Monday, 22 April 2013

Chilli loaves

This request from Dan follows on from Red Nose Day, when Dan picked the chilli-flavoured Every Flavour Roll at school. He liked it, so asked if we could make a proper chilli bread. It's hardly original so I know there must be lots of recipes already out there, but I stuck to our principle - that we should make inventions without reference to any existing recipes.

The first question was how much chilli I should use. Dan can take quite a bit of heat in his food, so I decided to be quite generous. The second question was whether or not to cook the chilli before adding it to the dough. Couldn't decide, so made two loaves from the malted bread recipe, to test it out.

The chillis I used,
with bagel for scale
Special ingredient
1.5 large red chillis, finely chopped
knob of butter, for frying

Ready for the oven - cooked  chilli on left
Very simple. Make the malted bread dough and allow it to rise for two hours, as usual. Meanwhile, divide the chopped chilli in two. Leave half of it raw and gently sweat the other half in a little butter for a couple of minutes. Allow the fried chilli to cool completely.

When ready, punch the dough to release the air, weigh it, and divide it into two equal parts. Knead the fried chilli into one half and the raw chilli into the other. Shape, place on an oiled baking tray and leave to rise for an hour. Dust the loaves with flour and slash the tops shortly before placing in a preheated oven (200C/400F/mark 6) for half an hour. I wanted these to be crunchy loaves, so poured boiling water into a pan in the bottom of the oven to add steam.
Dan's thumbometer - double yum
The chilli flavour came through well in both loaves and tasted very good in the malted crumb. There was no real difference in flavour between the two loaves so I'll just stick to the raw chillis in future. Despite using quite a lot of chilli, there wasn't much heat in the loaves. It didn't matter because the bread was still tasty, but it would be nice to have some punch so I guess I might use smaller, scarier chillis in future.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Soupy Loaf (Green Bread Revisited)

Since Dan was very little, I've made him a soup from vegetables that would otherwise be good for nothing but composting. At the start, it was just the best way to get vegetables into him but, even as an accomplished and diverse eater of all things good, he still relishes it. The soup almost always has leeks, potatoes and lettuce (the last for its sweetness), but can include literally any vegetable. It always turns out some shade of green and so, due to the unpredictability of the ingredients, has come to be known by us as Indeterminate Green Soup. It is loved by Dan and me, loathed by Dan's big brother and his dad. Hah! What do they know?
Dry ingredients with the soup added

The soup recipe is at the end of this post.

I wasn't quite sure how to rise to this challenge from Dan. The potato bread for the Cottage Pie Buns uses cooked potatoes as a combined replacement for both some of the flour and some of the water in a standard bread recipe. But as my soup is purely liquid I decided simply to use it as a replacement for water. I thought it would be better for the bread to have a bit more 'bite' and so chose a wholemeal bread as the medium for this invention, adding 320ml (or thereabouts) of soup rather than water to make the dough.

Dan's Thumbometer - double yum
Well, as you can see, Dan was happy with it - though I'm not so sure. It certainly had something of the taste of vegetable soup, which was satisfying. I wonder if it might be another way of encouraging children who resist vegetables to eat them. However, rather like the vanilla bread, I found the loaf a bit puddingy, at its best when warm and not really good the next day (though Dan still enjoyed it). I'd like to see if I can work out how to make it soft and pillowy rather than stodgy, and will report on any progress.

Indeterminate Green Soup
(As I said, any veg will do but here is the list of those that I used in the soup for this loaf)

3 leeks
2 potatoes
several leaves Romaine lettuce
sad looking bunch of coriander
sad looking bunch of parsley
3 carrots
some broccoli
end of a cauliflower
vegetable stock

Roughly chop the vegetables and put them in a saucepan of your choice, which should be 2/3 to 3/4 full once all the veg are in. Add enough vegetable stock to just cover the vegetables. Bring to the boil and simmer until all the veg are soft. Blitz in a blender, pass through a sieve - and that's it.