Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Pumpkin Bread

Its November, the autumn has well and truly settled in and in case you have missed it, its Halloween season!! I swear, the shops have started selling Halloween tat back in July, but now I can give in an buy as much cra.. I mean decoration as I feel like. Plus Mr Ranty just informed me that he has ordered a smoke machine, strobe lights and horror sounds – so you can see, it’s a family event in our household
Plus, Ms Rantlet is two now and is much more interested in the holidays, so I am really looking forward to introducing her to Halloween and might even have to dress her up in a silly costume or two :) 
Anyway, where was I? Right, Halloween, autumn … I love autumn, I love American word for it – “fall” – because that it exactly what it feels like. The leaves are turning copper colour, the days are getting shorter, but still mild with a ray of sunshine or two. And the best thing about autumn is pumpkins – not the huge orange decorative things they sell all over the place (although I shall be making good use of those for Halloween lanterns), but good old tasty grey pumpkins. My local farmers market – Telegraph Hill market – has them for £2 each, such a bargain!! We bought a HUGE pumpkin last week and will be buying more, while the season lasts.
We managed to get four meals out of that massive pumpkin, you can see how incredibly versatile it is:
-          Thai pumpkin curry
-          Smokey pumpkin and bacon soup
-          Roast pumpkin as a side serving for a steak and kidney pudding (recipe to come)
-          Pumpkin frittata
-          Pumpkin bread
By the time I decided to make pumpkin bread, I only had a small slice of roast pumpkin left, but it turned out it was more than enough. Don’t roast a pumpkin especially for this recipe, just look at it as a way to use any left over pumpkin you might have. PS: I think it would work well with roast potatoes as well
Pumpkin Bread
250ml water, luke warm
25g sugar
2 tsp active dried yeast (I use Allinson or Hovis)
400g white flour
100g wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
125g roast pumpkin, cut in large cubes
Place water, sugar and yeast in a free standing mixer, leave for about 5 minutes for the year to do its magic. Again, with active yeast you don’t really need to activate it, as they should be good to go as they are, but I do like to see the yeast bubbling away before I start mixing in the rest f the ingredients.
Add flours, salt and pumpkin to the liquids and mix on low speed – speed 2 on KitchenAid – for 6 minutes. The dough will look quite well for the first five minutes or so, don’t be tempted to add any extra flour, it will come together at the last minute. The dough will be quite soft and slightly sticky, lovely orange colour with some bigger pumpkin chunks showing through.
I contemplated adding some butter to the dough, but the pumpkin adds enough flavour and creaminess, so I don’t think it needs it.
But I think the dough could take some spices – maybe cumin or ginger, if you want to make it a bit more interesting.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm (or shower cap as I do it) and leave in a warm place for 2 to 3 hours (depending how warm your house is), until the dough has doubled in size.
I think the texture of the dough is robust enough to stand up to a free shaped loaf, but I decided to bake it in a loaf tin. Line the tin with baking parchment, shape the dough into a batard, place it in a tin, cover it with clinfilm (shower cap) and leave in a warm place for another hour or so, until well risen.
Preheat the oven to 180C and bake for 35 minutes, until deep golden brown on top. Leave the loaf in the tin for about 5-10 minutes, take it out of the tin and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.
The bread is very soft, with a hint of sweetness from both the sugar and pumpkin, and its absolutely gorgeous with a good spread of salted butter on it.

I didn't have time to take a photo of it before it has disappeared - Ranty Man managed to snapped a photo, so I will upload it soon

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Easy-As WholeMeal Oat Loaf

With all the goings on lately – finishing off work, prepping the house and Rant-a-Baby arrival (yay!!!), I have neglected my starter and it has died on me.
But not to panic, I always have a jar of mother starter sitting in the fridge, so not all is lost. However, that starter would take a few days to come alive and become the lovely bubbly bread making mess and I am out of bread. Can you believe it? No starter, no bread and not much time to spare – the only thing to do is to make a yeasted bread.
I always wanted to find an easy fool-proof recipe, something that takes very little effort and works every time. Well, I think I have cracked it – o far I’ve made it three times and it turned out great every time – good volume, great texture and it toasts really well.
Easy-As WholeMeal Oat Loaf
320ml water, luke-warm
2 tsp dried active yeast (I use Allison or Hovis)
1 Tbsp honey
320g white flour
150g wholemeal flour
30g oats
1 tsp salt
40g butter, room temperature
Place water, honey and yeast in a standing mixer – leave for a couple of minutes, giving the honey time to dissolve and for the yeast to activate a bit. Technically you don’t need to do it with active or fast acting yeast, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt, right?
Add flours, oats and salt to the liquids and mix of slow speed – speed 2 on KitchenAid – for 6 minutes.
Add soft butter and mix for another 2 minutes on medium speed – speed 4 on KitchenAid.
You are looking for soft dough, slightly on the wet side.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm(or showercap in my case) and leave at room temperature for 2-3 hours. You want the dough to double in volume, so judge yourself how long it would take, depending on how warm your house is. In summer I would wait for about an hour and a half, but as it is coming into autumn now, I leave it for a bit longer.
This bread has the right texture to spring up high, so I find a bread tin makes the best loaf rather than a free-form loaf, but feel free to experiment.
Prepare loaf tin – if you are using a non-stick one, you won’t need to do anything to prep it. I always line my loaf tins with parchment paper, just to be on the safe side and to ensure that the bread comes out nice and easy.
Shape the dough into a loaf shape and place it in the prepared tin. Cover the loaf loosely with a clingfilm (or even better, a showercap) and leave for an hour at room temperature, until the dough has increased in volume by about 2/3.
Preheat the oven to 180C and bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown on top and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Take the bread out of the tin and leave to cool for about an hour or so before cutting.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos today, but trust me, this recipe makes a one good looking loaf, and I sure am will be making it again, so will add some photos later.
Hope you enjoy the recipe, it really is easy to make and it has the most delicious flavour