Wholesome Wholemeal!

At last! A post about bread.

Wholemeal bread or pane integrale as it is know in Italy has never had the following that it has in the UK  for a number of cultural and social reasons. The preference has always been for white bread though no where near as refined as what we have here.

Wholemeal bread is quite often seen as intimidating to make both it terms of the rise and the crumb being different to its paler sister.

This is where Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet  introductory recipe comes in.

It really was very  easy to make, a joy to handle and passed the “I’m not sure about this” test with my kids with flying colours!

In fact I was so taken with it that I’m straight off to make the Spelt and ale loaf on the next page.

All my own work!

Week 4 of the Short and Tweet challenge saw the S&T bakers venturing into the world of  spicy, sweet yeasted breads.

It brought back memories of my one and only lesson in bread making from over 15 years ago when the baker who was teaching us (his claim to baking immortality was that his were the hands used  in instructional photos in this classic ) informed us that bread making with spices was quite tricky.

Fortunately this proved not to be the case and I really enjoyed the whole process of making these wonderful teacakes.

What a lovely smell!

The bringing together of the spices, sugars, flour, eggs, milk and yeast produced a dough which was a joy to handle.

as I pulled the gleaming tea cakes from the oven a wave of spiciness washed over me and I couldn’t wait for breakfast to come round to try them.

Needless to say the kids were a bit wary, the youngest rejecting them out of hand (dried fruits of any description are a complete no no!).

But they were absolutely delicious, the ingredients magically combining to produce a teacake with a depth of flavour which I had never experienced before.

A brilliant recipe and if you are fortunate enough to find this book in your Christmas stocking, this should be one of the first recipes you try.

The best teacakes I've ever eaten

Having previously stated that I was going to blog mainly about bread, I find myself discussing biscuit making.

This is an area I have tended to steer clear of in the past, but as an active participant in the Short and Tweet challenge based on Dan Lepard’s excellent  Short and Sweet book  I found myself in Week 3 with two savoury biscuit bakes!

Buttermilk Oatcakes

I don’t usually do much baking during the week due to work, kids etc. but after a quick scan of the recipe I thought I would give it a go.

As an inveterate taster (someone who has always stuck his fingers into raw cake/biscuit mix) I dived in to see what it tasted like even though it look somewhat unappetising. But as they say it tasted better than it looked. Gritty and at the same time tangy. This was probably down to the use of medium rather than fine oatmeal.

Doesn't look very appetising does it?

The baking however lead to a remarkable transformation. A delicate, lace-like biscuit resulted which whilst retaining it tangy taste also delivered a lovely crunchy texture which complemented the taste of a strong earthy Cheddar really well.

A stack of tangy crunchiness

Cheese & Black Pepper Buttons

The second part of the challenge followed an early Sunday morning bake of a couple of sourdough loaves.Both simple to make and bake the two cheeses (Cheddar & Parmesan) came through very strongly and seemed to swamp the pepper but I’ll look at using milder cheeses next time. A dollop of mango chutney on each of these turned them into a sublime snack!

Very Cheesy buttons

Next week it’s teacakes but I am some what confused by the ingredient option of white chocolate or beef dripping!

This is my first post on my very first blog so please be gentle with me! Why am I now blogging when there are squizillions of people already doing it and some very good ones ( you know who!) blogging passionately and eloquently about making their own bread.

Well a few days ago I happened to remark in a tweet (yes I am a tweeter) that I didn’t have a blog and almost before I could press return I received a quick fire salvo of tweets saying I should become a blogger.

So here I am! What Am I going to blog about? probably my adventures in bread making (the clues in the title) one year from when it all started and then as I get the hang of it and learn how to take good photos and upload them, themes relating to food, Italy and life as a 50 year old dad!

Anyway that’s all for now but just a quick thank you  to Zeb Bakes,  Fig and lime Cordial and Azelia’s Kitchen all of who bake beautiful bread and write so eloquently about how they do it and have set the bar for me to aim for.

A few example of my successes and failures!