Tag: bread

everyday bread


Inspired by A Girl Called Jack’s recipe, I make a loaf of this most weekends. It keeps well, makes lovely toast, and never goes wrong. But I have tweaked it a bit. so here’s my version.

250g wholemeal flour
400g plain flour – or strong white flour, or even a mix of the two
7g packet dried fast action yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
400ml warm water (*not too hot*)

You can jazz this up with, e.g., fennel or pumpkin seeds if you like.

Put the flours into a large mixing bowl (or you can use a mixer with a dough hook, but it’s not as much fun), and add the yeast, sugar and salt. And the optional seeds.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the water. Too hot will kill the yeast. And if you want to prove the bread overnight, you can use cold water. Stir it all in gently, then tip it on to a clean, floured worktop and start kneading. Plenty of tutorials on YouTube if you don’t know how. It’ll knead^H^H need about five minutes or so of working.  Take a tiny piece of dough, stretch it and hold it up to the window – if you can see through it, it’s ready!

Pop into a clean bowl (you can grease it if you like, but I often forget), cover with clingfilm, and leave to rise for a couple of hours, or even overnight. When it’s about doubled in size, tip it out, knock it back, and form it into something loaf-shaped – I generally do a sort of sausage because it’s easier to slice, but it can be round if you prefer. Put it on a baking sheet, floured if you’re very confident of its non-stickness, or greased if not, make a couple of deep slashes in the top, and sprinkle some flour over the top.

I usually leave it another 40 minutes or so before baking for about 50 minutes at Gas4/180C – preheat the oven, of course! It it’ll be done if it sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom.

Then wait for it to cool before eating – that’s the difficult part.

oat and molasses bread


Left with the rest of the jar of molasses that Real Foods kindly sent me to try, I decided to give this recipe a go. It meant I had to dig my American cup measures out for the first time in ages, and if I want to make it again, I’l translate the recipe into metric measures.

I used all the 350g of flour – about 2 parts strong white, 1 part wholemeal and 1 part rye. And I wrestled a bit with the molasses as it is, by its very nature, extremely sticky. So it stuck to the spoons I used to get it out of the jar, and it stuck to the cup measure, and it stuck to the spoons again. And the dough was, as you might have anticipated, exceeding sticky too.

molasses and oat bread in progress

When I put it to do its first rise, I thought that it wasn’t going to do anything much, but I put the bowl on a sunny windowsill, and it looked as though it was ready to invade Poland after a couple of hours (comparatively speaking). And knocking it back made me all sticky again (I did the first mix in the KitchenAid with the dough hook).

But it rose and made a lovely loaf. Bit like a soft pumpernickel. Very sweet, though.

Note to self (and you, should you give it a try); flouring the baking tray wasn’t enough; next time I’ll use baking parchment.

This was one of the things I made on a busy baking Sunday (no point in wasting a hot oven!); more to follow.

making good use …

Guinness soda bread

We held a small gathering here the other night, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. We cooked up a slow cooker’s worth of lemony chicken and coriander, and  a big pot of dhal to accompany it, and also for the vegans/veggies in the throng. We also served (bought) chapatis.

That recipe, incidentally, is a base – we use a lot more garlic, chillis and spices than that, and I’ve discovered that if you just sling the chicken in the slow cooker without browning it, it still works beautifully, and you save a lot of time and effort, and a lot of oil too! Makes it a very low calorie dish. Anyway, I digress.

I also made a chocolate, ginger and guinness bundt cake, which left most of a bottle of stout left over.

So this morning, I tipped the remainder of the coriander chicken sauce into the stock pot, added a few carrots, a courgette and an onion which had been minced in the Magimix, and two mugfuls of red lentils, and a nice pot of spicy soup is now bubbling away for lunch. To go with it, I used (most of) the rest of the stout to make a Guinness soda bread loaf, which is now baking in the Remoska.

Sadly, Pete declined to drink the rest of the stout – it was two days old, I know, but still. I poured it down the sink.

rough brown bread

rough brown bread

This is yet another Irish soda bread recipe, and the one I make most often. It’s very forgiving of ingredients and mix, but here’s how I did it today. If you have milk or cream that’s gone over, use that. Or yoghurt is fine too (plain, not fruit, obviously, unless you like weird flavoured bread!).

The flour mix is up to you, but more brown than white works best, and sometimes I add some pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

350g wholemeal flour (I accidentally used brown today, but it’ll b e fine)
125g strong white flour
100g porage oats
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder.

Mix the above ingredients together. I use a food mixer, sometimes with the dough hook, sometimes with the beater. Either is fine. Then add:

1 large egg
1 tbsp olive oil
280ml of buttermilk or equivalent (see above)

I don’t bother mixing these together, I just bung them all into the dry ingredients. And I couldn’t really tell you if 280ml is the right amount, because I’ve been making soda bread since I was a girl, and I don’t measure the liquid. You want a mix that is stiff, and add the liquid *slowly*, because it can turn all of a sudden into a gloopy mess that sticks to everything.

On a floured surface, shape it into a ball, and cut a cross into the top. My Irish grandma always said it was to keep the devil out, but she was a devout Roman Catholic, so who know …

Bake at 200C for 10 minutes, then 190C for 30 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. I do mine in the Remoska for about 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. I can tell you that this bread makes gorgeous toast.

Serves 6

calories carbs fat protein
Per Serving: 413 67 9 15
total 2476 404 51 88

unexpected crab sandwiches

A few weeks ago, Nigel Slater made a soda bread loaf, which he cooked in a cast iron casserole. We make lots of soda bread here, and it seemed like a good idea, so I gave it a try; but it was hopeless – you couldn’t turn it out to see if it was done, so I decided to just carry on using a baking tray as before.

On Saturday, I decided to bake a couple of Guinness soda breads; I scaled up the recipe carefully, but something went wrong, and even after adding a bit more flour, the mix felt very wet, so I bunged it in my huge and ancient Le Creuset and baked it in that.

Calamity – the inside was raw. Still we carved the ends of for Saturday night supper of bread, cheese and apple, and planned to surgically remove the remaining decent bits for toast for Sunday breakfast. However, the discovery of half a bag of cranberries in the fridge led to an outburst of fresh cranberry muffins instead, meaning the bread was left for Sunday supper.

Just as well, really. I opened a tin of tuna for the Tribe as a treat, only to discover once it was de-lidded that it was in fact crab; no idea what it was doing on the cat fud shelf.  Far too nice to give to the cats, we located the errant tuna and gave them that (it lasted about 3m 20s, I think), and put the crab in the fridge.

Then last evening, I mixed in some mayo, some lemon juice and some paprika with the crab, and we had it on the soda bread. It was really very nice indeed, not least because it was so unexpected.

Guinness soda bread

I saw this – with apple and cheese – on a Hugh Fearnley-Eatsisall programme a couple of weeks ago, and was so intrigued that I bought a couple of bottles of Guinness to try it. The second was destined for a beef stew, but more on that story later.

We eat a lot of soda bread – it’s quick and easy, and my Irish blood just loves it. Having eaten a mega fry-up for brunch yesterday, we didn’t want much for supper, so I thought I’d give it a go.

We decided that we certainly didn’t want the apple in it, and as we’d had cheese scones (with pigs in blankets) for Saturday supper, we didn’t want another cheese bread. So I winged it a bit thus.

200g strong white flour
250g wholemeal flour
50g oats
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
250ml yogurt and milk (about 4 parts to 1)
250ml Guinness (Pete obligingly drank the rest of the bottle)
About 1 tbsp sunflower oil

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the centre. Mix together yogurt/milk/Guinness/oil, pour into the well. Use your hands to mix together, turn out on to a floured surface, and knead as little as possible, until you can form a ball.

Put it on a baking sheet, bake at gas 8 for 35 minutes (which was just a couple of minutes too long in my oven).

I always, out of habit, leave my soda bread to rise, and this one had about an hour.

Readers, it was sublime. We had it with cheese and apple for supper (brie for me, strong cheddar for Pete), and it made gorgeous toast for lunch today. I’ll be doing that again.

The original recipe is here, should you wish to try the cheese and apple version.


We eat a lot of Indian food, which means we eat a lot of rice. And sometimes I just want a change. So we decided to have a bash at some Indian bread last night.

Mixed 250g wholemeal flour, 4 tbsp of gram (chickpea) flour, 1 tsp of salt, and a good pinch of bicarb.  Added 1 tsp of fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, ground, and 2 tbsp of veg oil, then about 250ml of water to make a dough.  I also have half a bag of spinach, so I finely chopped about 100g of that and bunged it in as well.

It made a very sticky dough, which was really quite hard to work. You’re supposed to roll them out to a 10cm round, brush with oil, fold in half, brush with oil again, then fold in half twice more so you have a triangular sort of affair.  Then roll them again until they’re 15cm across.  This bit didn’t go all that well, but Pete fried them in our cast iron flat pan and they were very tasty. I think I’d add a chopped chili next time.

We had them with an aubergine and potato stew; the mix made enough dough for 12 parathas, so we ate 3 last night, put enough for 6 in the freezer, and will eat the other three for lunch tomorrow, with the rest of the stew (boosted with some chickpeas, which are soaking now, and the last of the spinach).

bread in 5 minutes a day

I read about this book on a friend’s Facebook at the weekend, and a trundle round Google brought forth a recipe, which is here.

It seemed too good to be true, and as I was in possession of bread flour and yeast, and a set of American cup measures, I thought I’d give it a go this morning.

I mixed the dough in the food mixer, using a dough hook, and set it to rise in a small fermenting bucket that I usually use for winemaking.  It took about ten minutes to do that phase, and when I went back to look at it in a couple of hours, it had risen beautifully.

I followed the rest of the instructions, except for the bit about pizza paddles and stones – I just bunged it on a baking tray dusted with flour, but it did stick a bit, so I’ll line it with parchment or some such next time.

But bugger me – it worked.  It made a lovely loaf, although it was a little too salty for our tastes.  Still, that can be adjusted, and I’m about to buy the book. The idea of having dough available all the time (it can be frozen too) is just too good to pass up!


duck soup

photo by Eberman @ Flickr
photo by Eberman @ Flickr

I boiled up the duck carcass – Pete was a hero and stripped it down afterwards; it’s a job I hate. A surprising amount of meat came off it.  And there was, of course, a lot of duck stock.

I had deliberately cooked extra veg with the duck on Monday (carrot and leek in vegetable bouillon, since you ask) and had saved that in a box in the fridge.  I put that, the rest of the fresh carrots (they needed using up) and a leek in the Magimix and whizzed them up.  I sautéd this veg mix gently in my big soup pot for about 15 minutes, then poured the stock on top and left it overnight.  I added a little of the remaining duck meat, shredded very fine.

Put some butter beans to soak in water overnight, and then put them in the stock pot this morning, set it over a very low light, and it was ready for lunch.

rye bread, finished articleWe had it with some rye bread, which was utterly gorgeous. Just as well, as the stuff took three days to make … (not full time, obviously, but toing and froing with starters and stuff).

the last slice

We fancied toast for lunch today, for a change, so we hauled the sliced white out of the freezer.

Pete removed the bread from its wrapped, pulled off four slices, and was about to throw the last two, rather squashed ones, into the compost bowl.  Bad, bad, bad.

Stale bread can be turned into breadcrumbs using a food processor or liquidiser, then frozen.  Great for gratin topping on veg or whatever – don’t waste it!