Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Rye Bagels

These bagels taste great toasted and slathered in peanut butter for a delicious breakfast, or used as an alternative to sliced white bread in your lunchtime sandwich. I have added rye flour because I feel it gives this bake lovely a nutty flavour and slightly dense texture that works perfectly with the chewy, savouriness of this traditional bread.



Makes 6 bagels.

For the bagels:
200g strong white flour
100g rye flour
7g dried yeast
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil, plus a little more for greasing
1 teaspoon salt
200ml water

Place the flours into a large bowl and rub in the yeast with your fingertips.
Add the salt, oil and water and combine until the mixture forms a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead it for around 5 minutes, or until it feels smooth and a little more elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 6 equal pieces and then roll each piece into a ball.
Make a hole in the centre of each ball with your finger, and then stretch out the hole, until the ball resembles a bagel shape (repeat until all bagels are done).
Place the bagels on a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around 30 minutes, or until the bagels have noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Fill a large pan with water, and place it over medium heat, until the water starts to bubble.
When the water has begun to bubble, turn it down to a very low heat.
When the bagels have risen, place them into the water (you may have to do this in batches) for 1 minute, and then flip them over for a further minute, so they have poached on each side.
Remove the bagels from the water and place back onto the baking tray.
Bake the bagels for around 20 minutes, or until the tops are a deep golden brown.
Place the bagels onto a wire rack, to cool completely, before serving.
These bagels will keep well for a couple of days, wrapped up and stored in a cool dark place (not the fridge).

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Cheesy Garlic Bread


I had some friends over for tea at the weekend and I made this loaf to go with the spicy tomato pasta I was cooking (we are not afraid of a carb fest). To say it went down well would be an understatement, everyone had second and third helpings, and one guest even took a slice home for her sister! Making your own garlic bread is a great way of turning something shop bought into something special, or using up an old, stale loaf that would normally go to waste. You could double up the quantities of garlic butter from this recipe, and keep half in the freezer until you need it again.






Makes 1 medium loaf.

For the garlic bread:
1 400-500g unsliced white bloomer
150g unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
pinch of salt
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Make the garlic butter by mixing together the softened butter, garlic, dried herbs, chilli and salt.
Place the butter onto a large piece of clingfilm and roll it up, so that you get a short, fat sausage.
Place the butter into the freezer, for around 20 minutes, or until it has firmed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Make around 10 slits in the loaf, with a sharp knife, making sure you only cut about 3/4 of the way through the bread.
Remove the chilled butter from its clingfilm shell and slice it into 10 chunky pieces.
Place a piece of the butter between each of the slits.
Scatter over the grated cheese and then bake the loaf for around 10 minutes, or until the butter has melted and the cheese is molten and burnished.
Leave the finished loaf on the baking tray to cool, for a couple of minutes, before tucking in.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Soft White Baps


After the success of my 'Chip Butty/Perfect Toast Bread', I wanted to experiment a little more with soft white dough. I've called these 'baps', but they might be more familiar to you as 'barms', or just simply 'soft white rolls'. Whatever you call them, they make a great base for a cheese and pickle sandwich, or served slathered in jam alongside a hot cup of builder's tea.




Makes 6 medium baps.

For the baps:
250g strong white flour, plus a little more for dusting
7g dried yeast (or 14g fresh yeast)
60g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus a little more for brushing on the finished baps
1 teaspoon salt
200ml semi-skimmed milk


Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Rub the yeast into the bread crumb mixture and then add in the salt and milk and combine until the mixture forms a dough (adding more milk if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels soft but not sticky.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave to rise for about an hour and a half,  until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 6 equal (ish) pieces and the roll each piece into a ball.
Place the balls onto a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around 30 minutes, or until they have noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the baps have risen, bake them for around 10 minutes, or until they have turned a light golden brown.
As soon as the baps have come out of the oven, place them onto a wire rack and brush them all over with a little softened butter, this will help to keep them soft.
Cover the buttered rolls with a tea towel and leave them to cool completely before tucking in.
These baps taste best eaten on the day they are made.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Onion Bread

A couple of weeks ago I had a really tasty onion loaf from a little bakery in Liverpool, called Artisane. The bread had a deep, satisfyingly savoury flavour and after devouring a large (obviously) slice, I knew I had to attempt to make my own version as soon as I got home.  Judging by the hole-y crumb and delicious, intense flavour, the loaf I bought was probably naturally leavened, and made over a couple of days. I love those types of loaves, but they are often too hard and time consuming to re-create at home This recipe, however, is so quick and easy, and it still manages to deliver a rich, aromatic flavour and light texture.





Makes 1 medium loaf.

For the loaf:
500g strong white flour
7g dried yeast (or 14g fresh yeast)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little more for greasing
1 teaspoon salt
400ml water
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes



Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan, on a high heat, until it starts to sizzle and then add the onions, dried basil and chilli flakes.
Turn the heat down to low and cook the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn soft and opaque.
When the onions are cooked, place them into a bowl and leave to one side to cool down.
Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast with your fingertips.
Add the salt, remaining oil, cooled onions and water and combine until the mixture forms a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 5 minutes, or until it feels a little smoother and more elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around an hour, or until the mixture has doubled in size.
When the mixture has risen, place it onto a lightly oiled surface and shape it into a sort of oval shape.
Place the loaf onto a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around 40 minutes, or until the dough has really puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, make a slash in the top with a sharp knife (for decoration) and then bake for around 25 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped.
Leave the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
This loaf will keep well for 3 days, wrapped up and stored in a cool, dark place (like a bread bin or cupboard, not the fridge!).






Monday, 9 January 2017

Chip Butty Bread/ Perfect Toast Bread

The inspiration for this bake came from two sources. I made a similar loaf a couple of weeks ago and gave some to my dad, who praised it's bendy, soft texture and stated that it would make the perfect base for a traditional chip butty. Ruby Tandoh also wrote an article for 'The Guardian' recently, defending the sliced white loaf. The nostalgic side of me felt instantly hungry at her description of the molten gold pools of butter that form on crunchy slices of white toast. I have added extra fat, in the form of milk, to this loaf, to make it much softer and toast up even better. As Nigel Slater once said 'The perfect piece of toast can only ever be white' (Eating for England, 2007), and this soft, pillowy loaf is exactly right for that perfect English staple. Make sure you cut this bake into thick slices and slather with butter for the ultimate carb-y treat.




Makes 1 medium loaf.

For the loaf:
500g strong white flour
7g dried yeast, or 14g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil, plus a little more for greasing
350ml semi-skimmed milk

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast with your fingertips.
Add the salt, oil and milk and combine until the mixture forms a dough (adding more milk if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or it it feels soft but not sticky.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Grease a 1lb loaf tin with rapeseed oil (or you could use a loaf tin liner instead).
When the dough has risen, shape it into a rectangle (the same size as your tin), and place it into the loaf tin.
Cover the loaf with a tea towel and leave to rise for around an hour, or until it has puffed up and is just coming over the rim of the tin.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the bread has risen, bake it for around 30 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown.
Leave the loaf to cool in the tin for around 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
This loaf will keep fresh for a few days, wrapped well and stored in a cool, dark place (a bread bin or a cupboard will do, not the fridge!).

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Spiced Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

This treat is a chocolaty twist on the traditional bread and butter pudding. I just used a plain sliced white loaf to make my dessert, but if you have any left over panettone from Christmas, that would work well too.






Serves 8

For the pudding:
1 400g-500g white loaf, cut into thick slices (brioche, panettone or a fruit loaf would work well here too).
700ml semi-skimmed milk
Zest of an orange
3 teaspoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
50g white chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g caster sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees c.
Cut the slices of bread in half diagonally, so that they form triangle shapes.
Place the triangles into a large rectangle or oval baking dish (around 20cm x 30cm), making sure you squash them in, so that no big gaps remain.
Heat the milk, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla in a large pan over a medium heat, until the milk just starts to bubble.
Take the pan off the heat, and leave to cool slightly.
Beat the eggs in a large jug and then combine with the slightly cooled milk mixture.
Pour the milk and eggs over the bread triangles and then scatter over the orange zest, white chocolate chips and nutmeg.
Bake the pudding for around 40 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed all of the chocolaty custard.

Serve warm, straight from the oven, with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Everyday Loaf

This is the standard loaf I have been making for the past few weeks to feed the large amounts of family and friends that have descended on my house during the festive period. The addition of a little rye flour gives this bake an extra depth of flavour. Wholesome but not stodgy, this bread is great for making hot buttered toast, sandwiches, or dunking into soup.





Makes one medium loaf.




For the loaf:
150g rye flour
350g strong white flour
400ml water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil, plus a little more for greasing
7g dried yeast


Place the flours into a large bowl and rub in the yeast with your fingertips.
Add the salt, oil and water and combine until the mixture forms a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 5 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and more elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and place on to a lined baking tray.
Cover the loaf with a tea-towel and leave it to rise for around 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, make a cross shape in the crust using a sharp knife.
Bake the loaf for around 30 minutes or until it has turned a deep golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Leave the loaf to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.