Bread

BASIC BREAD DOUGH

Here’s a master recipe which you can play all kinds of ways, ringing the changes with the flours (all white/a mixture of white and wholewheat flour/white, wholewheat and rye etc.) and the liquids (water/water + milk/beer + water/yogurt + water etc.). Loaves can be free-formed or baked in tins and finished (or not) with a sprinkling of poppy, sesame, pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Makes 1 large or 2 medium loaves, or 1 loaf and several pizzas
700g (about 5 cups) flour – white, wholewheat, rye or a mixture
2 teaspoons salt
[optional: a handful of seeds - sunflower, sesame, linseed]
1 packet instant-blending dry yeast OR ½ cube fresh yeast
600ml (about 2½ cups) liquid (water/fresh or sour milk/ buttermilk/yogurt/stale beer or a mixture)
2 tbsp oil
more flour for kneading and shaping

  • Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and add salt [and seeds]
  • Sprinkle dry yeast onto the flour and mix it in well with your hands; if using fresh yeast, crumble it over the flour and work it in with your fingertips as if making pastry
  • Stir 2 tbsp oil into the chosen liquid, add this to flour and mix well with hands/wooden spoon to a rough, messy dough – if necessary, splash in some more water until it comes together into a rough dough
  • Flour a big working surface and turn out the dough onto it. Knead the dough, adding sprinkles of flour if very sticky, and continue kneading and turning for about 5 minutes or until the dough starts to clean itself off the working surface and your hands – dough should be springy and elastic and not too sticky
  • Splash some oil into the mixing bowl and return the dough to it, encase the whole thing in a large plastic bag and let the dough rise at room temperature till doubled in bulk – 1-2 hours
  • Turn out risen dough onto a floured surface, cut in 2 pieces (for 2 loaves), flatten each piece out to a rough rectangle, then roll it up like a bolster
  • Put dough seam sides down in lightly oiled tin(s) and allow to rise again to the top of the tin(s) – about 20 minutes
  • Heat the oven to 220oC
  • Bake in the hot oven for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife

QUICK BROWN LOAF WITH PUMPKIN SEEDS
A delicious, loose-crumbed brown loaf loaded with goodness. It rises very quickly as the dough is rather soft – for this reason it’s best made in the electric mixer with the dough hook fitted. Make 2 while you’re at it, and freeze one of them.
Makes 2 loaves
500g wholewheat flour
250g white flour (Type 55)
1 packet instant-blending dry yeast or ½ a cube fresh yeast
1 tbsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
about 600ml warm water
a handful of pumpkin seeds

  • Mix together flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of the electric mixer, with the dough hook fitted
  • Stir the oil into the water and add this to the flours
  • Beat everything together vigorously – it will be rather soft, more like a cake batter than a dough
  • Cover the bowl with a large plastic bag and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk – about 1 hour at room temperature
  • Oil 2 large rectangular loaf tins
  • Punch the dough down with a dough scraper or spatula, divide in half and scoop half each into the oiled tins
  • Smooth the tops with wet hands, sprinkle seeds on top and leave to rise until the dough reaches the top of the tins
  • Heat the oven to 220oC
  • Bake the loaves for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped with a knife

KUGELHOPF SURPRISE

Thin slices of savoury kugelhopf with bacon and walnuts are sandwiched with cream cheese and fromage blanc, overlaid with prosciutto, cut in sections and the whole thing reassembled. Great buffet dish, and nice with a cup of soup.

Makes a kugelhopf surprise serving about 16 people
1 Kugelhopf au lard/Speckgugelhopf
150g cream cheese with garlic and herbs (e.g. Boursin, Tartare)
300ml fromage blanc or Quark
200g wafer-thin prosciutto or other raw ham

  • Take a thin slice off the top of the kugelhopf and set it aside
  • Slice the rest of the loaf horizontally into 14-16 thin slices (rings)
  • Leave a base about 2 cm thick at the bottom on which to sit the whole thing and pair up the slices in the order in which they were cut
  • Mash the cream cheese into the fromage blanc/Quark, spread a thin layer on one of each pair of slices, top with some ham, spread with a little more cheese and sandwich the two slices together – you should have 7-8 sandwich rings
  • Put the reserved base on a serving plate
  • One by one, starting with the biggest sandwich ring, place each one on a flat plate or board and cut the whole thing into 8 wedges
  • Slide the cut sandwich ring off the plate or board onto the base
  • Continue cutting the sandwich rings into wedges and building up the layers until you have reassembled the kugelhopf and place the nutty crown on top
  • [The Kugelhopf surprise can be prepared a day ahead, covered with clingfilm and refrigerated until just before serving]

SILSERKRANZ WITH CREAM CHEESE AND SMOKED SALMON

A burnished ‘pretzel crown’ (Migros, Co-op) is split, filled with garlic cream cheese and smoked salmon, sandwiched back together and cut in pieces – a bit like bagels with smoked salmon and sour cream. Use it as the centrepiece in the middle of a buffet table (with a candle in the centre, if you want to get fancy), or as finger food for a drinks party, or with soup.

Serves 6
1 Silserkranz (soft pretzel crown) – Migros/Co-op or other
150g St Moret low-fat cream cheese or Boursin
2-3 tbsp fromage blanc
4-5 slices smoked salmon (ca. 100g)

  • Cut the Silserkranz in half horizontally
  • Mix together the cream cheese or Boursin and fromage blanc
  • Spread the bottom half of the Kranz with half the cheese mixture, arrange slices of smoked salmon on top, cutting them to fit
  • Spread the upper half of the Silserkranz with the rest of the cheese/fromage blanc and set it on top.
  • Refrigerate till serving time
  • Cut the Kranz in slices to serve, keeping it in its original shape

PAIN AUX POMMES DE TERRE ET GROS SEL
A totally moreish focaccia-style bread from chef Michel Husser at Le Cerf, Marlenheim, made with strong white bread flour (Type 55) and the rather surprising addition of instant mashed potato flakes which keeps it wonderfully moist . Daub with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and herbs before baking – and eat up pronto, as it stales quickly.

For a rectangular bread about 28 x 35 cm
500g strong white bread flour (Type 55 in France, Zofpfmehl in CH)
125g instant mashed potato flakes
20g fresh yeast, or 1 sachet easy-blend dry yeast
2 tsp salt
500ml warm water
olive oil
coarse salt and herbes de Provence

  • Mix together the flour, potato flakes, yeast and salt in a large bowl
  • Add the water and work up to a smooth, elastic dough – it will be rather soft, and it is easier to do this in the electric mixer or food processor than by hand
  • Encase the whole bowl in a large plastic bag and leave to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk – it will go quite fast, less than an hour should do it
  • Brush out a heavy, preferably black, baking sheet with olive oil
  • Heat the oven to 200oC
  • Deflate the dough with floury hands, lift it out and arrange it in/on the baking sheet
  • Press it (or roll it, using a well-floured rolling pin) gently down and out to the edges to fill the whole baking sheet – it will spring back, but keep gently pressing down
  • Leave it to rise at room temperature for about 15 minutes or until about 2 cms high
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle generously with coarse salt and herbs
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the top is beginning to go a nice golden colour
  • Reduce the heat to 180oC and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until evenly golden
  • Lift it up to see that the bottom is well cooked and golden too
  • Lift the bread off the baking sheet and cool on a rack
  • Cut in large squares or strips and serve warm

PITA BREAD

Makes 8 pitas
500g flour (Type 55)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 packet easy-blend dry yeast OR 20g fresh yeast (1/2 a cube)
about 300ml warm water
2 tbsp olive oil

  • Mix together the flour, salt and dry yeast in a large bowl (if using fresh yeast, dissolve it in a little of the water)
  • Add warm water and oil and work up to a dough that holds together – it should be firm but supple and not too sticky – add more water (or flour) as necessary
  • Turn the mixture out onto a floured board and knead thoroughly till silky/springy to the touch
  • Return dough to the bowl, cover the bowl with a plastic bag and leave to rise till doubled in bulk (about 1 ½ hours at room temperature)
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured board, pat into a rough rectangle and cut in 8 equal-sized pieces
  • Roll each piece into a ball with your hands (add a sprinkle of flour as necessary so they don’t stick), then with a well-floured rolling pin, roll and coax out each ball to a circle about 15cm diameter – keep flouring the pin and the board so they don’t stick
  • Place pita on sheets of non-stick paper, 4 per sheet
  • Heat the oven to 220oC and put two baking sheets in oven to heat
  • Once the oven is hot, lift the pitas on their paper onto the hot baking sheets and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until puffy – they should barely colour, and be quite soft
  • Remove from oven, cool on a rack covered with a teatowel so they don’t harden

MEDITERRANEAN FLATBREAD
There are flatbreads all around the Mediterranean (coca, focaccia, pizza, pita etc.). Here’s a basic recipe that’s quick and easy to prepare. Use ready-made pizza dough from the baker’s if you don’t want to make your own.
Makes a flatbread serving 8-10
500g flour
2 tsp salt
1 packet instant-blending dry yeast or 20g fresh yeast, crumbled
about 300ml warm water
2 tbsp olive oil

  • Mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl (of electric mixer with dough hook fitted, if you have one)
  • Add the water and oil and work up to a smooth dough
  • Knead well till smooth and springy – it should not stick unduly to your hands or to the bowl  – if it does, add more flour as necessary
  • Encase the whole bowl in a large plastic bag and leave dough to rise at room temperature for 1½- 2 hours or until doubled in bulk
  • Line a baking sheet with baking paper, tip out the dough onto it using a dough scraper, sprinkle with olive oil, pat and coax it out to a rectangle or a circle and punch holes in it with a floury finger
  • Leave it to rest at room temperature while you heat the oven to 200oC
  • When the oven is good and hot, bake the flatbread for about 10-15 minutes or until pale golden
  • Cut in strips and serve immediately – it stales quickly, but makes good toast if stale

COURGETTE/ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH PARMESAN AND BASIL
A fragrant bread, pale golden and speckled with green, lovely for summer. The grated courgette keeps it good and moist, like carrots in carrot cake, or bananas in banana bread.
Makes 1 x 27 cm-long loaf
500g strong white bread flour (Type 55)
2 tsp salt
20g fresh yeast or 1 pkt easy-blend dry yeast
1 courgette, about 250g, grated finely
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon chopped basil, OR 2 tablespoons ready-made pesto
about 250ml warm water

  • Mix together the flour, salt, fresh or dry yeast, grated courgette and Parmesan + oil + basil [or pesto] in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the water and work up to a dough, as shown
  • Knead thoroughly for at least 5 minutes by hand or with the electric mixer with the dough hook fitted – add sprinkles of flour if the dough is too sticky. After 5 minutes it should start to clean itself off your hands, or off the side of the bowl – add more flour if necessary to achieve this
  • Encase the bowl in a plastic bag and leave the dough to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk
  • Oil a loaf tin 27 cm x 13 cm x 7 cm deep
  • Deflate the dough and knead again on a floured board
  • Pat dough out roughly to a rectangle the same length as the tin, roll it up into a bolster shape and pack it firmly, seam side down, into the tin.
  • Leave it to climb up the to top of the tin – about 30 minutes
  • Heat the oven to 220oC.
  • Bake the loaf for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and the base sounds a deep hollow note when tapped with a knife

GEOFFROY’S CAKE AU JAMBON ET AUX OLIVES

Great recipe for a  baking powder bread (i.e. no yeast), perfect  for summer drinks, cut in small squares, or to accompany an alfresco meal.

Serves 8
3 eggs
1 natural yogurt
120 ml (1/2 a cup) olive or groundnut oil
150g flour (Type 45)
1 packet baking powder
150g grated Parmesan
150g ham, diced small
30 green olives, stoned/pitted and cut in slivers
salt and pepper

  • Heat the oven to 180oC
  • In a mixer or food processor, beat together the eggs, yogurt and oil
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold them into the egg
  • mixture
  • Stir in the cheese, ham and olives
  • Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for at least 45 minutes
  • Stick a skewer into the middle to test – it should come out clean. If not prolong the cooking
  • Cool the loaf on a rack

SUN-DRIED TOMATO AND OLIVE LOAF

A bit like the previous recipe, this one has sun-dried tomatoes, Mozzarella and olives – great in summer with salads, or cut in squares and served as an appetizer with drinks.

Serves 8
3 eggs
1 natural yogurt (125g)
120 ml (1/2 a cup) olive or sunflower oil
150g plain white flour (Type 45 in France)
1 packet baking powder
125g Mozzarella, cut in cubes
75g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
30 green olives, stoned/pitted and cut in slivers
salt and pepper

  • Heat the oven to 180ºC
  • In a mixer or food processor, beat together the eggs, yogurt and oil
  • Sift together the flour and baking powder and fold them into the egg mixture
  • Stir in the Mozzarella, tomatoes and olives
  • Pour the batter into a loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes
  • Stick a skewer into the middle to test – it should come out clean
  • Cool the loaf on a rack
  • Slice and/or cut in bite-sized squares

PICNIC FLATBREAD STUFFED WITH SALAD AND COLD MEATS

Here’s a fun idea for a picnic bread: take a softish flatbread – ciabatta, foccacia or similar – and remove a slice from the bottom. Hollow out the top (keep the crumbs for a gratin), spread the hollowed-out top and the bottom with mayo/pesto/mustard or a mixture, and fill with layers of cold meats, tomatoes, peppers and other saladstuffs. The contents will depend on your tastes and what you have to hand – get creative, have fun!
Serves 6
1 flatbread, about 25cm diameter or 30 x 20 cm, 1 day old
mayonnaise/pesto/mustard
tomatoes
salt and pepper
olive oil
basil leaves
cold meats: salami, coppa, prosciutto etc.
soft fresh goat’s cheese or Chavroux
peeled peppers
avocado
crunchy (iceberg-type) lettuce leaves

  • Slice the bottom off the flatbread and set this aside – this will be the base
  • Invert the top and scratch out the crumb with a fork to make a shell (keep the crumbs for a gratin topping – they freeze well)
  • Spread the base and the inside of the inverted top with a thin coating of mayo/pesto/mustard or a mixture of these
  • Slice some tomatoes and put a layer in the inverted top, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with olive oil and add a layer of basil leaves
  • Follow with a layer of cold meats, overlapping slightly
  • Add a layer of soft fresh goat’s cheese or Chavroux, crunchy lettuce leaves, strips of peeled pepper, some avocado segments, more basil leaves and olive oil
  • Continue in this way with successive layers till the shell is full
  • Put the base on top of the shell and turn the whole thing right side up
  • Place on a board or dish, put another board on top and place a weight on top (cans of beans or similar)
  • If possible, refrigerate the loaf for several hours or overnight – this makes it easier to slice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s