hard because I didn’t knead it enough, how can this “no knead” bread be edible? Surely no kneading is worse than not-enough kneading, not better?

The recipe as posted makes enough dough for 4 loaves, apparently. I figure it’ll probably go wrong so I quarter it and just make the one.

I had a little packet of seeds from my graze box (use code B6FK9XVA to get a free box if you haven’t already) to make the bread more interesting.

 

Mixing up the dough looked like this. I took a picture of before the rise and after the rise and basically they looked the same, except slightly larger and bubblier. This is not Nigella-style food porn.

 

Not very exciting to look at, I know. And despite using a quarter of a recipe meant for 4 loaves, it doesn’t look like a whole loaf worth.

 

This stuff is very sticky.

After being in the oven it looks a lot prettier, and very artisan or rustic or whatever other words we like to use to excuse food from being neat and tidy.

It didn’t get any bigger during cooking (should it? I have no idea) so this is about the size of two large rolls. It’s dense and chewy but not hard. I’d recommend it more for dipping in soup than eating alone. Someone may have used the phrase “dwarf bread”…

I’d call this a success, or more of a success than my previous attempts at bread, and I’d definitely try it again. Having no airing cupboard does make getting bread to rise a bit tricky – I put the heating on and put the dough near it but it ma have needed more warmth and/or more time.