Short and Tweet Baking in November from Short & Sweet
I went for the Welsh Rabbit version of this flatbread with a delicious topping of leeks and cheese which Dan Lepard suggests as an alternative way to finish this bread and this is how it turned out. As the topping involved a sloosh of real ale we finished the bottle of St Peter’s Organic with our supper. Win win!
We ended up with an enormous bubbling bread which filled the house with good smells and pleased Brian no end as he has been doing all the cooking lately.
I poached two newly laid eggs from Mitch who dropped in for a cup of tea and placed them on top of the bread for supper and made a salad with seasonal Fenland celery, garden apples, toasted walnuts, pumpkin and fennel seeds, as close as I think I am getting to pumpkin this year, and a scattering of anaemic looking pomegranate seeds.
I had one of those moments when I was poaching the eggs and I remembered that I had my new apple cider vinegar and it was perfect for this job. Just the barest hint of the apple there on the egg, not nearly so overpowering as the commercial stuff is -definitely a good thing.
I dressed the salad simply in lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper and that was all we needed.
The bread develops quite a robust crust, I think that is due to the oil? and the potato creates a very distinctive texture to the bread; open, moist and chewy. It reminded me a little of a cross between a crumpet and the potato stotties that I made pre-blogging.
Chocveg and I once made stotties to feed lots of people on a wet Welsh weekend at Rick’s amazing Mairs Bakehouse. The recipe for them is in The Handmade Loaf. Celia is an expert stottie maker and you can read about how she tackled them here on her blog. Stotties don’t have the oil in them that this bread does but these two breads are definitely first cousins, strong robust breads that fill you up.
Flat breads are great fun to bake, even when they don’t lie down and behave and they are always popular for parties and events and with hungry hard working people.
The recipe for this bread and the other Short and Tweet bakes is of course from Dan Lepard’s book Short & Sweet and was originally published by The Guardian in his regular baking column in the Saturday Weekend magazine. I am sending a link to this post to Evidence Matters who is organising this project. Do visit her blog and see how other people get on with this recipe and what their thoughts are and do join in if you want to. No membership or commitment required, just a request not to copy out the recipes on your blogs if you have one and want to be in the round up. More links in the sidebar on this blog if you want to know more.
If you haven’t made one of these flat breads before, and apologies if you know all this stuff anyway, here are some thoughts on things you might want to consider if following this recipe after talking to Misk recently who found herself fighting unexpectedly with the dough. If anyone else has thoughts do post them here, or on EM’s blog or at Misk’s place, and we’ll build our foccaccio making skills up together. Read Misk’s great post here ! Other people might have different advice, but this is mine….
- The flours for this recipe are a mixture of strong bread flour and ’00’. Don’t use ‘very strong’ bread flour as it is too springy and you will not be able to extend it easily unless you leave it overnight or something like that.
- I am not sure anymore what the role of the 00 flour is in this dough but if you struggle with the dough then consider substituting some plain flour for this which is softer and will be less difficult to stretch out. 00 varies from maker to maker, it’s one of my bugbears. It describes the fineness of the grind, rather than the strength of the flour. There are many different 00s out there. *
- Use more water if in doubt – all bread recipes carry that caveat (sometimes unspoken but it applies to all bread making) and means that the first time you make an unfamiliar dough you are reliant on your interpretation of what Dan’s idea of a soft and sticky dough is… He means seriously soft and sticky…. I’ve seen it in videos he’s done but I can’t remember where. If I do I’ll post the link.
- Allow the dough time to relax in between stretching it out to cover the tray, otherwise it will just keep pinging back. If it really pingy, walk away and leave it for another half an hour. Be firm with it. If you are doing it without a topping, then make sure your fingers go right through to the bottom of the tray when you are ‘dimpling’ the dough.
- And remember – it’s supposed to be fun !
- I’ve just been revisiting some of Celia’s older bread posts and found this great one with video of her doing focaccia. Have a look!
* I’ve been asked on Twitter this afternoon about the ’00’ flour thing I refer to above. So to keep everyone who reads this up to speed….All I can do is offer you links to things written about it on the internet. Azélia has suggested these two links, one to the BBC Food Site and another conversation here on Dan’s Forum. There’s something about it here too. My understanding is that the 00 denotes how finely the flour is ground and how much of the bran etc has been removed, not how strong it is. The technical side of flour production is not one that most home bakers have to deal with and there isn’t a great deal written about it that is easily accessible.
I have tried to find out more and not got very far. Shipton Mill said it was to do with the colour of the flour and that it came from the centre part of the grain (sic) and when I repeated my questions I was told it had a protein level of 14 %. The 00 flour sold in the supermarkets here is presumably marketed at people who want to make their own pasta not necessarily for those who want to make bread. Shipton Mill said it shouldn’t make much difference to anyone but a professional baker when I asked about it. If you have a friendly miller maybe ask them what they know and I would love to hear more and share it back here. Flour is classified in different ways in different countries; in Germany they label it with ash content and are quite surprised that we don’t know the ash content of the flour we buy. It’s all part of the busy confusion surrounding this every day resource: flour. They discuss this stuff over on KAF too, have a look at this conversation, but please don’t ask me about W and falling numbers and so on because I haven’t got my head round it fully and I really don’t know the answers.
I wish that Shipton Mlll would give more information about the flour on their bags, or on their website, or a data sheet. They must have this data, so I don’t understand why they don’t offer it. I don’t know if this is standard practice with the independent mills, but I wish they would change their practice for those of us who are interested in knowing more.
Other people who have made this one are :
C has made a beauty here at Cake Crumbs and Cooking
Carl has made one with an emulsified topping at Llyn Lines that looks very smart
Misky has made two so far, and there’s a rumour she’s planning another go. She’s written some very interesting follow up posts too, well worth having a look at.
Tony Inga has joined in as well and I am going to read the round up post and visit some of the others who have participated. Thanks again to Evidence Matters for organizing us all so well.
Fabulous post, Joanna. :D
Now you’ve primed me all up into first gear to make this again. I’m determined to do this recipe justice. I’ve yet to make one of Dan’s recipes that’s gone so utterly haywire on me. I think the 00 flour and insufficient water caused my dough to mimic a zeppelin. It certainly gave me a good laugh though. xx
All’s fair in love and baking :) The bit you can’t get from the book and not even really from watching videos is a sense of how the dough should feel when it is the right hydration. Sometimes you just have to experiment, I imagine the cookery writers do that when they try out new things too. I don’t like getting it wrong but if it’s something I haven’t made before I half expect it not to come out quite right, but I am a bit of a pessimist, especially when it comes to cakes. My first bagels were inedible, my second bagels a bit less inedible, my third lot passable and then we gave up. Crumpets, all blind, Brian sneaked into the kitchen one day and made them, far better than me. I do wish that people would talk a little more about what goes wrong and what they did to fix it, but we are all guilty of wanting to look our best I guess, me included. That’s where humour comes into it, if you make it funny you can pretend that you are laughing at your disaster, while raging inside, at least for a bit. Carry on Baking – Ding Dong as Leslie Phillips says :)
Oh the disasters I’ve had with baking.
Until you “get” it. The feel, the texture of the dough tells you if you have a brick or a bialy in your hands. I like and repeat all of your advice- especially the part about having fun. :)
I think we forget them sometimes but I know what you mean about the brick :D
Oh, I wish we had that for dinner tonight! We love focaccia and other flat breads. I keep checking and Short and Sweet isn’t available here yet…may just have to order it from Amazon UK. It looks like such a great book!
I wonder if they’re bringing out a US version with cups and so on? Maybe that’s why it’s not out over there. There is a Kindle/iBooks version though if you wanted, you can download a sample chapter I think which has some of the bread recipes in it and it is always worth googling the names of these recipes as many of them were published in the Guardian in their original form, though they have now been updated for this book. As were the recipes that Ottolenghi wrote and that were subsequently turned into a book. The original versions are still online on that site if you search there by author’s name too.
I finally made his banana blondies a couple of days ago, and after the first disaster, they turned out spectacular – amazing how simple mistakes can turn out a great recipe into a gastronomic nightmare!
I am so glad I got the book!
I’m really pleased to hear that! I haven’t tried them yet so am looking forward to hearing how you got on. :)
This does look good Jo and really like the leek and cheese addition. I won’t be entering this one, but hope that a few people do – I’m really quite excited about this event and want it to continue.
Andrew Whitely had a good old rant about 00 flour, so have never used it – even using plain old white is something still quite new to me.
Thanks Choclette :) I have never read Andrew Whitley’s book and Carl mentioned it this evening too. Presumably from your comment he is not keen on 00 flour?
Thanks for the handy hints – lots of things there I didn’t know and these are the things that cause a difference between a wonderful or average outcome.
You’re very welcome :) One of the many bread books I have talks about the 12 stages of making bread. It’s enough to make you rush out to the shops and never even think about making your own. I prefer hints too :)
Looks great Joanna! I’m really keen to make this one, but will have to be a bit organised this weekend, not sure that’ll happen!
And thank you for confirming what I had thought I understood about 00 flour – it’s a grade of milling not a strength of flour, so (in my simple mind terms) you can get 00 plain/soft or 00 bread flour. Hmmm, I wonder what the 00 pasta flour is closest to? And I wonder which one Dan meant when he specified it for his checkerboard biscuits (another thing I want to make….)? So many questions!
The jury is still out on that one. I am just linking to the things I have read on the 00. Hoping that someone will give me a definite answer, but I am not sure who that someone will be. :)
It’s quite a big bread, easily enough for 6 people to have a big square each, maybe 8 people so consider halving the quantities if you just want to experiment and see what it’s like.
i love the photo of the bread, egg, salad and the glass of ale..it looks like a perfect and joyful meal and extra special with the gifted eggs, home made bread and vinegar and homegrown apples..
I get very excited when I am given Mitch’s lovely eggs because I know they will poach perfectly unlike the older ones I usually have access to. I’m glad it looks joyful, what a lovely thing to say Jane :) It’s always a bit of a scramble to grab a photo because we want to eat !
And now I have learned another thing . . . It didn’t even occur to me that using Very Strong bread flour as opposed to Strong bread flour could cause problems . . . which might explain a thing or too with my baking!
I’m glad to hear I’ve given you some ideas, thank you :)
Right, when i come back from my next lot of travels i am going to make this and i am going to be Firm With The Dough. In fact if you write a book (and i really wish you would, it would be so much easier to follow than most of them) this will be its name.. Be Firm With The Dough by Joanna!.. c
Ha! I don’t know how that phrase got in there. It’s usually the other way round, the dough is firm with me, doing what it wants and I yield to its whims, and then sneak up on it, having left it alone, lulled into a false sense of security..
Dough “She’s not going to mess with me again, I think I’ll just relax….have a little nap, maybe blow some bubbles, have a little flow…”
What a lovely dinner you and Brian cooked! Simply perfect, and the ale would have rounded things off very nicely indeed! Still don’t have my cope of S&S, but hopefully Amazon will get it shipped off soon! Thanks for all the lovely links, dearheart, very kind of you. And you’ve reminded me I have to make the potato stotties again, everybody loved those! :)
FWIW, I’ve been told that 00 flour refers to the fineness of the milling, which is why you can actually get 000 flour as well!
Thanks back to you darling Celia ! :) I know there is golden treasure in your blog waiting to be revisited and I remember you making those stotties and the boys’ enthusiasm. they are different as they use cooked potato, but something of the density of the texture of this flat bread brought them to mind, bouncy breads.
i hope your book turns up soon, the earlier versions of many of these are still on the Guardian if you look.
And thanks for your input on the 00 flour. Much appreciated x
wow – YUM! Looks like one I would like to make and thoroughly enjoy eating.
Give it a go Emily, have a look at Misky’s notes on her blog about it too, they are very useful. It is yummy with all the melted cheese on top… but not one I could eat every day.
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I like your advice to be firm with the dough – if it misbehaves, walk away and let it have some time out (in the corner) until it relaxes. No more tantrums…
Perhaps the flatbread and I (who are not friends) should try it again. This time with me taking charge as you suggest…
I do like the idea of the leek and cheese topping. Yum!
It would be well worth reading the round up post on Evidence Matters’s blog for this one, I think she’ll post it in the next day or so. I’ll put a link in the body of mine when she does. We ate more of it the following day, reheated and the topping came back quite well, but it is a rich and heavy bread, and one needs to control the oil in the dough, it’s very easy to keep adding with all the folding and stretching, almost too easy and you end up with a ‘fried bread’ effect at the end. Interesting to see all the different results of people working from the same recipe. It makes you realise how much our results are a matter of interpretation and previous experience.
I’m just about to go to bed, and now you have made me really hungry. The flat bread looks delicious…
Bad mistake reading food blogs late at night…. ;) Thanks for visiting !
Wow! Flour is not really something I have ever thought much about. I just buy trusty Tesco stuff. This is all fascinating. I heard Dan Lepard discussing different flours on R4 the other day too. I must do a bit of research and find a local mill and start experimenting. Love this.
Your rarebit looks amazing – especially with the beautiful salad and the fresh egg.
Glad to have found your blog and really looking forward to baking more alongside you. Thanks.
Thanks for visiting me Lou – I revealed my inner geek a bit here…. the flour thing both matters and doesn’t matter at the same time, if that makes sense. When I started baking I bought every flour there was and got in a complete stew about it. Then I settled for one or two and felt much happier, but every so often I get a bit obsessional again :)
Are the quantities for strong flour in the Short & Sweet book correct, page 75, Herb and garlic roti Three lorrs of flour given, two for strong white flour.
Hi Sylvia, ooh, ultimately the person to ask is Dan himself but I will tweet him on your behalf, unless you are on Twitter too? he is @Dan_Lepard. in the meantime I looked up the old version in The Guardian for you. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/oct/18/oregano-garlic-roti. I will ask and find out as I am curious too. Best wishes joanna
I’m sure that this would turn out really well in an outdoor woodfired oven. I’ve got one that I’ve been experimenting with and 9 time out of 10 the results are smashing.