Sunday, 6 October 2013
... you know when you've made something time and time again and you're more than happy with the way it turns out but then you're given one little tip or one piece of advice that will enhance what you think you've been doing right and suddenly that thing you've made goes from lovely to amazing... well this happened to me this week and I thought i'd share that tip with you... and yes, whilst it's not exactly life-changing, it has made a huge difference to the quality and taste of the bread i've been baking...
... as you know i'm a big advocate of the low-knead bread making method and until last week I thought I had it all down to a perfect art form... every friday I make two loaves to last the weekend and they're delicious, they have a wonderful light and airy texture with a soft crust that toasts beautifully and then I caught about 5 minutes of the bread god Paul Hollywood's TV show where he was just about to pop a white loaf into the oven. he did two things... firstly he spritzed the loaf with water before rubbing with flour and slashing the top... and secondly he threw a cup full of water into a baking tray at the bottom of the oven to create steam... I had heard and used these techniques before but it was the simple way he showed how it was done that inspired me to follow these simple steps the next time I baked... and as you can see the results are undeniably gorgeous!
roasted cauliflower cheese and corn soup with crusty bread
I love cauliflower cheese, it's one of those comfort foods that screams of cosy sunday's in front of the fire and so when I saw this pretty soup on the Elizabeth's Kitchen blog I really had to have a go at making my own version... I think i've captured the essence here by roasting the cauliflower first to give it a slightly smokey edge. The corn is there for more texture and a little thickness... i've not blended this to a completely smooth soup as I think it needs to retain some of it's character.
for the soup
1 medium onion - chopped
1 large cauliflower - roughly chopped
100g frozen sweetcorn
2 to 3 pints good veg stock (depends on how thick you like it)
100g mature cheddar cheese
a dash of single cream
seasoning of your choice
for the low-knead crusty bread (enough for one loaf - simple double it for two)
400g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon dried active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil for kneading
make the bread first... using a large bowl bring the flour, salt, yeast and water together until you have a sticky, shaggy mess then cover with a tea towel and set aside for 10 minutes
after 10 minutes spread some oil onto your work surface with your hand then lift the shaggy dough onto the oil and quickly oil the inside of the bowl, then knead the dough 8 times and place it back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel and set aside for 10 minutes
repeat this process twice more before covering the bowl with cling-film and let it rise for at least an hour or doubled in size
knock it back, then pull it out onto an oiled surface and punch it down all over before rolling it up tightly and punching down again. Now it's ready to form into your final loaf shape, this could either be a round hand-shaped loaf which you place onto an oven tray or popped into a tin - cover loosely with cling-film and let it rest for 30 mins. at this point turn the oven on to at least 220C and place a baking tray onto the bottom shelf of the oven
before you put the bread into the oven, spritz the loaf with a little water and sprinkle flour on top which you rub down with your hand, then slash the top of the bread with a very sharp knife
as you open the oven, throw a large glass of water into the tray at the bottom, put the bread in and seal the door... give it 10 minutes on 220C then turn the oven down to 180C for a further 20 minutes. For a really crusty loaf take the oven tray or loaf tin away and place the loaf directly on the oven shelf for the last 5 minutes
now make the soup... place the onion and cauliflower into a roasting dish, season and drizzle with a little olive oil and roast gently in the oven for about 30 mins... you want it to be soft and just beginning to colour but don't go too far as it can easily burn
once roasted, add the veg to the stock and sweetcorn in a large soup pan and let it simmer for about 10 mins before whizzing up with a hand-blender... then add a little cream and the cheese letting it melt before serving
... this months tea time treats bloggers challenge has the theme of bread so of course i'm entering this crusty loaf and soup... if you want to take part in this brilliant challenge you can find the details on the hosts blogs - Kate from What Kate Baked and Karen from Lavender and Lovage
eat and of course, enjoy!