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April 22, 2012 / mintcustard

Dough it yourself. An homage to National Bread week.

I do love yeast. I’m not a microbiologist but I could prattle on and wax lyrical about it’s qualities for ever. Putting aside the ability to turn sugar to alcohol,which I value highly, it is the way something as simple as flour, water and a little sugar can be transformed as if by magic into bread.

I have been experimenting with lots of yeast cookery recently. Many of you may recall the birth of Fanny, the sourdough starter. Amazing to create a living thing, I can see why Dr Frankenstein did what he did in creating his monster. I felt like in awe of Fanny at first, until I discovered that she could be controlled by cryogenics in a way that Frankenstein’s monster couldn’t. Freezing 150ml portions of starter in ziploc bags meant I didn’t have to keep feeding her. It also meant that I didn’t have to throw away excess starter. I defrost the starter three days before I need it, make a sponge over the next few days feeding the starter up and then off I go. any excess starter goes back in the freezer either for another time or to share with other. Be careful what you name your starter though. Nearly gave a friend apoplexy when I offered him some of my Fanny! We have never had THAT sort of relationship and are not likely to in the future either.

This weekend has been bubbling over with yeasty baking. Friday night was a complete doughnut fest. Small doughnut balls just small enough to be bite sized and sugary ring doughnut that you just have to try and eat without licking your lips!

They are surprisingly easy to both make and eat, although always, always invite some company otherwise you will get serious indigestion as well as tooth decay.

Doughnuts

425g plain flour

180 ml warm milk

2 tsp dried yeast

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp lard or butter

60 ml warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Pour the milk into a small sauce pan and warm through until it becomes lukewarm. Tip this into a jug and add in the warm water, from the kettle will do, and stir in the sugar.
  2. Whisk in the dried yeast and sugar and leave for ten minutes or so for the yeast to activate.
  3. Sieve the flour into the large bowl of your kitchen mixer if you have one and add the salt. Rub in the butter or lard. If you don’t have a mixer that’s fine but be prepared to get your hands messy.
  4. Once the yeast has activated and left foam on the surface of the liquid whisk in the egg and the vanilla extract to this yeasty mixture.
  5. Attach a dough hook to your mixer; pour the liquids onto the dry ingredients and leave to combine for 2 to 3 minutes. If you are using your hands make a claw shape with your hand and combine the ingredients using a circular movement. Once amalgamated you will need to continue to work this very loose batter for another five minutes. This is hard work but remember the reward is hot fried doughnuts!
  6. Once kneaded, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and allow to rise for an hour in a warm draught free place.
  7. Tip the risen dough out onto a floured surface and pat out. Roll to a thickness of about 1 cm and cut out. In homage to Homer Simpson, that great consumer of doughnuts, I use a pint glass for the outer circle and a shot glass for the inner hole.
  8. Leave to rise again for a further 30 minutes. Heat 15cm depth of vegetable oil in a deep saucepan. Fry the doughnuts on one side until golden, flip over and fry on the other side. They will puff up as they fry. Drain on kitchen paper. Allow to cool slightly before eating.

The other real success of the weekend was a focaccia. I wish it had been my recipe but sadly no. I discovered it here at http://fromcooktotrainedchefandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/. It does exactly what it says on the tin. It is really the Ultimate focaccia recipe. It is a little scary to make as the dough is almost still liquid but the results are just magnificent.

This was delicious when warm and as it makes a huge amount there was some left over for lunch today with a tomato and mozzarella salad. It was still light and soft, not hint of staleing that you sometimes get with freshly made bread.

So, as you can see I’ve been busy on the bread from. Mind you I don’t think I’m finished. i have just got the Fabulous Baker Brothers book. Oh my word, they mention Lardy cake. Mmmm, now how can I dress that one up for the teens? Best not mention the lard!

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