Taleggio and Spinach Brioche Couronne

After watching the final episode of Paul Hollywood’s Bread, I really wanted to make his Savoury Brioche Couronne, but as it’s not vegetarian, I wanted to use a different filling. Step forward Yotam Ottolenghi and his Taleggio and Spinach Roulade from his new book Plenty More.

Making the brioche dough was pretty straight forward and it went into the colder of our two fridges to spend the night. Unlike the brioche that I’d made a couple of weeks before, I put this dough into a large enough container. Even so, it still ballooned enough to touch to the clingfilm that I’d placed over the top of the bowl.

The following morning the dough came out of the fridge a few hours before I knew that I was going to need to bake it. If I’m being honest, I could probably have got it out a little earlier, as the couronne didn’t see to rise that much once it was made. The dough was still quite soft, even though it had been in the fridge all night. The top had formed a little bit of a skin, so I might need to oil it a bit more next time, although it didn’t seem to affect the dough once it had been rolled out.

I had to use quite a bit of flour to stop the dough from sticking to the work surface and the rolling pin. It wasn’t as easy to handle as Paul made it look on the telly either, every time I tried to pick it up to turn it round I nearly put my fingers through it, as it was quite floppy. For some reason I didn’t get my measuring tape out, so I definitely rolled the dough out too large. It was supposed to be a 40cm x 50cm rectangle, but I went over on both dimensions, especially the width. This made the dough a bit on the thin side, which became a problem when it came to rolling up.

I was a bit worried about Yotam’s filling, as you have to slather some crème fraîche over the dough before adding the rest of the fillings. I was a bit worried that this would stop the dough from cooking properly, but given Paul’s recipe calls for four mozzarella balls, which are renown for outputting large amounts of liquid when melted, I figured that a little crème fraîche would be probably be fine. It was.

As I’d made the dough a little on the thin side, rolling it all up meant that the tomatoes and lumps of taleggio wanted to burst through the dough. In retrospect, I could have squished both flat with my hand, before scattering them across the dough. Eventually though, it was all rolled up and rolled out into long thin sausage. As I don’t own a Scottish Scraper, I just used one of my big Global knives to shop down the middle of the dough and split it in two.

When you see Paul twisting the two sausages of dough together on the telly, it looks relatively easy. In reality it wasn’t quite that simple, as the two sausages of dough just weren’t robust enough to be picked up and thrown about like that. You picked up and end and the dough just started to stretch, there was no way it was going to wrap itself into a nice looking twist with just a few flicks of the wrist.

Not to be deterred, I somehow managed to twist the two strands together and form the whole thing into a kind of ring shape. I did struggle trying to join the two ends, as can clearly be seen in the photos. Once it was successfully on a baking sheet, it was put into a polybag and left to rise for about an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a slightly longer prove, as it didn’t seem to have risen that much at all. After a bit of an egg wash, it was into the oven.

While it was cooking, I knocked up a couple of salads to go with it. One was just a simple rocket, olive, tomato and feta affair with a simple white wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette. The second, was a chicory, mulled pear and taleggio salad, with a honey mustard dressing.

I was a bit unsure about the chicory salad, as it’s not something we really use. As we don’t have a griddle pan we can use on our induction hob, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to char it enough to soften it. I needn’t have worried though, a stinking hot frying pan did the job and the salad was really nice. A perfect use for one of the Kilner jars of mulled pears that didn’t seal.

Taleggio and Spinach Brioche Couronne

So what was it like? It was really nice, if maybe a touch on the doughy side, in my opinion. I’m not sure if I thought it was doughy because that’s just what’s like, or if it would have benefited from a longer final prove, or slightly longer in the oven. Never having made one before, it’s hard to know what the outcome is actually supposed to be like.

It appeared to go down well with everyone though and the leftovers I had for the lunch the following day were pretty tasty too. It’s definitely something I would do again, maybe with a slightly longer final prove though.

Brioche

Brioche

I’ve been baking a lot of bread recently, at least one loaf per week, sometimes as many as three. All of them have just been my usual mix of 400g of Strong White, along with 100g of Rye, which I quite like. I wanted to try some sort of enriched bread though, something like a Gugelhupf or a Panettone, but as I had neither a Gugelhupf or a Panettone tin, I decided to have another attempt at some Brioche

I hadn’t realised that it had been so long since I’d last attempted some Brioche, nearly two years, so was keen to try again. Rather than use the recipe from Bread: River Cottage Handbook No. 3, I decided to use the one on Paul Hollywood’s website. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve found that I’m getting better results using Paul’s recipes, rather than Dan’s. Brioche dough trying to escape... It might just be that I’m not over proving my bread anymore, either way, Paul’s recipes just seem to produce nice bread.

I mixed up the dough and stuck it into the fridge before going out for the evening. I popped back to the house to pick something up a few hours later and opened the fridge to check on the dough, it had decided to try and break free from its shackles and was almost out of its container. There was me thinking that yeast doesn’t work at low temperatures, the Allinson dried active baking yeast that my wife accidently bought (it was supposed to be the Doves Farm quick yeast) certainly seemed happy enough to keep going for a couple of hours at least.

The following morning I shaped the dough, which was still quite sticky and pliable, into a ball and popped it into our 23cm springform tin and left it on the work surface to rise. I was a bit worried that the yeast might have exhausted itself in the fridge the night before, so after a couple of hours of inactivity, I put the tin onto a bit of work surface that had sunlight on it. Hey Presto, it’s Safeway, an hour later the dough was peeking over the top of the tin, so into the oven it went.

It required a few minutes longer than the time stated in the recipe, but then the tin I used was also an inch smaller, so presumably the Brioche was a bit thicker and needed a few extra minutes to finish. Brioche, with mulled pears, sour cream and pomegranate molasses... It came out of the tin with no issues and was left to cool while we all went down the pub for a few halves of Oakham Green Devil IPA. I must have been going on and on about it down the pub, as I ended up coming home and cutting a few slices to share around the pub garden.

The end result was fantastic, if I do say so myself, the kids must have thought so too, as they were even asking for it in the mornings before school. As I had a kilner jar of mulled pears that hadn’t sealed, I toasted some of the Brioche and had some of the pears, with some sour cream and pomegranate molasses for my breakfast. Any day that starts with a slab of toasted Brioche has to be a good day.

Sourdough

Sourdough

I’ve been meaning to write about my adventures in sourdough for a while. It was back in January that I first muttered on here about making some, mainly so I could have something to slather my marmalade on, while drinking a mug of freshly ground black coffee. Since then, I’ve made two different sourdough starters, one with Rye flour, the other with Spelt and had a bash or three are making some bread with them.

The Rye starter can't be contained!So far the results have been rather less than successful, with each batch having more resemblance to a lead frisbee rather than a light and airy loaf of bread. So I decided to change what I was doing at the weekend and produced easily my best sourdough loaf so far.

I’ve been following the method outlined in Bread: River Cottage Handbook No. 3, but my results, as stated, haven’t been very good. I think there are a number of reason for this though. Firstly, I’ve been using some stone ground wholemeal flour from a local mill, which makes for quite a dense crumb. I’ve also just been turning the proved loaves out of their banneton baskets, directly onto a baking sheet, so there’s been nothing to stop them from spreading out and collapsing.

The crumb on this sourdough made with the Spelt starter was great, shame it was almost pancake flat...Enter the sourdough episode of Paul Hollywood’s Bread, which I finally got round to watching last week. So on Saturday I decided to follow Paul’s method, albeit with stone ground strong white bread flour, rather than just strong white bread flour. This meant that I didn’t knock back and prove repeatedly, just the once and that I turned the risen loaf out onto a baking sheet with some semolina flour on it.

Paul’s method also calls for a lower oven temperature, rather than the “as high as it’ll go” approach (which for me is 270°C, although I don’t normally go above 250°C). I don’t know if this was a factor, but I got some rise out of the oven for a change, normally my loaves don’t do much other than cook in the oven, so it was nice to finally see one puff up a bit.

My first sourdough, like a lead frisbee...All this meant that on Sunday morning, I had a few slices of my sourdough, with my marmalade slathered all over them and washed down with some freshly ground strong black coffee. While it’s not the first time I’ve managed to do this, it is the first time I’ve stood there and been quite pleased with what I’ve produced.

Mince Pies

We don’t normally bake mince pies, it’s always been easier to just buy them in. But since we started baking properly, buying in something like mince pies would seem wrong. Originally we weren’t going to do any this year, but as we had some friends coming round just after Christmas, it was the ideal opportunity to make some. I would probably have just used the recipe in the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, but as we’d just watched The Great British Bake Off Christmas Masterclass, I had to have a go at Paul Hollywood’s recipe, they looked delicious!

I broke out the Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2 as I knew it had a mincemeat recipe in it. What I didn’t realise though, was that you’re supposed to mature mince meat for eight weeks, so that idea went out the window and instead we used a massive jar from the supermarket. I’ll need to get my act together in the Autumn and make my own, as Plum and russet mincemeat sounds really, really nice.

Making the pastry was easy, it came together well and was popped into the fridge to rest for an hour. It was at this point that things started to go pear shaped. I rolled the pastry out between layers of baking paper, simply because our cling film isn’t wide enough. I need to buy wider cling film, as it starts off OK, but then rapidly goes down hill and starts to stick and crinkle the paper. I managed to get it to a decent size, but it was way, way too thick. I should have stopped and made it thinner, but I carried on regardless.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that our oven is on the blink, we still didn’t realise this when I cooked these though. So after the allotted cooking time was up, they came out, were inspected and rapidly put back into the oven again as they were obviously undercooked. Even after a further fifteen minutes in the oven, they were still looking a bit anaemic and underdone. As you can see from the photos, they didn’t all make it out of the muffin tray on one piece

While they may have had a bit of a soggy bottom, the majority of the pastry was cooked and they were very tasty. I’ll definitely do these again, but I’ll make the pastry thinner and make sure the oven’s working first.