Monday, 30 August 2010

The fruits of my labour. Dan Lepard's simple milk loaf

I am in preparation mode.

With (only) 3 1/2 months before the arrival of our baby, I have decided to get ready while I still have time. Bank holiday weekends, and weekends in general have also meant baking. Ever heard of Sunday afternoon cake making? Nothing unusual really. Except that this weekend I thought that it would be a good time to start filling up my cupboards with lots of yummy homemade food stuff. Preserves was what came first to my mind. I just needed to order the right equipment.So Saturday morning was all about tomato sauce. 3kg of tomatoes (to be accurate) following my lovely mamie's (nan's) recipe. As I am not especially good at following recipes to the letter, I had to add a few extra ingredients: one them being herbs. And a lot of them.
5 pots are now in my larder stored and waiting for me to be baby-busy.
Sunday morning was jam making morning. With a little pre-preparation the day before (my mum also says that the fruits should marinade with the sugar overnight) I kept myself and the bump busy for a couple of hours.
I decided to make a seasonal jam. A Plum jam using 2 different types of plums: Victoria plum and Golden plum (also called yellowgage) flavoured with vanilla pods. Nothing too fancy but being a jam novice, I better stick to simple recipes.
After a little bit of skimming, stirring, tasting and canning, here I am now ready for winter with my 6 jars of "end of summer" sunshine.

Bank holiday Mondays often feel like Sundays. That's maybe why I had to bake something that would scent the whole house with cosy feel. Bread is best for that. It's comforting, delicious and so satisfying especially when it evolves a lot of kneading. I absolutely love this.
I have been reading Dan Lepard's columns for quite a while now and I usual go for his cake recipes. With the exception of today. Simple milk loaf is what I fell for.


What you need to make
Dan Lepard's Simple milk loaf.
For one big loaf

250f of plain flour
250g of wholemeal bread flour
20g of golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp of fresh yeast (or 1 sachet of fast action yeast)
350ml of whole milk
1 1/4 tsp of sea salt

In a bowl mix together all the ingredients apart from the sea salt. Moving onto a clean floured surface, knead the dough slightly. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Add the salt to the dough and knead once more for 10 to 15 seconds. Dan Lepard's technique is simple but effective: knead the dough briefly for 10-15 seconds then leave to rest for 10 minutes and repeat the same action twice more.

Leave the dough to rest for about 30 minutes. It should rise slightly.

Knead once again for a good 8-10 minutes on a floured surface.

Leave to proof in a greased bowl for at least 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Now you want to knock the air out of the bread. Knead the dough for at least 5 minutes without being afraid of being brutal. Divide into 2 equal balls. Flour and butter a loaf dish and put both doughs inside. Leave them to proof until almost doubled (30 minutes should do).

Preheat the oven to 210ºC (gas mark 6-7). Brush the doughs with a little milk and bake at this temperature for 30 minutes then lower the oven to 180ºC (gas mark 5) for another 25 to 30 minutes.

If you are like me and are impatient to taste the fruit of your labour, cut yourself a nice thick slice while still warm. Spread with a good knob of unsalted butter- butter helps bring out the milky flavour of the bread- and add some jam. Plum jam for me. Perfect way to end a long weekend.
x