Category Archives: bread

Fruit and Cider Buns

As a result of making ‘rabbit in an apple, mustard and cider sauce’ the other day, I found myself with ½ a bottle of cider left over.  Normally I would just drink it, but as I had some fresh yeast in the fridge that I also needed to use up, I decided to try and make some buns with them.  I had heard of beer bread before, so I guessed that there should be no reason why cider wouldn’t work.

As I wanted the buns to be sweet, I added both fresh and dried fruit to the dough after the first rising.  I’ve never put fresh fruit into bread dough before, but on the basis that you can add weird and wonderful things to focaccia I thought I would give it a go.

I took two of the buns up to ‘the mountain’ (a local village with a wood fired bread oven) for them to try this morning.  I have had many discussions with the bread makers up there about the difference between English and French breads and this morning I was able to give them an example of a bun that was very similar in consistency to that of a Hot Cross Bun.  The buns were divided up and given out.  There were some wary looks at this foreign bread, followed by much sniffing before the eventual consumption.  To my relief they all seemed to enjoy it remarking that it was similar in texture to that of a brioche and demanding to know what spices were in it.

Enthused by their reaction, I decided to ask if I could cook in their oven next weekend after they have made their own bread.  The answer was positive, however there was one condition – I have to help them prepare their loaves next Sunday, which means a 5.00 am start.  Whilst I am not looking forward to getting up before the cock crows, I am looking forward to trying a traditional French bread oven and seeing how they make their pain de campagne which we tend to buy every Sunday.

 

Fruit and Cider Buns

Ingredients:

  • 400g white flour (type 55 or equivalent)
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 25g melted butter
  • 225 – 275 ml medium dry cider
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 50g sultanas (that have been rehydrated in a little boiling water – then dried)
  • 2 medium apples (peeled, cored and cut into small chunks)
  • sugar glaze (3tbsp sugar dissolved in 2tbsp water)

Steps:

1.  Place the flour, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix together.

2.  Place the yeast and sugar in a measuring jug and stir together until the fresh yeast is crumb like.

3.  Add the cider to the measuring jug and stir.

4.  Pour the melted butter and the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers adding a little more cider at this point if it is needed.

5.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes (you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly).

6.  Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (until it has doubled in size).

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.  Knock the air out of the dough and add the sultanas and apple pieces.

8.  Knead the dough until the fruit is evenly distributed. Then cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces.  Shape the pieces into small balls and placing it in an oiled and floured tin leaving it to rise for the second time for another 1 ½ – 2 hours.

9.  Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan and cook for 18-20 minutes. Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.

10.  Whilst the dough is cooking make a sugar glaze by placing 3tbsp of sugar in a saucepan with 2tbsp of water and heat until the sugar has dissolved and has a syrup-like consistency.

11.  Once the buns are cooked remove from the oven, tip out onto a cooling rack.  Using a pastry brush glaze the buns with the sugar glaze and leave to cool.  (Best stored in an airtight tin).

Back to basics – Bread

There are so many types and varieties of bread available globally and it is no wonder that it is one of the world’s oldest staples.  I am incredibly lucky to have tried so many artisan breads whilst I have been living in France.  Bread is a key food in French society and is eaten with most meals.  Something I have started to learn since being out here is the implication of using different flour “types” when making bread.  For those of you who are wondering what I mean when I say “type” here is a quick summation of the most common flour types France:

Type Meaning
45 Pastry flour (because of how finely it is ground)
55 All-purpose flour (most commonly used for making baguettes and other breads though I used it a lot for making cakes)
65 A rustic flour (typically used to make biscuits and country style bread)
80 A light wholemeal flour
110 wholemeal flour
150 100% wholemeal flour

I generally use a combination of type 55 and type 65 when I make bread because they are easy to come by as well as the cheapest to buy.  The other conclusion I have reached in bread making is that whilst the majority of the flavour comes from the ingredients used, the type of oven that is used can also add to the taste.  We have two boulangeries (bakeries) within a 2km radius that use wood fired ovens to bake their bread in.  The resulting taste is quite special and gives the bread a lovely crust.  I am hoping in the next couple of weeks to try and bake some bread in one of these ovens to see how it alters the taste of the bread recipe that I use.

In the meantime however I have to make do with using a standard fan oven in which to bake my bread.  This morning I woke up relatively early and decided to make a loaf for lunch, so around 11.30 am the house started to be filled with the gorgeous smell of bread.  We enjoyed it for lunch, eating it perhaps a little too soon but the smell was just too good to resist.  If you have the willpower, the bread is best eaten an hour after it is taken out of the oven when it has had time to cool down.

 

White Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 400g white flour (type 55 or equivalent)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250 – 275 ml water

Steps:

  1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Place the yeast and sugar in a measuring jug and stir together until the fresh yeast is crumb like.
  3. Add the oil to the measuring jug and then top up with water till you have 250ml.  Stir together well.
  4. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers adding a little more water at this point if it is needed.
  5. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes, you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly.

  6. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (a warm place is preferable).
  7. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch/knock the air out of the dough and give it one last quick knead before shaping it into a ball and placing it in an oiled and floured tin leaving it to rise for the second time for another 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  8. Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 220C fan – on placing the bread in the oven turn the temperature down to 200C fan and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.
  9. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack for about an hour.