Using this Fresh Bread recipe, I made a bunch of wannabe ciabattas by adding bits of minced chilli and pulverised arugula. Then of course, I proceeded to overbake it.
Nope, we don’t have a panini press at home, so I sliced it in half and toasted it. Then filled it with butter, pan-seared pork shoulder, arugula, cheddar and pepper, and smashed it flat with the palm of my hand.
There it is, a ciabatta wannabe, nothing more.
“Was your dad a baker? ‘Cos you’ve got hot buns!”
Well, baking bread is not only about them hot buns (even though it really is). It’s actually pretty fun and extremely rewarding. When that batch of freshly baked bread rolls come out of your oven, you’d be smiling from ear to ear.
I made some bread with Sarah that day and we got our recipe from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef.
- 30g/1oz fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
- 30g/1oz honey (or sugar)
- 625ml/just over 1 pint tepid water
- 1kg/just over 2lb strong bread flour
- 30g/1oz salt
- some extra flour for dusting
- Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water
- On a clean surface, make a mountain of the flour. Then make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Use a fork to introduce and mix the flour into the mixture, until all the yeast mixture is soaked up. Then pour the remaining tepid water in and mix everything together gradually in the same way. You want to do this until you have a moist dough. (Some flours may require more water than others, so don’t be a afraid to adjust the quantities.)
- Knead away! Whack, smack, punch and work at the dough to activate the gluten. Do this for about 5 minutes. Great way to relieve any pent up frustrations. Hah. If any of the dough sticks to your hands, rub them together with a little extra flour.
- When you’re done kneading, make the dough into a roundish shape and flour the top of it. Deeply score the dough with a knife, allowing it to relax and rise with ease (and with yeast). Then, flour a deep mixing bowl as well and place the dough in. Cover with clingflim and let it rise till it doubles in size. Jamie says, “Ideally you want a warm, moist, draught-free place for the quickest prove.” This should take about 40 minutes.
- When the dough has grown twice its size, get it out and bash it about for about a minute or so before shaping it to whatever form you want. Then let it sit and rise again for other 40 minutes or so. This second proving is extremely crucial as it’s the time your bread becomes delicately soft and lovely.
- Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
- Cooking the bread now requires tender handling and patience. No more hard bashes and violent grabbing. You want the air in the bread to stay inside, so gently place the bread into the preheated oven, without slamming the door.
- Monitor the baking, take it out when the bread’s beautifully bronzed and hollow-sounding when tapped. Leave them on a rack to cool.
Here’s what we made with this batch of dough:
Get your hands into some flour and yeast, and knead away today.
Inspired greatly by the film ‘V for Vendetta’, I decided to make this for breakfast.
Okay, I didn’t make this. Sarah did.
It features her meticulous nature, her love for rocket leaves and a slice of her super-seeded loaf of bread.
- Gather what you need to do this: a slice of bread, an egg and an empty glass. Oh, and a little bit of veggie oil.
- Make a hole in the slice of bread with the glass, not too big, not too small. Take care not to break the hole after making it. Handle gently.
- Heat a skillet and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- Spread the oil about fairly evenly and lay the holed slice of bread gently on.
- Crack the egg into the hole. If you’re particular, like Sarah, crack the yolk on at the end so it’s in the middle.
- Put the lid onto the skillet. If your skillet doesn’t come with a cover, use a plate. We do this because we don’t like eating raw eggs; the heat generated in the skillet will cook the top of the egg.
- Cook till you’re satisfied with the doneness. Sarah thinks part-cooked-part-runny is the best way egg yolks should be done.
- And of course, have it with fresh (or not-so-fresh) rocket leaves.
Happy mornings, forever.
You probably won’t have enough time in the mornings, but when you do, you’d be pleasantly rewarded if you try this – almost as good as a panini.
- Toast a couple of slices of bread, wholemeal or white, up to you.
- While that’s in there, fry up some onions and white mushrooms. Don’t forget to add a sprinkle of dried thyme or basil, salt and pepper.
- Your bread should be all crisp and toasted before you’re done with the onions and mushrooms. Slap on a small hunk of butter on both slices.
- On goes the mushrooms and onions on one slice, and fresh rocket leaves on the other.
- Peel out some mature cheddar with a speed peeler, and lay them on the sizzling mushrooms and onions.
- Then, here’s the grand finale – a fried egg, sunny side up, done with an egg ring.
This is an egg ring (with an egg in it):
- Once that’s done, lay it gently on the cheese. Be careful not to burst that lovely yolk of golden goodness.
- Sandwich everything together and cut up into pretty triangles, if you must.
Gloomy autumn mornings are a thing of the past.
Back when Mummy made breakfast for me to bring to school, I’d always be pleasantly surprised whenever it was toasted fishcake sandwiches. Even though she made it every Friday.
This concept of ‘fishcakes’ is really quite unique to Singapore. For some reason, it’s extremely difficult to find it even in other parts of Asia, not to mention Europe. Back in London, I’d only find it in Chinatown; what a tragedy.
In any case, if and when you get your hands on some ‘fishcake’, please treat yourself to a morning toasted fishcake sandwich. It will complete your day (and your life).
- 1 piece of fishcake, halved and toasted
- 2 slices of bread, white or wholemeal
- 1 thumbsized knob of butter, halved
With a knob of butter and a hot toasty piece of fishcake wedged in each slice of bread, you’ve got one more thing to make your Friday brighter.
It’s not midnight; I should be sleeping, but I got hungry.
This photo really doesn’t do justice to the taste, especially after you have a bite of it in your mouth. It literally only took five minutes to make though.
The explosion of garlic and pepper mixed with savoury cheese, and the pleasant hang of nutty rocket and olive oil, meaty mushrooms and earthy beef mince, sitting on crunchy crusty bread.
Now I can sleep happy.