I finally got my hands on a Brød & Taylor folding proofer and wanted to share my review notes with you. Typically, I proof bread overnight in the fridge when baking during the week. My weekend bakes usually proof during the day and this can take many hours as my Edinburgh flat rarely reaches temperatures above 20°C and is usually lower.
The folding proofer is essentially a large cabinet that holds air temperature at a set level and provides a warm and moist environment for optimal dough proofing. I don’t have a proofing cabinet in my rather dated kitchen set-up and had therefore never tried to work with an ‘artificial’ proofing environment. Although, admittedly, my proofing baskets can been seen on radiators and near our fire place frequently.
What I like about the folding proofer
Ease of assembly – The Brød & Taylor folding proofer is a high-quality product, super easy to set up and subsequently fold away to store.
Limits guesswork – A few degrees difference in dough temperature can change the duration of the bulk fermentation or the final proofing a lot and being able to set the temperature has allowed me to plan my time around the proofing processes a lot better. The home proofer delivers both in terms of predictability as well as reliability.
No need for extra cover – It takes away the need to cover your proofing basket or tins with a polythene bag as the included water tray keeps humidity at an optimum level. Fewer plastic bags used is always a good thing!
Works for all types of dough – I’ve used the folding proofer for yeast-based and sourdough bakes, light wheat and heavy rye loaves as well as for enriched doughs and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the folding proofer has worked well in all instances.
In summary – I’ve found the folding proofer to be a useful and unobtrusive piece of baking kit which has very quickly found its way into my regular baking routine. It heats up to the desired temperature very quickly and the see-through window at the top of the proofer lets you check progress easily (I don’t even have to get up from the couch!)
What would make it even better
I haven’t yet got the add-on shelving which would make proofing a batch of buns much easier. However, that’s easily resolved 🙂
Just a quick post to share my newly developed buttermilk bread recipe with you. I had a purposeless tub of buttermilk sitting in the fridge and didn’t really fancy baking any of the usual options like scones or soda bread. So, I decided to make a buttermilk-based sourdough loaf, using predominantly white bread flour, but providing depth of flavour and taste by adding dark wholemeal rye flour. The resulting loaf tasted delicious (and has been baked five times since), so do give this a try if you like the sound of a buttermilk sourdough bread.
Buttermilk is traditionally a by-product of butter-making – the liquid that is left over after butter is churned from cream. However, what we find in supermarkets nowadays is often made by adding an active bacterial culture to skimmed milk. These cultures convert some of the sugar in the milk (the lactose) into lactic acid which causes the milk to thicken. When used in bread making, buttermilk adds a pleasing tang and tartness and makes the crumb more tender. You’ll also find that the dough has a soft and creamy quality while kneading.
I always use organic ingredients for cooking and baking and although it is not readily available in supermarkets, organic buttermilk can be found in the UK. Daylesford Farm offers the real deal. Creamy and tangy organic buttermilk, made in the traditional way as a byproduct of the butter they produce.
Buttermilk sourdough bread recipe
I used only a small proportion of dark rye flour in my recipe as buttermilk tends to work best with mild flours in order for the tangy flavours to come through and the crumb to remain soft. Add herbs or spices to this buttermilk sourdough bread to play with different flavour combinations.
On day 1, prepare the sourdough by combining the sourdough starter, wholemeal rye flour and water in a medium bowl. Mix well, then cover and leave to rest for 16 -24 hours at room temperature.
On day 2, once the sourdough starter is ready, combine 260g of the refreshed sourdough (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake), the strong white wheat flour and wholemeal rye flour, the buttermilk (ideally at room temperature), the water and salt in a large bowl.
Combine to form a dough, then turn it out onto your work surface.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Turn out the dough and knead for 1 minute.
Place back into the bowl again, cover and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
Turn out the dough and shape into a boule.
Bathe the boule in a flour bath so it's no longer sticky on the outside, then place seam-side up into a pre-floured proofing basket.
Proof for several hours until risen - it takes about 3 hours in my kitchen but as always the proofing time depends very much on the temperature in your room so it might take a little shorter or longer - then preheat the oven to 200°C, and - if using - your baking dome at the same time.
Turn out the fully proofed loaf onto the preheated baking dome plate (if using) or a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Make several decorative slashes with a scoring knife. Put the cover on the baking dome plate (if using).
Bake for 15 mins at 200°C, then turn the temperature down to 180°C and bake for a further 40 mins. Take off the baking dome cover for the last 10 minutes to finish the crust.
Dampfnudeln are a regular Friday lunchtime dish in my grandmother’s kitchen. Bread buns are placed on a bed of apples and steamed on the hub for about 30 minutes. They are incredibly light and delicious and I wanted to share the Dampfnudeln recipe here on the occasion of this month’s #BreadBakers theme ‘Steamed Buns’.
The Austrian/German delicacy also featured in the Great British Bake Off 2016 as a technical challenge.
My granny’s recipe, based on Dampfnudel variation from the Innviertel in Austria and I think this version of the recipe is also popular in neighbouring Bavaria. The Dampfnudeln are steamed on a bed of lightly spiced apples. This recipe provides 6 portions.
For the dough
500g strong white wheat flour
7g dried yeast
250g milk, tepid
50g unsalted butter, melted
50g sugar (I use brown sugar)
1/2 tsp salt
Zest of half a lemon
For the apple base
850g apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2 cm slices
2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp milk
How to make Dampfnudeln
Combine all dough ingredients in a large bowl.
Knead dough until smooth and elastic.
Place back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 45 minutest at room temperature.
Punch down the dough and divide into 12 equal pieces.
Shape the pieces into buns and place onto a pre-floured surface.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to proof for about an hour. The buns should grow significantly in size during that time.
Prepare the apples while you are waiting.
Once the dough buns are ready, melt the butter in a large (circa 30 cm in diameter) non-stick frying pan (you need a tight fitting lid for it too) on a low heat.
Evenly distribute the apple pieces in the pan and sprinkle the sugar on top, then add the milk.
Carefully place the dough buns on the apple base and cover the pan with the lid. Don’t take the lid off again (or even slightly lift it) until the buns are fully done as they otherwise deflate.
Turn up the heat to medium to bring the liquid in the pan to boil.
After 15 minutes, turn down the heat to the lowest level and steam for another 15 – 20 minutes.
Leave to rest for a few minutes once the heat is off before you take the lid off.
If you like this Austrian steamed bread recipe, check out this plum preserve filled steamed bread recipe for Germknödel and here are also my fellow #BreadBakers’ recipes.
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
I stumbled upon grape seed flour in a small farm shop in Austria and was intrigued by this little known ingredient. Of course, I had to have it to use it in bread baking 🙂 Here are my notes on baking bread with grape seed flour.
Grape seed flour can be made from any variety of grape, each with its own characteristic taste. When added to bread dough, the resulting loaf benefits from the grape flour’s richness of colour and flavour. I’ve noted down my grape seed flour bread recipe for those of you interested in giving this a go!
Grape seed flour (which is actually more like a fine powder) is produced from pomace i.e. the skins, seeds and pulp generated during wine-making. Typically, only 80% of the total harvested grape crop is used to make wine, so it’s a nice way of using the ‘waste’ of the wine-making process. The seeds are pressed to extract the oils, and then, along with the grape skins, dried and milled into flour. Grape seeds have long been used to produce grape seed oil, and grape seed flour is just another alternative.
How to use grape seed flour
Grape seed flour can be added to baked goods. The recommended ‘dosage’ is 5-7% based on the bread’s flour content.
Grape seed flour pancakes are another great option. Just use your standard pancake recipe and add a tablespoon of grape seed flour into the batter mixture.
It can also be added to yoghurt or smoothies and used to thicken and flavour soups or salad dressings.
It adds rich colour and flavour with a slightly astringent yet fruity taste. White wine grapes will lend a tan colour to baked goods, while red wine grapes will add a darker, purple-brown colour to them.
Grape seed flour provides a boost of antioxidants and is high in fibre.
Finally, it’s a gluten free ingredient.
Grape Seed Flour Bread Recipe
Have fun baking with grape seed bread and pairing it with wine. I used grape seed flour from the Urkornhof in Austria, but you can buy grape seed flour online too. The cold-pressed grape seed flour I used combines seeds from both white and red grape varieties into one flour.
When in Ireland last weekend, I picked up a big bag of wheatgerm – an ingredient found in most well stocked supermarkets over there. I use wheatgerm in this recipe for brown Irish soda bread and in this homemade granola recipe. However, Dan Lepard also features a good-looking wheatgerm bread in his book ‘The Handmade Loaf‘ and here is my version of his wheatgerm bread recipe.
What is wheat germ?
Wheat germ (short for germination) is the small, nutritious centre of a wheat kernel.
It’s the part of wheat that sprouts and grows into a new plant and comprises only about 2.5% of the weight of the kernel.
Wheat germ is removed during white flour refinement but it is used in whole wheat flour.
For reference, whole wheat and all other whole grains are made up of three primary components:
the bran (outside shell)
the germ (the reproductive element)
the starchy endosperm (used to mill flour)
Wheat germ bread recipe
This is my slightly adjusted version of Dan Lepard’s wheatgerm bread recipe. I use double the amount of whole grains, half the amount of honey and replace orange juice with milk in my recipe version. I also opt for not toasting the wheatgerm due to some nutrients being lost during the toasting process.
Dan Lepard’s tip: “In an act of breadmaking heresy, this bread doesn’t really have an initial fermentation. After kneading, the dough is left for 10 minutes before being shaped and placed in the tin, so most of the fermentation occurs once the dough is in its final shape. Breadmaking flour has a lot of strong gluten, but it is contained within the endosperm. In white flour, all that remains is the milled endosperm; in wholewheat flour this is a smaller percentage of the dry matter. Wholewheat flours should therefore be treated as if they contain less gluten, which means you need to handle the dough les and give it a shorter initial rise. This bread has an extra 25% wheatgerm, which lowers the gluten content further. Be gentle with the kneading, as the bran will tear the gluten if the dough is subjected to a rigorous and extended mixing. ”
80g whole grains – you can e.g. use whole wheat, rye, spelt or Grünkern as I have used
400g strong wholewheat flour
5g dried yeast
60g milk, lukewarm
How to make wheatgerm bread
Place the whole grains in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Ensure the grains remain covered with water at all times.
Remove from the heat, add cold water to the pan so the grains become lukewarm, then drain.
In a small bowl, combine the water and honey and warm up slightly (not too much) to thoroughly mix the two liquids.
In a large bowl, combine the wholewheat flour, wheatgerm, cooked whole grains, dried yeast, salt, the water and honey mixture and the milk.
Form a dough and knead briefly. When evenly combined, cover the bowl and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Use this time to grease a 9 x 24 cm loaf tin (I used rapeseed oil and a silicone pastry brush to do this).
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 10 seconds.
Shape the dough back into a ball, return it to the bowl and cover.
Leave for 5 minutes and repeat steps 9 and 10 twice more.
Leave for 10 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, pat the dough into a flat rectangle measuring roughly 25 cm left-to-right by 20 cm top-to-bottom.
Roll the dough inward, starting at the end furthest from you, rolling it tightly.
Roll the dough gently on the work surface, then pat the ends inward so that it will drop neatly into the prepared tin. Lightly flour the dough’s top surface.
Cover the tin with a polythene bag and leave to rise at room temperature for approx. 1 – 1.5 hours, until it has risen about 1 cm over the top of the tin. Ensure to preheat the oven to 220°C about 20 minutes before this time.
Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and, after 5 minutes, remove the loaf from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
As there are some frequently asked questions around storing sourdough starter between bakes, I thought I’d start a post to provide some answers. Here are my notes on how to store sourdough starter.
I put together my first sourdough starter (a rye starter) at the beginning of 2013 and have been using and refreshing it ever since. There have been prolonged periods (four weeks plus) where this particular starter has been left untouched in the fridge. Whenever that happened, I simply stirred the grey-brown liquid that settles on the surface of the sour back into the starter refreshment. 16 hours later, I have a normal rye sourdough starter back in action.
Whether you work with rye, wheat or spelt sourdough starter, roughly the same storage rules apply although wheat leaven refreshments tend to reactivate more quickly than rye.
Sourdough starter needs to be stored between uses i.e. refreshes. Refreshing sourdough means adding flour and water to your existing starter in order to revitalise it and prepare it to be used for baking.
Unless you bake every day (in which case you would just constantly refresh your starter every day and there is no need for storing it away), you need to store your starter at a cool temperature to preserve it.
If more than two or three days are likely to pass before the sourdough is used again, it is best to store the starter in the fridge. If your sour was viable when you last used it, it should keep there for many weeks and revive easily. Please – there is no need for gimmicky sourdough hotels.
A glass jar with screw top or metal clips is suitable but beware of a build-up of gas pressure if you fasten the lid too tightly. Plastic tubs with clip-on lids work well and this is what I typically use as my sourdough starter storage container.
Please note that some space is always needed for the starter to expand when storing it. At the same time, limiting the air space between the surface of your starter and the lid of the container will help to prevent mould growth. So, leave some space but not too much.
A good lid will help keep out unwanted moulds and contaminants, so a tight fitting lid works better than a piece of loose cling film for example.
Using refrigerated sourdough starter is easy. Simply take starter out of the fridge, combine with flour and water (as per the recipe you are using) and you will have an active starter.
The fennel seed is a a beautiful ingredient for bread baking – think subtle aniseed with warm, sweet aromas. This fennel seed bread recipe brings out the best of the seed’s aromatic flavours. A flavoursome breakfast bread for any day of the week!
For my fennel bread recipe, I’ve chosen a combination of flours: strong white wheat and maize flour. Taking a look at other bakers’ recipes, there are plenty of fennel and nut combos, specifically hazelnuts (e.g. Ottolenghi’s fennel seed crackers or Hamelman’s hazelnut and fig bread with fennel seeds and rosemary). Dried fruits such as raisins, cherries or figs are also popular fennel seed companions (e.g. Andrew Whitley’s semolina, raisin and fennel bannock). As such, I’ve opted for a fennel bread which includes nuts and dried fruit and it works beautifully.
Fennel Seed Bread Recipe
My recipe uses a fruit, nut and fennel seed soaker to infuse some of the liquid that goes into the dough to extract some extra flavour from the seeds and to soften the raisins pre-bake.
I provided options for both a yeast-based and a sourdough-based version of this bread below.
Yeast-Based Fennel Bread Recipe
This recipe is based on a small of amount of dried yeast as the leavening agent.
Soaked raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed mix
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (you can also use almonds)
6g fennel seeds
100g water, hot
450g strong white wheat flour
75g maize flour
5g dried yeast
How to make fennel seed bread
Prepare the raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed soaker by lightly toasting the fennel seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and roughly crush with the pestle. Combine the fennel seeds and other soaker ingredients in a bowl, stirring before covering the bowl. Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight.
After this, combine all of the main dough ingredients and add the liquid from the soaker.
Form a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
Place in a bowl and cover for about an hour. The dough will have visibly risen by then.
Take the dough back out of the bowl and fold in the raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed soaker until distributed evenly throughout the dough.
Shape the dough into a round loaf, cover the outside with flour and place into a pre-floured proofing basket.
Cover the proofing basket in a polythene bag to prevent the dough from drying out.
Rest for an hour or two until the dough is fully proofed.
Preheat the oven to 220°C and – if you are using a baking dome – preheat the dome from cold at the same time.
Turn out the fennel seed loaf onto the baking dome plate (or otherwise a baking tray lined with baking paper) and score the bread with a scoring knife. Cover the dome if using.
Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 200°C for another 45 minutes. Take off the baking dome lid for the final 10 minutes to brown the loaf nicely.
Cool on a wire rack.
Sourdough-Based Fennel Bread Recipe
This version of the recipe doesn’t use commercial yeast, but uses sourdough starter instead.
25g wheat sourdough starter
100g strong white bread flour
Soaked raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed mix
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (you can also use almonds)
6g fennel seeds
100g water, hot
350g strong white wheat flour
75g maize flour
How to make fennel seed bread
Refresh the sourdough starter by combining the sourdough ingredients mentioned above in a medium bowl. Mix well, cover with a lid and set aside at room temperature for at least four hours or overnight.
At the same time, prepare the raisin, hazelnut and fennel seed soaker by lightly toasting the fennel seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and roughly crush with the pestle. Combine the fennel seeds and other soaker ingredients in a bowl, stirring before covering the bowl. Leave to rest for a few hours or overnight.
After this, combine all of the main dough ingredients with 200g of the refreshed sourdough starter (the rest goes back into the fridge for your next bake) and add the liquid from the soaker.
Follow steps 3 to 12 as in the yeast-bread recipe version above. However, please allow more time for step 4 and step 8 as the process will take quite a bit longer using sourdough instead of yeast.
Making homemade baked beans from scratch is absolutely worth the effort. Try my recipe for a stunningly colourful and flavoursome weekend brunch. I promise, you will never want to go back to the shop-bought variety of baked beans again!
Vegetarian homemade baked beans from scratch
A beautiful vegetarian recipe for homemade baked beans. Your efforts will be rewarded with the rich taste of the tomato sauce, balanced with the wonderfully textured beans.
Homemade baked beans ingredients
180g dried white beans, such as butter, haricot or cannellini (you can use a mix of beans)
Cover the white beans in cold water and soak overnight.
After the beans have soaked overnight, drain them and put them in a large saucepan. Cover them with plenty water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour until the beans are just tender. Top up with more boiling water if required.
Drain the beans and set aside.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and stir for a few minutes until the onion is softened.
Add the passata, tomato purée, smoked paprika, vinegar and water and bring to the boil.
Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme if using.
Add the beans, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for an hour or so until the sauce has thickened.
Weekends are my time for experimenting with food and this morning I was looking to Northern Ireland for inspiration. Visiting Belfast last year and stopping by at St. George’s Market, there was a huge variety of potato farls on offer and I’ve been a fan ever since. Irish potato farls are simple ‘breads’ made from potatoes, flour, butter and salt. Try my potato farls bread recipe for a simple and comforting treat.
“The word farl literally means ‘fourths’: they are shaped from a circle of dough cut into quarters.” The Guardian
Potato Farls Bread Recipe
A simple recipe, success guaranteed. Have the potato breads with your cooked weekend breakfast or simply with butter.
Potato Farls Ingredients
1 kg floury potatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
190g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)
How To Make Potato Farls
The day/evening before you plan to make the potato farls, cook the potatoes and mash them with a potato ricer or regular potato masher.
Add the butter and season to taste.
Leave to cool, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
On the day of making the potato farls, add the flour (and thyme if using) to the mashed potatoes until well combined and smooth.
Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half.
On a floured work surface (to prevent sticking), flatten the dough into a round shape. You can do this with your hands or with a rolling pin. The round should be approximately 5mm thick.
Cut each circle into quarters.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until hot.
Add the potato farls in batches (use a dough scraper if they stick to the surface), and fry for four to five minutes on each side, or until golden-brown on both sides. I don’t use extra butter to do this.
Keep warm until ready to serve.
Irish potato farls can turn your breakfast into something extra special but if you are looking for other breakfast options, take a look at these:
I’m a big fan of using seeds in bread baking – why not add extra nutrition and taste in the form of seeds when baking? One minor complaint I have about most seeds I usually use (sunflower, pumpkin, flax chia) is that they lose their crunch when baked into bread dough. However, I have just found a seed that is as crisp as ever when added to bread. Whole hemp seeds (i.e. hemp seeds with their outer shell still on) lose none of their toasted crunchiness which makes them a fun and unexpectedly unique addition to breads. Here is my wheat and rye based hemp seed bread recipe, give it a try!
From a nutritional perspective, whole hemp seeds are a good source of insoluble fibre, protein, essential amino acids, omega 3 fatty acids and minerals including iron, magnesium and potassium.
Hemp Seed Bread Recipe
This sourdough bread recipe with whole hemp seeds creates an unusual loaf with plenty of crunch.
Hemp Seed Bread Ingredients
125g wholegrain rye flour
25g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
Whole Grain Soaker
50g grains e.g. spelt or rye grains
125g wholegrain rye flour
75g toasted hemp seeds
How To Make Hemp Seed Bread
Start by preparing the sourdough and the whole grain soaker.
Firstly, combine all sourdough ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well, then cover and set aside at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.
In a small bowl, combine the whole grain soaker ingredients, cover and set aside for 16 to 24 hours as well.
On day 2, combine 250g of the sourdough starter (the rest goes back into the fridge for future sourdough bakes), the whole grain soaker and all main dough ingredients except the toasted hemp seeds in a large bowl.
Form the dough, then turn out the dough onto your work surface to hand-knead for about 10 minutes.
Add the toasted hemp seeds and knead them all in until evenly distributed.
Put the dough back into the large bowl, cover and rest for about an hour or two. During this time, the dough should visibly expand.
Turn out the dough and give it another quick knead before shaping it into a round loaf.
Cover the loaf with flour before placing it seamside up into the pre-floured proofing basket.
Cover with a polythene bag to ensure the dough doesn’t dry out and leave to rest for several hours at room temperature (how long exactly will depend on the temperature in your room; it took three hours in my kitchen) until fully proofed.
In time, preheat the oven to 220°C and, if you are using a La Cloche baking dome, (as I did), preheat this from cold at the same time.
Turn the loaf out onto the baking dome plate or onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes before turning the temperature to 190°C for another 50 minutes. If you are using the baking dome, take the lid off for the last 10 minutes to further strengthen the crust.