Bread therapy

The last couple of weeks have been very busy and very stressful for me. I don’t find many things relaxing because I always have something going on in my head that makes me not relax.
Baths are great but you have to find time for that.

I’ve been making bread since quite a while now and there aren’t many things that relaxes me more than making bread. There is something about it that is different from making cakes or biscuits. I’ve been thinking about it more lately and I think I have at least a few answers.

When you make bread by hand, you knead the dough, you use your physical strengh to do it. All that stressfull energy goes into that and if you’re really in a bad mood, you can do it quite violently, it’s good for the dough anyway.

Bread isn’t like any other baking product that you make-bake-tadaa!, it has to grow, rise for a bit before you get to the next stage, I find it soothing because you don’t rush it. It’s like your little pet dough for the next 3 hours of your day.

When it’s baking, you can really smell the rustic goodness. Bread is a very ancient thing that everybody loves, it was the base of human nutrition for so long that it’s kind of included in us all.

There aren’t many things better than taking your loaf out of the oven when it’s ready. I can’t help myself from saying stupid stuff and doing little silly noises like “Oooohhhhh look at this beauty!!!”. At that precise moment, I’ll tap the loaf, in a “good boy” kind of way.

Last thing is that it makes you feel so much better about yourself once you’ve done it. You’re the king of the jungle, you just made bread!

I’m sorry if this post sounds totally bonkers but trust me, instead of a pamper evening, try the bread evening once instead.

Mylène

Chocolate & chilli bread

For the chocolate week, I wanted to make something savoury with chocolate.

Sadly, most of the dishes I found that use chocolate as savoury weren’t vegetarian, so I thought of bread.

This chilli and chocolate bread can be used as savoury or sweet.
I chopped my chocolate so fine that you don’t get big chunks of it that are really sweet. I also used very dark chocolate.

This bread is not too hot at all, it makes the chilli stand out but doesn’t overpower the whole thing.

For a big loaf, you’ll need:

– 500g of strong flour
– 10g of salt
– 12g of dried yeast
– a splash of olive oil
– 340ml of water
– 1 tsp of flaked dried chilli
– 2 tbsp of very finely chopped chocolate

Put the flour, salt, chillies and yeast into a bowl and mix well.

Add the oil and water and knead for about 10min until smooth and elastic.

Add the chocolate and knead for another 2min.

Put the dough in a floured bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to raise for an hour.

Put the raised dough on your work top and knead it for a minute to knock the air out.

Shape your bread as desired; I usually make mine plaited.
Put the bread on a baking sheet, cover it with a tea towel and leave for an other hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, egg-wash the bread if you want and cook it for 25min or until golden brown.

Eat toasted with butter, jam, cheese or just as it is.

finished loaf

Mylène

Pain perdu or amazing French toast

If you’ve got a loaf that you forgot in your bread bin since a week which turned out hard and inedible, do not throw it away!! I have the perfect recipe which is going to bring it to life again.

Pain perdu means “lost bread” in French. It’s basically the bread you didn’t eat during the week, which is good to throw in the bin, which is “lost”. There are a few different recipes, each family have their own. It’s such a good recipe for a family snack on lazy Sunday afternoons. Everybody loves it.

For 4 hungry people, you’ll need:

– An old loaf of bread (it works with fresh bread but not as well)
– 4 egg yolks (you can use the whole egg if you don’t know what to do with the left over whites, just whisk them very very well with an electric mixer otherwise you’ll have horrible blobs of egg white in your lovely bread)
– 400ml of warm milk
– 2 tablespoons of sugar (vanilla sugar is best)+ extra to sprinkle your toast after frying
– A knob a butter
– 3 to 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Slice your loaf in thick slices. They may be too long, if it’s the case, cut them in half.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together then pour the worm milk and mix.

Put your butter and oil in a frying pan. While your butter is melting, soak your slices of bread in the milk mixture.

If your bread is really hard, you may need to soak it for quite a while. I personally like it not too soaked because there is a risk of it being soggy.

Make sure your bred is soaked but not dripping and fry it in the hot butter and oil.

Turn it over when the side is golden brown.

When the toast are ready, sprinkle with sugar.

Eat warm!

Mylène

Yeast

I’ve always been a bit passionate about making bread, brioches, pastries… Everything which includes a dough actually. The thing is, I’ve always been disappointed with the results I got. Most of the time my things didn’t raise properly, had a weird yeasty taste or were dry and not fluffy.

I always attributed my results to using dried yeast  and I really wanted to try fresh  yeast to see how different the  result would be. But where can I find that, I thought?…

I found my supermarket’s bread section sold it and when I went to see them they gave me this huge piece of yeast. It was very cheap for the quantity I had.

The texture of the yeast was very pleasant, soft and smooth. It was a big square of crumbly light brown yeast that you keep in the fridge. You can freeze it too, after you have crumbled it. I couldn’t wait to try using it and I quickly found a brioche recipe….

It needed quite a lot of time (4H30 to raise) but it tasted sooooooo good!!! It was fluffy, buttery, light, everything I was hoping for.

So if you always wanted to make your own brioche, I’d recommend using fresh yeast! I read that the dried yeast “rots” the dough and makes it taste horrible. There is the fast active yeast, which is very fine and the dried active yeast, which has much thicker particles that you’ve got to dilute in warm water or milk.

If you are allergic to yeast the best thing to do is to make sourdough, which is a mixture of water and flour, which does a reaction with the air and produces a natural yeast. I never tried it but I’m sure I’ll do it very soon.

Mylène