No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Chocolate and beetroot bread

200g strong white flour (or 50:50 white and wholemeal)
2 dessertspoons sugar - any sort
1 dessertspoon cocoa powder
1 medium or large cooked beetroot, grated
125ml lukewarm liquid including
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast
2 tbs olive oil

50-75g roughly chopped vegan chocolate 

1 teaspoon sugar and 2 of hot water for a sugar glaze

1. Place dry ingredients and the grated beetroot in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix them evenly. Place the yeast in a well in the flour, then pour the water over the yeast to start it dissolving and add the olive oil.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Stir the yeast, then the rest of the ingredients, with a table knife or similar, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5.

5. Press the dough out into a circle on your worktop and sprinkle the chocolate over it. Roll the dough up, enclosing the chocolate and knead gently to distribute the chocolate through the dough.

6. Shape the loaf by pulling up the dough at the sides with your fingertips and pushing it down in the middle; do that all round the dough. This will have the effect of smoothing the underneath of the dough. Then turn it over and shape it into a round.

7. Leave to prove until it has risen appreciably. Then bake at 220C, 425F or gas mark 7 for between 15-20 minutes. It is done when it is browned underneath. If your oven is browning the top of the loaf too fast, cover with foil or baking parchment.

8. Place on a cooling tray and brush with a sugar glaze made with 1 teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons hot water.

The last one I made I used 110g of grated beetroot (just to finish up the pack). The resultant bread was soft and spongy – almost like a sponge cake in texture. When you think it only contains a little olive oil, it’s a healthy alternative to a Victoria sponge.

I've taken the comment from below and incorporated some chocolate into the bread - just lifts a little! :)

Friday, 26 August 2011

Socca (gram flour 'pancakes') vegan and gluten-free

[Other variations on socca - faina/farinata.]

Friday 26th August.
Had this again for dinner with a filling of lentils and mushrooms - and then I had a socca pudding!

100g gram flour
235g water
1/4 tsp salt

I cooked a small pancake and dusted it with sugar. Meanwhile I'd blitzed some strawberries and raspberries with a little sugar in the microwave. Using a slotted spoon I placed the fruit down the middle of the pancake then placed slices of vegan ice cream (Swedish glace chocolate ice cream) over the top of the fruit. Then I lifted the sides of the pancake over the filling and, with some difficulty, scooped it up and onto a plate. I then drizzled the fruit 'couli' over  the dish and served it up.

Very nice indeed!

TBH, the pancake fell apart quite a bit whilst maneuvering it around. On reflection I should have:
Oiled the pan a bit more, so the spatula would slide underneath easier;
Allowed the pancake to cook a little longer so it would keep its shape better;
Used a spatula on both sides to lift it out.

But there's no getting away from the fact that this is a very nice pud indeed!

Saturday 20th August.
Following a conversation with a friend whose daughter is on a fat-restricted, gluten-free diet, I tried this recipe without the oil - and found absolutely no difference. That's not quite true, I found it held together slightly better without the oil! (I've taken some pics which I'll post soon.)

I shall start another thread on 'Received wisdoms - batters and pancakes' on the BBC Food board shortly - I make some lovely vegan pancakes without either eggs or milk. (I started a similar thread recently questioning the use of butter and eggs in sponge cakes.)

27th May 2011.
Made this again today, substituting 20g of oatmeal for some gram flour and once again it was lovely. Only difference is you need to keep stirring the batter as the oatmeal tends to settle.

17th October 2010.
I came across this blog today, with a recipe for this bread very similar to the one I made yesterday:

I used:
100g gram flour
1 teaspoon Marigold bouillon powder
225ml water
20ml olive oil

I blitzed this for a couple of seconds, and poured in enough to make a 20cm pancake. I did think the batter was very thin, but, no, it was just right.

Then I placed some curried lentil and cabbage (that I’d had sitting on the stove) on one side of it, and folded it over like an omelette, and cooked it a bit more.

I have to tell you it was absolutely wonderful! The combination of flavours was just perfect!

For lunch I made the recipe I intended to make last night – I finely chopped 3 s-d-toms and some ‘Misto funghi’ from Lidl, stirred them into the batter and made a pancake with the mix. After a couple of minutes I turned it over, since I wasn’t sure the middle was done on top. I had this with some fried tomatoes and, once again it was lovely! 

Tonight I repeated the lentil-filled omelette, but this time I took a couple of pics:

Gorgeous, just gorgeous!