Baking & Bread
Baking & Bread
The whole garden is full of wild garlic at the moment and it’s really pretty once the white flowers open. But apparently it’s at its best for cooking while it’s still in bud, so there are now armfuls of it in the kitchen and I’ve been trying out different ways of using it. Two great successes so far… stir-frying a few chopped leaves in a little olive oil, adding lemon juice and some grated parmesan and using it to dress cooked broccoli or peas. And this gorgeously garlicky bread that’s perfect with soup. (You could also make the bread using rocket and a fat clove of garlic, if there’s no wild garlic to hand.) It’s seriously yummy.
Put 150ml hand-hot water in a small jug with the caster sugar and dried yeast and set aside for five minutes until it turns frothy. Put the strong bread flour in a bowl with one and a half tsp salt and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture plus another 200ml hand-hot water and stir with a table knife until it comes together, then knead with your hands until you have a smooth, supple dough (add a little extra water if it seems too dry, but don't make it sticky). Knead on a floured board for a few minutes then put into a clean bowl and leave somewhere warm for an hour until doubled in size (the airing cupboard is ideal.)
Meanwhile, whizz the wild garlic leaves with the walnuts, toasted flaked almonds (or pine nuts) and rapeseed oil in a food processor until it forms a paste, then stir in the grated cheddar. When the dough is ready, roll it out to a fairly large rectangle and spread the wild garlic paste over it. Roll up like a swiss roll (from one of the long sides) and slice into 7. Put in a round, non-stick baking tin (cut side up) and leave in a warm place for another 20 minutes until the individual rounds have just started to join together. Brush with milk or beaten egg and bake at 175C (fan oven) for 35-45 minutes until browned and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Cool slightly on a wire rack before letting everyone pull it apart at the table.
Strong flour is high in gluten, which makes it become super-stretchy when liquid is added to it. This allows the dough to rise well when it's proving, so giving a much better texture to the baked bread than standard flour would.