I love an oven baked quiche as much as the next person but sometimes I have neither the time nor the inclination for making pastry. This recipe is a nifty way to get that quiche flavour; the carby hit usually provided by the pastry, instead offered by the egg soaked bread.
Did you know it’s National Picnic Week? Now let’s not be all British and moan about the weather. I personally don’t give two hoots about how sunny it is when it comes to eating al fresco; I have been known to pack up warm soupy picnics for snowy sledging trips after all.
If the kids are crying that it really is too rainy then a carpet picnic is a perfect British alternative. Here are my ‘rules’ for a successful indoor picnic:
But I couldn’t. I opened the larder door and the chocolate chips called to me. I had some yeast sachets that needed using up, plus some strong white flour that’s almost done for. And I really don’t like waste you see. It bothers me hugely.
The rest is history. But look! They’re very pretty. See:
I’ve not been well. Nothing quantifiable, just feeling tired all the time, run down; spent.
So I made bread rolls. That’s what works for me. Regular over the counter remedies never quite hit the spot. There’s something therapeutic about all the kneading and cutting and forming of rolls. It makes me feel wholesome. The end result is of course the true therapy. A springy poppy seed studded roll with the nuttiness of spelt and the depth of rye. This is a roll to feel good about. It’ll cleanse from the inside out. I enjoyed mine with my new favourite filling; houmous, grated carrot, a splash of orange juice and pomegranate seeds. Positively medicinal.
Rye, spelt & poppy seed rolls
Makes 16 rolls though depends on how large you make them.
Mix together the two flours, poppy seeds, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Take 450mls lukewarm tap water and mix in the oil then add to the flour gradually, mixing with a metal spoon as you go until you have what is often called ‘a shaggy mess’ on your hands. Word of warning; the type of flour you use (brand, age etc) affects how much water will be absorbed so you may need all of it or you may need more. I know these kind of instructions in recipes are annoying, but I promise you that you’ll know if there’s not enough as there will be areas of flour that are still dry and unable to mix in. You are looking for a soft, shaggy mess of a dough. Cover the dough in the bowl with clingfilm and leave for 5 minutes. (This really helps reduce the amount of kneading later).
After 5 minutes take a little olive oil and grease the work surface and your hands. Tip the dough onto the work surface and knead until elastic and starting to feel smooth. This takes about 10 minutes by hand and 3 – 4 using a dough hook with a stand mixer. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave at room temperature to prove until the dough has doubled in size. Beware that spelt flour proves faster than regular strong white flour so keep an eye on it. The warmer the environment the faster the prove; so this could take as little as 25 minutes.
Sprinkle a couple of baking trays with spelt flour. Knock the dough back once it’s doubled by tipping onto a work surface and pressing the air out of it with your hands. Cut the dough into 16 even sized pieces (either weigh the dough and divide by 16 or cut the dough in half, then half again, then each piece into quarters). Roll the dough into balls using well floured hands and place onto the baking tray about 1cm apart. Repeat until all the dough is used up, sprinkle with flour and cover with clingfilm. Leave to prove until they are doubled in size (the rolls will be touching once proved) and bake in a preheated oven at 220°C/Gas Mark 7 for about 15 minutes until well risen, golden brown and smelling divine. Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack. Then tear the rolls apart for that very professional baker look and eat with lots of salted butter and fillings of your choice. Or freeze. They freeze really well for up to a month. Make sure you use freezer bags and think about slicing them pre freezing so you can make simply filled packed lunches with the frozen rolls. (Don’t put salad stuff next to frozen bread as it goes all mushy).
NB: If you don’t have spelt flour or can’t find it then use strong white flour instead. The proving will take a little longer though. I would advise against using 100% rye flour as the loaf will be very dense. Poppy seeds can be left out if you wish or substituted with something else – other seeds, fresh rosemary, nuts, finely chopped sundried tomatoes etc).
We’re back from our summer hols. We went to Suffolk. Southwold to be precise. We always holiday in Suffolk; it’s my attempt at creating childhood memories the boys can bore their own kids with. I regularly irritate them with rose tinted tales of crabbing in Cornwall. It’s only right I allow them the same pleasurable adult pastime.
Did I have a nice holiday? Can I be honest? It wasn’t great. It felt more like an endurance test. (And yes, we’re lucky to have a holiday, I know that some people won’t go on holiday this year, or any year – so really my moaning is unnecessary, but hear me out, I’m a terribly sleep deprived woman and I don’t see many adults. This is my version of a pint and a chat at the pub).
Anyway, it all felt like very hard work indeed. The routine my sons thrive on was shot to pieces so they were all a bit tetchy and out of sorts. It was hot beyond hot which was deliciously unexpected (I had packed rain coats), but made keeping a 4 week old comfy difficult. I kept looking about on the beach and wondering when the cavalry might arrive (aka The Grandparents), then remembered we’d left them all in Leicester. Fools. Amateurs! You’d think we’d have this lark licked by the time we were on baby number three. Not so.
Here’s a delicious and very good for you bread recipe. I love rye but find too much of it in a loaf makes it heavy and reminiscent of bread sold in shops that sell natural deodorant. This uses a little rye for flavour, some spelt for a quick rise and a slight nuttiness and white flour to pad it out and make it palatable. Enjoy!
Oh and psssst, my book is out! If you fancy buying it click here, it already has SIX five star reviews. And none were by my Dad. Promise.
Three years ago: Teacher’s pet chocolate and hazelnut oaty biscuits and Spelt loaf
Four years ago: Restorative chicken and leek risotto
Rye, spelt & white blend loaf
Makes 1 large loaf or lots of rolls
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, then knead until smooth and elastic. You can use your KitchenAid to do this too – use the dough hook at speed 2 for about 5 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky – if it isn’t add some more water. (NB: It is very hard to give exact water mls for bread recipes as all flours absorb water at a different rate, plus the humidity in the atmosphere makes a difference.)
Cover the sticky dough mixture (still in the bowl) with clingfilm and leave to double in size. This will be speedier than standard dough as spelt flour rises quickly. Grease and flour a loaf tin and once the dough has double in size, knock it back with your hands or a few turns of the dough hook. Shape into a sausage using some extra flour then place in the tin. Sprinkle the top with flour, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to double in size.
Bake in a preheated 220C/Gas mark 8 oven for about 30 minutes until well browned. Remove the bread from the tin 5 minutes before the end and finish off directly on the oven shelf. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Some ovens may take more or less time to bake bread – timings also depend on the flour you used so keep an eye on it.
Leave to cool on a wire rack and slice once cold.
A very easy alternative to their less healthy cousin, the cheese straw. These are bread based rather than pastry based. Perfect for picnics, little ones, and for dipping.
Three years ago: Banana and custard melts
Cheesy bread sticks
Makes about 25, though depends how long or thick you make them
Mix the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil together in a large bowl, then add the water gradually until the mixture is a shaggy mess and is easy to pull together with your hands. Use your Kitchenaid with the dough hook at speed 2 to knead, or your until elastic looking and smooth, then place back in the bowl and cover in clingfilm. Leave to prove for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Once doubled, add the cheese and knock the dough back with your dough hook or hands, giving a good knead to ensure the cheese is well distributed and then place on a well floured work surface. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough and roll with a rolling pin until about 1cm thick. Use floured scissors to cut the dough into strips about 1cm across then place onto baking sheets prepared with greaseproof paper, about 2cm apart. Once all the dough is cut bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 6 until golden brown and no longer doughy to touch. They should make a snap sound when broken in two. The bake time all depends on how thick you cut the bread sticks – for 1cm ones about 10 – 12 minutes, turning half way, for fatter ones like the picture this takes a little longer. Cool on a wire rack.
These keep in an air tight tin for 2 weeks if baked until properly dried out.
This is a special request recipe for a dear friend who especially likes picnics in summer.
Three years ago: Banana and custard melts
Makes about 14 but depends on the size
Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil using the dough hook on your Kitchenaid at speed 2 or by hand. Add the water gradually (you may not need it all) until the mixture is coming together and can be kneaded easily – you don’t want a sloppy mess.
Knead in the mixer for about 7 minutes until smooth and elastic (or longer by hand) then cover in clingfilm and leave to rise until double the size. Once doubled, knock back with the dough hook or by hand and split the dough into 14 pieces. Roll on a well floured work surface into thin flatbread shapes and then bake in a preheated oven on a floured tray at 220C/gas mark 8 for 5 – 7 minutes until starting to puff up. Remove from the trays and bake directly onto the rack for a further couple of minutes. Either eat warm or toast on a grill for that all important criss cross look.
Are you a lazy bones or a take on too much kind of a person? I think I am both if that’s at all possible. I seem to spend days getting nothing much done at all, save make lists and moan about how much I have to do. Then, suddenly the guilt gets to me and there’s a flurry of activity. Take the school fayre for example. I made a plan, I shopped for the plan, I told everyone I was going to make lots of cakes and then I worked my socks off. Except I forgot I’m 8 months pregnant with a touch of SPD and ended up unable to walk by the evening of the crazy bake day. Paracetamol and an early night sorted me out, but really! You’d think a 34 year old woman would know her limitations by now.
Which brings me to gluten free recipes. I get asked about them all the time. I’m no expert – I don’t try to be. Some of my recipes are naturally gluten free and many are not. This one most certainly is and these little babies are addictive in a savoury, cheesy crisp kind of a way.
They’re less a bread and more a savoury choux bun with a chewy centre. Easily revived in the oven if baked the day before. Cassava flour can be bought from the International aisle of many supermarkets or online and is gluten free.
Three years ago: Banana and custard melts
Pao de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread)
Makes 24 ish
Preheat the oven to 190C/ gas mark 5. Grease a 24 hole mini muffin tin with butter. Place the butter, water, milk, and salt in a saucepan, and heat until the butter has melted and the mixture has come to a full boil. While the mixture is heating, put the flour into a mixing bowl.
Pour the boiling butter mixture over the flour, beating to combine. Beat at high speed using a wooden spoon or electric mixer, until the mixture becomes smooth and like very stiff mashed potato; this will happen quickly. Add the cheese and beat again.
Set aside for 5 minutes then add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Place 1 tbsp balls of the mixture into each muffin hole. Bake for 20 minutes until they start to brown and serve them warm! Reheat the next day to refresh if serving then.
Like people, some bakes and plain and simple but reveal hidden depths. You know the type; the girl at school who sat quiet as a mouse but turned out to have the hot older boyfriend who picked her up in a battered 106 outside school. She clearly had hidden depths, and probably amazing underwear too. You just never know what’s going on underneath.
Here’s one such bake. These simple coconut rolls look so innocent – pure, little milk anointed rolls. Almost like those batch rolls sold in large supermarkets. They don’t look naughty, they look necessary. Something you might pop in the freezer for a sunny far away barbecue day. But underneath, upon taking that first bite, the bread tears apart like candy floss. Light, airy, ever so slightly sweet and just dying to be asked to swing both ways. You can take this roll down the savoury path; fill her with Thai chicken, crispy leaves and crunchy peanuts. Or take her hurtling towards the path of sweetness with some water icing laced with coconut – icing sugar, a little water and coconut shavings mixed up and piled on the top. Maybe even filled with jam and whipped cream. Go on…
Don’t expect all out coconut madness here, these ladies are too subtle for that. And please note these are at their most delicious warm from the oven. Or toasted.
Subtle coconut rolls
Makes 8 rolls
Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil in a bowl. Pour the boiling water into a jug and add the coconut – stir until completely dissolved. Add the cold water and then allow to come to a tepid temperature. Pour into the flour mixture and knead well, either with your hands on an oiled work surface for about 7 minutes, or in the KitchenAid with the dough hook at speed 2 for about 4 minutes. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave until the dough has doubled in size.
Once doubled in size knock the dough back with your hands then tip onto a floured work surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place on a floured or non stick paper covered tray, barely touching, then leave until they have doubled in size. Paint with milk using a pastry brush, being careful not to deflate the dough, then bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 6 for about 20 – 25 minutes until well risen and brown. Eat warm or leave to cool on a wire rack.