Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Picture This...

This 'new-improved' collection of recipes (a few rather than too many) begins today with an interesting savoury bread recipe that can be made by hand, but also has instructions for making the dough in a machine. It looks very particularly good if baked as a 'plait', but could be kept as one oblong 'baguette' shape if you wish - or even bake in a loaf tin..
Read the recipe first before making by hand because the dough needs to rise more times than usual, and you need to be in the house, even if not actually sitting over the dough, to control it.
Blue cheese and Bacon Bread: gives 20 slices
1.2lb (500g) strong white bread flour
14 fl oz (400ml) cold water
1 x 7g sachet instant dried yeast
1 tsp salt
6 oz (175g) lean back bacon, rind removed
3 oz (75g) Stilton (or other blue) cheese
Put a quarter of the flour (125g) into a large bowl and mix in two-thirds of the yeast. Pour over 125ml of the water and mix with hands to a sticky dough. Cover, and leave in a warm place for an hour.
After the dough has risen to a spongy mass, add the remaining flour and yeast to the bowl, add the salt and remaining water, a little at a time, working in with the fingers to make a sticky consistency. You may not need all the water.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and sprinkle over a little flour, then knead well for about five minutes (see below re the kneading process).
Put the dough into a large bowl, cover and leave for an hour until doubled in size. Then, when risen, dry-fry the bacon until crisp, then chop it into small pieces. Sprinkle this on top of the dough along with the crumbled blue cheese (keep it chunky rather than fine crumbs), then work these into the dough, turning and kneading as before (see below) for a further 3 - 5 minutes. Dust with flour if it becomes too sticky.
Place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise up to about a third higher, then turn the dough out onto the table and cut into three equal pieces. Roll each into a long sausage shape (about 20"/50cm) long, dust with flour, then put three side by side. You can either start plaiting at one end, then tuck the ends in under, or - as I prefer to do - start plaiting from the middle, then turn the dough and plait the other end, tucking both ends in under.
Place the dough on a tray lined with baking parchment and leave to rise again for a further hour, then bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for half an hour or until golden. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
kneading process:
When the risen dough has been put onto the table, push down into the dough with the heel of your hand and stretch the dough away from you into a long strip. You should see the dough stretching into strands. Roll the dough back towards you, give a quarter turn, and repeat the stretching, rolling, turning, for the required kneading time, by which time the dough should be smooth and silky.
baking the loaf using a bread-machine:
Add all the ingredients to the pan (in the right order for your machine) except the bacon and Stilton. Set to middle loaf size (usually 750g) and add the Stilton and bacon when the "add additional ingredients" bleeps. Leave to rise up to the second rising stage, then remove dough and continue by cutting, rolling and plaiting, baking it off in the oven, OR leave the dough in the machine for the full cycle to make a whole loaf rather than a plait.
Flapjack Trifle: serves 5
4 oz (100g) porridge oats
1 tsp mixed spice
2 oz (50g) soft light brown sugar
4 oz (100g) butter
4 small eating apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 oz (25g) caster sugar
handful blackberries
1 pint fresh custard
1 x 284ml tub double cream
Mix together the oats, spice and brown sugar. Melt half the butter in a frying pan then stir in the oat mixture, fry for about 5 minutes until lightly toasted and crispy. Tip into a bowl to cool, then melt the remaining butter in the pan, add the apples and fry over medium/high heat turning often, until they begin to colour. Sprinkle over the caster sugar and cook for a couple more minutes until the apples are just softened. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Take a glass serving dish and layer half the apples and not quite half the oats, then repeat (keeping back a few oats for garnish). Scatter over the blackberries, and spoon over the custard. Whip the cream until thick, then spread this on top, finally topping with the remaining oats.