Posts Tagged ‘leaven’

Pumpkin and walnut loaf

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Pain potimarron-noix

I devised this recipe for a competition run by that wonderful bread resource Votre Pain last year but for some reason it never made it onto the blog – until now.

The two stars of this loaf were chosen because they’re the only garden produce in which I can claim to be more or less self-sufficient. Both pumpkins and walnuts, if stored carefully, will stay in good shape until the next harvest with no need for sugar or vinegar, and without using electricity.

The vital supporting role goes to my home-made leaven, which I keep at room temperature and feed regularly with whole rye flour. A leaven refreshed with white bread flour would do just as well.

150g leaven
100g whole rye flour or white bread flour
100ml barely tepid water

500g wholemeal bread flour
½ tsp salt
About 150ml barely tepid water
1 tsp olive oil
200g raw pumpkin
60g walnuts

The night before baking, stir into the leaven first the 100ml of water, then the rye or white bread flour.

Next morning, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the leaven, followed by 100ml of water. Mix thoroughly, then add more water gradually, a tablespoonful at a time, to form a slightly stickly dough. Cover with a clean teacloth and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin into cubes of about a centimetre. Some pumpkins need to be peeled, but the skin of the Hokkaido variety I used is perfectly edible and adds lovely deep-red flecks to the finished loaf. Roughly chop the walnuts.

Smear a work surface with a little olive oil and turn out the dough, which should already be feeling slightly elastic. Knead it quickly – less than a minute will do – cover with the cloth and leave again for 15 minutes.

Gently incorporate the pumpkin cubes and chopped walnuts into the dough. If it starts to stick, add a little more oil. Shape into a ball, cover again with the cloth and leave for an hour or more, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Form the loaf into your favourite shape. Place it on a well-floured baking tray, cover and leave to rise again for 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C (Gas 7), with a baking stone if you have one.

Cut a few slashes in the top of the loaf and slide it quickly onto the baking stone (or put the tray in the oven). Bake for 40-50 minutes and let the loaf cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Sourdough hot cross buns

Monday, April 5th, 2010

After googling in vain for a vegan hot cross bun recipe that used leaven, I experimented and came up with this version. Spicy and packed with fruit, these buns make a warming snack for a damp afternoon, or they can be toasted for breakfast.

Rather than fiddle with pastry crosses, I simply cut slashes in the top of each bun. The glazed surface contrasts with the paler dough inside.

Hot cross

For 16 buns

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) white bread flour
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) wholemeal bread flour
1 tsp salt
40 g (1½ oz) brown sugar
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tbs grated nutmeg
400 g (14 oz) leaven
About 450 g (1 lb) lukewarm water
1 tbs cashew or almond spread
1-2 tbs groundnut oil
Grated zest of a lemon
Grated zest of an orange
220 g (8 oz) raisins

For the glaze

1 tbs agave syrup
1 tsp soya milk

Set aside 1 tbs of flour and add to the raisins, rubbing them together to separate them.

Mix the flours, salt, sugar and spices. Do grate the nutmeg fresh if possible; bought ground nutmeg seems to lose flavour faster than other spices.

Add the leaven with 400 g of water, and mix well with your hands. Keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough, then mix in the cashew or almond spread and 1 tbs of the oil. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to rest for about 20 minutes.

Turn the dough onto an oiled work surface and knead for about five minutes. It should be starting to feel elastic and less sticky. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for at least an hour, until it has doubled in size.

Work the grated zests into the dough, followed by the raisins, a few at a time. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and knead each into a round. Put them on a baking tray covered with baking parchment, cover with cling film and leave until the buns are well risen again and feel light and springy to the touch (mine took another couple of hours but they would rise faster in a warmer kitchen).

Heat the oven to 200°C (Gas 6). If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to heat up as well.

Stir the agave syrup and soya milk together to make the glaze and brush over the tops of the buns. Then, using a very sharp knife, slash deep crosses in the top of each bun. Slide the parchment and buns onto the baking stone (or put the tray directly in the oven). Bake for 20 mins, until the buns are a rich brown.

They are good with any nut spread, or with marmalade.