Sunday, 15 March 2009

A Simple Loaf

I found the recipe for this oh, so simple bread in one of my favourite blogs Joanna's Food.

I made just the two loaves with the dough, which was in the fridge for a day and a half before baking. The loaves were baked in a Le Creuset pot, on parchment paper, which made for easy transfer to the hot pot, and because when I tried baking my sourdough bread in a Le Creuset it got stuck!!

I didn't get the same covetable holey look that Joanna has, I probably didn't rise it for long enough. The other loaf has a better lift, but as I am giving it to a friend I can't really cut it up to see how it is inside. The flavour however is excellent, with a good chewy crust. Next time I may bake one uncovered to see how that turns out.

The only other unkneaded yeast bread I ever make is the occasional Grant Loaf, which is quite a dense wholemeal loaf. This recipe is definitely one to repeat.

This next recipe I found on
I haven't tried it yet, but it is a good, basic recipe

A Magical Bread Recipe for Novices That Works Every Time

500g white strong bread flour.
7g dried yeast sachet.
1tsp salt
300ml water
3tbsp olive oil. Plus a bit extra.

Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl. Pour in the water and the olive oil. Mix with wooden spoon until it’s together enough to take out of the bowl.

Kneed on a floury surface until the dough feels elastic and silky smooth the the touch, and bounces back slightly when prodded. This should take about ten minutes.

Place in a warmish area and leave to rise until doubled in size. This should take about one hour.

Knock back the dough and kneed for a minute or so. Dough will be elastic and bouncy when prodded. Mould the dough into a round-ish shape or put it in a loaf tin. Slather the surface with olive oil (this will give a soft, chewy crust).

Leave to rise for another hour or so on the tray or in the loaf tin which you are going to put it into the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 220/200 fan/gas mark 7. Bake dough for 25 – 30 minutes until a nice golden colour.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, 12 March 2009


Toad in the hole is a traditional British dish comprising sausages baked in a batter pudding. My edition of Mrs. Beeton’s Everyday Cookery, published in 1907 contains 2 recipes, one using beef steak, cut up in small pieces, and the second for preserved meat, beef or mutton.

In the Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson refers to an 1861 recipe from Mrs Beeton in which she uses steak and kidney, but says that left over meat could be used. She describes the dish as ‘ homely but savoury’.

Also mentioned is a reference to sausages cooked in batter in entries in ‘The Diary of Thomas Turner 1754-1765’ but not referred to as toad in the hole.

Alan Davidson gives the first recorded reference in print (1787) to toad in the hole meaning ‘meat boiled in a crust’

Jane Grigson, in a footnote to her recipe in ‘English Food’ says that the use of left over meat gave the dish a bad name as one of the meaner English dishes, but goes on to say that 'if you are able to buy really first-class sausages, Toad-in-the Hole makes an excelent family dish which no-one has any call to feel ashamed of' !!

However it came by it's name, I must agree with Mrs Beeton's description, 'homely and savoury'

Here is a recipe for Toad-in-the-hole that always works for me. I make this quantity for two of us, but by adding a couple of extra sausages it would stretch to three.

4 oz plain flour
1 large egg, topped up to half a pint with milk, I use semi-skim
4 meaty sausages, herby ones are nice
A tablespoon or so of oil for the baking pan

Sieve the four ounces of flour into a large bowl (with a pouring lip is good). Beat the egg with the milk, make a well in the centre of the flour, and gradually pour the milk and egg mixture into it, stirring with a fork. Keep stirring vigorously until all the milk is in with the flour, in a lump free batter. It should be the consistency of double cream.

You will need to pre-heat the oven to 200c, putting the sausages and oil in the pan in the oven as it heats. You are just lightly browning the sausages, and getting the oil piping hot ready to add the batter, so you don’t want it in there for ages.

Just before you add the batter to the very hot pan, and you can stick it on a gas ring for a couple of seconds if need be, whisk the batter really well, you should be able to see lots of little air bubbles. I use a Bamix stick blender with a whisking disc for this, but it can be done by hand with a wire whisk if that is what you have.

Pour the batter over the sausages, and quickly return to the oven. It will take about 35 to 40 minutes to bake. I put it one shelf above centre, but have a second shelf lower in the oven to transfer it to if I think it is over-browning. Don’t be tempted to peer at it until about 20 to 25 minutes in, because it might lose volume.

The pan I usually use is 7 by 5 inches, bottom measurement, it is wider at the top, as is the 7 inch round one I sometimes use.

The same batter is used for pancakes, but you don’t have to whisk as much air in for those.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Red Cabbage with Apple

When I was still working I always looked in amazement at all those retired persons who claimed they never had a moment of spare time, and swore I would never be the same. Now here I am, nearly five years into it and my days have filled up alarmingly, although mostly with things I really want to do. Housework has to occupy a little of my time, but otherwise life is very fulfilling, if rather impoverished financially.
This is all to explain why a whole month has gone by since my last post, and that was just a photo!!

Red Cabbage with Apple

Red cabbage freezes and reheats exceptionally well.

2lb (1kg) red cabbage
1oz (25 g) butter
1lb onion, peeled and chopped small
1lb (1kg) cooking apples
3 tablespoons vinegar
1oz (25g) sugar, you may think it needs a little more.
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon each cinnamon and ground cloves.

When serving, or defrosting:-
A tablespoon of redcurrant jelly, a good glug of port (and a knob of butter if it’s been frozen)

Remove outer, damaged leaves and cut the cabbage into
quarters. Cut away the centre core and shred the cabbage
finely. Cover with cold salted water and leave to soak while preparing onion and apple.

Cook the onion and chopped garlic gently in melted butter for about 5 minutes or until soft, add the apple, peeled, cored and chopped small, and continue cooking until apple starts to soften. Do not allow to colour.
Add the red cabbage lifted straight from the salt water.

Add the vinegar and sugar and spices. Stir well together. Cover with a lid and bring up to the boil. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes or until the cabbage is tender.
Add a little extra water only if necessary, the mixture should not be too wet.

If you are going to freeze it, do it at this stage.
Check the seasoning, add the redcurrant jelly and port for the last 5 minutes or so.

To serve from frozen. While still frozen, place in a saucepan along with a knob of butter.
Heat gently, breaking the block of cabbage up with a fork as it heats. Heat through until simmering, adding redcurrant jelly and port.

This is so good with roast pork (or chops) and goose, as well as sausages and toad in the hole.

My original recipe came from Katie Stewart, a Times food columnist of the 70’s but touches of Delia have crept in with the spices.

The more recent addition of redcurrant jelly and port was because of Imogen telling me of the
delicious red cabbage her daughter Sarah had recently served.

I usually make this in batches,with many grumpy mutterings, based on 10lbs red cabbage (we grow them on our allotment now), and freeze it in meal size portions. Every year I am so glad I did make the effort!!