Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flour Power

Both chapatis and the soft flour tortillas are very easy to make and cook, both in a similar way, so will be giving recipes for these today as we can probably make use of them as an 'enhancer' to a 'using up what we've got' meal that will probably be gracing our tables every day.

We don't even need to serve a vegetable curry with rice if we have Naan bread or chapatis to eat with it. salads, and the tiniest scraps of meat can be far more enticing when tortillas are used as a 'wrap to hold them together'. Tortillas can be fried (or grilled) until crisp and used for dunking into dips.

Tortillas: makes 10
8 oz (225g) plain white flour
2 oz (50g) lard, diced
1 tsp salt
4 fl oz (120ml) hand-hot water
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and rub in the lard. Pour in the water and mix to a dough. Turn out onto a floured board, knead for 2 - 3 minutes, then wrap in cling-film and chill for an hour.
Divide the dough evenly into 10, forming each piece into a ball, then roll out into as even a circle as possible, about 6"/15cm dia. To cook, heat a DRY frying pan and cook on each side for 2 - 3 minutes, removing each as done and stacking between sheets of baking parchment/greaseproof paper. Wrap in foil to keep warm if using 'fresh'. Wrap in foil to keep soft if using later.

Chapatis: makes 6 - 8
7 oz (200g) wholemeal flour
3 fl oz (75ml) warm water
2 tblsp butter, softened or melted
Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the water then mix together to make a dough. Knead on a lightly floured board for 6 - 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, then replace in bowl, cover and set aside to rest for 15 minutes (no need to chill).
Divide the dough into 6 - 8 equal portion and roll each out thinly (to the thickness of a 50p coin), and using a DRY frying pan, cook one chapati at a time for 30 seconds, then turn and cook on the other side for 1 minutes - bubble then start showing on the surface. Pat down with fish slice, turn again and cook for a final 30 seconds (one minute each side total). Smear the top of each chapati with butter when cooked, and stack together. Wrap in foil and keep warm ready to serve.

Although baking powder is made from both bicarb and c.of.tartar, these are not in the proportions as in the recipe below. As long as we understand there is a scientific reason why bicarb. of soda should be used when cooking with acidic ingredients such as soured milk/yogurt, we realise we should always used the raising agent/s a recipe states:
Soda Bread:
1 lb (450g) plain flour
2 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tsp cream of tartar
1 level tsp salt
1 oz (25g) lard
1 tsp caster sugar (opt)
half pint (300ml) soured milk, buttermilk, or diluted yogurt
Sift together the flour, bicarb, cream of tartar and salt. Rub in the lard using fingertips. When like fine breadcrumbs add sugar (if using). Make a well in the centre, pour in the chosen liquid, and using a round-bladed knife, stir together to form a soft dough. Add more liquid if necessary.
Turn dough onto a floured surface, knead lightly then form into a round (about width of a hand span), then place on a floured baking tray. Flatten the dough slightly, mark the top by slashing (not too deeply) across in both directions (top to bottom, side to side) , then bake in centre of oven at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Best eaten freshly made as this goes stale quite rapidly, although makes pretty decent toast the following day.

Although most of us prefer to eat a richer sponge, there might be a time when we wish to cut down on the fats we eat, or make what we have go further so am giving a recipe for a fat-less sponge cake - this quite often used for making Swiss Rolls where we can include 'fat' if we wish by spreading the cake with cream (and jam) before it is rolled up. Fat-less sponge cake is very good to use when making trifle, so any trimmings should always be saved for this purpose (freeze them).

The sponge cake below comes under the heading of a 'whisked cake', where their texture is dependent on incorporating the eggs and flour in the right way. Mixtures such as these should always be baked immediately after making.
Normally, the eggs and sugar are placed in a bowl that is standing over a saucepan containing simmering water, this allowing them to warm up and after being beaten for some minutes, this should leave a trail in the surface when the beaters are lifted, When using balloon or rotary hand whisks, the bowl should always be heated. With an electric whisk not so important, but myself prefer to still keep the bowl warm over water as it speeds up the process. Never let the mixture become too warm or the cake will be tough.
Sifting the flour is a very important part of the process. Never mind in the flour bought is already 'sifted' (it will have settled in the bag anyway). Sift twice or even thrice with the salt before making the cake, the last time over the whisked eggs, then carefully fold in without losing the air trapped in the eggs.

Fatless Sponge:
3 oz (75g) plain flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
3 oz (75g) caster sugar
Place a deep mixing bowl over a pan of hot water, and into this break the eggs and start whisking, slowly adding the sugar. Continue whisking until the mixture is very pale in colour and thick enough to leave a trail when the beaters are lifted. Carefully fold in the sifted flour and salt using a metal spoon and using a figure of eight movement.
Divide mixture between two greased and floured (base-lined if you wish) 7" sandwich tins, putting any scrapings from the sides of the bowl around the edge (NOT in the middle). Bake at 190C, 375F, gas 5 for 15 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch.
Ease the cakes away from the side of the tin, turn out, peel off paper (if using) and place on a cake airer to cool. Then sandwich together with whipped cream and jam. Dust top of cake with icing sugar. Keep chilled until serving.

Swiss Roll:
Same ingredients and whisking as above, but this time fold half the sifted flour into the whisked eggs and sugar, before folding in the final flour then folding in one tablespoon of hot water. This helps the mixture spread more evenly over the greased and lined base of a Swiss Roll tin.
Bake at 210C, 425F, gas 7 for 10 minutes until well risen and golden. While baking, prepare a sheet of baking parchment by sifting over caster sugar, then - when the cake is baked - turn this out immediately onto the sugared paper, remove paper and trim away the crisp edges. Spread with jam and roll up from the short side, firmly at the start, then slightly looser. Place on a wire rack with join on the underside and cover with a clean cloth to allow to cool.
If wishing to fill with whipped cream, turn out onto plain parchment (no sugar), but leave the lining paper still in place, then roll the sponge round this whilst still warm. When cold, carefully unwrap then spread with cream and jam, and roll up again. Dust with icing or caster sugar when ready to serve.