Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tiger Bread - our version

Le pain a la biere - our version of tiger bread

Tiger bread - a supermarket name for bread made with a rice flour topping that gives a stripey, crunchy finish once baked (Remarkably, Sainsbury's can seemingly sell an 800g for 77p!). 

We came across this bread during our Monday night super club evening at the local youth club in Creswell. Out of interest, we asked the kids what their favourite bread was - the answer for most was tiger bread. They liked the crunchy patterned top and soft white center.

There is a great book called Le Pain l'envers du decor that has the most amazing breads and flavour combinations using a country dough recipe as the basis for chorizo, fig, walnut, apricots, Stilton and many others.

The best 'tiger' toppings we came up with were the beer and rice flour. The key to getting a perfect crunchy topping is to make a thick 'overnight' paste and apply once proved and just before baking. 

For the dough, we made up a white bread (overnight and stored at ambient temperature):
Strong white flour 5000g
Yeast (fresh) 20g
Water +/-2500g
Salt 90g

As long as you use the same ratios as above you can scale down the flour to as little as you like.

For the tiger topping:

Light Rye flour 450g
Beer ('Roaring Meg') 600g
Yeast 15g dried
Salt 15g
Make up to a thick paste - you may require adding more rye flour.

Rice flour 60g
Sesame Oil 1.5 tsp
Sugar 1 tsp
Warm water +/- 65g
Yeast 1.5 tsp dried

If you make your tiger topping overnight then use 1/2 the amount of yeast shown above as it will have longer to ferment. Keep the mixture in the fridge.
paste on thick or dab on to create different patterns

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Hobbs House Signature Loaf

S for Shepherd
Hobbs House bakery in the Cotswolds are fifth generation bakers. Established in 1920 and famous for their expertise in baking, using traditional methods and gaining award winning accolades along the way. However, more recently you may have heard of them as the bakery that produces and sells the most expensive loaf in Britain at £21.00, including presentation box. Despite the highest ticket price for a loaf of bread, they sell around 100 loaves a week from their shops in the Cotswolds villages, and I'm certain they can't all be going to Kate Moss! 

The Hobbs signature loaf is made of Somerset Spelt flour, Cotswolds spring water, Cornish sea salt and the key ingredient; Hobbs 40 year old sourdough, so our recipe is ever so slightly different.

Our version of the Shepherds Loaf:

You can use these baker percentages to work out how large you want to make the loaf and then every ingredient is indexed against the flour. Flour is always 100%. So if you wanted an 800g loaf then you would need the following measures (appreciate there will be water loss during baking):

Doves Farm White Spelt 100% (500g)
Nottinghamshire Water 56% (280g)
Fine sea salt 2% (10g)
White Spelt Sourdough - cultivated over 4 days 20% (100g)

Our Method:

1) Make up dough day/night before
2) Keep out for 2hours to allow yeast to get active before storing overnight in the fridge.
3) Take out chilled dough and scale into 2kilo round loaves. Our shape was more of a large baton.
4) Leave dough to rest for 20 mins at room temp
5) Mould and place into proving baskets to prove for around 4 hours.
6) Bake for 40-45mins on 200-220.

Proving and baking times are dependent on what size loaf you create and how warm the ambient temperature is. Our 2kilo loaf took 45minutes to bake and produced a beautifully caramelised crust with a chewy, tangy, elasticated crumb - perfect for tearing & sharing!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Marathon bake off

I literally spent from 7 to 7 in the kitchen on Saturday baking cakes for my brothers 30th birthday party. I'm not convinced with the time and money I spent that I could actually make a living from this yet, but what the hell I had a great time regardless. Plus, I did feel a certain responsibility to uphold, having enrolled on the school of artisan baking course only 6 months ago - and so the marathon bake off began! I got through 16 bars of chocolate, 8 blocks of butter, 4 dozen eggs, 2 kilos of flour, 1kilo of icing sugar, 4 tubs of cream cheese, tons of sugar, etcetera, etcetera 

The car journey to mums was interesting, I am the worst passenger at the best of times but with the piece de resistance balanced on my knees, I must have been insufferable - thank you darling:-)

Pleased to report all the cakes got eaten, with the last of the chocolate brownies devoured some time around 4am. Just as my visa card and I rest from the weekend antics, I get a text from my brother with a party goer's order for more!...:-0  
lots of cupcakes - large and small with
cream cheese & double chocolate frosting

piece de resistance

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pastry class

Its amazing how you can transfer layers of dough and butter into hundreds of delicious savoury and sweet pastry combinations. 
Its advisable to make the pastry overnight and keep in the fridge. Essentially you are laminating the fat inside the dough and folding either double (book fold) or single to ensure you multiply the layers. The higher fat content of your butter the better, to ensure the layers of puff rise and give you that flaky, crispy pastry. Croissants are basically sweet, yeasted bread rolls with laminations of butter inside to give you a crunchy flaky coating which is soft and light inside.

Croissant recipe
Croissant flour / strong white flour 250g
Sugar 20g
Salt 5g
Yeast (fresh) 10g
Water 125g
Mix above and keep in fridge overnight. When laminating the next day, 400g dough to 150g butter. We gave this 3 single turns every 20 mins and then rested for 1hr.

Puff pastry recipe:
Croissant flour / strong white flour 250g
Salt 5g
Water 125g
Mix above keep in fridge overnight. When laminating the next day use 200g butter. We gave this 3 book turns every 20 mins and then rested for 1hr.

Here are some piccies from this week's pastry class. 
Across the courtyard, the butchery students have been making chorizo, bacon, pate terrine, biltong and pies - let the trading commence !
Pain aux raisin
Matt's apple & custard lattice
Pin wheels with pear & stilton and danish twists with
apple, custard & cinnamon sugar
Croissants and Pain au chocolat with
handmade chocolate batons
Danish with apricot and toasted almonds
Sausage rolls in puff pastry

Monday, 7 March 2011

A visit to Redbournbury Watermill, St Albans

Rebournbury Watermill, St Albans

Now before you think I am a complete mill geek, let me explain.  Having spent the last three weeks in Somerset visiting some amazing food suppliers, producers, farms and farm shops, I was intrigued to know what was available on my doorstep. Surprisingly, it has taken me 20 years to do this, but I guess I was too busy working to take notice of anything else, which is partly why I decided to quit my job and join the School of Artisan Food in the first place.
Anyway, so I decided to visit my local working water mill in St Albans. If you are interested in bread, stone ground flour, milling or general historic events, this place is well worth a visit. It’s a small mill (comparative to Shipton and Sharpham), but it’s absolutely steeped in history. A mix of museum and working mill on 4 floors. I was quite literally stunned by how many old records they have, dating back as far as 1650. In fact there was a mill recorded here in the Domesday Book of 1087, so the original foundations are likely to have dated back as far as this.
Ivy Hawkins, lady miller

For me, the most inspiring thing was reading about Ivy Hawkins, who was the only lady miller in England. Ivy took over the mill from her father in the 1930s and continued to operate in complete solitude up until 1985. This lady must have been extremely strong both mentally and physically, and was likely to have faced extreme challenges. 
On one occasion she apparently slipped and got stuck in the waterwheel for several days until she managed to escape. 

Waterwheel where Ivy got stuck
I wonder during moments like this whether Ivy ever broke down and had a little cry? Her coat and shoes are laid out along with some other personal possessions.  I was fascinated at these and looked a little closer, I smiled, there on the shelf was 3 yards of extra strong strength, boiled knicker elastic, a ¼ inch thick….I couldn’t resist a snapshot!
For when things
really got you down!

Stoneground flour from the mill
I bought every type of flour they made and did some baking at home. The best loaves were the walnut and raisin using mix of rye & white flour and the white loaf I made using fresh yeast with the unbleached white stoneground. I tried the wholemeal spelt to make fruit buns, but they turned out a little rock cakeish due to the heaviness of the wholemeal spelt…better to use white spelt or maybe sieve to lighten it a little. 

Walnut & raisin + white loaf

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sharpham Park - the home of British Spelt....and not a Mulberry bag in sight!

A 300 acre sprawling country estate -
too big to appreciate on this camera!

What do you do after creating one of the biggest brands in British fashion? You buy a 300 acre farm and grow spelt. That’s what Roger Saul did. He was the founder owner of the great British designer label, Mulberry before he turned to farming and bought the countryside surrounding his Somerset home in 2004. 
Outer husk is tough on spelt
the longer left - the higher the
protein content
This week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Pete the miller at Sharpham, who was super passionate about the mill and extremely experienced when it came to the entire milling process from husk to flour. By chance I happened to meet Roger on the way in, although i didn't know it at the time and asked him if he knew where the ladies was! It was a real 'i carried a watermelon' moment. I wonder if he noticed my last, last, last seasons Bayswater:-)
Grain being sieved to remove husk

So, a little about spelt. From what I can sense, there seems to be two distinct parties, those on the latest Alexa bag-slightly bloated-posh-spelt bandwagon and those that are well aware of spelt qualities and have been eating it for years. Apparently, due to the structure of the spelt grain, the high level of protein content is much easier absorbed and so our bodies can digest spelt easier than wheat. Spelt also has a distinct nutty flavour and so makes a great grain for making bread. Whilst spelt maybe a good option for wheat intolerance, those with a true gluten allergy should not eat spelt or wheat as they both contain gluten.

Sharpham park goes full organic circle from grain grown in the acreage surrounding the mill to de-husking, sieving, stone grinding, pearlising within the mill to packaging to grain for the cattle. They are continuing to produce more and more spelt based products, turning the wholegrain flour into refined flour, cereals, brands, flakes, porridge, museli and 'speltotto’ a phrase coined from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, for the pearled grain that makes a great spelt risotto. You can find their spelt flour in Waitrose and range of other spelt products from farm shops across the country http://www.sharphampark.com/

As Easter approaches, I thought I would be nice to share a recipe for spelt fruit buns that I made with Tom at The Chapel in Somerset with the Sharpham Park white spelt flour. Make sure you use the white spelt as this is lighter and better for making these buns.
Spelt Fruit Buns
To make the pre-ferment:
• 400g white  spelt
• 380g warm milk
• 60g fresh yeast
• 80g sugar
To make the dough:
• 400g white spelt
• 180g butter
• 20g salt
• 10g cinnamon
• 10g mixed spice
• 2 eggs
• 600g raisins
  1. Dissolve fresh yeast in warm milk. Then whisk in other pre-ferment ingredients and leave to rest for 30 mins (until puffed up)
  2. Then add all the ingredients for your dough, together with your pre ferment and mix together in a large mixing bowl. You should knead for 5-10 mins or if you have a mixer you can mix for 6mins on slow and then 6mins on fast.
  3. Leave fruit out until end. Mix on SLOW to combine the fruit for a couple of mins. Rest bulk ferment in tub for 30mins.
  4. Scale into 100g rolls. Rest for 30 mins. Bake on trays for 15-20mins at 200.
  5. Keep your eye on them as they can turn quite quickly and as soon as they have a golden colour they are good to go.
  6. Brush with sugar glaze (water and sugar mix) or alternatively you can ice them.
  7. This recipe makes about 20 buns.

With special thanks to Pete Ticknell at Sharpham Park for showing me around the mill and also thanks to Tom at The Chapel for sharing his spelt fruit bun recipe.