Category Archives: Bread

Ciabatta, pretzel rolls & confit garlic…

In amongst recent creations in my kitchen this week, and in between lots more semolina sourdough, I have made my first (and second) ciabatta loaves, my first (and second!) pretzel rolls, and lots of confit garlic.

The second batches of ciabatta and pretzels were better than the firsts, but then the firsts were pretty good too, so I was happy. And the chief taster and bread eater in the house loved and at them all, so I must have got something right”

For the ciabatta, I followed this recipe and took very useful notes from Sally’s post

First batch 

I possibly rushed the first batch, because for the second batch I gave the biga more time to come up to room temperature (from the fridge), plus I made it all by hand. 

Very bubbly biga 


I followed Gingers recipe for the pretzel rolls. It includes dunking the uncooked dough into a bath of bicarbonate of soda, which was a first for me! That’s what creates the darker coloured chewy exterior.

The first time I made the buns (above), I placed the portioned and cut dough onto baking paper on a tray to refrigerate overnight (as per the recipe) but the buns stuck to the paper and remained very soft so I had to pull off what I could which meant that they lost their shape. The second time (below), I floured the dough well and floured the tray well and it worked perfectly. 

I think this is the perfect time to note, that flours behave differently around the world and country, some require more water than others. It’s something we have to feel our way with..


I’ve heard the term confit on so many cookery shows but never know what it means. Having seen confit garlic coming up recently, I decided to look it up. To confit historically was to preserve an ingredient by cooking it for a long period over/in a low heat in oil, grease of sugar water. This way food stuffs could be preserved for long periods. 

Wikipedia says: “The term is usually used in modern cuisine to mean long slow cooking in oil or fat at low temperatures, many having no element of preservation, such as dishes like confit potatoes.” It’s typically a method used to cook meat, but can be used for vegetables too. Therefore when I saw Sally produce confit garlic and chilli, I decided to give it a go.

I do love my garlic peeler, the roll of rubber in the photo; a close friend bought it for me a few years ago and it was the perfect gift!

I made my confit in the oven (the photo above shows the oil still bubbling – warning: it’s VERY HOT) . 

I submerged lots of peeled garlic cloves in enough olive oil to cover them and cooked at 140C for 45-60 minutes until they became soft and sticky, but not completely broken down. I then drained them immediately (if you leave them to cool in the oil, they sink into the oil and become completely sodden, which I didn’t like so much), let them cool then stored them in a jar, well the ones that I didn’t eat there and then…!

Once cooled I also stored the oil and used it on everything! 


The garlic is soft and tasty and can be used in dishes, or merely spread on a piece of toast, as I did here…


These were all fun to make and learn new processes, and I’ll make them all again! 

So, now it’s time for this week’s Fiesta Friday, and Angie very kindly featured my semolina sourdough in last week’s picks 😊

Semolina sourdough…

On Instagram I follow a lovely lady called Anita who bakes amazing bread and lots of sourdough which she shares as @sourdough_mania. Anita shares lots of recipes and tips and recently posted a semolina sourdough recipe which just tickled my fancy! So I made it, the loaf is in the photo above, and it was fab. The dough is lovely, beautifully smooth, wonderfully springy, and the baked outcome is really tasty. So I’m sharing my experience and recipe; I added some oil to Anita’s recipe to tighten up the crumb…

NOTE: this recipe is four days in the making, although not labour intensive during that time, and I do think it’s worth it. I tried making a shorter overnight version and the outcome wasn’t as good as the full four day version, although I will be experimenting with that further. All of the love and care does create a lovely, bouncy dough.

It is a VERY soft dough though and it does need to be cooked straight from the fridge. If you leave it out of the fridge for a while before cooking, my experience is that it will lose its form and spread as you bake it. 

Recipe 

Preparing your starter: 

Feed your starter. I know that if I feed Star with 1/4 cup of flour & 1/4 cup of water, she will yield the necessary 70g of bubbly starter. I increase this to 1/2 cups to generate the starter I need when I’m making 500g loafs. Once your starter is lovely and bubbly, begin..

Day one: mix together..

70g bubbly starter

70g ground semolina 

70g water

…and leave out overnight.

In a separate bowl mix together…

310g semolina flour

180g water 

1tbsp oil 

…and leave in fridge overnight.

Day two: remove the semolina/water/oil mixture from the fridge to soften up and make it easier to mix with the starter.

Your starter should be lovely and bubbly and alive now. Add 1tsp salt to it, then mix it into the semolina/water/oil mixture. You’ll need to get your hands in to mix it really well.

Keep it out of the fridge like this for 2-3 hours and during that time, perform a series of 5 stretches and folds on the dough. Then cover the bowl and return it to the fridge.

Day three: remove the bowl from the fridge and leave at room temperature and allow the dough to increase by about 60% (by eye). 

Then shape the dough. I stretch and fold the dough into a ball and place it into a floured banneton. 

Cover and put back into the fridge. 

Day four: Preheat oven to 275C.

Prepare your choice of bakeware – I bake mine in an enamel roaster on a round of parchment paper. Take the dough from the fridge and place directly into the roaster/on baking sheet, slash and put into the oven.

Reduce the oven to 245C (I use 220C fan), bake with the lid in the roaster for 25 mins, remove the lid and bake for a further 15 mins

Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool before slicing 

Since making this first loaf, I have made 3 more! For one of them I merely doubled everything and created a monster loaf (above)! It was a beauty though!! I’ve also calculated up the quantities to make a 500g (semolina) loaf which is my typical size, and it worked well too.

The quantities were: 

112g starter/semolina/water

500g semolina 

288g water 

1tbsp oil

1tsp salt 

Baked for 25 mins covered, 20 mins uncovered 

I highly recommend giving it a go! 

Wishing you all a great weekend, starting with this week’s Fiesta Friday with Lindy and Paula

x

The sourdough files…

I haven’t talked about my bread making on my blog for a while, although I share loaves regularly on Instagram, so I thought I’d post an update. I now make 3 loaves of sourdough bread every week for my son, Ben, plus 2 regular loaves for my husband, who doesn’t like sourdough. I now have my method for producing sourdough loaves pretty fixed, and as Ben raves about the bread on a regular basis, I can only assume that I’m getting it right – for his tastes anyway! 

I’ve also been playing with scoring the loaves, as you might notice! 

It’s great fun! Let’s be honest, Ben doesn’t care about how it looks, that bits just for me 🙂

The basis of my standard loaf is formed from the overnight loaf recipes created and shared by Celia and Selma, with tweaks for my requirements. I’ve played around with various methods and flours and recipes in the past couple of years, but I always come back to this method, this is my failsafe, and when you need to produce bread regularly for breakfasts and school lunches, you need to know it works!

A key element for me is that I need a closer crumb than typical sourdough. Artisan holes are great, but not for making sandwiches for school dinners. To achieve this, I have found that replacing some of the water with olive oil creates a softer tighter crumb and softer bread. 


I keep my starter, Star, in the fridge, and every couple of days, I bring her up to room temperature, feed her equal amounts of flour and water, and once she’s bubbly and happy, I make up two lots of dough. 

I follow the quantities in Selma’s recipe, linked above, but I replace 30g of the water with olive oil.

In two bowls I squidge two lots all of the ingredients together to a rough mix, so that the flour is completely mixed, cover the bowl with a plastic bag, and leave it for an hour.

After the hour, I fold and knead the dough in the bowl for a minute or so until it comes together and forms a smooth ball. 

I then place the dough in bannetons sprinkled with rice flour to prevent sticking. 

I cover the bannetons with plastic bags, and place them both in the fridge. 

Sometimes they’re in the fridge for a night, sometimes for 4 days – the longer proving develops more flavour. 

When I’m ready to bake one, I remove it from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature and prove for another couple of hours. 

I heat the oven to 220c fan, and only when I’m ready to bake, I turn the dough out onto an baking tray, lined with parchment paper. If you turn the dough out too soon, it can spread. 

I quickly slash the dough then bake. 

I put the loaf in the oven, turn the temperature down to 200C fan, and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C fan for another 25 minutes.

Then remove the loaf and cool completely on a rack before slicing. I usually bake my loaves the day before I need them to ensure that they are completely and utterly cooled.

Each of my loaves covers Ben’s breakfast and lunch for two days. He loves it so much, I even made him a special loaf for his birthday earlier this month 🙂 

And that’s my sourdough conveyor belt! I hope it’s useful. 

I hope you’ve had a great week, enjoy your Friday and a visit to Fiesta Friday with Sarah and Liz

Daily fresh bread…my secret…

I’ve been doing something different with my breadmaking recently that I’d like to share..

In my house, my son loves my sourdough loaves (I make 3, sometimes 4, sourdough loaves a week for him), whereas my husband prefers a basic white loaf, and neither of them is keen on the other one’s choice! 

A recent sourdough loaf 

My man also prefers his bread no older than 1 day, so making an actual loaf for him doesn’t really work, it needs to be something smaller. So I’ve started making bread rolls or baguettes on a daily basis – but I’m NOT making the actual dough on a daily basis, which is what I thought I’d share with you. I find this method so useful..

On a Saturday morning, and again midweek, I make up a pretty standard bread dough (details below), leave it to rise briefly, maybe up to an hour, then put it in the fridge

That’s the key: the fridge. 

Bread dough will continue to prove in the fridge but at a much slower rate. And it can be in there for days, all week if you like!

When I am ready to bake, I take out a couple of handfuls of the dough and shape them, place them on baking parchment on a baking tray, cover the whole thing with a plastic bag, and leave them to come to room temperature and prove for one last time for 1-2 hours. Then bake. Done!

Having the dough readily available also means that you could utilise some for pizza bases, or to make a slightly larger loaf on occasion, as I did last Friday evening to accompany their dinner..

Or knock up quick baguettes to accompany soup..

I have been including fine semolina flour in my dough to add some crispness to the crusts, but you don’t need to. I’ve also been adding olive oil for the flavour and goodness instead of butter. 

I also have portions of dough in the freezer; these are unlikely to rise enough to make a loaf but can be defrosted and used for flatbreads and pizza bases.

The recipe I use is below…place the ingredients into your mixing bowl in the order they are written..

1tsp salt

450g strong white flour

50g fine semolina 

1/2tsp dried yeast 

20g olive oil

280ml water 

Please note: flours around the world behave differently, some require more liquid than others, you may need a bit more water, see how your dough feels.

AND: the yeast does not need any special attention, it does NOT require sugar or warm water to activate it, all you need to do is sprinkle it across the flour then add your liquids. 

Squelch all of the ingredients together so that the flour is all incorporated, cover the bowl and leave it for an hour. 

After an hour, fold and knead the dough until it is a smooth ball. 

Leave to prove for an hour, then either take some out to use immediately or put the whole bowl in your fridge and use at will. 

I bake these rolls or baguettes, whatever I’ve decided to make, in the evening whilst I’m making dinner. If I’m roasting vegetables I bake at the same time and utilise the steam the vegetables create instead of putting a bowl of water in the oven. I leave them to cool, then bag them ready for the next morning for my husband to take to work. 

As a guide, I preheat my oven to 200C fan, put a bowl of boiling water in to create steam, and bake my rolls for 13-15 mins, and my baguettes for a bit longer. I tend to do it all by eye. 

I hope you find this useful too 🙂

Happy Friday! I’m taking my bread ideas along to Fiesta Friday to join my roasted vegetable soup 🙂

Rolls and sourdough baked last Sunday all ready for the start of the week  

Super simple salad…

When life gives you fresh ripe tasty tomatoes….make this!!! 

This simple tasty salad is based on fattoush (and it’s cousin panzanella, depending on where you come from) and is a current favourite of mine…the best bit is the twist at the end…

Chop/slice as many tomatoes as you like, and as many red onions as you like, and mix with some handfuls of chopped flat leaf parsley; sprinkle with salt, and then sprinkle LIBERALLY with sumac and mix them through; drizzle with lemon juice, and then drench with olive oil…

Note: sumac has a citrus flavour, so you can leave out the lemon juice and just use plenty of olive oil on its own if you wish.

Mix it all well and leave it aside for at least half an hour if you can before serving – I prefer to leave mine out of the fridge, I think the flavours are better.

In the meantime, toast khobez/Arabic bread or pita bread in a toaster or in the oven; once nice and toasty and crunchy, break the breads into pieces and leave to cool. I have bags of toasted Arabic bread in the freezer for such an occasion. If you really want to do it properly, fry the bread in broken pieces in oil or ghee, it tastes amazing! For me, I just toast it minus the oil. 

When you’re ready to serve the salad, give it all another good mix up, then add the bread. Mix some through the salad, and arrange some on the top…

The bread soaks up the juices and dressing and tastes so good!!! 

Of course, the salad is also lovely without the bread too – the choice is yours! 

Flatbreads aplenty…

Before wild yeast was discovered in Egypt, thousands of years ago (which lead to the first ever risen breads) all bread was flat. When I first heard this fact I thought it was so cool – the first risen breads were basically sourdough loaves, using wild yeast as the rising agent; just imagine the first time someone ever saw their bread dough rise?! 

Anyway, back to the flatbreads…basically, all you need to make flatbread is flour and water, and heat or fire of some sort. Joining blogworld has taught me just how simply flatbreads can be made, which is why they are now a staple in my cooking armoury. Blogworld has also introduced me to all the wonderful ways that flatbreads can be pimped! Luckily my son is a huge bread lover and is happy to eat my creations as I play around with different versions 🙂 

And as so many flatbreads go through up my kitchen I thought I’d share some of my recent creations today…

Every time I feed my sourdough starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread for my boy, I use whatever bubbly starter is leftover by throwing it in with whatever flour takes my fancy (the bread above is 100% spelt flour), add a bit of salt, a splash of water, and bring together a dough. I tend to determine how the dough feels by hand, adding extra water if necessary to make a firm, but not sloppy, dough. I bring this together then leave it to initialise for an hour, before folding and turning the dough to create a lovely soft smooth dough, then put it in the fridge until I decide to use it. This can be overnight or for several days. When I’m ready to use it, I bring it from the fridge to come to room temperature and prove for a few more hours.

To cook, I take handfuls of the dough, form them into some kind of round shape (I’ve never managed perfect rounds, let’s call them rustic!) and place them on a floured surface to rest. 
I heat a pan over a medium heat, and place the flatbreads in the pan, no oil required. After a few minutes, and when the bottom of the breads look cooked I turn it over. Sometimes they bubble up, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I spray them with olive oil, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they’re a bit thicker, as above, sometimes they’re thinner, like the ones below. 

And then if Ben doesn’t eat them all, I sometimes pile different toppings onto the odd one for myself. The bread above is topped with leftover shakshuka sauce, Turkish cheese and grated cheddar. The bread below is spread with my coriander stalk and toasted seeds pesto and topped with feta, avocado and sriracha. 

The flatbreads on this plate, and below, were truly experimental; I was playing with some fava bean (dried broad bean) flour that I’ve had for a while and this was the outcome. Basically, these are gluten free breads, packed full of the goodness from the beans. 

The dough for these was the fava bean flour and plain yoghurt only; the fava bean flour is quite dry, so I needed to feel my way as I added the yoghurt. I pan cooked them as above, this time with some additional spray olive oil. 

The breads were lovely and soft when first cooked, and they became quite hard the next day, but after a stint in the toaster, they were lovely and soft again, and even tastier than the first day. 


These were spelt flour and sourdough starter again. The addition of olive oil in the dough softened the finished breads. 

And these beauties could be called naan breads I guess; these are made with atta (whole wheat/chapati) flour, sourdough starter, olive oil, yoghurt and water. It was the first time I’ve used atta flour with sourdough starter and it worked really well, again these were created with a dough thrown together by feel and following the same loose method as above. These were again lovely when first made, heated in the toaster the next day, and I also froze some, and they defrosted well. 

Flatbreads don’t necessarily need yeast, they can all be made without it; or with a sprinkle of fresh yeast or dried yeast in place of the sourdough starter if you fancy. I just happen to have been experimenting with sourdough starter recently, and it adds a lovely flavour. You could also easily add herbs, spices, garlic, cheese, seeds…whatever you fancy to the dough, it’s all up to you! 

I hope you like my ideas, and that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday agrees 🙂 

Spiced broccoli stuffed parathas..

 Following on from my previous post, I continued to play with some more broccoli last week, and made these spiced broccoli stuffed breads..they were a huge success, and another great way to get my son to eat vegetables he other would not! 

Before I go any further, can I just make a note here: 

My esteemed Indian food blogging friends make a much better job of putting these breads together than I did, but it worked, so I’m not complaining, they’re just not as pretty as many of yours are! This is what I did as a result of reading your many wonderful recipes.. 

Check out Sonals blog for lots more stuffed flatbread recipes including tutorials on how to make them. 

But before you do that…here’s mine..

 Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat/atta flour 

2 tsp oil (I used rapeseed)

Pinch of salt

Warm water as needed

For the filling:

1 tbsp oil of your choice, I used coconut oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 cup broccoli, chopped into florets

1/2 tsp ginger paste

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp garam masala or Kitchen King masala (I used the one I made recently)  

 Method 

Boil or steam the broccoli florets as you would normally, without letting them get too soft, then leave them to drain well. I used the tops of the ‘trees’ as much as possible

Once cooled, blend or chop roughly 

Heat the oil in a pan then add the cumin seeds, and when they start to sizzle, as the broccoli and all of the ground spices and cook for a few minutes

Leave this to cool whilst making the dough..

Mix together the flour, oil and salt, and add enough water to bring together a dough. It should be soft and not sticky, knead it for a few minutes, then place it in a covered bowl for 15-20 minutes

To put the breads together, I split the dough into 6 portions, and on a floured surface, rolled them into a ball and rolled them out into as much a round as I could

I then placed a heaped tablespoon of the broccoli mixture in the middle of the dough and brought the dough together around it like a parcel, then rolled the breads out again. 

(I could probably have done with chopping the broccoli mixture up finer as it broke through the dough in lots of places) 

I floured them and placed them on a plate ready to cook

I heated my tawa, you can use a wide flat frying pan, to a medium heat, then placed the bread into the pan.

Once the surface started to bubble, I daubed the top of the bread with rapeseed oil using a pastry brush, then turned it over to cook the other side. I then daubed the new side with some more oil, and once both sides had some healthy brown spots on, I placed them on a kitchen towel and wrapped them up in a tea towel whilst I cooked the rest of the rounds and until we were ready to eat 

  See what I mean..they’re not very round and not very even, but they tasted good! 

I enjoyed these with a special friend that I made lunch for on Friday, along with with a collection of dips that I’d made, plus the leftover salad and broccoli crumb from my previous post. 

 Red pepper and sriracha homous, mutabal with Aleppo chilli flakes, roasted broccoli & garlic homous, homous with my broccoli crumb, chermoula pimped goats cheese and the rest of my toasted broccoli crumb, all sitting pretty on a beautiful olive wood board gifted to me by the lovely Linda from La Petite Paniere, who I was recently extremely lucky to meet up with in London.  

Later that evening I heated the last couple of parathas in the oven and added some cheese to the top to make a quick pizzette and took this very quick photo of it, which has turned out to be the most popular photo I’ve ever posted on Instagram!!! How curious is that?  It was very tasty though!