Bready, Recipes

Cider, Cheese and Onion Sharing Loaf – recipe

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A more-ish, irresistible loaf 

I love bread. I love making it, I love eating it. I also love cider. And cheese. And onions. So the next logical step was clearly to combine all three into a heady mix of cidery cheesey oniony bready joy. So I did. And what joy it is! Perfect for plonking in the middle of the table for lunch and letting everyone pile in and rip it to pieces. Or just scoffing yourself curled up on the sofa. Your choice really.

This is effectively like a savoury batch of Chelsea Buns – swirls of bread with the filling splurging out all over the place – and it’s pretty simple to do, if not a tad messy at times. The cider adds a wonderful flavour to the loaf and really compliments the cheese and onion filling wonderfully. If you like you can do the second prove in the fridge overnight to really let the bread develop a full flavour but it’s not essential. However if you do this, I’d advise proving the finished loaf on a sheet of non-stick baking parchment as it will stick fast otherwise…

Makes one loaf

Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 300ml dry cider
  • 7g sachet dried fast-action yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 1 dessert spoon caster sugar 
  • 1 dessert spoon olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and finely sliced
  • 200g grated strong cheddar (you may not need all of it)
  • A few sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Olive oil (for frying)

Method

  • Place the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and pour in the cider – it will fizz and foam as you mix it in – and add the dessert spoon of olive oil. Combine into a rough dough then turn out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will be sticky but don’t worry – it’s worth it.
  • Shape into a round and place in a well oiled bowl (coating the top of the dough with a bit more olive oil) and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for an hour or so or until doubled in size.
  • While the dough is rising, place a large frying pan over a medium-low heat and add a lug of olive oil (and a knob of butter if you like). When the oil is hot, add your sliced onions and soften gently for a few minutes then add the chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook on a low heat for a good 10-15 minutes to really soften and sweeten the onions – stirring often to prevent them catching. When they are done, remove and leave to cool.
  • Once your dough has risen, tip out onto a work surface and flatten into a large rectangle – about 35cm by 20cm but it doesn’t have to be precise. The dough should be thin enough to roll up with all the filling and it may help to tack the long edge closest to you on to the work surface to help get a tighter roll.
  • Spread the cooled onion mixture evenly over the dough followed by the grated cheese – make sure you keep some back for sprinkling over the top of the finished loaf – then roll the whole lot up tightly.
  • Cut into 12-16 slices (this will depend on how long your rectangle is) and arrange each slice on a well-floured baking tray (or use non-stick baking parchment), spacing each one a centimetre or so apart. You want them to prove and bake into each other so a bit of space is important. If you are worried about everything unravelling just give each segment a squeeze and tuck – it doesn’t matter if it looks untidy!
  • Cover with either a clean tea towel or some oiled cling film and leave to prove for about 30-45 minutes (or overnight in the fridge).
  • Pre-heat your oven to 190c/Gas Mark 5.
  • Once your loaf has proved, uncover and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top then pop in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden brown. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack before diving in and devouring.

NOTE : If you are proving overnight in the fridge, allow the bread to come back up to room temperature before baking

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Bready, Recipes

Focaccia – recipe

Apologies for my absence of late – the end of last year passed in a haze of ale, roast dinners, and fine wine and thus blogging sadly took a back seat. Sorry about that Mr Blog.

But I’m here now and I’ve got a super-awesome recipe for any bread-lovers out there who fancy a bit of a challenge…

Are you ready?

Of course you are.

FOCACCIA!!!!

Focaccia is, when done properly, a true wonder of a bread and something that can make a real impact when presented, warm and fragrant, on any table. A soft, irregular crumb with a glossy olive oil top, speckled with flecks of rosemary and flaky salt, a bread that is deeply savoury and wonderfully more-ish. And not actually that difficult to make provided you are prepared to deal with a VERY sticky dough and give it the time it needs to rise and prove and develop. In many of the recipes I looked at when first attempting this bread, I noticed that most call for a slightly wetter (say 65% hydration – so 650ml per 1kg flour) dough than a normal loaf and go for a straightforward first prove of about 1 hour then shaping and proving again before baking. I’m sure this produces a perfectly fine bread but I was curious to know whether there a longer prove might improve both the texture and flavour (as is usually the case) so I contacted an excellent baker/Twitter chum to get his opinion. Aidan Chapman is a true master baker and has provided me with hints, tips, and advice for some years now and ALL of his advice has proved both invaluable and also delicious. He suggested not only an overnight prove in a cool place (I used a shed in the end as the box was too big for the fridge) but also a very wet (80% hydration) dough. He also said to fold the dough four times over four hours before leaving to prove – a technique that helps trap in more air and also give the gluten an extra stretch which results in a soft and wonderful textured loaf (I do it with sourdough and it makes a HUGE difference).

So all of this I did and the results were, well, pretty spectacular. I’m not going to lie, the super wet dough was a tad tricky to handle and if you want to make this recipe I would highly advise using a food mixer with dough hook rather than attempting to knead by hand. Unless you like sticking to everything in the kitchen and universe as you work in which case go for it. The dough remains pretty sticky even after the first prove so be careful when you cover it again for the last rise – use plastic bags with plenty of volume and oil the insides if you can. And of course, if you are too intimidated by the 80% hydration, by all means reduce it but you will be missing out. I promise.

So…

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After the long prove – look at all the bubbles!

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 1kg strong white bread flour
  • 10g fast action yeast
  • 20g fine sea salt
  • 800ml water
  • 100ml olive oil
  • Finely chopped rosemary
  • Flaky salt
  • Olive oil for drizzling

Method

  • Place the flour, salt, yeast, and water in the bowl of a food-mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on a slow speed to combine.
  • When the mixture has come together, add the 100ml olive oil and set to knead on a slow speed for about ten minutes until it is smooth and silky.
  • Scrape the dough into a well-oiled plastic container or bowl and cover with cling-film, leaving to rise for an hour.
  • After an hour, use a dough scraper to fold the dough over itself, trapping in the air and stretching out the gluten – this will give you the uneven, light crumb you want. Repeat this 3 times – each time you will notice the dough becoming lighter with a myriad of strands and stretches.
  • Leave to prove overnight in the fridge or in a very cool place.
  • The next day, let the dough return to room temperature and oil two baking trays – about 26x36cm. Make sure your trays are well oiled as the dough will still be very sticky.
  • Divide the dough into two and, with oiled hands, roughly shape into rectangles then stretch and squash it into the baking trays, trying to really push it into the corners. Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 10/250c.
  • Cover and leave to rise for another half hour or so. When the bread looks puffed up and ready to go, dot the surface with your fingers to create indentations to catch and hold the oil you’ll be drizzling over them. Mmm, drizzle.
  • Drizzle the oil generously but don’t drown your bread, scatter over the chopped rosemary and flaky salt, then bake for 10mins.
  • Turn the oven down to Gas Mark 6/200c and cook for another 10mins or until lightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and cool slightly (about 10mins) on wire racks – focaccia is at its best when served warm.
  • Scoff and rejoice!

 

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Bready, Meaty, Recipes, Snacky

Braised pork cider buns

wpid-dsc_051222.jpg.jpegThis is an adaptation of the brilliant bierocks recipe by the Hairy Bikers. Meat-filled bread buns are a staple of many different countries and this is my interpretation – pretty straightforward to make and they freeze really well. If you want a deeper flavour mix half and half cider and pork stock for the stew. Make sure the mixture isn’t too wet when you fill the dough otherwise you’ll find yourself covered in a porky doughy gloop…
Makes about 20

For the dough
500g strong white bread flour
300ml dry cider
5g fast-action yeast
5g salt
1tbsp caster sugar (or honey)
1tbsp olive oil

For the filling
Olive oil for frying
500g diced pork shoulder
1 onion – diced
1 clove garlic – chopped
1-2 carrots – diced
500ml cider (or good pork stock)
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1-2 sprigs if thyme, leaves picked and chopped
Salt and pepper

Method
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3.
Season the pork with salt and pepper
In a large ovenproof casserole dish or pan, heat the oil then add the pork shoulder and brown the meat on all sides then remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add a splash of cider to deglaze and then add the onion, garlic, and carrot and cook gently until soft.
Stir in the mustard and cook for a minute then add the browned pork shoulder, thyme and cider and bring to the boil then cover and transfer to the pre-heated oven for 2-3 hours until the pork is falling apart. Check every now and then to make sure it isn’t drying out, adding more cider/water as required.
When the pork is ready, shred it with a fork and, if the mixture is still very saucy, return to the hob and reduce until it is just coating the meat and veg.
Set aside in a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, make the dough by combining the flour, cider, yeast, salt, sugar and oil in a large bowl.
Mix it together with your hands until you have a rough dough then knead on a clean work surface for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and springy. Roll it into a tight round ball.
Place in a clean bowl and pour a glug of oil over the dough then cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Knock back the dough and divide into 20 balls of as equal a size as possible, then roll each ball out into a disc about the same size as a saucer – dusting each one with flour as you go.
When everything is ready, put about 2tsps of the stew into the centre of each disc and brush the edges with water then pull the sides of the disc up over the pork mix and seal tightly (you may need a bit more water). Place each one on the lined sheets with the seal at the bottom.
Once you’ve filled all the buns, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for about 20mins until doubled in size.
Place the sheets in a preheated oven at gas mark 4 and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.
Enjoy hot or cold!

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