I didn’t really feel like firing the oven up today, but fancied some nice breads for an alfresco tea with the family, so knocked up some loaves using the overnight sponge method see below, a grande fougasse, a focaccia with rosemary and a nice part wholemeal part white loaf……….delicious with some charcuterie, salad from the garden, and some new potatoes with olive oil and parlsey
Here is the recipe for my overnight sponge bread, for which I am eternally grateful to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday for getting me started with.
In a bowl add
250g Strong white bread flour
325g Lukewarm water
5g Fast Action Yeast
Mix with a wooden spoon and leave covered overnight.
The next morning add
250g Strong white bread flour, or replace with an equal quantity of alternative (wholemeal/barleycorn/5seed)
10g Fine Sea Salt
Mix until it comes together and knead for 10 mins on a worktop until silky and soft
Oil the bowl lightly with olive/rapeseed oil but the dough in and let rise until doubled (approx. 1 hour)
Fold the dough over on itself again and again to form a tight ball, coat lightly with a tiny amount of oil and then some polenta and leave to rise for another hour
Place a baking stone or heavy duty baking sheet in the oven and turn the oven to maximum, or alternatively in a wood fired oven which has cooled and is giving a steady heat, make sure the oven is well up to temperature before placing the bread in the oven, a quick squirt of water from a plant mister.
Cook at maximum temperature for 15minutes, before turning down to 200deg C for half an hour until the base sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing and enjoying with lashings of butter or dipped into olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar….delicious.
I’m away with work at the moment, but really looking forward to going to Grillstock on the Harbourside in Bristol when i get back next week. It’s the weekend 2nd/3rd July.
I butchered a whole pig from the smallholder Pitmans Farm over the road from me last week, and so am looking to garnering some new ideas for cooking meat at the festival, and enjoying eating some serious meat while there.
Was quite an experience learning the butchery, how far i’ve come from my vegetarian days. It gives a real understanding of the differing cuts of meat, and best ideas on cooking them, i’d reccomend it for any serious carnivores out there.
I have now finished my oven and painted it, all looking good, fired up for the first pizza this afternoon, it wasn’t white hot but did a pizza in about 3 mins, I had the fire going for 2 1/2 hours, and did 5 pizzas on it, the first couple had a disaster with them sticking to the peel, I used more flour on the peel and was all good.
I was really pleased with my home made tools, shovel, brush and mop, and it all went rather well, everyone loved the pizza, think next time i’ll keep the fire raging a bit more as it had died down a bit just before cooking, but the pizzas were lovely and had a nice distinctive taste from the wood fire and slow ferment dough.
I even did a bit of bread which was great, and i’ve popped some mushrooms and tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and basil for supper.
I’ve got to have a look at my doors to get a snugger fit, as lost a lot of heat out the door and chimney I think, I had only popped a brick on top of chimney and that didn’t seal very well, so a few learnings and improvements, but it feels great to cook on my wfo finally.
I fired her up again tonight, a little bit more, and thought i’d cook a meal, I got some nice mackerel and samphire and cooked the fish on my tuscan grill over some fennel shoots from my herb bed, and we enjoyed it with a nice zingy salad from the garden.
I put the first scratch coat of render over the block work, and my wife said how nice it looked and the food was lovely, so i’m very happy.
I’m really happy today, I had a small curing fire this morning and went out later this afternoon and was amazed by how warm it all still was, hopefully a good sign, the chimney seems to draw well so happy with that too, and I got the first layer of render on, here’s a couple more pics.