Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday bread

There's something hypnotic about Sundays for me. As soon as I hear the Archers theme tune I'm transported back fifteen years, sitting at the kitchen table at home, mum making roast, me doing homework. It's immensely comforting that every Sunday I'm taken back to Scilly, to my family and to my home. Sunday is such a special day. It's about spending time with your loved ones. I like to focus my favourite foods around Sundays; roasts, pub lunches, heartwarming puddings and most importantly Sunday breakfast. Sunday is a no cereal or toast day. It's a day where you put thought into what you eat. This morning it's all about a slice of warm bread straight from the oven (and one of yesterday's skinny banana muffins!)

Two types of bread: Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf and Fennel and Sultana Fougasse.....

Now this recipes makes 4 small loves of bread. I planned to halve the recipe, then decided not to, then forgot and split the dough in half, so it made two enormous loaves. Hopefully the pictures won't put you off!

1 kg strong white bread flour
1 dtsp salt
1 dtsp caster sugar
10g dried yeast (I know this is annoying because most sachets are 7g...sorry!)
about 500ml of tepid water

(for flavours)
2oz chocolate
2tbsp chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 dtsp fennel seeds
1 small handful sultanas.

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl

Add half of the tepid water and bring it together with a metal spoon. Keep adding a bit more at a time until it comes together in a ball. (If you need more water as I do sometimes just add a bit more).

Shake some flour on the work surface but not too much you can always add more and you don't want to dry out the dough.

The mistake I made about kneading in the past is that I bashed the dough really hard, treating it like a punch bag. When I went on a bread making course the leader said you should think about dough as something very delicate and you have to treat it with respect and care. So start to kneed it carefully and slowly for 15 minutes. I always watch the time, otherwise I convince myself after 3 minutes that I've definitely done 15!

You should see a big difference in the dough by now. It should be shiny and softer.

Pop it back in your mixing bowl and leave it somewhere for 1 hour. It should double in size.

Then take it out of the bowl and back on your floured surface. Very carefully give it two or three kneads to knock out a bit of air. Now add your flavours. Split the dough into four pieces (not two idiot!). On a work surface chop up the chocolate and sprinkle the nuts over it. Place your dough over the top and work the chocolate and nuts into it. Fold it into a circular shape and pop onto a lined baking tray.

Take another piece of dough and work in the fennel seeds and sultanas. Note: I didn't actually do this, but next time I would crush the fennel seeds a little to bring out more of the flavour. Then foll out the dough so it is much flatter. Make a slit down the middle and then two more either side of the main slit on a diagonal. (This is only to make it pretty make it into a loaf if you wish)

Place it on a baking tray. (The other two bits of dough you can do what you want with....maybe keep them as white bread, or add cumin seeds and dried onion flakes for a savoury bread?) Whatever you chose place them on a lined baking tray and leave somewhere warm for another hour.

Glaze the chocolate loaf with egg and the fougasse with olive oil to give it shine.

Pop the oven to 230'c so it is really hot. Pop the loves in the oven for 10 minutes then turn the oven down to 180'c for another 15 minutes. This will give the bread a really crispy crunch.

Here is the massive fougasse! This is fantastic with a chunk of Cornish yarg or even a thick spread of butter but I just had it on its own!

Here's the chocolate and nut bread. If I was allowed this, I would mash a banana and spread it on top.
Ps this bread freezes really well, so the fougasse I have chopped up into small piece to eat with soup this week.

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