Tag Archives: bread

Dough days-teachers report

The sun streaming through the kitchen window seemed like a good omen as our very first Cook Club guests arrived for a day of kneading, shaping and baking bread.

With ovens turned to the hottest setting the day, we started with a simple olive oil dough to be turned into fougasse and rolls. Amid clouds of flour they then made a loaf with their own choice of flours – wholewheat from our local Burcott mill, rye flour, nuts seeds and dried apricots all came into play.

As neither pupils had made much bread before they loved it all-from the smell and feel of the fresh yeast as we rubbed it into the flour, the changing texture of the dough as it was kneaded and the wonderful aromas that filled the whole house as the bread baked.

We finished the session with an enriched sweet dough which we turned into a cinnamon swirl. Lunch was pissaladiere made with our first simple olive oil dough and then it was all too soon time to go home laden with bags full of breads to share with family and friends. Our next Cook and Dine course is fully booked but there are still places for the next pastry day and our Autumn courses starting in October.

Gorgeous bakes today with @cadogancooks! Take a look at the cookery school www.marycadogan.co.uk

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The answer is pie – Part 1: the crust

In these dark drear days of January the answer is pie
I haven’t made puff pastry since college days, too complicated, too specialist,cba(can’t be arsed) but rough puff is a different matter. So easy to make, so satisfying, so silky to the touch. And a pie topped with home made pastry is a thing to celebrate- and we have much to celebrate at the moment. My step-daughter Zoe gave birth to a plumptious baby girl last week (hurrah) and when asked what she needed from us when we next visit top of the list was food, particularly the kind you can eat one-handed as greedy little Martha needs constant feeding.
So a pie it is. Chicken and leek I reckon. The filling can be scooped up with a fork and the pastry, well if you cook it well it will be crisp enough to be hand-held.
Before you start make sure your butter is nice and cold. Best to weigh it first, then return the weighed portion to the fridge for an hour if time allows. Well chilled butter is less at risk of melting during handling which can be a messy business. Once made, the pastry can be used straight away in pretty much any recipe that calls for puff pastry, or wrap it in cling film and it will keep in the fridge for several days or freeze to use later. So get this made and tomorrow I’ll give you the recipe for the pie.
If you would love a hands-on session I still have a place or two available on my pastry making workshop this spring which will also cover choux and sweet shortcrust. http://www.marycadogan.co.uk/workshops/ The sessions will be held in the light and airy kitchen of my cottage kitchen in the heart of Somerset and will be very relaxed and informal There is also a breadmaking workshop if you’ve always wanted to master a good loaf. Both are full morning sessions with lunch and plenty of good things to take home.

Rough puff pastry

150g chilled butter
200g plain flour
2 tsp lemon juice
About 120ml cold water

1 Cut the butter into fingernail sized pieces. Tip the flour into a mixing bowl and add a little salt. Add the butter and use a round ended knife to evenly distribute it through the flour.img_2510 img_2511
2 Add the lemon juice and water and mix with the knife to soft lumpy dough.img_2512 Add an extra tbsp of water if needed.img_2520 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a square.img_2521
3 Roll the dough out into an oblong about 36cm x 12 cm. Fold the bottom third up and the top third down to form a square. img_2522 img_2524Seal the edges with a rolling pin, img_2527then give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the rolling and folding. Chill for 20 mins.
4 Repeat the rolling and folding twice more(6 times in all), then chill for a further 20 mins.img_2531
Your pastry is now ready to use.

A good loaf

One of the skills I was asked to teach more than anything in the four years of running our cookschool in France was breadmaking. Not fancypants bread, just a good loaf that our guests could make successfully at home with minimum fuss and maximum pleasure. Just going through the processes of mixing, kneading, proving and baking to show how easy it is the make a good loaf was something I never tired of. When we returned to England after our 10 year French adventure I vowed to make bread each week. I have to admit I haven’t stuck to this but I have gradually started to make bread regularly and with a huge sense of satisfaction. We can buy good bread here, notably from the Hobbs House bakery run by the Fabulous Baker boys, but at three quid a loaf it doesn’t come cheap. A big bag of Wessex Mill wholemeal flour costs £1.50 and is enough to make three large loaves, so it really is worth the effort. If you follow my recipe I promise you can’t go far wrong. You can shape the dough however you wish, make rolls or small loaves, or even use it as a pizza base. The little tins I used to make my little loaves were picked up from a flea market but you can buy similar cutely shaped tins from Lakeland.

So reach for a big bowl, follow my recipe and I promise you’ll be in for a treat. You can pick up fresh yeast from bakers or at the bread counter of most larger supermarkets.

Simple bread

Makes one large loaf or 10 rolls

500g strong bread flour. White, brown, granary, spelt, whatever

7g sachet easy blend dried yeast or 10g fresh yeast

2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

300-350ml hand hot water

2 tbsp olive oil or melted butter

1 Tip the flour into a large bowl. If you are using dried yeast stir this into the flour. If using fresh crumble this into the flour and rub it in with your fingertips. Stir in the salt and sugar.

kneading bread loaf

2 To get the water to the right temperature mix one third hot from the kettle to two thirds cold. If you are using white flour 300ml should be enough. For granary or wholewheat flours use 350ml. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water and oil or butter all at once. It’s better to add too much water than not enough as a tight dough will not rise well and you’ll end up with a brick.

3 Mix quickly using a wooden fork or your hands until you have a soft dough. Knead the dough for 5 mins on a lightly floured surface until it feels silky and smooth and no longer sticky. When the dough is ready it will feel springy and elastic.

shaping bread loaves

4 Drizzle a little oil into your mixing bowl(no need to wash), add the dough and turn it over to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with a teatowel and leave to rise for 1 hour, after which time it will have doubled in size and the dough will spring back when you poke it. Heat the oven to 240C/220C fan/Gas 8.

5 Shaping the dough. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

To make a loaf Generously oil a 1kg loaf tin. Press the dough to an oblong the length of the tin and three times the width. Fold it into three and drop into the tin. Leave to rise for 30 mins. Bake for 30-35 mins.

To make a cob Shape into a large ball, put on a floured baking sheet and leave to rise for 30 mins. Slash the top with a sharp knife and bake 30-35 mins

To make rolls divide the dough into 10 equal sized pieces(about 80g each) and shape into balls or drop into well oiled tins shaping as for the large loaf. Put the rolls on a floured baking sheet and leave to rise for 30 mins. Bake 15-20 mins.

When the bread is cooked it will feel hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack and eat within 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Hot cross buns- miles better than chocolate

Yesterday was a good day. My friend Nikki (www.underthelimetree.com) who runs a veggie b and b nearby had an open day in the garden of her hilltop home. We served tea and cake from our vintage eriba caravan while Nikki offered tasters of her wonderful massage skills. There was also tarot readings, art and photography classes to sign up to, pretty Indian scarves and jewellery to buy and best of all the sun shone all day long. I made a range of cakes and biscuits but the best seller of all were my hot cross buns made that morning. I could have made many more as I sold out quickly and the sadness was that I didn’t even get to taste a crumb. So it’s back to the kitchen to produce another batch and this time they will be all mine. I might just share one with my husband Mick as I have discovered a superstition that says sharing will ensure friendship throughout the coming year. As the saying goes ‘Half for you and half for me, between us two shall goodwill be’. Worth a try.
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday so you have a few days to get them made. Because I wanted them to be freshly baked yesterday I mixed and kneaded the dough the day before, then left it to rise for a couple of hours before shaping it into buns and leaving in the fridge overnight. In the morning I left them for another couple of hours on the kitchen table, then piped on the crosses and into the oven they went. The smell wafting through the house as they baked was delicious torture. Here’s my recipe which I promise you will taste a million times better than shop-bought and is sheer pleasure to make- I plan to toast and butter mine for Good Friday brekkie, then maybe another on Saturday and if there are any leftover on Sunday….

Hot cross buns
Makes 12
Dump the whole tray of buns, warm from the oven, onto the centre of the table for everyone to tear off and butter as they will. If you feel a baking urge now they will freeze beautifully and reheat well.
500g strong plain flour
½ tsp salt
85g light muscovado sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp nutmeg
50g butter
7g sachet easy blend yeast
140g mixed dried fruit
300ml half milk, half water
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp golden syrup

1 Mix the flour, salt, sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add the butter, cut into small pieces and rub in with your fingertips. Stir in the yeast and dried fruit. Heat the milk and water mix to lukewarm, then stir into the mixture to make a soft dough.
2 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until it is smooth and no longer sticky. Divide into 12 equal sized pieces and shape each into a small ball. Set in rows,a little apart, over a lightly buttered baking sheet. Cover with oiled polythene(a large food bag is perfect) and leave to rise for 2 hours.
3 Heat the oven to 200C/fan180C/Gas 6. Blend the flour in a small bowl with 2 tbsp cold water to make a smooth paste. Spoon into a small food bag and snip off the corner. Pipe a cross on top of each bun. Bake for 20-25 mins until the buns are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
4 Remove to wire rack. Gently heat the syrup then brush thickly over the buns to serve.

hot cross bunsP1020549