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.