Friday, 13 November 2009

Dahl-ling bread

I am trying very hard at the moment to temper my cookery book purchasing, in particular books on baking. I have discovered that a lot of the more celebrity-type chefs have a tendency towards repeating their recipes, justifying their inclusion in yet another perfectly produced more-style-than-food, 'buy this and you can live like me, and my life is FABULOUS!' book simply by altering the amount of vanilla, or swapping the flour or changing the icing to a frosting. With that in mind, and considering the hefty price tag on a lot of titles, it's worth remembering your trusty local library. I find it's a great way to try out a book for free: this works for crafting books as well. It is often easy to be seduced into thinking that you absolutely, positively have to have that book, but it is better to spend your hard earned cash on something that you'll have use for for years to come. Also, you need to save your cash in order to buy the ingredients / yarn / gluegun / studio as suggested in your newly-acquired piece of inspiration.

One of the books I'd seen at work, but wasn't sure I agreed with, was Sophie Dahl's book, 'Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights: The Art of Eating a Little of What You Fancy'. The reason I didn't 'agree' with it was down to cookery / lifestyle book saturation: there is a growing trend for cookbooks to be just as much about the author as the food. I'm sure she wasn't the first, but Tessa Kiros, with her glorious 'Falling Cloudberries', with its mix of biography, family history, culture, tradition and food, possibly inspired others to follow,  (and of course dear ol' Nigella can't resist a lustful pout over a robust dish of freshly-concocted edible sex between her recipes, despite her first and utterly fabulous book, 'How to Eat'  being completely devoid of any author posturing, aside from the 'I'm actually a serious writer but I can cook too' one on the inner cover.) As with any good idea, a raft of similar titles have followed, to the point of olive oil-based marination, hence me giving Miss Dahl's perfectly beautiful, perfectly stylish book a wide berth. That was until I came across a surprise copy at my local library...

It is indeed a beautiful book, with 101 recipes handily divided by the seasons and then again into breakfasts, lunches and suppers. Each season is heralded with autobiography, illustrating the author's emotional link, love and respect of food. She talks candidly about the weight gain that led to her initial fame (as a model with, shock horror! Squidgy-bits-like-what-real-women-have! She was all of a size 14 at her largest...) and then how she lost weight, (by the way, this isn't a diet book, as I clearly wouldn't have bothered with it) and also morsels about her life growing up, travelling and working. She has an lovely relaxed style, the type of prose you fall into, and of course having an interesting life so far helps too. As for the recipes, accompanied by calm, almost rustic photos, they are simple, practical and look positively eatable, a trait you would assume was a given in a cookery book but sadly isn't necessarily. A particular favourite that I've made a few times now (with the book a good distance away so as not to become soiled by my exuberant baking activities) is what we call in this house 'Jamie Cullum Bread', but Miss Dahl calls 'Musician's breakfast (home-made bread with Parma Ham). For the uninitiated amongst you, Sophie Dahl's 'beloved' is Jamie Cullum and, according to the recipe, 
'This, a strong cup of tea and Miles Davis on the stereo makes him a very happy fellow of a morning.'

I had a flash of Domestic Goddessy Madness the other morning and went all 'lifestyle' myself by making my own Jamie Cullum bread whilst the rest of the family got up properly, that is, shuffling through the morning ritual of wee, tea then food (and not in joined up writing: mornings are strictly printed in this house: we are not a morning family) 
Sadly, it wasn't ready before they all left the house, but I somehow managed not to snaffle down the whole loaf, leaving them some for their return. Yes, that is how much I love them.*dabs at tear with corner of pinny*

'This, a pint cup of coffee and 6Music on the stereo makes me a very happy fellow of a morning.'

As much as I love this bread, I fancied something with a bit more texture, so when I made a loaf today (out of hunger and the need to create: when all the tastiest things are born), I added a variety of seeds. Not only had I managed to gild the lily, I also made it healthier too, though its health benefits are possibly undone by my 'voluptuous' portions. So here is my recipe, based on Miss Dahl's. Give it a go, with or without the seeds, and do check out her book too - I have it on my wishlist as I suppose I should stop renewing this copy...

Who(l)em(eal)y seedy beeyatch, yo.*

450g wholemeal flour (either normal or bread flour: both work)
100g oats
packet of fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt (I used Maldon)
25g hemp seeds
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
600ml warm (not hot) water
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp clear honey

  • Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, nay flexi trug should the whim take you (damn they're such a versatile beast!)
  • In a large jug, mix together the water, oil and honey.
  • Add wet to the dry and stir thoroughly.
  • Look at the porridgey gloop and think to yourself, 'How the hell am I going to knead that gelatinous blob?!'
  • Exclaim 'Ahhhh!' when you read: 'This bread does not need kneading.'
  • Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and place somewhere warm and out of the way (i.e. next to a sleeping relative answers only half of the problem, so don't put it there.) for about 20, 30, heck, perhaps as much as 40 minutes, until the dough has doubled in size (hence the need for the large bowl. You see?! It's all in the planning!)
  • Preheat the oven to 190oC / 170oF.
  • Once risen, do not mark the occassion by bastardising a Pagan tradition and eating your bodyweight in chocolate, but merely beat it back down to size with a wooden spoon.
  • Oil a loaf tin and pour the subjugated dough within its oily confines.
  • Pop in the oven and bake for 50-60 mins.
  • Allow to cool in the tin before turning it out and anointing each slice with a hearty slather of what you fancy.

My slather of choice is butter.

*there is a loaf we often buy called a 'seeded batch' that we call a 'seedy beeyatch'. 
I guess you had to be there... 

**Mum: I'm working on my punctuation: look what book I got last weekend!(though clearly I haven't read it yet...)


Charlotte Lader said...

there are so many reasons why I love you, and this post is full of them

Isabella Golightly said...

I worship at the alter of Lynne Truss; I was given that book as gift by somebody who said "you'll appreciate this". And I did.

Also, love the bready post. I immediately thought of Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf... buns, baps or bagels. Yum.

Mum said...

Well done! I'm impressed

MrY8s said...

Great bit of writing, about my fave topic. Bread. Omnomnom...

Luke - Way Ahead Photos

Pan's Pantry said...

If only that bread and my jam could meet somewhere over the vast Atlantic...

Abi B said...

Right, I'm back. and I am commenting.

I want to read this book. I like Tessa Kiros so this might be a nice one to try.

*does a nigella*


Unknown said...

do you listen to adam and joe on 6 music?

Unknown said...

I too have been trying to curb the buying of cookery books, failed after being given a 30% discount voucher. I brought a Nigel Slater one, after a recommendation from you my dear. I am, as well though in love my library and the joy I can get there. My bread making has stumbled as I've been given a bread maker and just put it all in and wait!

Laura @ EdenRose said...

I'm addicted to cookery books too! I like to read them in bed as though they are novels, is that odd?
Lovely blog x

yumptatious said...

I am soooo rude! I have demanded you imbibe my waffle but have shunned you all! Please: stop what you're doing and scowl at the rude lady! *receives scowls and the weight of disgust*

Charlotte: *wipes face of bread crumbs,snogs face off in hearty, yet unerringly platonic fashion*
Isabella: oh it's a fab book: funny yet informative. I want to read her others, even the football one, shockingly. I'm not aware of Talkie Toaster, I'm afraid: I shall gorge this gap in my education with info-stuffing courtesy of youtube :-)
Mum: yay! ;-)
Luke: if you like bread, have you seen the River cottage book? It's fabulous and you need it bad.
Pan (Noma? Is that you? *squints*): tis a cacophony of deliciousness that, if there is a God, should happen in our lifetimes...
Abiban: welcome home! I have been here, just out the back rearranging my pantry. I'd love to know how you find Miss Dahl (in a cerebral rather than physical sense: put those night-vision goggles down!)
Mike: hell yes! My ambition is to join Black Squadron. Loved them on tv, love them on the radio (and such good tunes!) Jon Richardson is ace, as is Huey Morgan. Actually, it's all good!
KT: wowsers! A breadmaker! Isn't that like a Woody Allen orgasmatron: all of the benefits with none of the effort?
Which Nigel Slater did you get?
Laura: no, that's not odd, particularly the way they're written like novels at the mo! Which ones have you read recently? (and thanks for the blog love: stop by anytime!)