I wrote this post towards the end of June but somehow forgot to post it, here it is anyway. There is still one of Brian’s loaves in the freezer…. As the weather has turned very hot, I am glad we have stored a little bread away as I don’t feel like baking when it is very warm here.
Recently I wrestled with a very small bit of a border in our garden, as well as trying to sort out a tangle of climbers at the back of another bed and not getting very far. This bit was an after thought at the base of a wall that is at one end of the little lawn and only goes down so far before it hits rubble. I took out some old plants and dug out the soil which was full of builders’ rubble, as is most of our soil. Over the years we are digging it out, but it makes even the smallest job hard on the wrists and extends the time it takes to do the simplest of tasks, as spades can’t shift half bricks buried in hard clay very easily and you have to winkle them out with a trowel.
I decided to see if the tomato plants would work in the ground outside with a wall at their back. It is now after midsummer and if they can’t go out now, when can they go out? The soil isn’t very deep there so I figured it might work (thinking about those growbags which are very shallow) but they might not get enough sun there. I am trying to have fewer food plants growing in pots, as it is much easier to water them in the ground and generally look after them. I hanker after a greenhouse or a polytunnel but there isn’t really room the way our garden is laid out.
Fortunately it was a perfect long June day for me to spend time pretending to garden, light cloud and not too windy and I stayed outside for hours. When I came in Brian had decided to make bread as there was none around. He made his favourite milk bread which he has simplified a little and a batch of pita dough as well. So I got to do the fun bits, shaping the dough and prepping the tins and making the pita itself. We finally got round to eating around nine pm which is late for us, and had warm pita pockets stuffed with salad and some leftover bits and pieces.
This is how Brian did it. It is based on this beautiful old recipe of Dan Lepard’s for a delicate milk loaf suitable for very refined sandwiches without crusts, the sort of cucumber sandwiches that they eat in The Importance of Being Earnest. We love crusts however!
This makes enough for four approx 500g loaves.; one for the next morning and three for the freezer. This is the sort of bread to make for people if you are trying to convince them that you can make soft white bread at home that is much nicer than the shop bought stuff.
Brian’s UHT Milk Bread
- 825 g UHT Milk (full fat)
- 16g Active Instant Yeast
- 525g of Strong Flour (still using last year’s Stanway Mill flour)
Brian mixed these up in the Kenwood at low speed for 4-5 minutes and then left the bowl to froth up for 20 minutes. The temperature in the kitchen was about 23 C so it went very fast.
He then added
- 75g golden syrup (thank you for finally producing this in squeezy bottles, even though the tins are beautiful, squeezy bottles are easy peasy)
- 600g Strong Flour (Stanway)
- 16g salt
- 75g unsalted melted butter (remember to reduce the salt if you use salted butter)
He mixed this once again in the Kenwood for 5-6 minutes. Left it to rest for 30 minutes. He folded it twice by hand during the 30 minutes. He then left it to double in size for 45 minutes.
At this point I came indoors and Brian had to make some phone calls. I buttered and floured the bread tins and divided the dough into four portions which I rounded up, shaped and into the tins. They were left to prove and I investigated his pita dough and made it into balls which I left sitting under a cloth and then stared out into the garden and watched the birds on their last round to the feeders of the evening. This is one of Brian’s photos of the very harassed looking and worn out mummy blue tit feeding her ginormous baby on the fat balls. If anyone is in doubt about the value of putting out food for birds in the summer in England, don’t doubt it, just do it. The birds need us in our gardens and it really helps them survive all year round. If you don’t put out food then do put out water and change it regularly and keep the containers clean so the birds don’t pass disease between each other.
Eventually we got it together to make some salad and find some things to put in the middle of the pita breads. I baked the pita off, they take 4 minutes in a very hot oven and we sat down and ate. Once we had finished Brian put his tins in the oven. The dough was about two inches clear of the top of the tins. It was warm last night so the final rise was maybe an hour or so.
The oven was set at 210 ºC and he baked them at that temperature for about 20 minutes and then lowered the temperature to 190 ºC for a further 20 minutes. He wasn’t happy with them and thought they were a bit soft when they came out of the tins, so put them back out of their tins on the oven rails for another 6 – 7 minutes so they crisped up a bit on the outside.
The loaves were huge and toppy with lovely curlicues where the dough tumbled over the sides of the tins. Cherry freezer jam and a scrape of butter on this for breakfast and a little sunshine!
I love that Dan Lepard recipe! Your bread tins are beautiful.
The thing about using UHT milk is that you then don’t need to scald the milk to alter the protein in unheated milk that makes the bread heavy before you make the bread, I think I forgot to add that in the post. It works for us anyway :) If you are using regular milk then you need to follow Dan’s method properly. My bread tins are well used and much loved :)
I was thinking about you in your part of the world today whilst I was gardening and I thought it would be about now that the weather would become warm and summery. I can relate to gardening where you are trying to garden around builders rubble. I found a crow bar and pick a little bit big for my gardening basket but essential tools! Brian’s bread recipe sounds beautiful and that’s just reading it, but garnished with cherry jam and sunshine – how could that not be so much better for you than anything that could be bought. I’ve got bread in the oven at the moment and hot bread rolls cooling on a rack – it some how feels as if it gives soul to the kitchen.
Hi Jan, I have some trapped sweet pea plants in pots that are desperate now to get into the garden, so I had better find my crowbar and see what I can do… hang on.. apparently we have broken the crowbar… never mind, back to pretending I am on an archaelogical dig. It’s going to head for 30 C today, so I need my sunhat and I had better do quickly before I wilt. It is Wimbledon final though, so I might just put it off till tomorrow. Procrastination being my middle name as I am sure everyone is by now aware. I love to think of you baking away keeping cosy in the Antipodean winter with hot bread smells warming home and soul.
What an attractive looking breakfast! No better place to eat it than a sunny patio either, aren’t we lucky this week with the weather?
Fabulous weather isn’t it? we are watching tennis and drinking tea at the moment hope you’re well !
That’s wonderful looking bread and toast! And I can see how this would make delicious cucumber sandwiches. I love your bird feeder and yes, I agree, it’s good to feed birds any time of the year xx
It is cucumber sandwich weather today, lovely and warm! The birds are splashing about in the birdbath :)
Stunning bread Brian especially with the cherry jam! As always photography is superb , the birds must adore to be in your garden a haven for them.
Have kefir on the go at the moment with this warm weather seem to mutiply quickly.
Well Joanna very hot here in sunny Yorkshire so watching Wimbledon after a hard morning’s work with completing chores.Happy Sunday. Franxx
I have put kefir in fridge for a couple of days and keep having to recycle spoonfuls of grains . I read someone say you should eat them tried one but not very appetising . We are watching tennis too, not usually a big sports person but just for once !
Brian’s bread is lovely. I smile at your gardening stories- we are up to our knees in a very heavy clay base and I think most of our “garden” lived a former life as a driveway- full of gravel and broken bricks. We keep adding hummus and peat and soil and it just disappears into a pit of clay and stones. :(
Back to the bread- I always scald my milk before putting it into the dough- and then I melt the butter in it to cool it down a bit. I love that you and Brian are tandem bread bakers! Tag team- he makes the dough- you form the loaves and you both share great toast the following morning.
Great post- love all the flowers, birds and bread!
I count it as a major achievement when I manage to dig a decent sized hole in the garden. I don’t know if you remember we even got me a ‘lady-sized spade’ as I couldn’t make any headway with the full sized ones :) I have no idea where that humus and soil gets to either. We dig in our bits of home made compost and I think the worms just eat them all.
On the bread, we keep UHT milk in the garage mainly to make yoghurt with, but it gets used for bread by Brian. If I make bread with fresh milk then I would scald it too. Good tip to put the butter in to cool and melt, though nothing feels very cool tonight. Tag team is a good description of what happens here in the kitchen particularly, a lot of our meals get made that way as well. Always pleased that you like reading the stories!
Can I just say, for the record, Andy Murray!!! Absolutely, outstandingly fantastically well done!!! OK got that out of my system…
Wow, I heard that! I’m so pleased for him.
Thrilled about Andy’s win too! It was in the evening here and I had to go to bed after the first set – too nervous to watch!
Lovely bread and another sweet bird picture.
Hi Jan and Ann, I can’t say I am a big sports watcher but I did enjoy watching that one :)
I’m a fan of Dan Lepard, too, and have baked several of his recipes, but I agree with you on the crust issue. I could never be so refined as to not want a crust on my bread. Lovely chickadee photo!
The thing is when you take the crusts off they go stale super quickly and start to curl up, but for some people it is the only way to eat sandwiches!
We call this variety of chickadees Blue Tits in England, or as they were once known ‘titmice’ bizarre name for a bird. We had their cousins the Great Tits, (a bigger variety) nesting in a wall box this year too.
The crusts are the best bit, cut off and slathered with good butter. We used to fight over them as kids ;). Love this recipe! Cheers for sharing it and thank Brian for his Junely efforts to make something that we frozen Tasmanians can bake in our July to give our soup a bit of oomph :). Pure gorgeousness in a curleycued top that Steve and I will fight over :).
Go for that over the top curly bread, it is pure comfort and joy, and I love crusts too :) I wish I could send you some of our heat to warm your frozen Tassie toes :)
My Tassie toes are currently under a very lovely warm blankie that my daughters bought for me (along with some imported Matcha green tea powder, a gorgeous friand pan and a series of tiny tins of gorgeous Chinese tea) for mothers day. They know their mum and they know that I spend a lot of time sitting here in the early mornings. Talking about toes, I had best boost Brunhilda’s wood quotient, it’s just about time to wake Steve up and head out for our hour and a half morning drag with the dogs in the frozen tundra’s of Sidmouth…wish me luck!
Sounds like a perfect breakfast to me.
It was delightful! Thank you!