This recipe was an attempt to redeem myself after my collapsing bread disaster; with no kneading apparently required and a very slow overnight rise I thought I would give it a go. The idea came from my very cool copy of Ideas in Food but is based on one from the BBC Good Food website.
I was a bit sceptical as to whether it would rise, be really heavy or taste like brioche. I have to say I was quite impressed, after peering at the dough nervously all evening as it didn’t seem to be “doing anything”, but the texture of the dough in the morning was much more elastic than I expected, and the buns did rise nicely.
They aren’t the same as a more traditional brioche, but then I did half the recipe I’m posting as there are only two of us which made it a bit more fiddly (1 1/2 eggs is tricky to measure out, although you can keep the remainder to brush the tops with in the morning) but I would make it again as it was a lovely, super quick treat.
- 200g butter , very soft
- 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs , plus 1 beaten for glazing the next day
- 500g strong white bread flour
- ½ tsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 200ml whole milk
Mix the butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl – they’ll look a mess rather than coming together nicely.
Add the flour, yeast and salt and pour on the milk. Stir the mixture to make a sticky dough (use you hands if you prefer), cover the bowl and leave somewhere cool for the whole day or overnight.
Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Butter a 12-hole muffin or bun tin. Pull off lumps of dough the size of a clementine (flour your hands if it’s sticky) and form into a ball.
Drop into one of the holes and repeat. Brush the tops with egg and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
Since my fab bread masterclass with Warings I’ve been honing my kneading skills and playing around with different recipes. Recently I picked up some lovely local-ish apple and cinnamon bread mix from the Wessex Mill, down the road in Wantage. I’ve never used a bread mix before and the instructions on the packet were designed for the bread maker but said it could be made by hand without altering any of the amounts so off I went.
Following the instructions on the packet I mixed the ingredients together with 320ml of warm water and kneaded for about 8-10 minutes. At first I was a little worried that the dough would be too wet, the packet says that if the loaf collapses in the bread maker and to use less water if this is the case, so I was concerned; but the dough came together nicely as you can see.
I left it to prove until it had doubled in size, knocked it back and the left it to rise again in a greased round tin.
As the packed didn’t have any baking instructions (assuming you know or are using a bread maker) so I used my Waring’s instruction sheets and gave it about 25 minutes at 200° ( or until it sounds hollow when tapped which I will admit is a concept I still don’t fully understand). I was pretty pleased with the results.
I even managed to slash the top properly, the structure of the loaf was pretty good too, by my standards anyway.
It rose very well and wasn’t overly cinnamoney (sic) or sweet, I did add sugar which was optional in the recipe and whilst I’m not sure it would work with savory foods it was a lovely breakfast loaf with butter, honey or jam. I must confess I’m still enjoying making bread by hand when I have the chance, it’s a little bit magical which is a good job as I’ve got to loaves worth of this flour left in the cupboard!
I’m a fan of Soda Bread, some people aren’t. A bakery in Windsor once refused to sell me a loaf on the grounds that the assistant “didn’t understand why so many people liked it”. I think fresh soda bread is a thing of beauty and it is one of the first things I cooked with my Mum who developed a taste for it living in Norther Ireland. Soda bread also has the advantage of being blinkin’ easy to make and quick to bake. This recipe uses half spelt flour which I picked up at Y Felin in St Dogmaels while I was away, and half white flour. It’s lovely stoneground organic flour and I got a tour of the mill with the miller himself so I hope it does the flour justice.
Makes 1 large loaf.
280g Spelt flour
280g white bread flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Pinch of sea salt
400ml buttermilk or 400ml milk with juice of half a lemon added.
Pre heat oven to 230°. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the egg to the butter milk and whisk until combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the buttermilk mixture, quickly combining into a rough dough, don’t hang around with this bit speed is of the essence. Shape the dough into a rough ball and place on a baking sheet. Cut a cross in the top to help it rise and quickly place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes at 230°. Then turn the oven down to 200° and bake for a further 20 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when the base is tapped.
The end result should be a well risen loaf with a firm crust that is still soft inside. Soda bread is best eaten fresh, preferably with a little salted butter but, wrapped in a tea towel and kept cool this loaf kept well for a couple of days. Think you can’t make bread? Go on try this.