Monday, February 25, 2013

Wheat-rye cider loaf

This recipe is from... but I bet you already KNOW where it's from and whose it is. You won't even have to guess. Thaaaaat's right. Dan Lepard, the latest man in my life. He's only lately been in my life, though. Until a couple of weeks back, my No. 1 baking man was Hollywood. Paul Hollywood. 

I don't know about you folks outside the UK, but in the UK, The Great British Bake-Off is one of the most watched baking shows. And with good reason... one of the judges, the man with ice-blue eyes, Paul Hollywood, is most watchable. Eminently watchable. Even more than the show, much as I love it. So, carried along by the rush of my crush, I bought his book "How To Bake".

It's a good book, don't get me wrong - it's got good photos of him and his breads, and there are recipes I want to try. But a lot of them require a Kitchen Aid-type of food processor (if that's what they're called), with a dough hook. I don't have a dough hook, much less a Kitchen Aid. In my kitchen, my arms are my aid. So until I get one of them Aids (erk... not meant the way that sounds!), or figure out how to get around not having a hook (being fairly sure that Abu Hamza al-Masri would not be amenable to helping me out), I'll just have to stick with recipes that require arm-power, not hook-power.  

Which brings me back to Dan Lepard who, going by his photo in The Guardian, is not an ice-blue-eyed killer-smiled baking heart-throb... but - and this is a BIG but - his baking recipes are doable. As eminently doable as  Paul Hollywood is eminently watchable. For the time being, doability trumps watchability. And that, my friends, is saying a LOT! 

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Recipe for: Wheat-rye cider loaf


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1 tsp fast action yeast
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey
150 ml warm water
175 ml dry cider
375 gm (2-3/4 cups) strong white bread flour
75 gm wholegrain rye flour (just over 1/2 cup)
50 gm olive oil
1.5 tsp salt
a little oil for kneading (if required)


1. Mix the water and cider in a big bowl, then stir in the yeast and syrup till dissolved.

2. Add the olive oil, bread flour and rye flour to the bowl, and finally the salt. Stir quickly and evenly until mixed, and the dough comes together into a rough ball. Cover the bowl and leave it for 10 minutes.

3. Now lightly oil your worktop or kneading board, and scrape the dough onto the board. Knead lightly for 10 seconds, then return the dough to the bowl. leaving it to rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the kneading/resting procedure two more times.

4. After the third time, put the dough back into the bowl and let it rise undisturbed until it's puffy and looks like it has more or less doubled in size. Lightly flour the worktop/board. Punch the dough down and put it on the floured board. Pat it or use a rolling pin to shape it into a rough rectangle with the long side facing you.

5. Now roll up the flattened dough from the far end towards you, as tightly as you can manage it. Place it seam-side down on a tray lined with nonstick baking paper. Cover with a clean cloth and let it rise for 1-2 hours or till it has risen again.

6. Heat the oven to 220C (200C/425F in a fan-assisted oven). Cut a 1-cm deep slash down the centre of the loaf and bake it in the hot oven for about 40 minutes or till golden brown on top and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom.
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Let cool before slicing.

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