Cider and rye rolls

I’ve been neglecting my website and its recipes and articles for a while – but for a positive reason. I’ve been concentrating on my family over the summer months, as my twin sons have been back from their respective Universities, making the most of every single minute I can with them. We all need to take time out to reconnect and go offline.

While I’ve been enjoying focusing on my family it’s also afforded me more excuses for cooking and baking as it’s not just me and my husband to feed. So, Although I’ve not got round to adding new recipes in here over the past few weeks, I have been generating a stockpile of recipes and images. I hope to be bringing you a number of new recipes – and a few crafts and other articles – as autumn starts with its potential for mists and mellow fruitfulness (rather than just rain and grey cloudiness which is more the norm).

In order to perfect and test the dough for these rolls I’ve repeatedly made them for our lunches that we’ve taken out when hiking. I’ve mentioned this before but I do try to make each of my recipes a number of times before I add them here. They’re not just for adventurous eating though: they’re really tasty general purpose bread rolls and the dough even makes a great loaf (just bake for another 10 – 15 minutes).

As part of our time together this summer, in between all our working days, we’ve been upping the number of our walks in the nearby Dark and White Peak areas of the Peak District. Occasionally we link a hike to a pub visit but usually we take our own food, so that means an excuse for homemade bread. We like getting out as a family into the countryside and both our sons have had to get using to hiking and rambling with us as they’ve grown up. We’re pleased they’re both now as keen on it as we are (though they have got in to the specialist techy kit for wild camping and hiking more than us). We do rather look like a “Getty Images family” from the front of a hiking magazine when we go out…

Walks this summer have included Mam Tor, the Great Ridge and Cave Dale, Cromford to the Heights of Abraham and High Tor, Hathersage to Stannage Edge, Chatsworth and Birchen Edge and routes that we plan soon are Kinder Scout, Downfall and Low then Lumsdale Falls and Padley Gorge. Although many of these we’ve walked before – there are plenty of Peak District routes that give something new every time you walk them – it’s always great to add new walks to our ‘list’.

Halfway up to the Heights of Abraham path from Cromford (probably around 200ft up at this stage). This overlooks Arkwright’s Cromford Mill and the Derwent river (you can just see the Mill’s chimney and part of the Mill through the trees – a better view of the frontage is in the picture below. This is the world’s first water powered mill built in 1769).
Opposite you can see Giddy Edge – a walk that’s not for the faint hearted as it’s a proper alpine-style ‘via ferrata’ – a cliff edge walk that’s had to have iron railings to hold on to installed.

So, back to the actual bread roll recipe rather than rambling on about rambling…

Using any ancient grain will bring different textures, tastes, smells and structure (or lack of) to your bread. Many, including rye, can be quite strong and overpowering for some who are unfamiliar with anything more exotic than a white loaf with malt flakes added! For me, I think rye has a slightly warm nutty flavour with a little spiciness as an undertone. For this recipe I’ve developed, I’ve used around two thirds third of rye to one third soft wheat. This gives you enough of the taste and colour of a rye bread, provides enough soft wheat to have a good rise (though it will be significantly lower than 100% soft wheat) but is accessible. The addition of the cider gives a delicious, sweet note plus its high sugar content helps feed the yeast and encourage the rise.

Notes

  • Will make eight quarter-pounder sized rolls or you can make up to twelve smaller picnic rolls
  • Also makes a nice loaf – just bake for an additional 10-15 minutes (dependant on shape)

Equipment

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Dough whisk (or large fork)
  • Large baking tray
  • Scales – ideally electronic with a tare/zeroing function
  • Dough scraper or large straight bladed knife
  • Linen tea towel or cloth
  • You can use a stand mixer, but also this recipe is good by hand

Ingredients

  • 400g rye flour (I’ve used Craggs and Co, but rye flour is fairly easy to get hold of)
  • 175g strong white bread flour
  • 200ml cider – I used Aspall’s for this but any plain cider or even a perry – to provide a pear version – will do (just don’t use one of those trendy fruit flavoured ciders)
  • 200 ml tepid water
  • 1.5 tablespoons of runny honey
  • 1.5 tablespoons of good quality olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons of fine salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons of fast acting dried yeast
  • Plus a little extra white bread flour for your hands and work surface
  • Plus a little extra oil for the bowl

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together into a rough mix, using a dough whisk ideally (as it’s very sticky!) but don’t knead it yet
  • Leave to autolyse for 10 minutes to make the dough easier to work
    [the autolyse process allows three main things to happen: fluid molecules start to seep into the starch and proteins, enzymes (amylase and invertase) in the flour get a head start on breaking down gluten and also protein strands start to alter their shape – all desirable in the bread making process and gives you a head start on kneading without any effort]
  • After giving time for the autolyse process, tip the bread out and knead until the dough is smooth and shiny. This will be about 7-8 minutes by hand. You can alternatively do this in a stand mixer with a dough hook if you prefer. Try not to use much additional flour, but add a little if you find it really is too sticky to work
  • Oil the bowl lightly (many recipes tell you to use a clean oiled bowl, but I find as long as you’ve oiled it makes no difference placing the dough back in the original mixing bowl and saves on washing up!)
  • Round off the dough with your hands and/or a dough scraper and place domed-side up in the bowl. Cover with a linen tea towel
  • Leave to develop and proof for about an hour at a moderate room temperature – because of the rye’s lower gluten content it won’t rise as much as a 100% strong white bread mix
  • Tip out onto a lightly floured surface
  • Flour lightly the bottom of a large baking sheet and have this close to hand
  • Weigh your dough and divide this amount by eight (or more if you want smaller rolls)
  • Each piece of dough should be 1/8th of the dough’s weight – this will be around 125-130g each mark for eight
  • Shape each piece of dough into a ball
  • Place the eight dough balls onto the baking sheet. You can either give them a lot of space or place in two rows of four set about 3cm apart so they slightly touch when baked, giving your the ‘batch roll’ look
  • Cover again with the lined cloth and leave to proof for about 30-40 minutes
  • After 30 minutes put your oven on to 220*C fan / 240*C conventional to heat up
  • The rolls will not have grown or risen that much – most of the rise will occur in your oven
  • When the rolls are ready, place in the oven (ideally placing the baking sheet on the pre-heated baking sheet)
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190*C fan / 210* conventional and back for a further 16-18 minutes
  • The rolls should sound hollow when tapped
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack (so no softened crusts) before eating
rye and cider rolls recipe - loaf version inksugarspice #baking 3bread #rolls #cider #rye
The cider and rye dough baked into a batard shape, and scored with a leaf pattern

Pesto and vine tomato schiacciata

schiacciata with pesto and vine tomatoes - inksugarspice

I hesitated labelling this as schiacciata, even though that’s what I’ve always called this particular bake. Should I label it as focaccia as that’s more widely known? Focaccia or schiacciata: it’s mostly down to regional naming choice, with schiacciata being the term for this bread in Toscana. In fact, although these two Italian breads are incredibly well known (granted one more than the other), most Eurasian countries have a bread that’s very similar, even indistinguishable, to these. Investigate down to a regional level in Italy though and both focaccia and schiacciata have many specific variations due to the added ingredients such as schiacciatta all’uva, a famous Florentine sweet version with grapes (and absolutely delicious it is too).

From my cookbooks and from devouring plenty of Italian breads there’s no real, confirmed clarity on any differences between the two. As mentioned above there are some specific recipes, but these are down to the included ingredients. There’s just a confusing mix of some people saying they’re exactly the same base recipe (ie it’s just local naming) to those who think schiacciata is thinner and crispier on the outside or that focaccia is fluffier in the middle (or vice versa). One thing that seems more consistent is that many sources indicate that schiacciata only has salt on the top, not in the dough. There’s even a sheet cake from Veneto that’s called a schiacciata to add to the confusion. Some of the listed differences could actually just be down to the technique of the baker. Press down on the dough a bit more and you’ll get thinner and crispier, bake in a slightly hotter oven you’ll bake the outside first and the insides will be less ‘done’ by the time the exterior is cooked.

The only things that is a given is that schiaciatta comes from the verb schiacciata, to crush or press, indicating the way that fingers are used (on both focaccia and schiacciata) to press the dough down and create dimples for the oil to pool in before baking. I love it when food is named really basically by its description.

I expect I’ve made hundreds of focaccia and schiacciata over the years, as they’re one of our family’s favourites for sharing, dipping, turning into bruschetta, slicing sideways for sandwiches and just snacking on. And frankly these breads are fun to make and to swap ingredients and tastes around on.

All I know is they’re all lovely breads, tasty and versatile and that I use the same base bread recipe for either (though I do omit the salt from the dough if I am aiming to produce schiacciatta). The classic schiacciata is just topped with olive oil and salt, but this is a delicious and relatively common variation.

Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Notes

  • Makes one large schiacciata or you can make several small ones (if you want one each)
  • Can I add a plea here – if you’re making any Italian flatbread and are planning on using rosemary, please please don’t just throw it on the top: it’ll be a burnt crispy stalk of horror that you can’t eat. Either chop it up and knead it into the bread dough or sink any sprigs deep into the dough (so just a little is peeping out) and ensure they’re in one of the ‘dimples’ so that the olive oil pools around them and keeps them moist
  • If you can’t be bothered with having a layer of pesto inside the bread, you can just omit steps 15-20. Just press or roll out the dough to it’s final size before proofing and then the pesto and vine tomatoes on top and bake per the rest of the recipe

Equipment

  • Large baking tray (approx 44cm x 30cm)
  • Large bowl
  • Small measuring jug
  • Dough scraper
  • Clean tea towel
  • Rolling pin (not entirely necessary but does help)
  • Dough whisk (optional)
  • Wire cooling rack

Ingredients

  • Strong white bread flour – 300 g
  • Tepid water – 190 g/ml
  • Fast acting yeast – 1 level teaspoon
  • Caster sugar – 1 level teaspoon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, a rich and tasty variety is best – 1 ¼ tablespoons
  • Sea salt grinder (you’ll use about 1-2 teaspoons of salt in total)
  • Cherry or mini plum tomatoes on the vine – 1 large or two smaller ‘bunches’ of these vine tomatoes
  • Red pesto (I used Filippo Berio’s Grilled Vegetable Pesto here) – about 9-10 teaspoons
  • Additional olive oil for drizzling
  • Additional durum wheat flour (also called semola/semolina flour) if you have it for dusting or use bread flour

Method

  1. Mix in the sugar and yeast into the tepid water and leave for 10 minutes
  2. In the large bowl, measure out your flour and make a well in the middle
  3. Tip in your water, sugar and yeast and also the 1 ¼ tablespoons of olive oil
  4. Mix the whole lot with your fingers, a large fork or a dough whisk into a rough, messy mix
  5. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes (for the autolyse process to start, which will help gluten develop and make kneading easier)
  6. Tip it all out onto your clean surface and knead for about 8 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky and messy but stick with it – it will quite quickly come together
  7. When the dough is transformed into a glossy, smooth dough, spread a little oil all over the bowl using your hands (so they are also now a little oily which will transfer to the dough)
  8. Round the dough off into a ball and pop back into the bowl and recover with the tea towel
  9. Leave the dough to rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place. It won’t have quite “doubled” in size but will be noticeably risen
  10. Tip the dough back out onto your working surface
  11. Knock out the large air bubbles by giving it a brief knead (just two or three ‘kneads and folds’ will do)
  12. Flick a palm-full amount of the durum flour (if you don’t have this, just use the bread flour!) on to the baking tray
  13. Pre heat your oven to 220 C fan / 240 C conventional
  14. On your work surface, press out the dough as thinly as you can – you should be able to stretch it to about 28 cm (11-12 inches) in width and almost twice as long – a large oval
  15. If this is difficult by hand, you can use a rolling pin to squash out the dough
  16. Dot over about 5 teaspoonfuls of the pesto onto ONE HALF only of the rolled/pressed out dough
  17. Fold the plain half of the dough over on itself to sandwich the pesto in between
  18. Roll or press out the dough to a neat oval shape, enlarging it slightly – the schiacciata should take up about 80% of a large baking tray: I get it to about 28cm width, 38cm in length, as you can see in the image further down
  19. Lift it up carefully and place on the baking tray
  20. Pinch the edges together on the three sides (other than the folded edge). I tuck the edges under, so that the ‘seam’ isn’t seen but it doesn’t really matter
  21. Try to ensure that the edges are not thicker than the rest of the dough, flattening it out as necessary
  22. Leave to proof again for about 20 – 30 mins, covered with a tea towel
  23. When risen a little (it won’t rise that much as you’ve flattened it out) use your finger tips to make indentations across the top for the oil
  24. Drizzle some olive oil all over the dough, moving it about with your fingers if there are conspicuously dry patches anywhere
  25. Dot several more teaspoonfuls of the pesto over the top of the dough, dispersing it about a little with the back of the spoon (but don’t ‘spread’ it out as you did with the first layer)
  26. Sprinkle or grind the sea salt all over the dough (remember there is none in the dough itself so you do need a little more than just a light seasoning)
  27. Lay the vine tomatoes out on the dough and gently press in

    schiacciata with tomatoes and pesto - inksugarspice
  28. Transfer the baking tray and schiacciata to the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 220 C / 240 C (as mentioned above)
  29. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 190 C fan / 210 C conventional and bake for a further 12 – 15 minutes
  30. When baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool
pesto and vine tomato schiacciata - inksugarspice
Ink Sugar Spice blog https://inksugarspice.wordpress.com/

Savoury brioche

SavouryBriocheFinishedAngleWhen you think of brioche, you automatically think sweet breakfast rolls or pretty marbled loaves (mmm sliced and made into eggy bread/cinnamon toast). But it doesn’t have to be sweet – a savoury or plainer brioche is a lovely, fluffy, bouncy thing and there are probably more savoury versions than sweet; it’s just what we tend to see sold or made most often. What you may come across is the description ‘enriched bread’ rather than savoury brioche.

You can find below my recipe for a delicious cheese and caramelised onion savoury brioche. It makes the most gorgeous rolls for a lunch, a wintry picnic or to go with some delicious seasonal soup.

So what is an enriched bread? It does what it says on the tin, so to speak. A normal flour, water, salt and yeast dough* is enriched with the addition of at least one (and sometimes all) of the following: eggs, extra fat (usually butter but sometimes a good oil) or milk or quark/other too. For a sweet version there’s also honey or sugar and often in either case (sweet or savoury) there are additional ingredients to add flavour and texture, such as chocolate, dried fruits or cheese and herbs. A laminated dough such as a Danish or croissant pastry can also be described as enriched, although here the fat is layered in to get the laminated leaves, rather than mixed in.  (*enriched doughs can use wild yeast sponges).

There are a number of differences between a straightforward loaf and an enriched loaf. Obviously there’s the taste: the eggs give it a richer, more rounded flavour and the fat content gives a softer mouthfeel. The dough will rise higher (although some enriched doughs use plain not strong white flour and this will be negated) during the proving process and it’s stickier and harder to knead the ingredients together – in fact it can get quite messy. You may want to use a stand mixer, but either way stick with it as it produces the glossiest, shiniest dough with a slight warm tinge from the egg yolks.

One other characteristic is that because of the fat and protein content the dough can take a lot of handling so is really great for plaiting and shaping. Many regional speciality enriched breads (sweet or savoury) have their own particular shape. Think of Challah with its definitive plait or the reducing braid of butterzopf.

Bagels, Austrian kifli, German mornhörnchen, Slovakian vánočka, German Zweiback, Japanese milk bread and Italian pane di Pasqua (see my own recipe), pannetone and Pand D’oro (also see my recipe for this) are other examples and there are many more.

Savoury brioche rolls with cheddar, herbs and caramelised onions

Notes

Makes twelve fluffy rolls or can be made into a loaf  (just fold in the ingredients after knocking back the dough and bake for a total of 30 minutes)

Equipment

  • A very large bowl
  • A smaller bowl
  • Knife
  • Casserole dish, about 26cm – 30 cm in diameter
  • Cling film or a clean tea towel
  • Frying or saute pan

Ingredients

  • Strong white flour – 400g
  • Eggs, large – 3
  • Fast acting dried yeast – 1 teaspoon (levelled off)
  • Salt, fine  – 10g
  • Milk, warmed (use semi-skimmed or full fat milk) – 90ml
  • Unsalted butter – 90g
  • Red onion – 1
  • Strong or aged cheddar – 80g
  • Fresh thyme – a small sprig* or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme (about 4-5 cuttings roughly 5cm long)
  • Fresh oregano – a small sprig* or 1 teaspoon of dried oregano (*see note for thyme above)
  • Olive oil
  • Rock salt

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, eggs, milk and butter together in the large bowl – it will be a rather gooey mess!
  2. Now it requires kneading – you can do this by hand but if you don’t want to get too messy it can be done in a stand mixer or on the dough only setting in a bread machine
  3. Knead for around 10 -12 minutes until the dough is glossy and smooth skinned. It is a messy job, but try not to resort to adding too much extra flour as that will dramatically alter the ratios of the ingredients and change the outcome of the bread.  To start off by hand you are more likely to be making a scraping action rather than kneading as the dough will want to grasp hold of the surface and your hands, but do persevere: it will eventually start coming together
  4. Lightly oil the bowl and leave to rise, covered with a tea towel or cling film somewhere relatively warm (but not too hot). Make sure there is plenty of room between the top of your dough and the rim of the bowl or it will rise and hit your cling film/tea towel as it is a vigorous bake (if using cling film you can oil the underside of it to act as an added method to stop the dough sticking to it). The dough will need 40-60 minutes to rise
  5. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion into little shards and gently fry in some olive oil until it becomes translucent – this will be a good 15 minutes (beware instructions that imply softening onions is a quick job! This is slow and low)
  6. Once cooked sufficiently, leave to cool on a kitchen towel sheet
  7. Strip the herbs (if using fresh)
  8. Mix the herbs together in the small bowl – take out about 1/4 of the herbs to sprinkle on the top of the bread and place to one side
  9. Chop up the cheddar and combine with the herbs and the cooled onion
  10. When the dough is risen, place on a lightly floured surface and knock back
  11. Flatten the dough to about 1cm in depth and shape into a large oblong
  12. Lightly flour the base of the casserole
  13. Sprinkle the cheddar, onion and herbs onto the dough and roll up from a long side into a Swiss roll shapeSavouryBriocheFilling
  14. Cut the roll into twelve equal slices and arrange them in the casserole (easiest to place nine round the edge and three in the middle)SavouryBriocheBeforebakingjpg
  15. Cover the casserole dish and leave to rise and fluff up for another 30 – 40 mins
  16. Just before the bread is risen fully, warm your oven to 200º C fan / 220º C conventional
  17. When ready, drizzle over a little olive oil, scatter some rock salt and the reserved portion of herbs
  18. Place in the hot oven for 10 mins, then after this time reduce the temperature down to 180º C  fan / 200º C conventional and bake for another 20 – 25 minutes

SavouryBriocheFinishedAbove

“Mothers ruin” chutney

chutney2_2018Tapping fingernails on the table and looking wistfully through the window: I wondered what can I do with all those stubbornly-still-green tomatoes left on the vine in the greenhouse (or in the greengrocer’s) at this time of year?

They’re plump, juicy with a shiny skin but are just totally colour-change refuseniks. No matter how sunny your windowsill they just won’t budge their coloration now. You could fry them off or add to casseroles, but they’re a little too tart to eat like a fully scarlet tomato so I’ve turned my glut of green goodies into a gin-soaked unctuous and fruity chutney. Hence the mothers ruin title, and the gin does make it a rather delish yet not-so-ordinary relish.

So, here’s praise to autumn and the excuse for bottling and preserving all of nature’s generosity and a hearty Cheers! to green tomatoes. And that toast is not something you hear everyday when applying a dollop of chutney to a cracker!

Notes

  • You need to prep the fruits the day before and leave to soak overnight
  • Makes four full sized jam jars (typically these are between 330mml – 390ml)
  • I’ve stopped wanting to make huge volumes of chutneys, pickles, jellies and jams as I don’t sell them on. I think three to four jars of something is enough for us. This is one to open now, a couple to keep me going and one to give away. But then I don’t have an allotment so I’ve not got kilos and kilos of produce to use up, just a greenhouse and a few planters’ worth. This recipe does multiply up easily, so if you have that enormous allotment glut of tomatoes (and an outlet for the many jars you’ll produce) then do double, triple (or more) the quantities
  • You can use red tomatoes for this recipe, no problem at all
  • You can use any gin – but a fruity one is most suitable. I’ve used Brockman’s which has a considerable taste of blackberry to it

Sterilising glass jars

Put pre-washed clean glass jars in the oven at about 130˚C for 20 minutes or put them through a dishwasher cycle on your hottest setting

Be careful handling the hot jars out when done

NB:  don’t put any rubber seal in the oven; it’ll just melt. Wash these in hand-hot water and leave to dry on a kitchen towel or clean tea towel

greenTomatoes

Equipment

  • Large, heavy bottomed saucepan or pickling pan
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Knife, cutting board
  • Small bowl
  • Cling film or plastic bag
  • Four clean, sterilised jam jars (see notes above)
  • Shallow, large container or dish

Ingredients

  • Green tomatoes – 600 – 630g
  • Fine salt – 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
  • Red onion, large – 1
  • Celery – 1 stick
  • Sultanas or golden raisins – 100g
  • Dates, chopped – 70g
  • Sharp eating apples, 2 (such as Granny Smith or use 1 x cooking apple)
  • Brown sugar – 150g
  • Ground ginger – 1 teaspoon
  • Allspice – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chilli flakes – 1 teaspoon
  • Black onion seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cider vinegar – 225ml
  • Gin – about 60ml

ISS_painted

Method

  1. Douse the sultanas and dates with the gin in a small bowl the day before making the chutney. Cover with cling film and leave to soak up the gin overnight
  2. Wash and chop the tomatoes, place them in a shallow container and scatter over the tablespoon of salt and mix in lightly. Leave to one side for at least an hour
  3. After an hour or so, rinse the tomatoes of the salt and pat dry in a clean tea towel
  4. Chop all the ingredients into little cubes/pieces (or use a food processor if you have one but chop the ingredients in batches or you’ll process them too finely).
  5. Do not throw away any gin that was not soaked up by the fruit – you can pour this straight into the large saucepan for the next stage while you chop the ingredients
  6. Put everything in the large saucepan, give it a good stir and bring to a boil
  7. Boil for a couple of minutes and strain off any scum
  8. Turn down to a simmer and let it simmer away for 90 minutes, stirring and checking on it regularly (though you don’t need to stand guard for the whole 90 minutes, please don’t leave it for more than a few minutes at a time as it will catch on the bottom of the pan)
  9. It should reduce to a moist but not soggy chutney. If the ingredient pieces are too big for your liking, you can use a stick blender to chop them further, but do use this by pulsing it rather than having it on constantly or you’ll have a pulpy preserve, rather than one with nice chunks of fruit and veggies in
  10. While still hot, carefully decant into the pre-sterilised jars
  11. Leave until fully cold

chutneycloseup

 

Cider and olive oil crackers

crackers.jpgThere are plenty of crackers on the supermarket shelves to choose from. Go further afield to your local deli and there’ll be packs of posh versions with arty designs and hipster names. But have you ever made your own? They’re incredibly easy, and in an additional stroke of luck, the more ‘rustic’ the shape the more artisan they look.

You know me by now that I normally can’t help twiddling with and artifying my food (whether I need to or not).  Sooo not needed with these: the less bothered you are about how you roll them out, the nicer they are. #Result

I know it seems odd putting cider into crackers, but bear with me. You just get that little apple tang which makes a real difference. I originally thought they’d taste a lot more cider-like, so, during my first try of recipe development, I used a 50:50 cider and water mix. I was disappointed with the weak taste, so went straight in with all-cider with the next bakes. I’m not 100% sure this is true but I have suspicions that the fizziness of the cider actually made them slightly crisper as well as tastier as compared to the first batch. (I wonder if this is akin to the trick of using fizzy mineral water in batter?). I may be deluding myself but it’s difficult in a home kitchen to ensure you can get a perfect comparison.

So, you need a ‘decent’ cider. By that I mean something strong, but please not scrumpy-level and steer clear of flat. It’s not a waste of a good drink – by the time you’ve taken out what you need from a bottle there’s still enough for a glass for the chef. Cheers 🍻

I used my favourite cider, which is Aspall’s Premier Cru, but I also tried one version of the recipe with a fruited cider which came out well, but I suggest that if you do go that route, that the crackers really just suit being pared with cheese or as a bread replacement in a ploughman’s lunch. The plain cider versions go great with cheeses and dips of almost any kind. Try my roasted pesto butternut squash dip with them.

Notes

These crackers won’t fit on less than three baking trays, so if you’ve got a large oven, great, but if not you’ll need to bake them in batches. If you use the same baking tray for each batch, the baking tray will still be warm from the first batch so reduce the cooking time by 1 minute for subsequent batches. This is because the crackers will start cooking as soon as they are laid on the hot sheet as they are so thin.

I made this recipe and the roasted pesto butternut squash dip recipe together, so they are a lovely pairing, although either recipe works on its own.

Notes

Makes 16, made to about 25 cm (about 8 inches) long and about 4 cm (3 1/2 inches) at the widest part.

About 20 minutes preparation and 9-10 minutes cooking time per batch (you may get all done at once if you have a big oven: I did mine in two batches)

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Rolling pin
  • Large baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper or baking parchment
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients

  • Plain flour – 225g
  • Cider – 105 ml (please note that your may need a little more if your flour has a high protein content)
  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons (you don’t actually need Extra Virgin for this, though you can use it. My preference is to use something more moderate in taste and lighter in colour like the Classic or the Organic Olive Oils that Filippo Berio makes
  • Salt, fine – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Mustard powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika – 3/4 teaspoon
  • Onion granules – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Black pepper – several turns of a pepper mill

 

  • Additional rock salt or crystal salt for sprinkling – about 1 teaspoon
  • Additional olive oil for drizzling

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 210 ºC / 230 ºC conventional
  2. Weight out the flour, fine salt, mustard powder, smoked paprika, onion ganules and black pepper into a bowl
  3. Gently pour in the cider (if you tip it in it will really fizz) and start to bring the dough together with your fingers or a table knife
  4. Once the dough is starting to form, add the olive oil and bring the dough together with your fingers and the heel of your hand, picking up all the flour from the bowl as you go
  5. Tip out onto a clean surface and knead until the dough has come together in a ball, which should only take a minute or so. Don’t over knead
  6. Prepare your baking trays by lining with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and brush a little olive oil over the paper
  7. Cut the dough into 16 equal sized pieces (the easiest way to do this is by cutting it like pizza slices)
  8. Lightly flour your work surface and roll each piece of dough out lengthways. No need to turn the dough or roll it from side to side, as you want to produce a long, lanky cracker
  9. Each rolled out strip should be as thin as possible – around 2mm thick and be around 25 cm long
  10. Place each strip on the prepared baking sheet as you make it and roll out the rest of the strips
  11. Brush a little more olive oil over each strip of dough and sprinkle over the rock salt
  12. Bake each batch in the oven for 7 minutes, take out and flip crackers over on to their other sides, then bake for 2 minutes more
  13. Leave to cool, and they can be stored in an airtight container for about a week

Olive-oil-crackers-2

 

Pesto and roasted butternut squash dip

raostingButternutSquash.jpgThis delicious, easy-to-make dip is rather more than meets the eye. Although it’s amazing with crudites, bread sticks or crackers –  such as the cider and olive oil cracker recipe I created to go with it – as you’d expect, it can be transformed in to a lot more besides.

The dip can also be used as a pasta filling such as for ravioli, as the basis for a pumpkin risotto, and alternative to tomato sauce on a pizza base and, when thinned with a vegetable stock, turned into an amazing veggie soup (or go carnivore by adding chicken stock instead).

Notes

In the instructions I’ve detailed preparing the squash by cutting it into eight wedges lengthways, having first de-seeded it, and layering these skin side down in a dish (as in the image above). You can also roast the squash by taking the skin off first, then cutting it into large chunks.

10 minutes to prepare, 40 minutes (hands off) cooking time.

This recipe has been kindly featured on the Filippo Berio recipe page.

Equipment

  • A large roasting tin or casserole
  • A blender, food processor or stick blender (or a mooli/potato ricer)
  • Large sharp and heavy knife for the squash

Ingredients

  • One butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced into large chunks * see notes above about whether to roast with skin on or not
  • Red (tomato) pesto – 3 tablespoons
  • Olive oil: a good quality olive oil but not extra virgin – 3 tablespoons
  • Rock salt – two tablespoons (or fine salt 1 ½ teaspoons)
  • Garlic cloves, peeled – 4 – 6  (depending on how much you like garlic)
  • Paprika – 1 teaspoon
  • Dried chilli flakes – 1 tablespoon
  • Water – around 70ml (you may need to add a touch more if the butternut squash was particularly large)
  • Additional extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 170 ºC / 190 ºC conventional
  2. Use 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to coat the bottom of your roasting dish
  3. Prepare the squash by halving, removing all the seeds and chopping each half lengthways into four so you have eight wedges in total (see the top image). There is an alternative method for taking the skin off first, whish is outlined in the notes above
  4. Place the squash on the oiled roasting dish and coat with the pesto
  5. Crush the peeled garlic cloves slightly and scatter over the squash, together with the salt, paprika and chilli flakes and finally drizzle over the rest of the olive oil
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the squash is soft and yeilds all the way through when you press it with a fork
  7. If you did leave the skin on the squash, remove it now and discard
  8. Place the roasted squash, all the spices, the roasted garlic and all the oil left in the bottom of the roasting dish into your blender or food processer
  9. Add the additional water and whizz until smooth
  10. (If you are using a stick blender you will need to transfer the ingredients into another taller container before adding the water and blending. Alternatively, pass it all through a potato ricer or mooli, then combine the water by mixing it in)
  11. Leave to cool and then serve in a bowl, drizzling the top with extra virgin olive oil and scattering over a few toasted pine nuts if desired

dip4

Garlicky, herby, cheesey, buttery ‘bookshelf’ bread for tearing and sharing

bookshelfBread

I had rather lost my way regarding my blog and even my food over the last couple of months. If you get notifications for my posts, perhaps you’ve realised there’s been a vacuum… at least, I hope you’ve noticed. Maybe you haven’t! I’ve even been toying whether to delete this blog and pack up writing completely of late. I have stopped short of doing anything too hasty as I realised it might well be just a case of the January blues.

I do get severely affected by the dark days, do you? I know almost everyone does to some extent (humans need some sunlight) but I seem to get quite an extreme version. There have also been a few trials and tribulations recently, so baking and the blog had to a back seat naturally, and then, frankly, I just couldn’t find the impetus to jump straight back in. I actually took up a few things that I like doing that I’d dropped which were more mindful, such as crochet and calligraphy, in place of baking and writing for the blog. The idea was to achieve some head space. I didn’t stop baking and cooking, just the things I produced were more functional: items we needed to eat like a standard family loaf, a pie or fresh pasta for dinner and a box of shortbread.

Anyway, I think this is positive that I’m here! Perhaps I just needed a break and a freshly picked bunch of perspective. And, I rekindled a couple of old skills in crocheting and calligraphy-ing. I also took time to make a few backdrops and sort out all my sewing and crafting kit ready to do some more things. That has all actually made me think about adding a few more craft-based posts in here, so maybe it’s been a positive break after all.

I started writing this recipe up last autumn and, with a few remakes of the loaf over the last week, I thought this comforting, fun-to-make bake might be a good way back for me as the first recipe for 2018.

I had the idea for this bread after making fantans (little layered bread rolls, made in a similar way to this loaf [just plain: no fillings] and baked in bun tins). I thought if I can make tiny ones, then why not a whole loaf, so people can share and rip off a slice? I suspect there are many of these loaves in recipe form out there on the interweb (it’s practically impossible to come up with anything new – pretty much everything has already been done), but I purposely avoided looking online for any as a) I didn’t want to be influenced by how someone else had shaped and styled their bread and b) I wanted to start from scratch with the recipe, again not being influenced by anyone else so I could get exactly the end results I was looking for. I started with a typical 400g white loaf mix, tweaked the ratios a little and added olive oil to get a bouncier middle, and slightly more crispy Italian-style edges to the bread. I then played with the amounts of fillings until it reached just the right butteriness and garlic amount (I warn you I like garlic so you may want to tone it down a little if you don’t like it as much as me).

I’ve called it ‘bookshelf’ bread as to me it looks like a higgledy-piggledy row of mismatched books all lined up on a shelf.

Oh my, I do now love making this loaf. It’s a little tricky to stack the dough. A couple of very collapsed-but-still-edible loaves were made to start with, until found that  tipping the loaf tin and filling the gap up with baking parchment when needed (see the actual recipe) was the key. Overall its fun to make and results in a great centerpiece that everyone can just attack, ripping off sheets of pillowy, garlicky goodness to mop up their ragu or to accompany a spread of antipasti, meats and more. We’ve also used it to rip apart and dunk strips into fondue or eaten with soups. Basically any meal you’d include a ‘normal’ garlic bread as an accompaniment you can exchange for this.

Notes

This recipe does make a small loaf, which doesn’t sound much but it still provides quite a lot of garlic bread. If you’re serving it for four or fewer people, then you may want to keep half for another day. It will last a day or two (just warm in a low oven for 10-15 minutes as it’s not the same cold!) or you can tear the cooked loaf in half and put one half in the freezer. Defrost it overnight and again refresh in a warm oven (as mentioned above).

I bake this bread at a cooler temperature and for longer than I would for a typical loaf, as I want low and slow and not crusty, this also stops the butter and cheese from burning.

You are going to get covered in garlic butter if you’re anything as messy as me…

Equipment

  • Large bowl and a small heatproof (microwaveable)  bowl
  • Scraper
  • Loaf tin – 1lb / about 8cm x 26cm (and about 8cm deep)
  • Linen tea towel
  • Baking parchment or greaseproof paper
  • Knife
  • Spoon

Ingredients for the bread

  • Extra strong white bread flour – 320 g*
  • Durum wheat flour (semola rimacinata) – 80 g*

* You can just use 400 g of extra strong white bread flour if you can’t get hold of the semola/durum wheat

  • Water – 280 ml (only just tepid)
  • Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt, fine (bought fine or freshly milled) – 1 teaspoon (5 g)
  • Fast action dried yeast – 1 teaspoon (5 g)

Ingredients for the garlic butter

  • Butter, salted – 140 g
  • Garlic – about 5 cloves, peeled and crushed (you may want a few cloves less if you’re not a keen or the cloves are extra large?)
  • Dried oregano – 1 to 1¼ teaspoons
  • Grated hard cheese (your choice of cheese, but something like Cheddar, red Leicester or Gouda are good) – about 40 g
  • Possibly some extra salt, to taste

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the bread (flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil) together in a large bowl – I prefer to use a table knife for this process, though you may like to use fingers, a flexible dough scraper or a dough hook on your machine. It will form a very rough-looking sticky mess. This is fine
  2. Leave for five – ten minutes
  3. Tip out on to a clean surface and use your scraper to get all of the residue out. Have your flour and scraper handy
  4. Knead the dough until the surface becomes silky and smooth – this will be about 10 – 12 minutes
  5. If – and only if – the dough is far to sticky to work with, dust a little flour on to the table. Otherwise you should persevere with kneading the dough without adding any more flour (this actually will change the ratio of flour to liquid and other ingredients so it’s best not to dust if you can). It should eventually start to come together without the flour and you can use your scraper from time to time to ensure all the dough is getting kneaded by scraping along the surface
  6. When the dough starts to come together, lightly oil the bowl (it’s easiest to oil your fingers and swiipe round the bowl) with flour to prevent it sticking. If you have not managed to take the dough out without leaving a lot behind, you may want to use a clean bowl
  7. Roll the dough up into a dome and place in the oiled bowl
  8. Cover the bowl either with the tea towel/cloth or cling film (or if you have one a cheapo shower cap is ace for this)
  9. Leave to rise somewhere that isn’t cold until the dough looks like it’s about twice the height it was before. This could be anywhere from 50 minutes to three hours depending on how cold a space you have)
  10. Soften the butter in the small dish (in a microwave is easiest for a few seconds) but don’t go so far that it melts (you’ll have to start again if you do)
  11. Mix in the crushed or minced garlic and the oregano
  12. I know it’s raw garlic, but taste a little of the butter – add additional salt, oregano or more crushed garlic as you see fit. I should be pretty punchy as it’s going to be spread throughout the whole loaf. Set aside somewhere not too cool
  13. Prepare the tin by using a large strip of baking parchment/paper that will lay across and into your tin, with plenty extra overspill on each side. Don’t worry about putting extra paper on the two ends of the loaf tin – there’s plenty of garlic butter to stop the loaf sticking: this is just to help you get it out of the tin and to help keep the garlic butter in the loaf
  14. Using a large teaspoon or so of the garlic butter, grease the lined tin (you may find it easier to dot a little of the butter on the tin to adhere the paper) so it will coat the outside of the loaf. Set aside
  15. Tip out the risen dough gently into your counter top or table. Knock back the air from the dough
  16. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle. The size and shape of the rectangle doesn’t matter that much – but having fairly good corners will help. Aim for the dough to be about 1 cm thick (as consistently as possible)doughRectangleForBookshelfBread.jpg
  17. Slather the garlic butter all over the rolled-out dough
  18. Using your loaf tin as a guide, you’re aiming to cut out as many squares as possible from the dough that match the width of the small end of the tin – mine is around 8cm. I get 10 or 12 squares out of my dough (depending on how effective I’ve been in rolling it out!)
  19. Don’t match the height of the tin as this is a smaller measurement. You want to have the layers of dough protruding out the top of the tin, not level with it, so match the smaller end width for your squares
  20. Holding the loaf tin at a slight angle (rest a short end on the table and lift up the other short end) start placing the squares of dough into the tin one by one, like books on a bookshelf. (If you don’t angle the tin you’ll just have a crumpled heap of dough)
  21. If you get to the end of the dough squares and still have some empty space in the tin, cut a square of baking paper and lay it against the last ‘slice’ of dough, then crumple up a bit of extra baking paper lightly and wedge this into the gap – this will hold it in place yet still have enough ‘give’ to allow the dough to expand horizontally. If it all fits perfectly in the tin, then that’s greatBookshelfBread_preBake
  22. Leave for a second proof – about 30 – 40 minutes
  23. Once the dough has risen, turn on your oven to 180° C fan / 200° C conventional
  24. Place the loaf in the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes
  25. Check the look of the loaf (without opening the oven door) after 30 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly turn the oven down by 20 degrees or cover with some greased foil
  26. After 40 minutes, sprinkle the top of the loaf with the grated cheese and return to the oven for another 5 minutes
  27. Leave to cool until it can be handled, then lift out with the baking paper
  28. The bread can be re-warmed in a low oven (about 120° C fan / 140° C conventional) for 10 minutes or so if you’re not eating it straightaway, and as mentioned about it can be frozen

Pretzel rolls

pretzelRollsThese are no different to the knotted pretzels you can get, and if you want to please make this recipe into knot shapes.

The key to a pretzel is its slightly malty taste and it’s very dark crust colour. The crust is chewy, rather than crunchy and inside is soft and fluffy.

Notes

The key to the colour is a quick water bath for the proved roll just before baking. The water has, ideally, had lye added to it but bicarbonate of soda makes a reasonable (if not great alternative. (Please see the difference between the two photos on this page – the main pic of oval rolls, above, was doused in baked bicarbonate of soda and are very dark and the knotted sourdough pretzels below were dunked in just bicarbonate of soda in water – much lighter but still darker than a normal roll).

If you want a half-way house, bake a tray of bicarbonate of soda in an oven set at 100C fan / 120C conventional for 60 to 90 minutes. Let it cool and use – there will be some left over for another two or three batches if you’ve baked a whole pot of the stuff. Please note: it’s a good idea to put it back in the original pot, but tear off the original packaging and replace with a clear label immediately for ‘lye’. This will stop you mistaking it for normal bicarb in future baking projects. In fact, I store mine in a completely different place from my normal bicarbonate and other leaveners.

I have made these with lye water in the past (I now can’t get hold of lye water: I used to get it from one of the local Asian supermarkets, as it’s used when making ramen from scratch, but sadly they’ve all stopped stocking it. You may be able to source it online) and I’ve made them with both just bicarb and with this baked bicarb/fake lye.

Bicarb is good enough, but if you can be bothered using baked bicarb it does make the rolls go that little bit darker. Just be warned that handling baked bicarbonate of soda/fake lye or proper lye is all very caustic and is a skin and eye irritant. Keep away from children and handle it carefully yourself. Douse with a lot of water if you get it on your skin. If you’re at all terrified, just use normal bicarbonate of soda and don’t fuss that the colour isn’t quite deep as it should be.

Equipment

  • Two large baking sheets
  • Baking paper/parchment
  • Large bowl
  • Large saucepan
  • Fish slice, large slotted spoon or similar
  • Knife
  • Cling film
  • Measuring jug

Ingredients

  • Plain flour – 250g
  • Strong white flour – 250g
  • Milk – 145 ml/g
  • Water – 145 ml/g
  • Fine salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Dark drown sugar/Demerara – 30g
  • Malt extract – 1 (generous) teaspoon
  • Dried yeast – 7g
  • Rock salt for garnishing (if required)
  • Vegetable or light olive oil just for greasing
  • Extra flour for a little dusting

Ingredients for the water bath

  • Saucepan full of water
  • 3 tablespoons of either bicarbonate of soda or baked bicarbonate (see notes above). If you have managed to get some lye water, please follow the instructions on the bottle for the amount of water you’re using)

Method

  1. Measure out the milk and water together and warm slightly (you can do this by adding much warmer water to cold milk) – the liquid needs to be tepid
  2. Soften the butter
  3. Weigh out and then mix all the ingredients (except the oil) in the large bowl, bring together into a rough mess
  4. Tip out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together into a smooth ball, about 8-10 minutes
  5. Lightly oil the bottom of the bowl and put the dough back in it to prove
  6. Cover with cling film or a linen tea towel
  7. While the dough is proving you should prepare the two baking sheets with a layer of parchment/greaseproof/baking paper
  8. Lightly oil the surface of the paper – the dough is quite sticky when proving and can be a job to get off the paper
  9. If you want to make the baked bicarbonate, you could do this now (see notes above)
  10. When the dough has just about doubled in size, tip it out onto a surface and divide into six or eight equal portions (depending on how big you want your rolls to be)
  11. sourdough pretzels.png
    These are knotted pretzels, just to show the knot shape – although these are not quite the same recipe, as they are made with a sourdough starter. Also please note that these were put in water with plain bicarbonate of soda, so notice the colour is not as dark as with the pretzel rolls in the main photograph

    Form the dough portions into small oval rolls or pretzel knots (to do this, roll out into a sausage shape with thin ends and a fat middle, shape into a crescent and then twist the ends over each other once and place each end on the opposite side)

  12. Place the rolls on the prepared baking trays and cover with lightly oiled cling film
  13. Leave to rise until they are almost doubled in size and are almost springing back when lightly pressed with a finger tip (ie there’s about 15 – 20 of prove left)
  14. Put your oven on to heat up – to 200C fan or 220C conventional
  15. Fill your saucepan up with water and add the bicarbonate of soda and bring to the boil
  16. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer
  17. Carefully lower one of the rolls into the water and let float for about 5 seconds, flip over with the slotted spoon/fish slice and let the other side lie in the water for another 5 seconds
  18. Remove the roll and place back on the parchment
  19. Repeat with the rest of the rolls
  20. Make one large slash in the thickest part of the roll if you have made knots and two or three slashes in each oval roll
  21. Sprinkle with the rock salt if you want – this is particularly traditional on the knotted rolls
  22. Bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes
  23. The rolls should sound fairly hollow when tapped on the bottom (not quite so much as for a loaf) and will be a really dark brown. By the way, be brave and leave the rolls in the oven – your normal instinct will be to take them out early because they look done! Pretzels are very darkly coloured, not burnt
  24. Leave to cool, split and serve with something traditional like a Swiss cheese and Bavarian ham or whatever you like

Hot Water crust pastry technique – and wild boar and apple spiced hand raised pie recipe

tudorpiecutI love to make hand raised pies – I think hot water crust pastry is the most maleable, responsive and fun pastry type of all. I describe it to others as adult PlayDough! Actually it’s a similar reason as to why I love playing with (umm, making) pasta too. Pressing pasta dough through my machine reminds me of the PlayDough barbers I had as an infant, where you squeezed the dough through little holes in the heads of the little figures to make hair. I digress…

Homemade pies bear no resemblance to a typical shop or supermarket bought pie. Although if you’re used to buying an artisan pie hand made by a true food craftsperson you’ll already know the chasm of difference there is between the two, even if you’ve not yet made one yourself. You (yes I can see you, no hiding) can make a pie just as delicious as any that’s been hand crafted by a local farm, family butcher or artisan pie specialist.

I can’t lie and say it’s totally easy-peasy, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as you might think. After only one or two baking sessions you’ll get the knack for handling this lovely pastry and start making beautiful and delicious pies at home with ease. Honest. Well, that’s what happened to me anyway and I’ve no reason to think that you won’t be the same!

My first tentative attempt at a raised pie (many years ago now, I grant you – I think I had a go while I was a student) was a bit ‘rustic’-looking, but no worse for that as it was still delicious. The next one was much improved in looks and then there was no holding me back. Pies became straight(er),  pretty cylindrical, free from bursting and often covered in extra fancy pastry decorations and even started to hold fillings of all different types. If I can do this I’ve no doubt others can.

Be warned though – this is not a recipe that uses a tin. I’m explaining here how I make my hand raised pies. I suppose you could create this by baking it in a tin, but that’s a cop out and there’s nowt so satisfying as presenting a pie that you know has only had your hands to shape it. Plus, those specialist pie tins are a ridiculous amount of money and this is proof you don’t need to spend on them.

For your first attempt at a hand raised pie (or subsequent ones if you’re a bit scaredy, which is totally fine!) you can give the pie a helping hand by giving it a tied baking paper collar to help it keep its shape. I don’t think this is necessary for small or medium-sized pies (up to about 15cm/6″) once you’re used to making them, but if I bake a large pie I will still wrap that with a collar – just for double insurance purposes, you understand.tudorpieillustration

Notes about hot water crust and veggie and fat content alternatives

Although this is a total meat lover’s pie, please don’t think hand raised pies are only for carnivores. You can make the pastry with Cookeen or Trex instead of the lard and butter mix, making it vegetarian/vegan and then use a veggie filling. I’ve had great results with pies filled with a variety of mushrooms such as a Stilton, rocket and walnut filling and pies with layers of multi coloured veggies doused in spices and dried fruits.

It’s understandable (even for carnivores) to be a little squeamish about the use of animal fats like lard. So even if you have a meat filling, using Trex or Cookeen within the pastry can be an alternative to lard. I only rarely have lard (or dripping) in my fridge and am more likely to have a pack of Trex and I’m all for using what’s to hand or what needs using up rather than another shopping trip. (I often have Trex in my fridge as it’s great when making white icing to keep it ultra-white).

If you’re not of the squeamish persuasion, you might like to swap beef dripping for the lard – especially nice with a beef or venison filling.

Notes on this particular recipe and how I researched it

This is a slight variation on a typical layered pork sausage meat pie I make (that one uses Cumberland sausages and layered apricots with garam masala). This particular pie was created to bake along with a Tudor theme on a Great British Bake Off episode. I know this is a one-off bake (I normally only post recipes I’ve created two or three times to ensure they work), but because it is so similar to my normal pie that I’ve made dozens and dozens of times (the pastry is the same recipe, just the filling differs) I am confident the recipe will work for you.

I have tried to more-or-less stick to Tudor era spices, with a pinch of salt (see what I did there!?).

tudorpiebakedAs I don’t have to make this fully authentic I did want an edible, tasty pie, not one that was historic for historic accuracy’s sake. So I have used a lot of pepper, a bit of mace and some chillies. Chillies were brought back from the ‘Americas’ during the Tudor period. Incidentally, although Europeans didn’t really take them up at the time, it was during the early 1500s that the Portuguese took the plants to their colonies in Asia (such as Goa) and chillies entered the local cuisine there much, much earlier (for info: please read Lizzie Collingham’s Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors). They clearly were less suspicious of new ingredients and more adventurous than us Europeans of the time.

I am taking a large amount of liberty with the chillies. Although chillies may have been around, and may well have been presented and cooked for the European elite as a novelty in Tudor times, they would most definitely not have made their way onto ordinary dinner tables. So a turnip-picker or scullery maid as I would have been would not have even known they existed. That said, chillies were transported in this period, so I’m including them – this would be a fairly dull taste for modern palates otherwise. I’m no Dr Ruth Goodman (whose programmes I adore) so I’m happy to sacrifice full accuracy for something that’s tasty and edible.

Tips

Something I do for my pie fillings to ensure I have the spicing right is I fry off a teaspoon of the meat (or veggie) mix in a saucepan before I make the pie. This way you can adjust the salt, pepper or other spices to taste, rather than just rely on guess work.

Notes

If you have a wooden pie dolly (a smaller one – about 10cm in diameter) then please use that. However, I don’t have one and I use instead a medium sized glass pickle jar covered in greased cling film – you don’t have to spend on an expensive pie dolly if you don’t want to. If you do want the ‘proper’ kit as you think you may make more, this is the kind of wood pie dolly I’m referring to from the online Kitchen Cookshop (I will eventually get myself one when I feel flush, but I don’t believe it’s actually much better than my alternative glass jar technique, just pretty sitting on my shelf and always a joy to use a wooden utensil).

I haven’t included any jelly to add to the pie after cooling. There are several reasons for this: firstly, the sausagemeat will naturally give up some of it’s fates and liquids during baking to the pastry and there is a little jelly-like result at the end. Secondly, I like a good pie but I don’t much like the jelly (I always remove it when I’m eating one with jelly). Thirdly and finally, as this is a single pie recipe not one for a batch of pies it does not need to be stored for a long time (jelly was partially used as a preserver so that the meat inside the pie didn’t go off so quickly).

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Bowls – two large, one smaller
  • Sharp knife, possibly two small diameter circular cutters (but not totally necessary)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
  • Frying pan
  • Cup/small bowl
  • Medium-sized glass jar, such a a jar of pickled onions
  • Cling film

Ingredients – hot water crust

  • Plain flour – 400g
  • Lard – 125g
  • Butter, unsalted – 125g
  • Water – 150ml
  • Eggs, medium – 2
  • Salt – a large pinch
  • Black pepper, freshly crushed – several turns of a spice mill or about 1 teaspoon
  • A little extra lard or butter for greasing

Ingredients – filling

  • Wild boar sausages (if you can’t find these a top quality pork sausage, preferably from a proper butcher will do) – 400g/6 sausages
  • Small strong eating apple, such as a Cox, Egremont Russet or James Grieve
  • Pepper*
  • Salt*
  • Nutmeg* – freshly grated, about 1 1/4 teaspoons
  • Chillies* – a ‘plainer’ not too hot variety (to keep vaguely contemporary) such as Cayenne – about 3
  • Shallots – 1 banana shallot or two smaller round shallots
  • Fat for frying: a knob of butter and a dash of oil (to stop it charring)

*  all seasoning to taste: add in to the meat mixture and fry off a small amount to tastes. Adjust as necessary

Method – pastry

  • Put the flour and salt in a large bowl
  • Pour the water into a saucepan and add the lard and butter and set over a medium heat
  • While the water and fats are heating, crack one of the eggs into the flour
  • Crack the second egg into a cup or small bowl and whisk lightly with a fork – you are doing this because you need one and a half eggs in pastry and it’s easier to divide a whisked egg in half
  • Tip half of the whisked egg into the flour as well, and set aside the remaining half an egg, as you’ll use this for the pastry wash later
  • Mix the flour and egg together with a knife
  • When the fats have melted, tip the contents of the saucepan onto the flour mixture
  • Don’t use your hands straightaway as it will be hot – use your knife to start to bring the pastry together
  • Once you’ve got as far as you can with your knife, it’s probably OK now to use your hands
  • Bring together the pastry and pick up all stray bits of flour from the bowl with it
  • Put the pastry in the fridge or somewhere cool while you ready your filling

Method – filling

  1. Finely slice and dice the shallots
  2. Gently fry the shallots in the butter and oil over a low heat and let them simmer and go transparent
  3. While the shallots are frying, core your apple and halve it. Slice each half thinly and place the apple in a small bowl filled with water and a couple of drops of lemon juice or white wine vinegar, to stop the apple discolouring
  4. Take the sausagemeat out of its casings and place the meat in the large bowl. Discard the casings
  5. De-seed one chilli and chop very finely – taste the chilli: is it a hot one? If so, you’ll need fewer chillies for this recipe as it should only have a light heat (you may like things spicy but it’s a recipe that is mimicking the Tudor tastes). If it is fairly mild, then chop them all
  6. Add a large pinch of salt, pepper from at least six turns of your black pepper mill, the freshly ground nutmeg and the diced chillies
  7. Take the shallots off the heat and tip them onto the sausagemeat too
  8. Mix the lot together with your hands – this is gooey but it’s the best way
  9. Take a teaspoonful amount of sausagemeat and fry off until browned and cooked through. Taste and adjust the salt, pepper, chilli (though remember it shouldn’t be too hot) and nutmeg to your taste, mix again if you have added more
  10. Leave the sausagemeat to one side while you start to prepare the pie case

Method – construction

  1. Retrieve your pastry- it will have hardened as the fats cooled and solidified.
  2. You need to work it a little with your hands – kneading lightly a couple of times to bring it up in temperature and become just pliable enough
  3. Rip off about a third of the pastry and put to one side. This will be your lid and decoration
  4. Take your glass jar and encase it in a layer of cling film
  5. Grease or oil your palms and then rub over the cling-filmed jar to cover it all over but not heavily
  6. Roll the large lump into a disc and flatten the centre area a little – place the glass jar in the middle
  7. Using the whole length of your fingers (not just the finger tips – this will create little dents) start to press the pastry up the sides of the jar (see my illustration below)
  8. Keep going back to the base and press the pastry from it up the sides – the base shouldn’t be left as a thick lumphandraiseillustration
  9. You’re aiming for the pastry to be about 4mm thick all over
  10. Keep pressing and squeezing gently, moving the pastry up the jar
  11. Try to even the top edge out as much as you can, but don’t stress about it as you will trim it. What I mean by this is try to keep it level all the way round – you are effectively making a pastry bowl
  12. When you’ve got the pastry up the jar and it’s the right thickness, take a knife and trim the top edge using the shortest point as a guide
  13. Ease the jar out of the pastry – if it’s still sticky use a knife to tease the pastry away ever so slightly. You can reshape the pastry a little by hand after the jar is removed
  14. Take the sausagemeat and halve it. Shape the first half roughly to match the inside size of the pastry pie case – and gently drop it in (I’ve seen videos where they’ve thrown the filling in at speed. I can only imagine this will damage the bottom, distort the case and also run the risk of flattening the whole thing completely if you don’t get it dead centre)
  15. Take the apple slices out of the water and dry them in a clean tea towel
  16. Layer the apple on top of the sausagemeat in the pie case
  17. Shape the final amount of sausagemeat and put in on top of the apple slices
  18. Now roll out the pastry you put aside for the lid to 4mm thickness
  19. Roughly cut the lid into a circle the same size as the pie case
  20. Wet the edge of the pie case and place the lid on top
  21. Pinch together the edges so they seal and using the index finger from one hand and your thumb and index finger of the other, push the pastry ‘in and out’ to create a wave effect all around the top
  22. Put your oven on to 180C fan / 200C conventional
  23. With the extra you pastry you have left, you can cut out some decorations. Make some simple leaves, be elaborate and make a Bacchanalian scene with vines and grapes or attempt this relatively simple Tudor rose which only needs a small round cutter and a knife:
I’ve made this pastry Tudor rose on a tabletop so you can see its construction more easily – I suggest you actually make it one the pie lid, so you can size it better and place it centrally.
rose1 rose2
1. Cut out five pastry circles, using a cutter about 2cm wide. Curl over the outside edge of each ‘petal’ by pushing with your finger. If you don’t have a small cutter, take a small ball of dough and press flat with your fingers to create a leaf. 2. Cut five arrow-head shaped pieces of pastry for your leaves.
rose3a rose7
3. Wet your fingertip and just dampen the bottom of the leaves. Tuck each behind the petal shapes, behind the gaps. (It’s easier to place the leaves behind after the petals, even though they are the first layer) 4. Cut five more petals – this time a little smaller than before and arrange them on top of the petal layer (dampen them first so they stick). Again, place these leaves covering the gaps in between the petals)
makingpetal tudor8a
5. Cut five more circles, this time using a slightly smaller cutter (or press out five rounds of dough with your fingers as before). Trim off a little bit at an angle on both sides of each circle so you have a keystone-shape) 6. Dampen the back of the smaller petals and lay them in place – so they cover the gaps between the petals and in line with the previous larger petals.
rose9
 7. You’ve now got a nice Tudor rose
  1. Now you need to create a hole in the top. Using the small cutter (or if you don’t have one an apple corer is ideal) make a hole through the centre of the Tudor rose and the pie lid – down to the sausagemeat inside
  2. Retrieve the half an egg you put aside earlier and using a pastry brush wash the pie with the egg
  3. Place the pie gently on a baking tray (at this point you can wrap a folded-over layer of greaseproof paper and tie in place with butcher’s twine if you’re nervy – although if you’re doing this I’d recommend that you don’t egg wash the sides of the pie)
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C fan / 200C conventional, then turn own the oven to 160C fan / 180C conventional for a further 20 – 25 minutes
  5. The pastry will be crisp and darkly golden when done
  6. Serve warm or leave until chilled
  7. Should last a couple of days covered in the fridge