We have been snowed in for about five days – although it seems longer!
The snow – which fell quite heavily at the beginning – then drifted onto the roads making some of them (especially the ones that run North to South) impassable.
We ran out of bread.
Now I’m not a big bread eater but my Mum loves a couple of slices of toast with her coffee in the morning so I decided to bake my own.
Usually I make spelt bread – it’s a lovely halfway house between a white loaf and the more rustic wholemeal version. But I’d run out of that kind of flour and all I had was strong white.
I read a couple of recipes and methods and combined them.
One was from the back of the small tin of Allinson’s easy bake yeast.
And the idea to use a dutch oven or cast iron pan to bake the loaf was taken from a blog called Life as a Strawberry which also pointed me to this great video.
Watch from about 25 seconds in.
I didn’t use a proving basket – or one of the fancy sliders – but it still worked.
I’m delighted with the result. The bread has a light, fine crumb and a great crust reminscent of a French Boule.
I think what really clinched it was preheating the cast iron enamel pot and lid (also known as a dutch oven) and gently tipping the dough in and then replacing the top and slamming it back into the oven pronto.
Ironically after I’d made the bread I went outside and the thaw was well under way – so we went to the shops and bought some fresh veg.
I made an avocado, tomato and lettuce sandwich for lunch.
And yes it does taste as good as it looks.
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 7 g easy bake dried yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar or other sweetener
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegan butter or margarine
- 300 ml hand warm water
Pre-heat oven to at least 220 C or 430F
Mix flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a big bowl. Using your fingertips rub in margarine until it looks like fine crumbs.
Mix in the water with a cutlery knife until it's a ball of dough.
Tip mix onto lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (or use a dough hook in an electric mixer).
Flour the dough and leave to rise in the clean bowl that's also been well dusted with flour. Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere draught free and warm until doubled in size - this could take up to an hour.
If you want you can cover bowl with a plastic bag and leave in the fridge overnight and it will still prove but more slowly (and apparently the flavour will be better).
Turn out onto floured surface.
I stretch, fold and turn the dough a bit like an envelope - pulling one side out and into the middle and then turn and do the same again three or four times.
Then I gently shape into a round ball and dust well with flour (see the link to the video in the above article).
And put seam down, back into the bowl which has been floured again and cover.
Leave for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile heat a dutch oven with the lid on in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
This is a heavy cast iron enamel pot with a lid - like a Le Creuset at least 12cm deep (4 1/2 inches) and 19 cm in diameter (mine is 19cm at the bottom and slopes out to 24cm at the top).
Remove from oven and take lid off and gently slip the proved dough seam side UP into it.
Replace lid and put back into oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and lift lid.
Gently turn out without burning yourself and cool on a rack. Slice and eat!