No Time for Sourdough?

Daunted about having to make a sourdough starter?  Sourdough isn’t hard, but it requires a lot of waiting and feeding!  Try this simple sourdough recipe (adapted from one by Peter Sidwell) – it’s a cheat’s version, but gives an almost authentic taste and texture for those of us with too little time to wait!  The recipe is not unlike an Italian “biga” or French “poolish” and gives enough starter for two loaves.  You can keep any remaining starter in the fridge (I keep mine in a kilner jar) for up to 5 days.  Bring back to room temperature at least 40 minutes before using or put in an oven at 40 degrees C for 15 mins.

10g fresh yeast (or 1 teasp. dried yeast)
300g strong white flour
2 tablesp. balsamic vinegar
300 ml water
1 teaspoon sugar17144358205_7d9eaf42ab_z

250g sour starter
120 ml water
150g strong white flour
100g rye flour
10g fresh yeast or 1 teasp dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the sour starter ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave for at least 12 hours to prove at room temperature (I tend to do this overnight).

For the sourdough, put 250g of the starter in a bowl to a stand mixer with a dough hook, or the jug of a Thermomix processor.  Add the two flours, salt, sugar, and the yeast diluted in the the water.  Mix together at slow speed for about 20 seconds till it starts to come together and then increase to speed 1-2 for the mixer. Mix for 6 minutes.  For the Thermomix, mix at speed 3 for 10-12 seconds until it comes together and then continue on the dough setting for 6 minutes.

Remove the dough and shape into a round.  Place in an oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel or cling film for about an hour for it to prove until doubled in size.  Remove the dough and shape or place in a proving basket for another 40 minutes.  Slash the top and place in a hot oven (220 degrees C) for approximately 30 minutes and nicely browned.

Cheese & Pancetta Bread

Ingredients 400g Strong White Bread Flour
100g Rye Bread Flour
10g salt
15g fresh yeast or
7g fast action dried yeast
20 ml olive oil
300 ml cool water
150g pancetta lardons, fried & cooled
200g cheese – cheddar, comte, gruyere or other hard cheese – cut into 1 cm cubes

IMG_16541.  Using a Kenwood Chef with a dough hook or a Thermomix (on the dough setting) put the flours into the bowl, add the salt and stir to disperse.  Add the olive oil, fresh or dried yeast (if using fresh, I like to mix mine in with a little water first) and the lardons, including the residue fat left in the pan.  Process in the Kenwood for 6-7 minutes, initially on Speed 1 for a minute and then increasing to Speed 2.  For the Thermomix, mix on Speed 3 for 10 seconds until the dough starts to come together and then, using the dough setting, process for 6 minutes.

2.  If using a Thermomix, transfer to a bowl and leave to prove for approximately an hour, covered with cling film, otherwise leave in the Kenwood bowl.

3.  Oil a 20cm springform cake tin.  Divide the dough into three and roll out one third to a circle to cover the base of the tin.  Scatter over half the cheese.  Roll out a similar disc of dough and lay on top.  Add the rest of the cheese.  Roll out the final circle of dough and place on top.  Dust with flour, or if liked sprinkle some extra grated cheese on top.  Leave to prove for about an hour covered lightly with a tea towel.

4.  Meanwhile, heat the over to 220 degrees C and bake for approximately 30 minutes.  Leave the loaf in the tin for approximately 10 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

The Benefits of Cooking from Scratch

lgclogoIf you can compare meals served at home today with those prepared by our grandmothers and their mothers, the glaring difference is that at least one dish will have come from a box, a plastic tray, a bag or a pouch!

Think about breakfast, for example. Did you have toast? If you did, did you make the bread? Did you have pancakes or maybe crumpets? Did these come from the supermarket, plastic wrapped? None of these items are difficult to make: they simply need the time to make them. These pre-prepared foods are taking a toll on our health. Have you recently picked up a loaf of sliced bread and read the ingredients? It makes interesting reading. Bread should contain only the following ingredients: flour, water, yeast. To give bread more flavour, salt, oil, butter and/or a little sugar may be added but is not necessary to the success of the bread. Pick up a commercial loaf of sliced, white bread when you’re next in the supermarket and read the list of ingredients. You will very likely find all or some of the following ingredients: Palm Oil (a hydrogenated fat), Emulsifiers (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Mono- and Diacetyltartaric Acid Esters of Mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids) Flour Treatment Agent, Calcium Propionate, Potassium Sorbate  Ask yourself, why are these are being added?

I guess the consensus would be that we are making unnecessary work for ourselves and that our lives are vastly improved by having the convenience of being able to toss a shiny cellophane bag of bread into shopping trolley instead of taking the time to mix the ingredients, knead the dough, let it rise, knead it some more, then shape it into the desired form.  It actually only takes 10 minutes to make the dough (with a mixer) and less than 5 minutes to knock it back and shape it for the oven. That’s only 15 minutes of actual “making”. The other 2 hours are to allow for the bread to prove and rise and then 30 minutes to bake in the oven. (You can be doing other things whilst the bread is proving.) But just remember – when you toss that bag of bread into the shopping trolley, you are getting undesirable (and unwanted) ingredients – in many cases toxins.

Imagine what you are missing out on – inhaling the delicious aroma emanating from your oven as the bread bakes, the mouth-watering anticipation as you let the loaf rest just long enough for you to slice it, and the satisfaction of having created a freshly baked home-made loaf.  Packaged bread from the supermarket just doesn’t compare.

Unfortunately, by relying on the food industry to provide us with ready prepared meals, we are condemning our future and our health. Most adults today in the UK who troll the supermarket aisles haven’t a clue where the food that they buy comes from, and are incapable of making a simple meal, from basic ingredients, entirely from scratch. According to an article in the Daily Mail (9/10/13), one in six adults has never cooked a meal from scratch, and use packets or jars of ingredients to make evening meals at least four nights a week. Two thirds of people admit they are more likely to reach for ready- made options rather than fresh ingredients according to a survey of 2,000 adults by Co-operative Food. Also, youngsters are being served convenience food such as chicken nuggets, sausages and pizza, according to research by the Department of Health.

With a bit of planning, even the busiest person can cook from scratch without the use of convenience items. What? You can’t cook? If you can read and possess the ability to use weighing scales or a measuring cup – you can cook! By making food from scratch you: – know what’s in it – can make it stretch, making many meals from one food – eat well for less. Need help with learning how to cook from scratch?  Contact me.