It’s quite extraordinary the lengths that bloggers will go to meet up and bake. Between the three of us we made a 450 mile round trip to Freuchie in Fife, to learn how to bake Mediterranean Breads with Colin Lindsay at Bread in Fife
So who, you might ask, are the three bloggers baking bread?
|Louise, Janice, Jacqueline|
Louise (Lou) from Please Do Not Feed the Animals, Me and Jacqueline (Jac) from Tinned Tomatoes.
After some refreshments and a little discussion about our various bread making experience, we got down to business. Colin is testing the heat of the water with his fingers.
We started off making an olive oil dough, all the ingredients were weighed, even the liquid. I was very interested by the importance of the temperature, not only of the liquid, but also of the flour. The ideal temperature for fermenting dough is 27C. Colin gave us a formula to get the right temperature for both flour and water, double 27 = 54 minus the temperature of the flour = temperature of the water. We used flour from Shipton Mill and fresh yeast, but you could use dried yeast.
Once we had incorporated all the liquid we started to knead our dough.
Colin showed us a variety of ways of kneading, including air kneading, all of which is pretty physical, but the air kneading is really hard work.
Here is Jac, checking whether her dough is ready by stretching it out paper thin, and if you can do that without it breaking, then the gluten has stretched enough and you are ready to prove your dough. We set aside the olive oil dough to prove, in a converted plant propagator/mini greenhouse in Colin’s porch. It had a little heater in the bottom to keep the temperature even, of course you only need this sort of thing if you are proving a lot of dough, a warm room or airing cupboard will do just as well.
This ‘beast of yeast’ is a plain flour, yeast, salt and water dough that Colin had made before we arrived, so we would be able to continue baking while the olive oil dough proved.
The first thing we made were bread sticks, not the very thin brittle type of Grissini, you get on the table at Italian restaurants, these were more substantial.
Here are the ‘toppings’ that we had to choose from: olives, Parmesan cheese, sesame seeds and poppy seeds.
Colin showed us how to incorporate sesame seeds into our dough by folding the dough over the seeds, turning and folding again.
When you start to knead them into the dough, they rise to the surface.
By rolling and pushing the dough firmly in a circular motion against the table, the seeds start to go under the layer of dough. Reading that back, I’m sure it makes not sense to anyone who hasn’t seen it – you had to be there!
Then you roll the dough flat and divide into strips. Take each strip and roll it into a long sausage.
Place your chosen topping on a sheet of baking parchment on your baking tray, damp the bread stick with a little water from a spray bottle and roll in the topping. You can also sprinkle with some flakes of sea salt.
These are Lou’s lovely evenly rolled bread sticks.
These are my rather gnarly and unevenly rolled bread sticks – I think bread sticks can say a lot about your personality!
And here they are after baking.We tucked into them with a cuppa and discovered that you had to go easy on the salt, as some were a little oversalted, especially where we had used olives and parmesan! However, they tasted great and we all agreed we would make them again.
We used the rest of the plain dough to make Fougasse, a traditional hearth bread, but with slashes cut into the flat breads.
These would be good with a bowl of soup, but as they are so plain, you really need something to go along with them.
The recipe for the bread sticks and the olive oil dough is on the Bread in Fife website, the Fougasse uses the same recipe as the bread sticks.