Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Bread

thanks to my favorite jamie oliver - happy days with the naked chef - i am mildly famous in our social circle for my stuffed bread. i make it as a little something to serve with drinks when people arrive whenever we have a large gathering and occasionally when it's a smaller gathering, mostly because i'm absolute rubbish at having the real meal ready even close to on time (i like to think of it as a signature). jamie uses his basic bread recipe and stuffs it full of parma ham, cheese, egg and basil. naturally, i have strayed from his original, making some mistakes along the way (using my swedish sister-in-law's bread recipe, which just really didn't enfold the ingredients as it should have, but is otherwise a brilliant bread recipe). however, i think at last, i have perfected it.

fabulous eep tea towel by heather moore (skinny laminx)

i have a basic bread recipe that i printed back in 1997. although it's spotted with dots of olive oil and the ink is blurred, it says that it belongs to emeril lagasse and it must have been from the foodnetwork website. i try other bread recipes but have to admit that i go back to this one again and again.

basic bread

50 grams fresh yeast (or 1 envelope dry yeast)
2 T olive oil
2 T sugar
2 C warm water
2 T sea salt
6 C organic wheat flour

mix the yeast, olive oil, sugar and water in the bowl of your mixer with the dough hook attached. mix to combine and allow it to begin to froth, activating the yeast. add the flour and sea salt a bit at a time, until it's all combined, continue to mix on the dough hook until it's well-kneaded. i do this entirely with the mixer, because i'm always making this bread in the midst of half a dozen other preparations. although this robs me of the pleasure of the contact with the dough, the kitchenaid does it brilliantly and frees me to get lots of other things done in the meantime.  when the dough seems elastic and is gathered into a tight ball, transfer it to a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel to rise. if you have a warm room or a fireplace, it only needs about an hour to double in size, especially if you use a block of fresh yeast (i've never seen that in the US, so our american friends may have trouble finding it and dry yeast works just fine).

while your dough is rising, prepare the following:

stuffing (mine varies every time, this reflects the pictures)

1 jar pesto (i used artichoke this time, but use whatever you have on hand)
1 package bacon, fried 'til crispy
2 C hard cheeses, grated (i used goat gouda, sage gouda and prima donna)
handful of thyme
handful of sage
3 eggs, beaten

when the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured board, fold it over and knead it, then roll it out into a  8-10" wide length of dough that's about 24"-30" long. spread the pesto down the center of the dough, then add the bacon, herbs, cheese. make a little trough down the center of the cheese and add the beaten eggs in the trough, to hold them. then fold the edges over and pinch them together. move it to a baking tray covered with baking paper, making it a circle by pinching the dough together. cover it with a tea towl and allow it to rise for an hour (i've skipped this when in a hurry and it's actually been fine). bake for 40+ minutes at 175℃/350℉. you can tell it's done by knocking gently on it, it just sounds crispy and done (try it you'll know what i mean).

i try to serve it still warm and it warms up nicely again in the oven, should it cool off. you can actually stuff it with whatever you have in your fridge...a jar of basil pesto or a fresh pesto you make yourself (i do that in the summer when i have the basil at hand), artichokes, olives, parma ham, chorizo, a mushroom mixture, boiled eggs (jamie's recipe calls for boiled eggs), leftover roast chicken, whatever cheese you have at hand. as for the dough, you can also mix spelt flour or another whole wheat flour with the regular flour, for a more dense texture, but i have to admit that i prefer it with ordinary organic white flour. but pretty much regardless of what i've stuffed this bread with, it's a big hit whenever you assemble a group of people.

* * *

quick update on the halloween party, because you've got to see the cupcakes:

and my best ever carved pumpkin:

a very grand time was had by all.


Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

I might just win the hearts of a few more if I serve this delicious bread recipe with guests! And those cupcakes are absolutely divine!

MissBuckle said...

Yummy... you sell it better than Jamie does in his cook book! Definitely making this now that I'm in my doughy bliss state...

Bee said...

There is a lot of goodness here! A decent bread recipe is better than almost anything I can think of . . . but stuffed bread? I think that I would serve it with lentil soup and call THAT the meal. (Never mind wasting it on a starter.)

Your cupcakes are really, really cute. I want to know about that icing? Is it a homemade marshmallow or more of a seven minute frosting?
Kudos on that pumpkin, too.

Magpie said...

Yum. The egg kind of binds the insides together?

Anne said...

What gorgeous cupcakes! I second Bee's questions: seven-minute frosting? Swiss meringue? Looks like it was just the right consistency to form those adorable little ghosts.

As for the bread... I cannot wait to give it a try. I have to ask, though, about the eggs: does the filling wind up tasting eggy? Or is it a barely-there, just-to-bind-things-together sort of thing? I bet you could have all sorts of fun with the filling ingredients, but cheese, pesto, bacon, and herbs sound divine.

Anne said...

PS: I made Tamasin's cabbage in the troo style over the weekend, and holy unexpected complexity, Batman! I was floored by the kind of flavors that ended up coming out of that pot. I know what I'm doing with the cabbage I'm getting in my box tomorrow! The only thing I'd do differently is perhaps get my sausages from a different vendor. The dish wound up being very salty, despite my not having added any salt whatsoever, and the sausages are the only thing I can think of as the possible source.

julochka said...

mel - your guests will love it (even if it turns out ugly, like mine did last summer when i used the wrong bread recipe - it still tasted fab!) and thanks on the cupcakes.

miss buckle - pounce while the yeast fresh? something like that.

bee - it's 7-minute frosting on the cupcakes

magpie - yup, the eggs bind it all together and make it more sliceable. i've made it with boiled eggs, like jamie's recipe suggests, but then bits of egg fall out when you're standing around eating it, so i've turned to the raw eggs.

anne - i think i've now answered both yours above. and you're absolutely right, you can have lots of fun with the ingredients. i'm thinking of making it next time i've got a few leftover potatoes and sunday roast chicken, i think that would be fab. so glad you made the cabbage dish--the sausages do make all the difference, which is why i just use ground pork and spice it up when i can't get good ones.

Angie Muresan said...

I am salivating over that stuffed bread! Definitely is one thing I will make this winter.

Unknown said...

I love this so much this may be the recipe that gets me cooking!


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