A most welcome and generous gift from a goodie bag (work-related). I do like the Vietnamese eateries in Shoreditch but have never actually cooked Vietnamese food. This book makes it all sound very simple so I’m off to shop for ingredients shortly. It’s also most welcome as my weekend cooking (weekend cooking = more time consuming and ‘elaborate’ recipes) has been very much Jerusalem inspired in recent months with an occasional Hugh FW, St. John, Moro and Nigel Slater thrown in. And, considering that I have most of Nigel’s books since Real Fast Food, it’s a bit odd that the two Tender books completely passed me by. This one centres on fruit and has some wonderful recipes for sweet and savoury dishes. Expect lots of apples, pears and quince posts coming up, I do love a quince. And medlar, if the greengrocer happens to have them. Contemplating making medlar jelly although not entirely sure what it would go in (the perennial problem of Not Enough Jars). There are also chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts although I am a little disappointed at the lack of a really good chestnut and chocolate cake recipe. I am always on the search for the cake that would be equal to the memory of the one great aunt V used to make at this time of the year.
This week’s loaf, I am pretty pleased with it. It’s a white and spelt sourdough, good bouncy texture inside and a better crust than last week – I blasted this one in a hot oven first. After 3 weeks of experimentation with Paul Hollywood’s method, I think I’ve now worked out what to keep from it and what to change well enough to post a recipe. This should be started at lunchtime on the day before if you want to have it ready for breakfast.
Ingredients: 400g bread flour – this can be all white or a mix of white with other flours (strong wholemeal, rye, spelt, malted). Just ensure that strong white flour dominates as the others have less gluten and don’t rise as well. So, this particular loaf was 250g strong white and 150g spelt flour. 250g sourdough starter, 250ml water and 1tsp salt. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to form a dough then knead by hand for 10 or so minutes until elastic or 6 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Shape into a ball and leave to prove, in an oiled bowl, covered with a cloth for 5 hours. Take out the dough and deflate, on a lightly floured work surface, roll it up tightly, flatten then blanket fold and shape into an oval, coat with flour (preferably rye or spelt) and leave to prove for a second time – on a well floured board or in a proving basket placed inside a plastic bag, for another 12-13 hours. The slow second prove will give the loaf a bit of a skin, which helps the final crust. Place a hot stone or a baking sheet in the oven an preheat to 250C (fan or, equivalent high setting). Slash the loaf then bake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 180C fan and bake for a further 30 minutes.