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Archive for the ‘slow food’ Category

sesame crusted bouleJust sharing my latest effort – a boule made with olive oil dough, cornflour wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds. 

I’m starting to get the hang of the all-important “slash” technique.  Note those wonderful gluten strands, result of a slow rise: you won’t get this from a bread machine.

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Yes, you read that right – oak smoked flour from Bacheldre Watermill – and with that great packaging, how could I resist?

Actually it’s oak smoked stoneground strong malted blend flour and as I don’t share the English predilection for malty bits in my bread I thought my first loaf rather ho-hum. The smokiness was enjoyable though, and quite a bit cheaper than setting up a wood-fired oven.

Possible solution: I sifted out those malty bits and fed them to the birds then made a fresh batch of dough, but the resultant loaf was still too worthy, in a knitted oatmeal kind of way, albeit with a crust to stop traffic (literally).

My solution: blend it with regular flour at a 1:5 ratio.  Result: a whiff of wood smoke and wheatiness with an excellent rise.  Better than saving up for a wood-fired oven any day.

£2.85 for 1.5kg from Waitrose

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Mr T reminded me that it’s all very well going on about my fabulous dough discovery but there’s not much point unless I eventually share the secret, so – in good time for summer – here’s a wonderful recipe for:

Olive Oil Dough

(my respectful adaptation of a recipe in
 Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François)
 

  • 650 ml lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dried yeast (or 50g fresh – I buy mine from Carrefour in France, then freeze)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sel gris de Guérande (my favourite, but any coarse salt will do)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1600 ml unbleached all-purpose flour (I don’t know how much this weighs – will get back to you!)
    1. Pour the water into a lidded (not airtight) food container and sprinkle on the yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil.  Give it a swirl to mix.
    2. Add the flour, stir it in with a wooden spoon until it becomes a fairly homogenous mass with no dry bits.
    3. Cover (but do not seal) with the lid and leave it at room temperature approximately 2 hours (until the dough has risen and collapsed).
    4. Either: use immediately, or
    5. refrigerate in its container, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow air circulation, and use over the next 12 days.

    When you wish to bake your bread (this dough is designed for flatbreads [eg focaccia, fougasse, pizza etc.] so don’t expect a high-rise sandwich loaf):

    • oil a medium-sized baking tray or swiss roll tin with olive oil (don’t waste pricey extra virgin here!)
    • with wet or olive-oily hands to stop the dough from sticking, scoop out a handful weighing approximately 500g (but don’t get out your scales unless you enjoy making a mess)
    • form into a ball and then, as the pizza guys do, use its own weight to gently stretch without tearing: when it is too thin to take the strain without holing place it in the centre of your oiled tray and gently ease it towards the sides and corners.  It will relax and expand over the next little while.
    • start heating oven to 200C (or as high as it will go if making pizza)

    Then what you do with it really depends on what you’re after – dimple with your fingers, strew with chopped rosemary and salt then “drizzle” (yikes – did I really say that?) with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil for classic focaccia; make it into a circle and apply pizza toppings, or for something really exciting, check out the method for a Spanish flavoured fougasse in my chorizo & olive bread post.

    Finally, bake your bread for about 20 minutes; because of the oil content you will get a crispy rather than crusty-crunchy crust, and light golden browning.  If you wait until it resembles a loaf it will be overdone, and for pizza keep the dough thin; it will need 10-15 minutes or less cooking time.  Serve warm or cool; today or tomorrow if it lasts that long.

    I was so impressed with this American pair’s basic recipe for artisan bread featured in The Mercury News that I ordered their book via Amazon.co.uk and I’m so glad I did – it’s packed with extra information and lots of recipes for a number of different doughs and their permutations.  In the short time since I acquired it I have been inspired repeatedly – this book is a keeper.

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    Nothing so good as pure old-style, old-school pesto.  Particularly when made in the old-fashioned way, with a mortar and pestle and while sitting outdoors with basil’s best friend – summer sunshine – for company.

    Because the basil leaves are not cut as they would be in a food processor they preserve so much more of their aromatic oils; similarly the garlic eludes its usual sulphurous fate and the pine nuts retain their delightful savoury mealiness.

    And as if that weren’t good enough news, considering the time and hassle it takes to assemble, dissemble, scoop-out-without-wasting, clean and finally put away a food processor, a mortar and pestle is downright quicker, greener, altogether simpler … and infinitely more satisfying.

    I ♥ my mortar & pestle!

    pesto recipe

    • a fistful of pine nuts
    • 3 or 4 or 5 small cloves of wet (young) garlic
    • a large bunch of fresh basil
    • about 50g fresh parmesan (or pecorino romano if you have it)
    • a few slugs of extra virgin olive oil

    Pound the pine nuts and garlic together in your mortar until they form a paste, then strip the basil leaves from their stalks (chop or tie these together and use in a tomato sauce) and add them in small handfuls. Keep pounding and grinding, adding more leaves as they pulverize down.  When all the leaves are used and you have a rough paste, grate in the parmesan and then let down (thin) this now thick compound with olive oil, glug by glug and stirring the while, to your desired consistency.


    Satisfying stirred into linguine or spaghetti: the coarse texture clings to the pasta, providing substance and savour

    Delectable atop a slice of artisan bread – lovely rough consistency
    Decant into a jar and keep in the fridge for a taste of summer, whatever the weather does

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    precious jewels of colour, fragrance and flavour

    It’s so good to see sensible food philosophy gaining credibility; witness the publicity given to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) “The Food We Waste” report published today. I overheard an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning and I see The Independent online has covered it, so let’s hope a few more people are persuaded to boycott the BOGOF, for a start.

    The siren song of buy-one-get-one-free is so seductive you need nerves of steel to resist it, but unless set to buy that many anyway, I have learnt to avoid those deals like the plague and only buy a lot of stuff when the unit price is low.  That way it’s me, not the supermarket, who decides how much I buy, lug home, store, consume – and DON’T throw away!  BOGOFs are rarely the bargain they seem.

    So, marketing managers, how about appealing to a higher sensibility than greed?

     

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    Sunday afternoon in the woodland at the end of the lane.  We were hunting for wild garlic and found an ocean of it nestled in among countless bluebells.  The sun wasn’t shining but as good were circles in the stream from the rain drops.

    We didn’t harvest any of this garlic as the day before had acquired a hearty bunch elsewhere (leaving plenty in situ, natch).  This patch was suffering some kind of blight as the leaves were yellowing and their undersides held tiny circles of orange dust.  Many of the flowers were still in bud so I don’t think they were due to age.  Some leaves were starting to rot, though – I’ll try to visit in a week when they’re all at it, just to take in the glorious stink!

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