Friday, October 05, 2007

No Trouble Kneaded Bread

Since writing a recipe for No Need to Knead Bread I have been experimenting with making real, kneaded bread, with the least possible work or trouble. I do not believe that the following recipe could be simpler. And out of it you will obtain three loaves for well below the price of a bought one, and without the cost of a bread-making machine and the electricity needed to make it work. The resultant bread will have a slight feel of cake about it.


You will need:
1 ½ kilo packet of strong white bread flour.
Turmeric (optional for colour)
Dried yeast
3 non-stick bread tins.

In a large bowl put the flour with a little salt and a pinch or two of turmeric (for a pleasant colour in the finished bread).
Now, in a half pint measuring beaker, put hot water in which to dissolve a scant teaspoon of honey. Then add a heaped teaspoon of dried yeast. Stir it all together.
Top up the beaker with hot water and place it on top of the flour in the bowl. Scoop up some of the flour to cover the liquid in the beaker.
Place the bowl and beaker in a warm place. An under-floor-heated surface is ideal.
When the flour surface in the beaker is bubbling, and with the yeasty liquid overflowing, stir the entire contents of the beaker into the flour.
You will now have to add two beakers full of hot water, being very careful as you get to the end of the final one, as having stirred in the liquid so far and obtained a slightly dry-to-sticky mass of a ball, it is easy to overdo the liquid and form a gooey mass (which is quite unsuitable).
Now take the ball of dough out of the bowl with your hands, and scrape the bowl with a spatula to add any bits clinging to the sides. Now knead the ball on a flat, dry, clean, unfloured surface. Too firm a dough will result in poor rising and rather solid bread. Too plastic a mixture may overflow the tins when rising. Aim for pleasing elasticity.
The kneading process is done with the balls of your hands pushing into the dough and away from you. As you do it, the dough will become sausage shaped. Fold in the ends to form a rough ball again, and repeat the process. Continue kneading until the ball (which will become drier as you work on it) looks well blended. I do it for about three to four minutes. It takes a little muscle power, but is a most satisfactory process to be involved in.
Form the kneaded dough into a round ball and, with the point of a sharp knife, mark it into three equal sections. Now cut the sections apart and place each in a non-stick bread tin.
Stretch out the rather elastic dough to cover the base of the tin. And then, with the said sharp knife, score across the surface of the dough a few times. Return the tins to the selected warm place.
When the dough has risen to the state when it looks as if it might overflow the three tins, put them into an oven that you have previously heated to its maximum.
Give them half an hour at full heat and another half an hour at medium to low heat.
Tip out the loaves onto a wire mesh rack and allow them to cool.
Eat right away, or freeze them in sealed plastic bags until wanted.

P.S. At the time of stirring in warm water to make the dough, I have been adding olive oil. I think that the loaves have been even better.

Leeks Vinaigrette

It was in Paris, in the Marais district, and chose leeks as the hors d’oeuvre. They were so tender that they melted in the mouth. How was it done? I made a guess, and have since altered my ideas. Here is a pretty good way to serve them.


You will need:
Vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, dry mustard, salt, pepper and icing sugar)

Buy clean white leeks – ones that will not need a wash to extract soil or dirt – the younger and smaller the better.
Top and tail them and cook them in water in a pressure cooker for 35 minutes – or much longer if using a saucepan. Or you can steam them for 45 minutes.
Retaining the cooking water for soup, lift them out and place them between two plates or serving dishes of the same design and squeeze them until nearly all of the moisture has gone from them. The drained water may also be used for part of a soup.
Place the flattened leeks on serving plates and coat them with a strong vinaigrette.
Decorate with milled pepper, a sprinkling of paprika or a mint or sage leaf or two.
Another possibility is to cut up the leeks after they have been pressed. Put the bits in a serving dish and cover with vinaigrette. Decorate as you please.