British Poppy-Seeded Bloomer (with sesame seeds)

British Poppy-Seeded Bloomer

My good friends bought me ‘The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking’ by Martha Day during my student days and it’s a book I  come back to again and again (the san francisco sourdough bread recipe is very good).  Most recently I made the British Poppy-Seeded Bloomer, notable for it’s long rising time (almost 8 hours all up), which also gives it a (very) slight hint of a very sourdough flour. True to the notes,  the bread has kept very well – day 4 after baking and it’s still relatively fresh – much more so than other bread I’ve made in the past. As always, putting in the required kneading time really makes a difference to the consistency of the dough.  I was a little worried about the number of times the dough was knocked back, but it rose beautifully in the end. I still might only knock back next once next time.

Ingredients – Bread
675g unbleached white flour
2 tsp salt
15 g fresh yeast (I used ~ 7g dry)
430 mL water

For the topping
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp water
poppy seeds – for sprinkling (i sprinkled sesame)

Sift together flour and salt together into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix the yeast and 150 mL of the water in a jug or bowl.  Add in the remaining water.  Add to the centre of the flour and mix, gradually incorporating the surrounding flour, until the mixture forms a firm dough.

Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough very well, for at least 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled clear film and leave to rise, at cool room temperature, about 15-18 deg C, for 5-6 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Knock back the dough, turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead it quite hard for about 5 minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, and re-cover. Leave to rise, at cool room temperature, for a further 2 hours.

Knock back again and repeat the thorough kneading. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then roll out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle ~ 2.5 cm thick. Roll the dough up from one long side and shape it into a square-ended thick baton shape.

Place it seam side up and cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Turn the loaf over and place on the greased baking sheet. Plump up by tucking the dough under the sides and ends, then cut 6 diagonal slashes on top. Leave to rest, covered, in a warm place, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 230 deg C. Mix the salt and water together and brush this glaze over the bread. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Spray the oven with water, bake the bread immediately for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200 deg C; bake for 25 minutes more, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

British Poppy-Seeded Bloomer British Poppy-Seeded Bloomer

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Stephanie Alexander’s Spanish Lamb

Stephanie Alexander's Spanish Style Roast Lamb

I really should use Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ more often.  It’s so useful! This afternoon I was looking for inspiration for cooking a leg of lamb I had for dinner.  I haven’t used ‘The Cooks Companion’ for meat before,  which is , frankly, stupid because there is loads of info on cuts and cooking methods and, of course, recipes.

The marinade I picked out was the ‘spanish style marinating paste for lamb
Stephanie Alexander's Spanish Style Roast Lamb

1 tbsp fresh thyme or basil (I used basil from my garden)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Spanish sweet smoked paprika
juice of one large lemon

Roughly chop thyme and garlic, then, using a mortar or pestle (I did!!) or a food processor, grind all ingredients to a paste. To use, rub paste well into lamb then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and grind on plenty of pepper.  Leave for 1 hour before grilling or roasting.

I was a little concerned that the lamb was a bit dry looking so added a squirt more lemon juice and the two lemon halves halfway through the roasting. The marinade is *tasty*, with the flavours combining into a sum that seems more than its parts. The marinade also provides a bit of a crust on the lamb and a most amazing sauce/gravy in the bottom of the pan.

We ate the lamb with steamed broccoli and couscous.  First serving was a little dry,  but I ladeled the delicious gravy over my small seconds and  that made all the difference.