Slow Fermented Bread Recipes

Hot Cross Buns

All of the following recipes use the “Sponge and Dough” method described in the Food Culture Article Take Time to make Good Bread.  This may also be combined with cool overnight fermentation.

HOT CROSS BUNS

First class ingredients will make your homemade Hot Cross Buns better than any you have ever bought.  It really makes a difference to hand cut candied peel and grind spices just before using rather than buying ready prepared alternatives.  Likewise use organic stoneground flour if you can – it will give the buns more character, flavour and texture.  White stoneground flour is harder to come by than wholemeal so, if you can only find industrial roller-milled white flour, mixing it with a proportion of stoneground wholemeal flour is a good alternative.

Fresh yeast gives the best results, but if you are unable to find it, try to buy traditional dried yeast, such as that made by Allinsons, rather than “easy-blend” or “fast acting” alternatives, which include flour improvers.  Use half the quantity of dried yeast to fresh, and halve this again if you have to resort to an easy blend version.

Note that the ferment needs to be made a day in advance.

Makes 16

The Ferment:

140g strong white flour

20g fresh yeast

150ml water

The Dough:

 

310g stoneground strong white flour (or use 170g industrial white mixed with 140g stoneground wholemeal)

1 tsp salt

3 tsp mixed spice *¹

55g light muscovado sugar

55g butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

125ml milk

85g hand chopped candied lemon peel

85g sultanas

For the crosses:

 

50g plain white household flour

Pinch of baking powder

40 – 50ml water

1 tsp vegetable oil

For the glaze:

1 egg

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp boiling water

Mix up the ferment 12-18 hours before you want to make the hot cross buns.  Heat the water until it feels lukewarm to the touch then stir into the fresh yeast until it is smoothly blended.  Mix this liquid into the flour, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a cool place to rise and drop again.

When you are ready to make the dough, mix together the flours, salt, sugar and spice then create a well in the centre.  Melt the butter and pour it into the well together with the beaten egg and 4 fl oz of milk.  Stir the liquid with your hand, gradually drawing in some of flour mixture.  When the centre is no longer liquid add the ferment from the day before and begin to knead to create a homogenous mixture.  Absorption rates vary from flour to flour so be prepared to add more water or flour to get the right consistency – quite moist but manageable.   It will take the yeast a little while to recover from these additions, so it pays to cover the dough and let it rest for half an hour or so before kneading in earnest.  Whilst the dough is resting you can chop the peel and, if you like, pour a couple of tablespoons of sweet sherry over the sultanas to plump them.

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, stretch it out, as far as it will go without tearing, into a rectangular shape.  Scatter the chopped peel over the dough and then fold the bottom third over, followed by the top third.  Now give the dough a quarter turn and stretch it out again.  This time scatter with the sultanas (minus any excess soaking liquid) and repeat the folding process.  Put the dough into a large bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard, until the dough has doubled in size.  This will take about 2 hours at this temperature or see note*2 below for overnight fermentation.

Briefly knead the dough to knock out the air and then divide it into 4.  Further divide each quarter into four and shape each piece into a ball.  Place these onto greased baking sheets allowing a gap approximately the same size as each ball between them for the dough to rise.   It doesn’t matter if the buns just touch as they cook.  Cover and put back in a warm place for the dough to rise again, which this time will take about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the ingredients to make the crosses.  The mixture should be quite firm but just runny enough to pipe.  Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a broad plain nozzle.  Pre-heat the oven to 210ºC/190ºC (fan ovens)/Gas Mark 5.

Pipe a cross over each risen bun.  Put the buns into the oven and turn the heat up to 220ºC/200ºC (fan ovens)/Gas Mark 6.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden in colour.  Whilst the buns are baking mix together the ingredients for the glaze and brush over the buns immediately they are removed from the oven.

Notes

*¹ Mixed Spice is a blend of predominantly sweet spices that used to be known as Pudding Spice.  The exact blend varies but almost always includes cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Other additions might include: coriander seeds, allspice berries and ginger, these latter two providing heat as well as flavour.  Elizabeth David recommends: two parts nutmeg, two parts white or black peppercorns (or substitute allspice berries for a milder blend), one part cinnamon bark, one part whole cloves, one part dried ginger root.  She further notes…To this mixture a fraction of freshly ground cumin seed can be added.  This is particularly successful for Hot Cross Buns.

*² If this rising time is inconvenient, for example if you wish to eat the buns in the morning, the dough can be put in a cold place to rise overnight.  The second rising, after the buns have been shaped, should be in a warm place and slightly longer should be allowed for the dough to warm up and begin to rise.

PANARY’S OVERNIGHT LONDON BLOOMER

This recipe is from Paul Merry’s Traditional British bread making course, which he runs from his cookery school Panary .  It is based at Cann Mills, near Shaftesbury in Dorset, from where I buy all my stoneground flour.  For further detail see www.panary.co.uk or email Paul at info@panary.co.uk

Paul Merry

Many traditional British loaves were based on this dough, the main differences being down to shape, which might, for example, give more or less crust.  On Paul’s course we made a Cottage Loaf from the same dough, using two thirds to form the base with the remaining third, also shaped into a ball, secured to the base by pushing a floured finger right through the middle.

First Stage – The Overnight Sponge

450g/1 lb strong white bread flour

300ml/½ pint cool or luke warm water  (depending on ambient temperature)

15g fresh yeast (note: I find 10g quite sufficient, or 5g traditional dried yeast – SW)

Disperse the yeast in the water and then mix in the flour.  Mix thoroughly then knead briefly.  Cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic sheet, ensuring there is plenty of room for the dough to expand.  Leave overnight at room temperature.   NB Overnight is a minimum of 6 hours, if more than 12 or if the weather is very hot, half the salt from the second stage can be included to slow down the fermentation.

Second Stage – The Bulk Fermentation

450g/1lb strong white flour

15-20g salt

250 – 300 ml/ approx ½pint water

The overnight sponge

Add the flour and salt to the overnight sponge together with sufficient water to bring it all together.  Knead vigorously to develop the gluten in the fresh flour.

The maturity of the overnight dough will ensure that the yeast works on the fresh flour of the second stage surprisingly quickly, and if the dough has finished reasonably warm it will probably only require about 1½ hours for its bulk rise.  Allow 2-3 hours to prove if the dough has finished cold.  To test whether it is properly proved and ready for the next stage, gently poke the dough with a floury finger tip.  If the cavity you make stays then it is ready, if it closes over as you withdraw your finger then it needs more time to mature.

Third Stage – Shaping and Final Proof

When you are satisfied that it has matured fully, shape the dough into one huge long loaf or two smaller ones.  The rounded ends are important to the look of a London Bloomer.  Place the loaves on a baking tray or, if you are baking them on a hot earthenware tile (which would be more authentic) prove them in floured cloths.  Once shaped the final proof will take about an hour.

Just before the loaves go into the oven (preheated to 220˚C/Gas Mark 7) make a dozen diagonal cuts across the loaf’s back.  Bake for about 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the loaves and the heat of the oven but the loaves should be well baked with a thick and crunchy crust.

©Paul Merry

Homemade Sausages

HOMEMADE SAUSAGES

It’s probably not worth making less than 10lb of sausages at a time.  The cuts of meat you use will depend on the fat content of the pork.  Traditional breeds with a very good covering of fat, such as Tamworths, are probably best made from the shoulder.  Less fatty pigs will be better if you use half shoulder and half fat belly pork.  Modern, very lean pigs will need to be mixed with pure back fat, which is not easy to come by nowadays, or use just the belly.  If the meat is too lean the sausage will be dry, whilst a fatter sausage can be cooked in a way that renders much of its fat.

To 10lb of boned pork add 3 oz salt (2%) and 1½ lb (15%) white day-old bread.

Hogs casings, soaked in cold water

Herbs, spices and flavourings to taste (see below)

The meat should be kept as cold as possible, so work in a cool room and return the meat to the fridge until it is needed.

Begin by roughly cutting the meat so that is easy to feed through the mincer.

Fit a coarse disk into the mincer and mince the meat into a large mixing bowl (for very coarse sausages dice by hand).   When you have minced all of the meat, follow with the bread.  Sprinkle over the salt, fresh herbs, spices and other flavourings as required.  Mix thoroughly.  It is a good idea to cook up a teaspoon of the mixture to check the flavourings before making the whole batch.

Remove the mincing blades and fit a stuffing nozzle onto the mincer. Take about a metre length of hogs casing from its soaking water, tie a knot in one end of the casing, place the open end over the nozzle and then feed the casing on until you reach the knotted end.

The next stage is much easier with two people, one to keep feeding the stuffing into the machine, and the other to control how tightly stuffed the casing becomes.  This is done by holding the casing firmly in place on the nozzle and releasing more only as the casing becomes full.  If you overfill the casing it will burst and you will have to feed the stuffing back through into a fresh casing.  Remember also that you will need some room for the filling to move when you form the sausages.  Hogs casings should however give you nice plump sausages, about 6 to a pound of meat.  These will cook better than small thin sausages.  Stop filling when you get close to the end of the casing, but leaving enough room for tying the sausages before knotting off the end. 

To form the links hold the entire casing up by its middle and twist it to form the first link.  Then twist at the required intervals going in opposite directions for each sausage to prevent the links unravelling.

Flavourings:  Below are some traditional regional recipes, but essentially chose what you like.  Parsley, black pepper, mace and lemon rind are a favourite combination of mine.  Sage is very traditional.  A proportion of bacon in the meat is also very interesting.

Cambridge Sausage

Effectively the Cambridge Sausage is the standard British sausage, flavoured with sage, thyme, cayenne, ground mace, nutmeg, pepper and salt.

To 2½ lb minced pork add 6 oz of fresh breadcrumbs and ¾ oz salt plus:

1 tsp fresh sage

½ tsp fresh thyme

¼ tsp ground mace

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

¼ tsp freshly milled pepper

Lincolnshire Sausage

The only seasoning used (apart from salt and pepper) in a Lincolnshire Sausage is sage – they should be quite a vivid green colour.  To the above basic mixture add 4 teaspoons of chopped fresh sage.  These sausages should be left for 2-3 days to mature before eating.

Cumberland Sausage

Cumberland Sausage uses no breadcrumbs, only meat.  It is also formed as one coiled, continuous sausage.

To 3½ lb meat add:

1 oz salt

½ tsp sage

½ tsp rosemary

½ tsp thyme

a good pinch of Cayenne pepper

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

½ tsp freshly milled white pepper

Oxford Sausage

These are unusual for a variety of reasons.  Firstly they are made with equal parts of lean pork and veal together with beef suet.  Old recipes suggest that this should be in the same proportion as each of the meats, but modern tastes will probably prefer half this.  Secondly there is always the addition of grated lemon rind and thirdly they are never put into skins.

8 oz lean pork

8 oz lean veal

4 oz beef suet

4 oz fresh white breadcrumbs

grated rind of 1 small lemon

1 tsp. chopped sage

1 tsp. Chopped thyme

1 tsp. Chopped marjoram

1 tsp. Salt

freshly milled black pepper

Mince the pork and veal together.  Coarsely grate the beef suet and mix with the meat and remaining ingredients.  Form into sausages with your hands on a lightly floured surface.  Leave overnight to firm up and develop their flavour before cooking.

Gloucester Sausage

This is similar to an Oxford sausage in that beef suet is added rather than pork fat, however the seasonings are more like that of a Cambridge Sausage and they are always put into their skins.

NB I have specified fresh herbs in all of the above recipes.  If you must substitute dried, halve the quantities.

Spelt Recipes

FRUMENTY WITH LEEKS AND WILD GARLIC

Use this recipe as a basic template, the vegetables and flavouring ingredients are infinitely variable.

25g butter

1 onion

2 leeks

Clove of garlic, crushed

Bunch of wild garlic leaves

160g pearled spelt

Approx. 500 ml chicken stock

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the chopped onion, leeks and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and sweat gently for 5 minutes. Meanwhile bring the chicken stock up to simmering point in another pan.

Add the pearled spelt to the vegetables and stir in enough stock to cover. Leave the pan open whilst this stock simmers away, stirring every now again to prevent the spelt sticking. Add more stock whenever the mixture is getting a bit dry. Begin tasting the spelt after about 15 minutes – it usually takes about 20 minutes to reach the right consistency – soft but still with plenty of substance. Wash and chop the wild garlic and add towards the end of the cooking time.

FRUMENTY BAKED IN THE OVEN

Frumenty predates the invention of an enclosed oven, but having made the traditional recipe, the similarity with rice pudding occurred to me and also that this would be a much easier method. I tried it, and personally prefer it made this way.

50 g pearled spelt

75g sultanas

1 tbsp caster sugar

500 ml good creamy milk

Cinnamon (or saffron)

Cream for serving

Butter an ovenproof baking dish, ideally one that has a lid but foil can be used instead. Put the rest of the ingredients into the dish, stir and cover. Place in a low oven (120̊ C) and cook for several hours until the milk has been absorbed. Serve with additional cream.

NETTLE RAVIOLI

Makes 16-18 ravioli

200 g refined spelt flour

2-3 eggs (depending on size and absorbency of the flour)

Carrier bag loosely filled with young nettle tops

Oil

Butter

Clove of garlic, finely chopped

200 g ricotta

2 tbsps of grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)

Salt and pepper

Make your pasta dough several hours in advance; the dough will stretch more easily for having rested.

It may be frowned upon in Italy, but I usually make my pasta dough in a food processor and can judge the right consistency by when it begins to come together in a ball. Put your flour into the food processor and crack in two whole eggs. Process, and at this stage the mixture will probably form crumbs. Separate the third egg and add the yolk. Process again. If the mixture has still not formed a ball, lightly whisk the white, to break it up so that you can add a little at a time, and do so until the mixture forms a ball around the blade. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it briefly on a worktop. Put the bowl in a plastic bag and rest it in the refrigerator for several hours (up to a day).

Wash the nettle tops in a sink full of cold water. Lift the nettles out into a colander, leaving any grass or other debris behind. Place the colander in the sink. Boil a kettle of water and pour it over the nettles to remove their sting and wilt the leaves. Refresh by running briefly under cold water. Drain using the back of a wooden spoon to press out excess liquid.

Heat a mixture of oil and butter in a frying pan. Add the drained nettle tops and cook for a minute then add the chopped garlic. Cook for a further minute, leave to cool slightly, and then transfer to a food processor. Process until the nettles finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Add the ricotta and parmesan cheese and process again to blend smoothly.

Roll the pasta dough into sheets about 10 cm wide. Place teaspoonfuls of the filling in a line along one (the shorter) sheet leaving a gap about the width of two fingers between each spoonful. Dampen a circle of the dough around each pile of filling. Lay a longer sheet of pasta dough on top of the first using your cupped finger to form a seal around the filling taking care not to create an air bubble as you do so. Cut around each raviolo (you can use a pastry cutter, knife or scissors). Now take each raviolo and seal firmly between your thumb and forefinger. This is another opportunity to check for air bubbles, which you should be able to expel before sealing firmly.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile melt some butter in a saucepan to serve as a sauce. Drop the ravioli into the boiling water. You will probably need to cook them in two batches, removing the first with a slotted spoon when cooked, but they take only a few minutes. The ravioli are cooked when they have all risen to the surface. Drain, but only briefly, before turning in the melted butter.

Season with freshly cracked black pepper and Parmesan cheese before serving.

 

SPELT, ROSEMARY AND RAISIN BREAD

 

Overnight Sponge:

10g fresh yeast (or 5g traditional dried yeast)

300 ml water

500g refined white spelt flour

Blend the yeast in the water then stir in the flour. Cover the bowl and leave at room temperature overnight.

Dough:

20g sea salt

300 ml warm water

500g wholemeal spelt flour

Overnight sponge (see above)

50g butter

Needles from a 10 cm length of fresh Rosemary

50g raisins

Begin by melting the butter and infusing it with the chopped rosemary needles.

Dissolve the salt in the warm water and then stir in the flour. Add the overnight sponge mixture and melted butter/rosemary. Knead together to make a smooth dough, adding more water if required.

When the dough is smooth and elastic, stretch it out into a large oblong (as large as it will go without tearing). Sprinkle the raisins evenly across the dough and then fold one-third of the dough over, followed by the other side so that the raisins are enclosed. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat the stretching and folding. This will incorporate the raisins more easily than kneading as well as giving the gluten in the dough a good stretch. Fold the dough into thirds a final time before placing in a bowl, covering and leaving in a warm place to prove for about 1½-2 hours.

Shape into two small loaves or 16 individual rolls. Push any extruding raisins back under the surface or they will burn during cooking.

Heat the oven to 220˚C whilst the loaves or rolls rise again.

Rolls will bake in only 10-15 minutes, for loaves the oven temperature should be reduced to 180˚C after this time and the bread baked for a further quarter of an hour.

©Suzanne Wynn April 2010