You poor, neglected, breadheads. Anyone would think I cared not-a-jot for your burning desire for half-baked bread-based puns and amateur phone-based sarnie-snaps. But fear not, I have not forgotten you, I’ve just been building up to a content-fest. Oh yes. Oh, and celebrating my birthday. That too.
About that: it will come as no surprise to you, dear readers, that I’ve become a little obsessed by baking bread. So what else could a man ask for on the anniversary of his birth than a 40x30cm slab of granite, with bevelled edge and a polished top? Well, a copy of Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet”, that’s what. I am now the proud owner of both a beautiful baking stone, and what must surely be the modern bakers bible. Lovely jubbly. Thanks all!
And it is the latter that, as well as providing a cornucopia of new recipes to try (as well as ways to ruin my weight-loss regime before it’s begun), allows me to join in with the wonderful sorts who organise the #ShortandTweet bake-along. Each week, two or three recipes from the book are selected, announced on twitter (hence the hashtag), and then various members of the baking tweetisphere make the recipe, tweet about it, and very often, blog about it. Then the results are summarised on the short and tweet tumblr blog.
This week, I chose to make the lentil-stuffed flatbreads. Partly because I really enjoy flatbreads, and partly because I already had everything in. What? I’m a busy man. Sort of.
With this recipe, the dough is mixed the night before the rest of the cooking process. Now, despite having set a reminder on my “brain-beyond-my-brain”, aka my 2Do App, I forgot about mixing it until 11:30pm Thursday night. Dressing gown on, book under-arm, I snuck downstairs for a spot of clandestine midnight baking. I felt like a compulsive baker, hiding my habit from loved-ones, in fear of an American-style intervention and kneaders-anonymous meetings.
The dough is made with strong white flour, a mix of water and milk, and oil, with baking soda to keep it light. The recipe, originally printed in the Guardian, is available here. In the morning it had developed lovely smoothness. The lentils were next: I smashed a garlic clove ‘twixt a knife and board, and added it to a saucepan of lentils, which were brought to the boil and simmered. I think, in retrospect, I slightly overdid the lentils, they broke down a little more than they did in the piccies of when Dan made them, here.
Then I drained them, and strained them in muslin. Magic stuff muslin. I kept expecting the lentils to starts bleeding through, since the water was doing such a good job of it. Yes, it was my first muslin-straining experience. I’m a late-bloomer.
I mixed in the spices (turmeric, cumin, coriander, and a wee spot of salt), and left to cool. When the time came to make them, I found the key was using plenty of flour to pat them out, and using enough lentil-mixture to flavour the breads, but not so much that a good seal was impossible to obtain. I sealed them up as one might a pasty, though by the look of the pics of Dan making them (of which I was only made aware after the bake), a more centrally pinched technique is intended). None the less, I was able to flatten them, and roll them out, again using plenty of flour.
Towards the end of the batch, when the family were getting cranky re the lack of dinner on the table, I made the mistake of rushing one and not using enough flour, and stretching the dough too thinly at the join. The results were a selection of tears in the flatbread, which produced the only runt of the litter.
Overall, I rate the whole thing a success. The recipe was good, and the social-network-provided kick-up-the-arse an effective shove in the direction of culinary exploration. I shall do it all again, the flatbreads, the bake-along, and probably the whole meal. The family were complimentary, and the breads provided a delicious accompaniment to the improvised spicy chicken stew which I’d made alongside the bake. I got positive feedback from newly-found follows on twitter, too, and enjoyed the camaraderie of baking digitally-alongside others.
I was also buzzing from the results of my first soughdough loaf, that was cooling after a simultaneous bake… But that’s a story for another day.