Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Bread of leaven

Well good news folks, the laptop is back and *touches wood* almost as a good as new, I have lost nearly all my photos though, so for the first time in my life I'm thankful for Facebook et al... Anyway, as promised, I'd tell you what I've been up to while internet-less.

I stocked up the freezer, with portions of Lentil Ragu and Lifechanging soup. I tackled bread from the leaven my friend Matt had given me. Mabel, the leaven, lives happily in my fridge and is fed on Thursdays - and on the weekends she turns into 2 loaves of lovely malted bread, but more on this later. I should also mention some disastrous fairy cakes (seriously, I've been making them since I was about 7!) which went utterly wrong - the Guides still ate them though, although perhaps that's more reflective on my wonderful, gannety Guides.

I also made a chocolate and banana loaf cake last week - Nigella's banana bread recipe, but with 25g of cocoa and 100g of chocolate chips added. As I found the banana bread to be a little dry last time, I upped to 4 bananas and much preferred the consistency. Can you believe I'm improving on Nigella? Me either!

Right, anyway enough waffling - onto the Bread of Leaven (I thought of it on the way back from our Harvest Festival and I'm secretly very proud!) thanks for this must go to Matt, and http://doughblogs.com/ as it's Matt's leaven and their recipe. The only things you need apart from the leaven are a big kilner jar, and a fridge.

So, if like me, you want to make bread on a Sunday...

On Thursday feed your leaven with 100g of room temperature water and 100g of strong white bread flour. Give it a stir (it looks like wallpaper paste and doesn't smell all that great, but that's all good) and pop it back in the fridge.

On Saturday morning when you get up scrape all of the leaven from the kilner jar into a big mixing bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Leave it alone in the kitchen until Sunday. Clean your kilner jar out at this point (I dishwash it so it's sterile but I'm fussy)

On Sunday hop around excitedly in pink sheep pyjamas and tell the cats that you're going to make bread today. Just me? Oh well...

Now I should say this is where I diverge from http://doughblogs.com/ instructions, I've done 2 rounds of bread now, and haven't had enough leaven at any point for his weights to work so I'm halving everything.

Weigh out 250g of leaven from your bowl into another mixing bowl (if you have the scales that you can put a bowl on and zero the weight, this really helps.) Put the rest of your leaven back in your (now clean) kilner jar and pop back in the fridge.

Add 275g of room temperature water, 300g of strong white flour, and 200g of malted flour - I like Dove's farm Organic flour as I live in London and the likelihood of finding any local flour is miniscule - but if you can then try it! and 1 1/4 tsp salt (the flaky type like Maldon).

Add your dry ingredients to your wet leaven and mix - eventually getting in there with your (clean) hands. Once it's all mixed in, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

Now this is the bit that's a bit labour intensive and annoying, because you only have 10 minutes between each lot of kneading, I tried watching Twilight in 10 minute chunks but that's just annoying, as was trying to read The Time Traveller's Wife (in case you're interested - amazing book - I cried like a baby). Apparently this situation is what Heat magazine was designed for, basically don't try and multi-task or you'll just be halfway through ironing a blouse and end up stuck between two tasks, twirling as you try and work out what to do next. Just me again? Oh.

So after the ten minutes dust your worktop with flour (another change here, you're supposed to oil your worktop, but that doesn't help me at all) and tip the dough out onto it. Using the heel of your hand knead the dough around in a circle by pushing it away from you and then bringing your hand back. Do this for 10 seconds (I know, I was surprised too). Put it back in the bowl and leave for 10 minutes. Do this whole process another 2 times - so 3 in total - resigning yourself that listening to Elaine Page on Sunday is a productive use of your time.

After you've done the kneading section 3 times, leave your dough for half an hour, knead in the same way again and then leave for an hour.

Now, tip your dough onto your scales and weigh it, and either using a sharp knife or a baker's friend split it into two pieces - don't tear it though. Then you pat each into a fairly tight round, pulling the sides out and tucking them over so the dough is stretched out and folded in on itself. Then you fold your dough, over and over on it's self. I do both of these for about 2 tracks of a cd (it was Next to Normal this Sunday just gone which provided nice opportunities for belting, whilst folding).

Then, and this is the odd bit, you pop your dough into either a loaf tin, or leave it free as a round, cover it with cling film or a clean plastic bag and leave it for another three hours. Yes, 3 hours.

After about 2 and a half hours I turn the oven on as hot as it will go, and then at 3 hours turn it down to 225. As I don't have a water sprayer I flick water over the loaves (apparently it helps the crust form, and flicking is almost a technical term) and then put them in the oven. After 15 minutes I turn the oven down to 180 and leave them be for another 45 minutes.

Then you're done. Turn your bread out onto a wire rack to cool - and apparently you must leave it till it's cool as it'll cause horrid indigestion otherwise. I haven't tested this as indigestion and I do not mix.

The bread is lovely for breakfast, or lunch with soup - the flour I'm using gives a chewy, nutty taste which goes gorgeously with emmenthal cheese and the sweetness of lifechanging soup. After a couple of days it also makes amazing toast with butter and honey. Oddly, you need less of it to feel full than of shop bought bread, but eating less doesn't feel like I'm denying myself. However I'm not making any weightloss claims or anything, just that it makes you fuller quicker.

Anyway, if you want some leaven and live close by I'm more than happy to share, I don't know how it would fare in the post though. Oh and pictures... hang on, I'll just see how much is left!


Matt said...

So long as you seal it in a sterilised container and make it as airtight as possible, it's fine to post leaven (it's how I received mine from the Doughman of Doughblogs fame). Best send it first class though ;)

Doughman said...

Ah the doughmans leaven doth flow far and wide. Marvellous.

Jules said...

Bread of leaven, bread of leaven, feed me till I want no more, da, da daaahhhhh ... I really must stop singing when reading your blog.

Glad the bread went well.

A said...

Would you mind bringing me some next Saturday? I'm so intrigued by this, and have gone right off bread recently, but this recipe sounds so delicious.
(it's Elin by the way)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

 photo copyright.jpg
blogger template by envye