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Seed bread June 17, 2013

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Bread.

Technically, I guess this isn’t bread. It has no flour and no yeast – just a lot of seeds with some stuff to hold it together. You may have seen the recipe already as it has been doing the rounds – I am not sure it qualifies as life-changing, or possesses all of the beneficial health qualities stated in the recipe, but I was intrigued and curious about trying a loaf which was a loaf – but not bread.

It was easy enough to put together – I started by measuring out all the seeds and nuts directly into the loaf tin.

The strangest ingredient to me was the psyllium seed husks, which is the ingredient which binds everything together in lieu of actual flour or gluten. The first time I made this, I mixed in the psyllium husks with the dry ingredients, and then added the water plus a bit of oil. However, in subsequent cooking, I’ve mixed the psyllium in with the water/oil mixture and then stirred the whole lot into the nuts. This seemed to allow the psyllium to be better spread throughout the mixture and therefore bind everything together evenly.

Then it was just a matter of waiting. I erred on the side of caution and left it for about 4 hours, until it had firmed up and was well combined. I cooked it for 20 minutes in the tin, then removed it from the tin and cooked it for another 30 minutes, until it was golden and toasty.

As you see, the loaf bulged a bit to fit the silicone tin I used – maybe I used too many seeds. If you are going to make this loaf, one tip I will pass on is to wait until it is completely cool before slicing it – otherwise it is rather crumbly.

Once it is cool enough – slice away! It is delicious freshly sliced and also fantastic toasted – it has a great texture and taste.

I admit I haven’t been doing anything exciting with this loaf except for cut slices and spread avocado on it. This recipe is definitely flexible enough to change out the seeds or the amounts of each type.

I don’t think this is quite a substitute for my weekly loaf of bread, but it certainly is a lovely change from time to time.

Sweet and savoury scrolls December 2, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Bread, Sweet things.
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I am a big fan of various types of pastry scrolls and have been meaning to make some for a while. Finally, I got my act together and decided to make a big batch of scrolls. Because I was doing such a large batch, I decided to make half sweet and half savoury.

I started by mixing up the dough; I followed this recipe but omitted the sugar. I left it to rise and got on with making the fillings. For the savoury filling, I chopped up red onion, bacon and kale and mixed them together. For the sweet filling, I combined lemon juice, sugar, diced pear, raspberries and cinnamon.

Sweet and savoury fillings for the scrolls

After the dough had risen, I divided it in two and started rolling each piece out. I aimed for a rough rectangular shape, and rolled it out quite thin. I started with the savoury one, and first brushed some almost melted butter over the dough. I then spread the savoury mixture over the dough, and scattered on a layer of parmesan cheese.

Savoury dough with filling before rolling up

Once I’d spread everything out, I rolled it up lengthways, and stuck the dough seam down with a bit more butter. I started by using a butterknife to chop the roll into sections, but found that the butterknife was pressing down on the dough and squashing all the layers together. So I switched to a very sharp knife and slowly cut through the layers  – this seemed to work better.

I placed the rolls in a tin I’d prepared with some oil spray, making sure they didn’t touch each other. I left these to rise again while I prepared the sweet rolls.

Savoury scorolls ready for second rise

I left them to rise until they’d doubled in size, about 1 hour. By this time they’d all spread enough so they were squashed together – here’ a photo of the sweet scrolls after they’d risen the second time.

Sweet scrolls after their second rise

Then it was time to bake! While the recipe said the scrolls would be done after 25 minutes, it actually took about 35-40 minutes until they were cooked and nicely brown.

Savoury scrolls ready to eat

While I ended up with lots of scrolls to eat, this did not seem to be a problem! I did prefer the savoury scrolls but also enjoyed the sweet ones. The savoury ones were salty and a little sharp from the parmesan, and the onion flavour had permeated throughout the dough. This was offset by the kale, some of which had become crispy during the cooking process. The sweet ones were not too sweet and instead the lemon and cinnamon came through strongly.

I really do enjoy these types of doughs so will be sure to make more in the future. I was just sorry I had not made them before now.

Cracked wheat bread May 28, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Bread.

In my recent bread making experiments, I reflected on how my bread parameters are probably broader than Nero Wolfe’s. He famously will not eat any bread unless it is cooked by Fritz, and therefore cannot enjoy spelt, or pink beetroot bread – or this cracked wheat bread. After getting some cracked wheat just to eat, I was curious after seeing it in bread recipes. I followed this one, and for my first loaf, halved the recipe so I ended up with one loaf instead of two.

To prepare the cracked wheat, I didn’t bother boiling it like the recipe said – instead I just poured boiling water over it and let it absorb the water. I also started the yeast in some warm water, to get it activated. After about 10 or 15 minutes, the wheat had cooked and cooled, and the yeast was ready to use.

I added flour, butter, salt, milk, honey, replacing the molasses called for in the recipe with golden syrup. I mixed it together, adding more flour until I had a soft dough. I left this to rise for about an hour.

After about an hour, the dough had doubled in size. I punched it down and placed it in my snazzy new bread tin to rise again. Here it is before I put it in the oven – I should note that I let it rise for only about another hour – I was impatient and running late, and figured it would be enough. In retrospect, I should have let it rise more. Here it is before I put it in the oven.

It took about 40 minutes to cook at about 200 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately it didn’t rise as much as I was hoping, and it definitely could have done with more proofing before the cooking.

Still, it looked quite inviting. So inviting, in fact, that I ate a slice right away without taking any photos of the sliced bread. And then, I ate another, and another. I really enjoyed this bread! The honey and golden syrup made it sweet, but this was tempered by the nutty flavour of the cracked wheat. While it was sweet when eaten on its own, it was also great as a base for savoury foods – it seemed to make the savoury foods more savoury, with their flavours becoming stronger.

I did feel a little guilty about not taking any photos, but really, I just wanted an excuse to make this bread again. This time I made two loaves, and I’m still not sure they are enough.

Again I probably didn’t let it prove enough but one day I’ll be patient enough to let it rise properly before cooking. In the meantime I can only hope that if Nero Wolfe had tried this bread, it may have made him more open to other types of bread and maybe even made it a regular feature for Fritz to make.

Spelt rolls May 13, 2012

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Bread.
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Recently I’ve been experimenting with making different types of breads with a variety of different flours. I’d been meaning to try some spelt flour for quite a while and finally got around to actually baking with it.

I started by making some spelt rolls, before I attempted a sourdough spelt loaf. I used a mixture of half spelt flour, half (normal) bread flour, and added yeast, salt and water.

After the first rise, which took about an hour and a half, I punched it down and formed it into rolls. After I’d formed the rolls, I made some cuts into them to form a pinwheel shape.

I left them rest and rise again, before baking them for about 30 minutes. One of the exciting things about our new house is that it has an Outside, so I thought it was a good opportunity to display the rolls in a suitable picturesque setting.

I found the spelt rolls suprisingly light – for some reason I was expecting quite dense things. I found in general that the spelt behaved differently than the normal flours I was used to working with – in particular, the way it absorbed water seemed a bit different. At first it seemed that there was too much water for the flour, but over a few minutes the spelt seemed to absorb it all fine – it just took longer than usual.

The spelt had a distinctive flavour and smell – I found it more savoury and somewhat nutty compared to regular flours. This, compared to its lack of denseness meant I enjoyed the rolls very much, and will certainly be incorporating spelt into my regular bread baking.

Pretty in pink: beetroot bread August 21, 2011

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Bread, Vegetables.

One thing I’m fascinated by is the history of food. How did people discover what was edible, and what wasn’t? And what about things that require a lot of preparation to make them edible? I really enjoy reading old cookbooks and imagining making all those recipes. This is why I love blogs like The Old Foodie, where nuggets of food history are served up daily.

When I saw the post about beetroot bread, I decided I had to give it a go. I wanted to see if substituting half the flour with beetroot would actually work – but I must admit I was more excited about the idea of ending up with pink bread. To start with, I weighed and then cut a beetroot into chunks, and boiled it until it was soft.

I ensured it was quite soft, before mashing it very well – “just as turnips are mashed for table”.

I had previously prepared Fitzwilliam, my sourdough starter, to form a sponge I could use for the bread. I mixed the sponge together with the beetroot and equal amount of flour. I admit I added some extra yeast, instead of just relying on the yeast in the sourdough sponge, because I wasn’t confident that the bread would rise sufficiently.

I kneaded everything together and was very happy to see how pink the dough was! It was studded with some of the pieces of the beetroot that I hadn’t mashed small enough. I found I had to add a bit more flour (and some seeds) so ended up with slightly more flour than beetroot, as the mixture was very wet.

I was pleased to see the dough rising – I had not made a large quantity, but enough to fill a loaf tin. I shaped it for its second rise – here’s what it looked like before baking.

It took about 30 minutes to cook. The recipe had stated that the bread turned brown so I was very excited to see that the final product was still a fine shade of pink!

The bread itself tasted like…bread – with a hint of sweetness I can only think came from the beetroot. But apart from the slight sweetness and the colour, it behaved just as normal bread does. I would be interested to try this with potatoes or turnips – although the result would not be as pretty. And next time I run out of flour I will think back to the middle ages and remember to try beetroot as a substitute!