Basic White Bread with Pine Nuts, Sundried Tomatoes, Garlic Butter, and Balsamic GlazeMonday, June 13, 2011
We had a leeeetle bit of a drama last week: our car was clamped and we had to pay a massive to release it - in front of our flat! The building management has decided to enforce parking restrictions and we were amongst 30 of our neighbours who were caught up in it because, although we had the correct permit, we were not parked in an adequately-marked bay. Awfully frustrating, huff.
Well, the cure for car troubles, or indeed any sort of troubles, is a beautifully-baked loaf of bread. It's not only the taste of bread that helps: it's the process of rising, the hour-and-a-bit that you need to wait while the yeast does its yeasty business, the anticipation of the delicious baking-bread smell that fills the house and then - ta da! - the smell itself and the arrival of a beautiful loaf of baked bread that is hot and waiting to be buttered.
Such is bread.
When I bought my Kenwood Chef, which is undoubtedly my favourite possession of all time, I also got a lovely recipe book with it: Making Great Food Simple: Recipes for the Kenwood Chef & Major by Jennie Shapter. It's a great book - I use it all the time - and there's a wonderful bread recipe that I thank my lucky stars I found. It's adaptable, easy and doesn't have any of the thumping-whacking-kneading kind of bread-baking which is nice and therapeutic for the baker, but time-consuming for the work-at-home individual with little time to spare.
Basic White Bread
- 7g of fast-action dried yeast (that's one packet)
- 300ml of luke-warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 450g strong plain white flour
1. Add the flour to the Kenwood bowl, then add in the sugar and the yeast.
2. Using the dough hook on minimum speed, gradually mix in the salt and the water until the mixture forms a soft dough.
3. Knead for 1 minute on minimum and 4 minutes on speed 1 until smooth and elastic. Remove the bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm, and put somewhere warm for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Using the dough hook on minimum speed, knock back the dough for 30 - 60 seconds. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and shape. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 seconds, or until doubled in size.
5. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes at 220'C.
It's a great basic recipe, and you can easily adapt it to create other kinds of breads too. For rolls,
add milk instead of the water, and shape into small balls or plaits instead of a round or loaf. Brush them with an egg-and-milk glaze to get that nice crispy roll texture and look. Or, make flavoured bread.
To combat car woes, I made a bread with some of my favourite things. I wanted a thick bread with a buttery, doughy texture and I wanted to be able to eat it with only a dab of butter and nothing else. So, when knocking it back (step 4), I added in some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, a glob of garlic butter and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Then, I shaped it into a round loaf, tucked underneath for texture, and put a cross on the top so it would burst up a bit to create a pretty rustic-looking loaf (a good-looking bread is even better to help combat particularly bad woes, I might add). You could also put three diagonal cuts in it, or just dust it with flour. If you cut it, make sure you don't cut too deeply: about 3mm is just enough.
And there you go. I cooked it on a fan-forced temperature of 180'C for 20 minutes, but my oven does tend to over-cook things so I need to adjust cooking times and temperatures a little. This is a half-quantity, by the way, and it's just enough to not leave any leftovers if you're sharing.
It breaks beautifully with exactly the right texture and a lovely combination of tastes. You have to be very careful when changing the dough's consistency by adding butter or other oil- or liquid-based ingredients, but this turned out just fine.
Served for lunch with balsamic glaze and cubes of mature cheddar. Yum.