Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Halogen Oven Semi-Wholemeal Loaf

I've posted previously about my problems making bread and in that post said that my next attempt would be using my halogen oven and the recipe book I got with it (The Halogen Oven Cookbook by Norma Miller). This is, approximately, that recipe. I say approximately because I never follow a recipe exactly as written. The following version is the result of a few experiments which were all somewhat more edible than the ones referred to above.

Prepare:         approx 1 day including rising time
Cook:            15 minutes
Serves:         1 350g loaf


150ml             water
    1tsp           clear honey
    1tbs           dry active yeast
175g              strong plain wholemeal flour
  55g              strong white flour
1/2tsp            salt


Heatproof measuring jug, thermometer, kettle, large mixing bowl, flour shaker, loaf tin


Boil the water in the kettle.
Pour the hot water into the jug and add the honey.
When the water has cooled to around 30 to 37C add the yeast and give it a good stir.
Leave the yeast mixture to do its thing for around 10 to 15 minutes until there's a layer of froth around 20mm deep on the top.
Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl.
Stir the water, honey and yeast mixture and add to the bowl mixing thoroughly.
Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead it until its elastic.
Place the dough back into the mixing bowl and cover the bowl with clingfilm.
Leave the dough in a fairly warm place until it's doubled in size.
Once the dough has risen remove it from the bowl, lightly knead it into a suitable shape and transfer it to a loaf tin.
Cover the tin with a damp tea towel and leave the dough to rise again for a few hours.
Once the dough has finished rising transfer the tin to the halogen oven and cook it at 200C until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, approximately 15 minutes.

This only makes a small loaf but is sufficient for one person.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

(Mis)Adventures in Bread Making

Over the years I've made numerous attempts to bake my own bread. For some reason these rarely come out quite right.

For example, I tried to make a sourdough loaf last summer (for those of you not familiar with the term 'summer' is when the rain is slightly warmer that it is the rest of the year) and it was so solid that even the birds left it alone. I suspect the problem was largely due to the fact that, no matter how long I left it, the dough just didn't seem to want to rise although the starter gave off plenty of gas so the yeast was presumably alive.

The other day I decided to try a soda bread loaf on the basis that that would be more likely to rise. I chose the version from the New Year edition of Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers as this was supposed to be foolproof. Well, it may have been had I been able to follow the recipe properly. You see, I have this little problem (but enough of my medical history): the thermostat in my cooker doesn't allow the oven to get warmer than 180C which is rather cool for bread making. That being so, I decided to use my halogen oven instead. That presents, if anything, the opposite problem in that if I use the same temperature as in the original recipe things tend to burn. Sure enough, the top of my loaf started getting too dark for my liking so I took it out, turned it over and turned the temperature down 10 degrees or so. This stopped the loaf burning but I ended up with a loaf that was OK on the outside but undercooked in the middle.

For my next attempt I'll use a recipe from the book I got with the halogen oven.