The last week has seen the final cooking courses which I have been running with many of the local caterers across St Helena. We have covered a multitude of subjects, some briefly and others iin more detail. Our final course and the favourite for many, was breads and doughs We cooked all day and produced a mountain of breads in all shapes and sizes.
Now there is nothing like the smell and taste of freshly baked bread, I don’t know anyone who isn’t attracted to the aroma, even in British supermarkets where the quality of bread is somewhat questionable to say the least.. However when you speak to people about making bread you tend to get two reactions, either its the “too difficult” school of thought or its the “haven’t got time” one. Bread takes hardly any time at all, its just a case of you managing the dough rather than the other way round! It takes 10 minutes to make the initial dough, about 10 minutes to shape it after its risen and between 10 minutes (for rolls) and 40 minutes (for a loaf) to cook. Now surely we can all manage that!
So on that note, here are a couple of bread recipes which i recommend you try not once but at least twice in order to gauge your accomplishment and to fill your freezer!
I am writing the recipes using a kenwood mixer with dough hook. You can of course make the dough by hand which is far better for you as you get a work out at the same time!
Foccaccia is my favourite bread as it creates a crusty savoury flatbread which goes with barbecue, soup, cheese and anything else savoury. The topping is optional but don’t forget to sprinkle some sea salt on the crust before baking to get a really nice flavour.
Please note that flour varies in its water holding capability so always add about ¾ of the water to the flour and then see whether its sticky or stiff. For Foccaccia you want a dough which is quite wet.
This will make 5 eight inch loaves.
A couple of Tsp dry sage, depends on strength
Fine chop the onion and place in small pan, add sage and enough oil to cover the onion.
Place on a low heat until the onion is clear. DO NOT FRY.
Leave to cool. Topping needs to be same temperature as the dough when using or the dough wont rise properly.
Dough ½ oz dry yeast.
¾ oz salt
1 1/3rd pint water.
2 ½ lb White strong flour
2 Tblsp olive oil
1. Mix yeast & water in jug.
2. Mix flour & salt in mixer bowl.
3. Add most of the water & all the oil to the flour and bind with a spatula. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the water if the mix looks like it is dry
4. When liquid is absorbed turn the speed to high & beat with a dough hook for 3- 4 mins. Check the consistency of the dough; it should be soft but not runny enough to be called a batter.
5. If too runny mix in a handful or two of flour and keep beating.
6. Cover bowl loosely in cling film & leave to rise to the top of the bowl at room temp.
7. Take topping & 5 x 8 to 10 inch cake tins without gaps in the bottom
8. Paint the tins with some of the oil from topping.
9. Once dough has risen place it on a thoroughly floured surface, scraping the bowl with a spatula so not to rip the dough.
10. Divide into 5 with scraper or knife.
11. Form into round shapes by folding the edges into the centre,
12. Place in tins and paint with oil
13. Leave 15- 25 mins to rise.
14. Press down with palm of hand to flatten the bread. Let it start to rise again. By this time there should be distinct bubbles forming in the dough.
15. Once risen again sprinkle on the onion topping and salt on each
16. Bake on top shelf of a VERY HOT oven for 15- 20 mins.
Hot Onion Tart
This yeasted tart dough is a favourite of mine as it keeps in a fridge and can be used for quiches or flat tarts like the one illustrated.
Tart Dough 1 flat TSP dry Yeast
2 to 3-fl oz warm water.
250g flour as needed
½ tsp salt
2 oz soft butter
1. Mix Yeast and Water to dissolve the yeast
2. Mix the soft butter and egg together and use a hand whisk to mix with the yeasted water
3. Place Flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre
4. Stir in the wet ingredients gently and then use your hands to make it into a dough
5. Adjust the texture to a light dough by adding and subtracting liquid and flour
6. Leave to rise once
7. Use or punch it down in the bowl and leave in the fridge until use
Topping 4 finely sliced onions cooked in a pan on low with 4 oz butter
Crème Fraîche or Cream cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooked bacon, cut into matchsticks
1. Roll out dough to tart or pie thickness and flat
2. Place on baking sheet
3. Smear lightly with the cream which has had some seasoning added to it
4. Add onion and cooked bacon bits to cover, similar amount as if it were a pizza,
5. Place in very hot oven for about seven to ten mins. Serve at once
Another option is Rosemary and gorgonzola or Tomato and olive.
Tip of the week: when making breads and doughs, NEVER wash your bowls in hot water as this cooks the bits left and turns them rubbery. Just leave the bowl to soak in cold water and the dough will dissolve off within about half an hour. Also never use a cloth or scourer as they end up totally useless and full of stringy doughy bits.
Articles & Recipes
The articles first appeared in the St Helena Herald in the Autumn of 2011.