Monthly Archives: January 2012

New Year’s Resolution: Bread 1 of 12: Seeded Granary Bread

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I made a silly number of New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. I don’t know what possessed me but I’ve decided that 2012 is going to be the year I do lots of things. So this year I’d like to jog a half marathon, write more blog posts, save more money and attempt to learn how to bake.

Bread tin & mixing bowl

So I’ve set myself a target of baking a different kind of bread every month. I got myself some bakers’ tools (bread tin and large ceramic mixing bowl) and got myself some recommendations from resident Edinburgh food geeks and baking enthusiasts.

I decided to start off with something quite simple, at least until I can get the kneading process down to a tea. After a little bit of research I found out that the art to bread is the way in which you knead the dough – basically the way you air the mixture. I wanted to try something with plain-ish flour but didn’t want to go as simple as the plain white loaf.

I decided upon a seeded granary loaf using the method of a simple white loaf. I picked up some dried yeast, wholemeal flour and a variety of seeds (caraway, pumpkin, sesame and poppy). I’ve chosen a very simple method in the hope that I can work from that method, tweaking and changing it in the future so that it works for me.

The method basically goes like this:

  1. Mix the ingredients (make sure to mix the yeast with lukewarm water before adding to the rest of the ingredients – to activate the yeast)
  2. Knead dough for 10 minutes until elastic and slightly sticky
  3. Roll back into a ball and place back in the mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to double in size for 1 hour
  4. Knead again for 5 minutes
  5. Place in a well oiled bread tin and leave to rise for another hour
  6. Bake for 40 minutes

I got some great tips from some bread-making experts on twitter, some that I utilised and some that I didn’t and wish I did. I set the oven on the highest heat setting for the first 10 minutes of baking the bread and sprinkled the loaf with water to create a nice little crust, these tips worked really well! It was also recommended to me that I use rapeseed oil instead of the standard olive oil in the mixture. It is said to be less heavy than standard olive oil and provides a more delicate taste. I didn’t do this as Tesco didn’t have any but I will next time to compare the difference in texture and taste. I will also be using sea salt instead of table salt for my next loaf to compare the differences.

Seeded Granary BreadSo, the finished article. I’m overall really happy with my first attempt at baking bread. It seems that by sticking to the simplistic method I haven’t made anything more difficult than it should be and it’s something I can really work from. The bread is a great size and filled out the bread tin nicely and also had a fantastic crispy crust.

Inside the bread is textured, nutty and buttery. It is very slightly dense but I’m sure as my kneading method gets better the breads will inevitably get more air and will hopefully be lighter. It was quite messy to cut, I think if I made this loaf again I wouldn’t bother putting seeds on the top of the loaf as most of them fell off when I started cutting the bread anyway.

I’d give this loaf 6/10. It’s pretty uninspiring in terms of flavour and ingredients used and I hope to change this next month. However I’m really happy that it came out actually looking like bread and hopefully after another couple of months I can be producing top quality loafs to be proud of!

I served this bread topped with butter with a home-made creamy garlic rabbit stew that I cooked in my slow cooker for 8 hours. The perfect Sunday supper!

 

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Game Stew & Dumplings

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Game mix in the marinade

Sundays are my favourite day of the week, even though you know you’ve got to get up for work the next morning. I always feel so well rested on a Sunday and it’s my favourite day to do some cooking.

I have the advantage of living in Stockbridge and every morning there is a Stockbridge Market. It sells meats, fish, fresh vegetables and bread, sushi, coffee, vegan nibbles and lots of crafty stuff. We usually do a quick visit before walking the pup. Today I fancied something hearty and rich to start my week on a high. The meat counter had some delicious looking game mix and diced venison – that’ll do. A game stew & dumplings it is.

    • Game & venison mix
    • Bouquet garnet 
    • Fresh thyme
    • Bottle of (good) red wine
    • Bay Leaves
    • Juniper berries (can used dry ones)
    • Garlic

Marinate all these together in a casserole bowl for at least half an hour (24 hours is ideal if you have the time)

  • Plain flour
  • Diced onion, carrots and celery
  • Butter
  • Tomato puree
  • Beef stock

Separate the game mix and the marinade and lightly flour the meat. Cook on a high heat until golden brown. Take it out and put it on a plate then add a spoonful of butter to the pan and fry the onions for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat right down and add 2 tablespoons of flour and a dollop of tomato puree. Stir into a kind of paste for a minute. Then this is the nice smelling, yummy fun part – slowly add in the marinade, stirring constantly so there are no lumps. Bring this to the boil and let the mixture reduce by half. Then add 500ml of beef stock, the meat and the chopped vegetables.

Leave to slowly cook for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally. 

Whilst your stew is simmering, make the dumplings.

  • Plain flour
  • Baking powder
  • Freshly chopped parsley
  • Horseradish paste or freshly grated horseradish (both work well)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Water to mix 
Dumplings are so easy to make and taste great in a stew. They go especially well with game stews because the doughy, floury dumplings mix so well with the rich, deep flavours of the game meat. I’ve added some fresh parsley and horseradish to give the dumplings a bit of an edge and to brighten up the dish. Plus, like I said, they are just so easy to make.

Firstly mix the flour, baking powder and a large pince of salt. Then mix in the chopped parsley, horseradish and enough water to create a lovely sticky dough. Spread some flour on a surface and your hands and roll the dough into about 10 circular balls (depending on how thick and doughy you want each dumpling to be). Then all you have to do is poach them in water for about 15 minutes. I roll them in a bit of melted butter straight after poaching them, the dumplings absorb the butter making them shiny and giving them added richness.

Lastly, add the dumplings to the still simmering stew, stir a couple of times to coat the dumplings in the sauce and plate up. Sprinkle over some chopped parsley if you are feeling fancy dancy.

The finished article

There you have it, game stew with horseradish dumplings, yum yum yum. I promise you this will win over any meat eater (and maybe a few vegetarians). Also trust me, make a big portion, I made enough for 4 people, I had one portion, my boyfriend had 3. Serve the rest of red wine or a dark ale, a stout preferably.
Enjoy!