Showing posts with label #BreadBakers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #BreadBakers. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Il Pane di Matera #BreadBakers

A wonderful crusty loaf made in the tradition of Matera bread, or il pane di Matera, from milled durum wheat and a sourdough starter.

Let me start off with a disclaimer. This is not il pane di Matera. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s what the title says. Hear me out. Pane de Matera is special, with specific requirements, including not just milled durum wheat (which I have used) but from 100% Lucanian milled semolina grain known as "Senatore Cappelli," which I have not. The water is also supposed come from a local source in the Matera area of Italy. Finally, it should begin with a piece of dough from the previous day’s loaf, with yeast made from a fresh fruit starter. I used a sourdough starter.

Such is the tradition and history behind this loaf that it was given the European Union Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) which means, just like sparkling wine can’t be called Champagne unless it is produced in the Champagne region of France or random ham cannot be called Ibérico unless it comes from Black Iberian Pigs raised in the Iberian Peninsula region of Spain and Portugal, it must be produced the right way in the right place to be called Il Pane di Matera.

So while I’ve made a valiant attempt at producing my own version of il pane di Matera, and it’s a fabulous crusty loaf, it doesn’t officially qualify for the name. That said, you should make this guy. With all due respect to Italy, it reminds me of my favorite baguette tradition in France and that says a lot.

With the substandard help of Google Translate, I made my bread from this recipe in Italian. That was part of the fun!

Watch this video to see how to shape the dough.

150ml or 160g sourdough starter or 20g brewer’s yeast
3 3/4 cups or 600g Italian semolina durum wheat flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
warm water

Mix your sourdough starter or brewer’s yeast with 6 3/4 oz or 200ml warm water and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour and 1 1/4 cups or 300ml warm water and mix for a few minutes. Mine was too crumbly for the bread hook so I just kept mixing with the K cake beater.

Add in the yeast mixture and beat/knead for five minutes. At this point, I did change to the bread hook.

Add in the salt and knead another few minutes.

Put the dough in a bowl dusted with flour and cover it with cling film. Poke holes the film with a toothpick.

Leave to rise for two hours in a warm place.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface and put it back in the bowl, covered again for another two hours.

After those two hours are up, you can knead the dough, shape and bake. But at this point I strayed from the recipe I was working with and turned to another source I found online which said that traditionally the dough was left to rise overnight, then it was brought to the communal ovens in the morning to bake. So, after kneading again, I popped the dough in its covered bowl into the refrigerator. If you’d rather skip this step, preheat your oven to 220°F or 104°C, with a pizza stone on a middle shelf, if you have one, and proceed down one more paragraph.

The next morning, I removed the dough from the cold and left it to warm up again.

When it was no longer chilled, I preheated my to 220°F or 104°C with my pizza stone on a middle shelf.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead it. (As you can tell from the photos, mine was still quite slack compared to the dough in the video.

Form the dough into a ball, press a crease in it, and then fold the ball in half.

Flour a baking sheet and transfer the dough to it. Use a sharp knife to slice three cuts into the dough. (See YouTube link above for a visual on this.) According to a source online that may or may not be Wikipedia in Italian (I forget but I read it somewhere and made a note), the three cuts represent the Holy Trinity.

Place the baking sheet on the pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature of your oven to 350°F or 180°C and bake for more about 40-45 minutes more, or until the loaf is golden and it sounds hollow when tapped. About midway through, I also slid the loaf off of the baking pan and straight onto the pizza stone.

There were plenty of holes, but I was expecting the rest of the crumb to be more open. Next time, I'm going to let the dough rise just a bit after shaping and before putting it into the hot oven but overall I was extremely pleased, especially with the crusty outside and the enormous flavor.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.


This month my Bread Bakers group are baking Italian breads and we have a fabulous line up for you. I can’t wait to travel all over Italy, loaf by loaf. Many thanks to our host, Anshie of Spice Roots for all of her hard work and this great theme.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Soda Bread Farls #BreadBakers

Perfect for a quick breakfast or snack with a cup of tea, soda bread farls are quick bread “baked” on a stovetop griddle, rather than an oven. They are a traditional part of the Northern Ireland breakfast known as the Ulster Fry.

The word farl is pronounced farrel and derives from the old Scots word fardel, which essentially means “a quarter.” The source of the name becomes apparent when you see to make farls you flatten dough into a circle and cut it into four pieces before cooking.

Soda Bread Farls are very similar in texture to American buttermilk biscuits or British scones. The dough comes together quickly with just flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.

For this post, I decided to make what I call an adulterated Ulster Fry to accompany the soda bread farls. Properly, that breakfast would include the farls, of course, plus sausage, bacon, black and white pudding, fried eggs and tomatoes. Mine included sausage, black pudding, fried eggs and mushrooms. Totally delicious and perfect for a long weekend morning. We weren’t hungry again till almost suppertime!

Ingredients – for 4 farls
2 cups or 250g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 240ml buttermilk
Lard or oil for frying (I used bacon drippings.)

Measure the dry ingredient together into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. This aerates the flour and takes the place of sifting.

Pour in the buttermilk and use a firm rubber spatula to mix it in to make a soft dough.

Flour a clean work surface and scrape the dough out on to it.

Flour the top of the dough and your hands and lightly knead the dough. You may have to sprinkle on more flour to keep it from sticking to your surface. Lightly press the dough into a circle about 8 in or 20cm across and about 1/2 in or 1cm thick. Sprinkle on a little more flour and flip the circle over.

Preheat heavy based flat griddle or skillet on medium to low heat.

Flour a sharp knife and cut the dough circle into quarters.

Add a couple of teaspoons of lard (or oil) to the preheated griddle and transfer the farls to the pan when the lard is melted and hot.

Cook the farls for about 3-4 minutes on that first side, watching carefully that they don’t burn.

Add a little more lard or oil and turn the farls over. Cook them for about 10-12 minutes in total, turning regularly so that they cook evenly.

Serve with just butter and jam or as part of a big breakfast.

We loved these! The only thing I’d do differently the next time is to cut the dough circle into eighths instead of quarters, which would change the name I suppose. Don’t think about it too much. Just make them! They "bake" up nicely.

Our Bread Bakers host this month is Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm. She challenged us to bake an Irish bread since, of course, St. Patrick’s Day is this week. Who knew there were so many? Check them out!
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Honey Oatmeal Bread #BreadBakers

This honey oatmeal bread is baked with all-purpose flour, wholemeal flour and oats, with just enough honey to slightly sweeten it. It has a tender crumb and a crunchy golden crust.

This month my Bread Bakers are here to support your efforts to eat healthier, if indeed, you are making an effort. I know there are a lot of people who make resolutions of such things this time of year. You might well be one of them. Here’s what I can promise you, even if you are not: The Bread Bakers are a talented, creative group. The breads they bake will be delicious, whatever the theme.

Our host today is Pavani from Cook’s Hideout and so "healthy breads" for January is her chosen theme. Since my co-creator of Bread Bakers stepped down a few months ago, Pavani has been a big help behind the scenes and I am grateful to her for stepping forward to take the first month of 2017. In fact, thanks to lots of members volunteering to host, we’ve got some great themes coming up for you this year! Stay tuned for February when we will take on pancakes.

Perhaps this could be the year you start baking homemade bread! Think about it. This may be a much easier resolution to keep than most. You can start with this easy honey oatmeal bread.

1/4 cup or 60ml warm water
2 teaspoons active dried yeast
1/4 cup or 60ml honey
1 cup or 240ml milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the bowl/pan
2 - 2 1/2 cups or 250- 312g flour
1 cup or 120g wholemeal bread flour
3/4 cups or 70g oats - quick cooking, but not instant
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Optional - to decorate before baking:
2 tablespoons runny honey
2 tablespoons rolled oats

Honey has antibacterial properties and, depending on how the honey was processed, these might kill your yeast. So we start this bread by proofing our yeast in a bowl with the warm water and a generous heaping teaspoon of the honey. If it bubbles and foams after a few minutes, you are good to go. (And you don’t have to do this step with that particular jar of honey again. It’s safe for future baking.)

Note: This recipe can be made by hand, however, the dough is fairly slack so kneading it will be a sticky challenge.

In a microwave-proof measuring jug, heat your milk and butter until the butter just melts. Allow to cool until warm. Pour in the rest of the honey. It will sink to the bottom so stir until the honey has dissolved into the milk.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast mixture to 2 cups or 250g of the all-purpose flour, the wholemeal flour, the oatmeal and salt.

Pour in the milk/butter/honey liquid and mix until it comes together as a soft dough.

Switch to the bread hook and knead for about 5-7 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Add the extra flour, as needed, by the teaspoonful as it kneads. I ended up using about half of the additional flour for this particular loaf.

Form the dough into a ball. Use a little butter to grease the bowl, moving the dough ball around the bowl as you butter. Cover, put in a warm place and leave to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes or one hour.

Line a standard bread pan with parchment paper or grease it liberally with more butter. My pan is not in the best condition so I always choose the parchment paper route.

Punch the dough down and give it a few more turns of kneading. Form it into a log and put it in your prepared loaf pan.

Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled again, another 45 minutes or 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C, placing an iron skillet or other heavy cooking pan on the bottom shelf.

Boil your kettle with about 2 cups or 480ml water.

Once the dough has risen sufficiently, drizzle it with the extra honey and sprinkle on the rolled oats.

Put the loaf pan on the middle shelf in the oven and pour the hot water into the heated skillet or baking pan on the bottom shelf. Quickly close the oven so the steam does not escape.

Bake the loaf for about 40-45 minutes or until it’s brown all over and cooked through. If you have a instant read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 200°F or 93°C for an enriched bread made with milk and butter. If your loaf is browning too fast, cover it lightly with a tent of foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.


Check out the Healthy Breads that our fellow Bread Bakers have baked this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.


Pin it! 


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cranberry Sweet Rolls #BreadBakers

Cranberries are the darling of this season, showing up in savory and sweet recipes. (For those of us who can't get Florida Strawberries!) They add both sweetness and a welcome tart bite to these cranberry sweet rolls. Perfect for Christmas morning. Or any morning, really.

If you’ve been reading this space for a while, you might remember that I started Bread Bakers with my friend and fellow blogger Renee at Magnolia Days in September of 2014. As a group, we've been baking bread and growing like a good sourdough starter ever since. Twelve bakers took part in that first group event. This month, more than two years on, we have 16 delicious sweet yeast breads to share with you. Some months we’ve had 29 or 30 but I’m happy with 20 in a busy month like December.

Part of our Bread Bakers blurb talks about members taking turns choosing the theme or main ingredient and hosting the event each month. Because everyone is so willing to step forward, I haven’t actually hosted for ages, just played a supporting role to whoever was in charge. This month I’m stepping in to host! Our theme was chosen by Laura of Baking in Pyjamas who unfortunately had to drop out this month. I am delighted to fill in.

My cranberry sweet rolls are a seasonal take on cinnamon rolls, but with a buttery enriched dough and homemade cranberry filling. Make sure to follow my instructions to set aside a little of the filling for topping as well. That bright red on top makes them even more festive. If you want to enjoy these freshly baked for breakfast, follow the alternative instructions for the second proofing.

Don't forget to scroll down and check out all the other sweet yeast breads we’ve baked for you this month, perfect for the holiday season.

For the enriched dough:
1/2 cup or 120ml warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 envelope fast-acting yeast (1/4 oz or 7g)
1 1/2 cups or 190g all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup or 57g butter, very soft but not melted

For the filling:
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
1/4 cup or 60ml water
1/4 cup or 60ml fresh orange juice
Zest of 1/2 orange (save other half for decoration)
2 cups or 210g fresh or frozen cranberries

For the glaze:
3/4 cup or 95g powdered sugar, sifted
3-4 teaspoons milk

Make the filling first so it has time to cool:
In a large saucepan, bring sugar, water, orange juice and cranberries to a boil. Cook, uncovered, until cranberries begin to pop, just a few minutes. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes longer or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in orange zest; cover and set aside to cool.

Line the bottom of an 9 in or 23cm round baking pan with baking parchment.

To make the dough: Place the water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes to activate the yeast.

Add in the flour and salt. Mix well until a soft dough forms. Keep your mixer on medium speed and add in the butter a tablespoon or so at a time, mixing until the butter is incorporated each time.

Cover the bowl with some cling film or a damp towel and set aside to rest for 15 minutes. With rapid rise yeast, this rest takes the place of the first full proofing. This quite a soft dough.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 12x15in or 31x38cm.

Spread all but about 1/4 cup or 75g of the filling on the dough rectangle, going all the way to the sides but leaving a bit empty at the end. Save the balance for decoration.

Roll the dough up as tightly as you can manage, jellyroll style, ending at the empty end so it can seal itself as you finish the roll. Cut the roll into six equal pieces.

Place the cut rolls into your prepared pan.

Cover with cling film and set in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size. (Alternatively, if you want to bake fresh for breakfast in the morning, you can now put the sweet rolls in the refrigerator to rise more slowly overnight. Take them out in the next day and put them in a warm place until they come to room temperature, then preheat your oven.)

When the last rise time is almost up, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before adding the glaze.

To make the glaze, add the milk by teaspoons to the powdered sugar, stirring well in between, until you reach a good drizzling consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cranberry sweet rolls. Add dollops of the reserved cranberry filling in between. Sprinkle with the remaining orange zest.


Check out all the great sweet yeast breads!

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Pin it!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Rustic Parsnip Bread #BreadBakers

Mashed parsnips add a sweet earthy flavor to this rustic parsnip bread. Caramelized parsnips on top of the loaf bring a little wow factor, making this a great bread for your holiday table.

This may sound silly to a bunch of you but I didn’t discover parsnips till I was an adult. I remember the first time I saw them in a Sydney market and I assumed they were pale carrots until I read the little sign in front of them. Parsnips. The name helped me not one bit.

But I am adventurous cook and eater so I bought a bunch and took them home. Those were the days before internet but I did have a paperback cookbook from the Australian Women’s Weekly series with traditional Australian recipes to consult. Parsnips could essentially be used anywhere a carrot could. In sweet cakes or savory stews. My favorite way of eating them is roasted in the oven or caramelized in a hot pan. Either way emphasizes their native sweetness.

This rustic parsnip bread features parsnips two ways, mashed in the dough for flavor and moisture and tucked in slits on top for flavor and decoration. This recipe is adapted from Julia Child’s rustic potato bread, which I first made more than fours ago, back when I had just moved to Cairo and found myself in a freezing cold house without a working heater. An ideal time to turn the oven on! Read that post for tips if you are trying to get yeast dough to rise in a cold kitchen.

For the dough:
3/4 lb or 340g firm parsnips
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup or 60ml tepid reserved parsnip water (80 – 90°F or 26.7 – 32.2°C)
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups or 280g – 310g flour

For the optional topping:
1 parsnip about 3 1/2 oz or 100g
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Peel your parsnips for the dough and cut them into cubes. In a small pot, cover the parsnips with water and add 1 teaspoon of the salt.

Cook until they are fork-tender. Reserve 1/4 cup or 60ml of the parsnip water and then drain the parsnips well in a colander.  Pop them back in the pot and mash them with a potato masher while they are still warm, getting them as lump free as possible. Set aside to cool.

When the parsnips are cool, stir the yeast into the parsnip water, warming it again if necessary. It needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast. Leave for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, put your cool mashed parsnips in the mixer and beat briefly to loosen them up.

Add in the olive oil, the yeast/water mixture and the last teaspoon of salt. Mix until the liquids are incorporated into the mashed parsnip.

Change your mixer attachment to the dough hook and start adding in the flour.  This mixture is going to be very dry at the beginning.

Just trust and keep mixing. That said, you may not use quite all the flour. I had a few tablespoons left when I decided that the dough was a good springy texture. Knead for by machine for a few more minutes.

For the first rise, put a bit of cling film on the top of the mixing bowl and allow the dough to rest for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.

To caramelize the last parsnip, peel it and cut it into thin, short pieces.

Drizzle the olive oil in a small non-stick pan and gently fry the parsnip pieces until they are golden on all sides.

Sprinkle in the sugar and keep cooking the parsnips till the sugar has melted and started to brown a little. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Once your first rise is done, roll the dough into a ball and then press out into a round disk.  Starting at the end closest to you, roll the dough into a tube.  When you get to the last turn, make sure the seam side is down and fold the sides under.

Place the roll of dough on a lined baking pan and use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top.  Tuck the caramelized parsnips into the slits. Drizzle any oil left in the pan over the top then sprinkle on some flakey sea salt.

Cover the loaf loosely with cling film and put in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Put a pan in the bottom of the oven about halfway through the preheating process. This pan gets really hot and a little water added just as you put in the loaf creates enough steam for a lovely crust.

When the second rising is done, put the baking pan with the loaf in the oven. Quickly pour a 1/2 cup or 120ml water into the pan at the bottom and close the oven immediately.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the crust is nice and brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped.  Check halfway through and rescue any parsnips that have fallen off so they don’t burn on the pan, which would be a terrible waste when you could be eating them. Cover the loaf loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time if you feel the parsnips or the bread is browning too fast.

If you are so inclined, you can check the internal temperature to see if the rustic parsnip bread is cooked throughout. It should be about 200°F or 93°C. in the middle.


This month my Bread Bakers are baking breads with root vegetables of all kinds, with thanks to our host Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories. We've got both sweet and savory bakes for you today, so something for everyone!
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

Pin it!