Sunday, 31 March 2013

Seeded Loaf - Bread Challenge No. 10

 Happy Easter!
Yes the day finally crept up on us and, after losing an hours slept last night due to the clocks moving forward an hour, it was a very tired me in The Old Red Lion kitchen today cooking roast dinners. 
I didnt receive any Easter eggs today unfortuntely but I did get to open my Secret Easter Bunny gift that I received in the post yesterday as part of an online craft forum swap that I entered. My gift was made by someone that I have actually been in awe of for the past couple of years and her gift to me was these seriously cute bunnies that she made herself. Ros has a fantastic blog which is full of tutorials, her makes and a little bit of gossip!

Back to bread making!! This week we have started to make plans for a new menu for the summer months. One idea I had was mushroom pate as a starter. In the week I made a sample but, although it tasted lovely it needed to be eaten with something textured. We had some slightly stale, seeded loaf from the shop so we used that to experiment on taste and it really worked well together, so yesterday I attempted my own seeded loaf.
It came out BEAUTIFUL!! You must try this one it's a lovely taste and today, a day later, still was very soft and fresh tasting.
Here's the recipe.
375g Strong White Bread Flour
125g Strong Brown Bread Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar
1 Tsp Fast Action Dried Yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp Sunflour Oil
2 Tsp Lemon Juice
300ml Lukewarm Water
1 Tsp Poppy Seeds
1 Tsp Sesame Seeds
For The Topping
1 Egg White
1 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds Mixed

Put the flours,sugar,salt, yeast and seeds into a bowl.Add the oil,lemon juice and water and mix together to form a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 10minutes or until the dough is soft and pliable. Return to your bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour..
When risen, punch down the dough to release the gas and knead for a couple more minutes and press into a large loaf tin and leave to rise again.When risen, mix the egg white and water and brush the top of the dough with it then gently press in the pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Bake in the oven about 20-25 minutes at 200C until golden brown.

Homemade seeded Loaf
Doesn't this look good!
Homemade Seeded Loaf

Spinach,Turmeric and Beetroot Loaf - Bread Challenge No 9

So I'm really moving forward with the bread challenge now and everyone is as interested and excited as I am with every new handmade loaf being produced in the kitchen. Isnt it nice to be able to say "I had fun at work today"!!!
So following production of the beetroot loaf yesterday Toby had a brainwave and suggested I try making 3 different coloured doughs and combining them together to make a tri-coloured and flavoured dough. So with his help I gave it a go, and this is what happened!!!
Spinach,Turmeric and Beetroot loaf

How cool is that!! The top layer is spinach, the center turmeric and the bottom beetroot, though I have to admit when eating the bread there is no strong particular flavour but the image is fantastic!
We are now considering other colours but for now I'll talk you through how we made this one.
 We needed to make 3 individual doughs, so I got my basic bread recipe and divided the quantity of ingredients by 3. I got 3 bowls and into each put 170g strong white bread flour,1 tsp sugar,1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp yeast. Then I rubbed in 10g butter into each mix.
1 egg and 1 egg yolk were beaten and as best I could split between the 3 bowls. Next we made up the coloured liquids. Toby pureed 1 cooked beetroot and added luke warm water to make 70ml of liquid. Turmeric was added to another 70ml lukewarm water and pureed handful of cooked spinach added to another 70ml.
Each liquid was put in each bowl and mixed to form 3 coloured doughs. Each was kneaded until a soft, pliable dough was formed then left in a covered bowl in a warm place to prove.
An hour later when they had all risen we punched down on each dough to release the gas then flattened out each one.

In a large loaf tin we lay the doughs one on top of each other and left to rise whilst we went for our lunchbreak.
You have never seen 2 more excited and giggly chefs as we put our invention in the oven to cook for 20 minutes. Our laughing continued when we removed the loaf from the tin and it looked all higgle-de piggle-de (what a saying!!)

But then we cut a slice and patted each other on the back as it looked brilliant. The colours worked so well and came out great, I'm sure you would agree!
Spinach,Turmeric and Beetroot Loaf
We are now working on other colours and ideas for interesting looking breads! Watch this space!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Beetroot Loaf - Bread Challenge No.8

I bet, reading this posts title, you're thinking exactly what I was thinking when Vicky gave me the recipe for Beetroot loaf from 'The Fabulous Baker Brothers' book 'Glorious British Grub' - WEIRD!
But hey, weird is good, especially when you are doing a bread challenge and want to have a go at as many recipes as you can.
In the book they create the dough to make small baps to serve their mackeral burgers in but I decided to just bake it in a loaf tin.
Look how pink it was before going in the oven!

We all got really excited as we watched the loaf cook in the oven but a bit dismayed when it turned a brown colour rather than the vibrant pink it had been before baking.
The dough was wetter than most of the others I've made and I think I should have possibly kneaded a little more flour in to dry out the dough slightly. The loaf was slightly undercooked when I took it out of the tin.
Tasted very sweet though and lovely.

Want to try it for yourself?   Here's the recipe below
500g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
7g fast action dried yeast
handful chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp honey
2 small cooked vacuum- packed beetroots, blended to a fine paste
300ml luke warm water

Place the flour,salt and yeast into a bowl. Add the beetroot,thyme, honey and water and mix to form a soft not sticky dough.
Knead for 10 minutes til soft and pliable. Place in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise.
When risen, punch down the dough, remove from the bowl and knead lightly for couple of minutes then place in an oiled loaf tin.
Leave to rise again then bake in a preheated oven 180C for about 20 minutes.
Beetroot Loaf

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns - Challenge No. 7

So with Easter upon us tomorrow I thought my next challenge needed to be Hot Cross Buns.
A Hot Cross Bun is a sweet,spiced bun made with mixed fruit and marked with a cross on the top. Traditional they are to be eaten on Good Friday.
Nowadays major supermarkets stock a variety of different taste variations such as toffee, orange & cranberry, and apple & cinnamon.
I always wondered what the cross on top was made from and have found out today that it's traditionally shortcrust pastry though mostly nowdays a paste made from flour and water.
As with all the bread recipes it's a long process  making the buns because of the rising times.
I've cooked at home today and my cooker was far too hot despite setting the temperature lower than the recipe said, so, gutted that the outside got slightly overcooked whilst the inside was underdone. But I lowered the temperature as soon as I realised and though disappointed they were still enjoyed by all at home!

Todays recipe comes from The BBC - Food - Recipes site so instead of me writing it all out here's the link and below are a couple of photos (new camera definately on my christmas list this year! Excuse the quality of the images!)

So after putting all the ingredients together, and kneading til smooth, put your dough in a bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place.
Several cups of tea later punch down your dough and divide into 12 equal mounts. Roll into balls, flatten slightly and place on a greased baking tray. Make your paste with the flour and water and pipe a cross on the top. I made 2 pastes as the first ran out. Think my 2nd paste had a better effect after cooking as it was slightly runnier than the first.
Bake in the oven 8 - 12 mins. As I said earlier my fan oven was far too hot despite me reducing the temperature to 200C. For me 170C would have been the best temperature I think.
Brush with melted golden syrup straight from the oven.
Hot Cross Buns
Lovely hot with soft, melting butter

Focaccia - Bread Challenge No 6

As I reach number 6 of my dough challenge I would firstly like to thank my bosses Ben Aveling and Vicky Rogers for being so supportive,interested and encouraging for what I am doing and secondly would very much like to welcome any new reader who has found their way here via The Old Red Lion or Radmore farm Shop facebook and twitter feed. I hope that you enjoy the read, attempt the recipe or even just pop along to the pub and enjoy the taste of traditional homemade bread.
So today let's talk Focaccia!
Focaccia - a light Italian flatbread made from a soft dough and flavoured with olive oil.
 It had been my intention to attempt this bread nearer the end of my challenge as I thought it was a more complex dough to make but, having completed the challenge successfully today, I concur that it wasnt any harder than my previous challenges and that it is truly a gorgeous soft bread if eaten fresh from the oven.
500g Strong White Bread Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsp Fast Action Yeast
1-2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
300ml Lukewarm Water

1 Green Pepper
8 Sun-Dried Tomato halves
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
Sea Salt Flakes & Freshly Ground Black Pepper.
A few sprigs Rosemary.

Combine the flour,salt and yeast in a bowl. Stir in the chopped rosemary and add the oil. Mix in enough of the lukewarm water to form a soft and slightly sticky dough. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and pliable - usually about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn over so it's coated in oil. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm area.
While the dough is rising prepare the topping.
Deseed the pepper and cut into 2cm chunks. Put into a mixing bowl with 2tbsp olive oil and stir round until coated. Heat a frying pan and chargrill the pepper over a high heat until speckled with dark-brown patches. Put back into the bowl, add the crushed garlic and a little salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes.
When the dough has risen punch down into it to deflate and disperse the gas. Turn the dough onto an oiled baking tray, press and shape into a rough square with your hands. Press your fingers into the dough to make dimples.

Poke fresh rosemary sprigs into these dimples, scatter the tomatoes over and top with the pepper mixture. Leave to rise for a further 20 minutes and turn on your oven to preheat to 220C/425F/gas7.
When risen, drizzle the rest of the olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper and put in the oven.
Bake for 10mins,then reduce the temperature to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and cook for a further 15mins until the edges and base are a good golden brown.
Best served warm and certainly a big hit amongst the staff and customers last night! A lovely soft and tasty bread.
Green Pepper and Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Courgette, Parmesan & Basil Loaf - Bread Challenge No. 5

"Pick a recipe" I shouted to Toby, my partner in crime in the kitchen of The Old Red Lion. Toby scoured the 100 recipe bread book and made several suggestions and I decided that this would be a nice combination flavoured loaf for the customers in the restaurant tonight. Unfortunately, due to the mad, snowy March weather we are experiencing, not many customers got to taste this rustic loaf tonight. Not my favourite flavour so far, I have to admit, but was a nice change to create a loaf without using yeast.

So here goes with the recipe.
225g/8oz self raising white flour
225g/8oz self raising wholemeal flour
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1 1/2 Tsp Mustard Powder
55g/2oz butter,diced.
225g Courgettes, coarsly grated, and patted dry
140g/5oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tbsp Basil
2 eggs, beaten
About 175ml/6oz semi skimmed milk

Pre heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5
Put the flours,salt,pepper,mustard powder in a bowl then lightly rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the courgettes,parmesan and basil then mix in the eggs and milk to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface a knead lightly before shaping into an 8ins round shape (mine you will see was more oval shaped!)

Place on a greased baking sheet and cut 3 slits in the top with a sharp knife. Bake in the oven for 40-50mins or until well risen and deep golden brown.Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Serve warm or cold in slices.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Monkey Bread - The Bread Challenge No. 4

It's a well known fact that we eat with our eyes and when I saw the photo of my next challenge my eyes told me I had to attempt it!
An unusual loaf, with a decorative pattern when sliced, and an added flavour of red leicester cheese and chilli.
I found the recipe in "The Great British Bake Off   How To Bake" recipe book. It's quite an easy challenge, give it a go, the recipe is below.

500g Strong White Bread Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Salt
1 x 7g Fast Action Yeast
50g Unsalted Butter
200ml Lukewarm Milk
1 Large Egg
100g Unsalted butter, melted, for coating

150g Grated Red Leicester
1/4 - 1/2 Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes

First make the dough.
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and yeast and make a well in the centre. Melt the butter and add to lukewarm milk and mix in the egg. Add the liquid to the dry mix and mix together to form a dough. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth, then place in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until double in size.
When risen, "punch" the dough down to release the gas in the dough. Knead for a couple of minutes to evenly distribute the gas then cut the dough into about 60 pieces!

Roll each piece into a rough ball. Add the chilli flakes to the cheese. Dip each ball into the melted butter then cover with the cheese and place in a loaf tin. Pack them in the tin tight. I think my mistake at this stage was not to pack them tight enough.
Pack them in the tin tight.I think my mistake at this stage was to not pack them in tight enough. Cover and leave to rise.

Bake in a hot oven for 20 - 30 minutes.

Monkey Bread
Served best straight from the oven.
There is a sweet alternative to this using cinnamon and chopped walnuts instead of the chilli cheese. Maybe I will attempt that recipe soon!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Olive Bread - The Bread Challenge Number 3

I have never been brave enough to taste an olive before. 'Brave' is probably the wrong word to use but just the look of them put me off and I had the preconception that it would be a bitter, horrible taste.
 Having said that, since working at The Red Lion, I have realised how much of a popular fruit they are. We serve them as a starter on their own or as part of our mediterranean selection starter. Knowing how popular they are when I saw the recipe for olive bread I knew it would be well received amongst the customers at the pub.

So brave I was and tried a green olive and guess what? I liked it!
So today I made the most tasty olive bread and would certainly recommend it. Tastes devine, especially straight from the oven.

Olive Bread

900g/2lb strong white flour
1tsp salt
1 sachet easy-blend dried yeast
3tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
600ml/1 pint warm water
225g/8oz olives, stoned and roughly chopped

1.Place the flour,salt,yeast,sesame seeds and oregano in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the olive oil and water and work together. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth.Put in a bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm to rise double in size, about an hour.
2. When risen, remove from bowl and knead in the olives til evenly distributed. (I had to add a lot more flour at this point as the olives made the dough very wet, though it didnt mention this in this recipe).
3. Form the dough into an oval shape and place on a baking sheet, cover and leave to rise again in a warm place. ( I got cocky at this point and split the dough into 2 loaf tins instead of a baking tray and the bread came out with a soggy bottom! )
4.Brush the top with olive oil and with a sharp knife make 3 slits along the top. Cook in a preheated oven 220C/425F/gas 7 for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 190C/375F/gas 5 for a further 20-25 minutes.
Smells and tastes beautiful straight from the oven
Olive Bread
Update from a customer tonight. Apparently the bread is to die for!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Homemade Pizza - The Bread Challenge No.2

Friday night is pizza night at The Old Red Lion, Litchborough.
 It's quite an original concept, I think, and we make them entirely from scratch, and to order, with several different toppings to choose from.
So this is number 2 of my bread challenge.
Have made the pizza dough twice now. Not quite sure if truely mastered it yet but tastes and looks good when cooked!
Very difficult to roll out as shrinks back each time like elastic. I need to learn to throw it around maybe to stretch it like the professionals!
So here's the recipe for the dough. I think it is a Jamie Oliver recipe but don't quote me on that. I can usually get 6 or 7 large bases from the recipe and have found it freezes well too if you don't use it all.

800g Strong White Bread Flour
1 Tbsp Salt
14g Easy Blend Yeast
1 Tbsp Sugar
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
650ml Lukewarm Water

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the olive oil and water and mix together to form a dough.
Knead the dough.( I find I have to add more flour to dry the dough out). Place in a bowl, cover, and leave to rise somewhere warm.

When you are ready to make your pizza, remove the dough from the bowl. Divide into balls and roll individually. Remember I said it will probably shrink back as you roll? Well I lift it up and stretch it in my hands then place on a baking sheet.

We buy in some lovely homemade tomato sauce which I spread a layer of over the base first. You can use normal ketchup or even tomato puree, your choice.
Now top with your favourites, your choice entirely!
The pizza below has peppers,onion,sweetcorn,choritzo,pepperoni and big handfuls of grated cheddar.
Place in the oven at about 180C for about 15minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

Serve immediately with salad and homemade coleslaw.
Homemade Pizza

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Guinness Loaf for St Patricks Day- The Bread Challenge Part 1

Ok, so when I set myself the bread challenge several days ago it certainly wasn't my intention to take this long to start it but at least I have got off the ball now with my first loaf especially for St Patricks Day!
 Not much to say about this loaf. Now I have the kneading technique sussed, and allow plenty of time for the dough to rise to the maximum, I found it quite easy. Using the brown flour did give the dough a less elasticated feel though and quite rubbery to the touch when kneading but the end result came out great and you can certainly taste the Guinness in each slice of bread.
 250g/9oz Strong White Flour
 250g/9oz Malted Brown Flour
 1 Sachet Easy-Blend Dried Yeast
 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
 300ml/10floz Guinness
 Veg Oil for Brushing

1. Sift both flours into a bowl and stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre.
2. Heat the Guinness very slightly in a microwave til lukewarm. Pour into the well and mix to a soft dough.
3. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth then return to bowl, cover with a wet tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour.
4. Turn out and knead lightly for a couple of minutes. shape into an oval and place in a 2lb oiled loaf tin. Cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
5. Cook in a pre heated oven for 20-30 minutes at 200C/400F/Gas6 then transfer to a wire rack
Guinness Loaf
Happy St Patricks Day.
Let me leave you with my St Patricks Day photo of the church opposite the pub this morning. Snow in March!!!
St. Martins Church, Litchborough

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Bread Challenge

I watched a great dvd the other day, Julie and Julia, which was based on two true stories.
The story involves culinary legend Julia Child, whose cookbook, Mastering The Art of French Cooking, inspired writer Julie Powell to cook her way through the book and achieve 524 recipes in 365 days.
Quite a challenge you will agree and one I would love to attempt myself but know I am better challenged on a smaller scale. So what challenge could I set myself?
As you will know from previous posts I have spent the past month perfecting the art of a crusty white loaf so what better challenge than a bread challenge?
So my aim from today is to achieve 15 or more bread recipes in the next month. I'll set my finishing date as 11th April.
Why not join me and share your experiences in the comments section below each post.

Trip Advisor Great Review

If you are a regular to my blog you will know I have written a post about trip advisor before.
In my previous job, I know, there were a few reviews by friends and enemies which, to me, is really not helpful to people using the website to decide whether to visit the establishment or not.
Constructive criticism is always welcome, and acted on, at The Old Red Lion, Litchborough and this week we were all really chuffed to receive a great view from a customer who ate with us last Wednesday night. I was especially chuffed as I was the chef that night.
What delighted me most was a comment on the Homemade Bread which I have spent weeks perfecting. The customer wrote  "The home-made bread deserves a special mention - good crust and crumb, and perfect seasoning. We are looking forward to a return visit some time soon."
How lovely was that?!
To read the whole review follow this link

And if you would like to attempt your own Homemade Bread my recipe can be found through this link
Be patient and try not to rush the 'rising' process. I now make my dough in the morning and leave until the dough really rises out and over the the tin.
Let me know how you get on.