Friday, 30 January 2015

A Wonderbread Masterclass

The bread given us by the Freyja sisters was just wonderful and they promised to show me how to make it, so we had everyone to lunch the Sunday before we left for Xmas, 13 of us in all including 6 small children. I cooked a multi-dish feast and there was cake, cake , and more cake, to say nothing of sweeties and ice-cream, so it was a bit of a blow that when we'd finished eating, and every dish and utensil in the house was dirty, the water went off. External investigation indicated that there was a hole in the street from which water gushed rather than going down the pipe to my house. Nevertheless the sisters (and mum) insisted that they demonstrate breadmaking improvising with mineral water. When watching the videos of my kitchen please take into account the impossibilty of cleaning it.
There was a lot of discussion of the appropriate flour. Two are used. A very white one called "force" in arabic ( The arabic for flour is taheen" but here we are getting into technical types of flour) and a more yellow flour called "especiale". After a lot of comparison we decided that the white flour was identical to that I had bought at the hanut, which is I think ordinary strong plain flour. We could not find a translation or explanation for the "especiale" but then the sisters dropped a bombshell by saying that in Freyja they hadn't used especiale but had ground their own. So the second half of the mixture seems to be a coarser ground unbleached wheat flour but not wholemeal. I think both are made from the same local wheat so there may not be any great difference in their gluten content, obviously with a british background I expect bread flours to be "harder" than general use flour and have a higher gluten content but the (male) translator got completely stymied  (and rather bored) at this point in the discussion. Comparison on a return to Wales leads me to think it is actually finely ground semolina.

The bread is a leavened bread which surprised me but accounts for the elasticity. I was also surprised to be told that you can just go to the hanut and buy yeast as in the UK  I am used to having to buy dried packet yeast and make it up. So the recipe we made up which made 4 loaves , enough for 2 people with tajine or curry was

200g white flour
200g semolina flour
4 heaped teaspoons yeast
half teaspoon or good pinch of salt
handwarm water 

The water should be added gradually until the dough is a workable consistency and then knead well.

 Leave for 30mins to prove.
Knock back and take about tennis ball size lumps and pat out on a floured surface to make 8-10" rounds. (As for a pizza base)
Wrap separately in a clean cloth

Take each loaf in turn and cook on a frying pan on a high heat turning occasionally. The loaf will swell up to almost spherical , knock it back, turn over and repeat the process until cooked (around 2 minutes)

These loaves are perfect for with curries or tajines. They are similar to nan and pitta and have a wonderful elastic texture.
Usually our friends make it in quantities of a kilo of each flour but you would need a large family. Best eaten whilst still warm.

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