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Sophie’s Savouries

26 Feb

So I was paging through Delicious by Sophie Gray trying to find something nice but cheap to make that I hadn’t made a million times before. I saw a bunch of things but I did notice that her recipes for empanadas and samosas were quite similar – unsurprisingly I suppose, since they’re both basically “pastry stuffed with a potato-heavy filling”. Neither of them were quite what I wanted but I thought they’d be quite nice if I put them together so I did and here you are.

A Sidebar on Indexing

If you are a publisher of cookbooks, or think you might be one day, can I address you for a moment? When indexing your cookbook, you of course should index by both title and main ingredient. Delightful. However, can I suggest that when you index by title, you also index by what the food actually is? When I am looking for samosas, it is going to take me a very long time to figure out that they’re actually under “c” – for “crispy baked samosas”. Ditto empanadas – under “s” for “savoury sausage empanadas” – and Irish stew – under “slow-cooked Irish stew” (this was particularly difficult to find because while samosas were under potato, and empanadas were under sausage, I actually had no idea the key ingredient of Irish stew was lamb).

Sophie’s Savouries
Adapted from Sophie Gray
Serves four or five depending on how hungry everyone is.  Although Sophie thinks they serve six.

Ingredients

Four or five small-ish potatoes, peeled and diced
200g mince (or three good sausages, with the sausage meat removed from the casings)
One large onion, diced or sliced
A little olive oil
1 cup frozen peas, as-is, or cooked fresh or dried peas
A heaped teaspoon each of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala
Half a teaspoon of paprika
1 t salt

300g flour
100g butter
Cold water

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, and drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions until translucent. NOTE: I used powdered spices, but if you’re going to use whole coriander and cumin seeds, add them to the heated oil before the onions.

I did not do this deliberately, but doesn't the paprika look kinda like a heart here? ❤

3. Add the mince and fry gently until brown but not dry.

4. Add the potatoes, spices, and peas to the mince and crush it all together with a fork. No need to overcrush or mash or whatever, don’t get fancy. (I mean, you can if you want to, but.)

5. While it cools enough to handle, make the pastry. Sorry, I took a million photos of the boring cooking bit and none of the slightly more tricky pastry bit, but I’m pretty sure you all know how to do this anyway.

6. Rub the butter into the flour, or use a food processor or pastry blender until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

7. Slowly add just enough water to form a soft dough.

Okay, I took one photo.

8. Roll the pastry out, quite thinly, on a floured surface. You’re going to want to do this in a couple of batches and I needed a really quite floury surface, but I possibly over-watered it. (Mine was excellent though, so maybe you want that.)

9. You have some options when it comes to rolling your pastry out. You can either roll out one big sheet or a couple of big sheets and use a plate to cut out circles, or you can divide your pastry into eight to twelve evenly-sized lumps and roll them out into circles by hand.  I did a bit of both and I can’t say I thought either came out differently, although I am a pretty crap circle-roller so that affected some things. The size of the plate for the first method doesn’t really matter. Sophie said a bread and butter plate (actually she said 19cm in diameter) but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use a saucer and have wee ones, or a dinner plate and have as-big-as-your-head ones.

10. As you roll them (trust me, you do not want to stack these up and then try to peel them off each other), place the circles on a greased baking tray. Brush the edge of one semicircle with a little water, then pile a good wodge of filling on that semicircle, leaving the edge clear. Lift the other side up and over the filling, pressing the edges together – I crimped most of them the way I would crimp dumplings, but I have to admit that the ones that I simply pressed down on using a fork looked nicer. You could also do the fancy Cornish pasty twist if you know it.

As you can see, I don't know the fancy Cornish Pasty twist.

I have to admit that the ones I sealed with a fork are probably a little nicer looking than the ones I folded together.

11. When everything is all packed up (you might have extra filling or dough, I just managed it by making one pastry super-sized) and laid out on greased baking trays, bake for 25 minutes or until they go a little brown and crispy. I didn’t egg wash these because she didn’t call for it, but I would if I did it again – make ’em nice and brown. Milk would do the same trick if you don’t want to waste a whole egg.

12. Serve hot with a salad.

You don’t get a picture of the insides because I had run out of turmeric and so my filling looked, to be honest, like grey wet washing, but with turmeric yours will look beautiful, I bet. These are great for lunch the next day, too (although the pastry, unsurprisingly but regretfully, did not stay crisp after spending the night in the fridge & being heated in the microwave). I did not try this, but I imagine that you could freeze these uncooked and bake to defrost, or nearly-cook them and freeze them and bake to reheat. Plus, this filling is very accommodating – you could go all cornish pasty and do it with carrots and swedes, leave out the meat (although then they’re basically samosas), use different spices, whatever, you do you, to steal a line from Autostraddle.

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Coconut Hot Fudge Sauce

18 Feb

Necessity is the mother of delicious ice cream sauces, apparently. I wanted to make this sauce a few months ago and didn’t want to go and get cream, so I used coconut cream instead and turned the deliciousness up to 11.

image of chocolate sauce in a bowl

Coconut Hot Fudge Sauce
Barely adapted from Alexa Johnston’s What’s for Pudding? She got it from Lois Daish, so I don’t feel bad about stealing it, renaming it, and possibly making it 10 times a week for the rest of my life.

ice cream in a ceramic cup shaped like a blue ice cream cone

Check out how cute my flatmate's ice cream cups are. I guess she isn't a total life ruiner.

Ingredients

1/4 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cocoa – I like this stuff
3/4 cup sugar
50g butter
1/4 cup coconut cream (okay, look, or you can use regular cream, if you are a life-ruiner like my new flatmate and don’t like coconut. We shall have separate, personalised sauce jars.)

ice cream in ceramic cup and bowl of sauce on a blue teatowel

Method

1. Chuck everything in a medium-sized saucepan.

2. Stir until everything is dissolved, then bring to the boil over a low heat and allow it to boil for two to ten minutes, depending on your patience. This will boil over if you let it, so stir it every now and then and I wouldn’t leave the room for too long.

3. Remove from heat and let cool to the point at which you can pour it over your ice cream and the ice cream doesn’t melt too much. (You can see from my photos that I was impatient. It will still taste good if you don’t wait long enough but it won’t look quite as cute.)

ice cream with sauceclose up of sauce on ice cream

Easy Summer Dinner

30 Nov

I’m the least reliable blogger in the world but dinner tonight was a) delicious b) so quick and easy I still have time and energy to blog about it.

Avocado Cream Pasta with Tomato Salsa
Adapted from Oh She Glows
Serves: 2 with a side salad, or a very hungry 1.

Ingredients

2-3 cloves garlic
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ripe avocado
1/2 t salt
Basil – original recipe called for 1/4 C but my basil plant is pretty sad at the moment so I just grabbed a few leaves
A little fresh coriander or mint or both
1-2 large tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes or a punnet of cherry tomatoes
2 servings of pasta of your choice. I like spirals or farfalle.

Method

1. Put water on for your pasta. As you bring it to the boil and add the pasta, continue to the next steps.

2. Peel and slice your garlic – I used one big clove and a couple little ones. I will warn people who don’t like garlic that this is really *quite* garlicky, and two or even one cloves would be perfectly acceptable. The other thing that might be delicious but that I didn’t try is to use roasted garlic. That actually could be amazing.

3. Use a stick blender or a food processor to whiz together the garlic, the oil, and the juice of half the lemon. If you use a stick blender you’ll want to go a bit longer to get the garlic as small as you can, but relax if it still is in diced bits. If you don’t have a stick blender or a processor you can try just dicing the garlic very fine and using a potato masher for the next step.

4. Add the avocado, salt, and basil, and blend until you get creamy green delicious guacamole. Try to refrain from actually eating it directly out of the bowl. (Or, actually, I’m not the dinner police. This + corn chips = totally awesome.)

5. In another bowl, place tomatoes diced reasonably finely and toss with the coriander or mint (also diced very fine) and the juice from the other half of the lemon.

6. Wait for your pasta to be cooked (this meal is really that fast).

7. Drain pasta. Toss with avocado sauce and top with tomato salsa. Nom it good.

Sweet Orange Ice Cream

11 Sep A small bowl of pale yellow ice cream - french vanilla colour - viewed from above.
A small bowl of pale yellow ice cream - french vanilla colour - viewed from above.

Artistic outside photo for the light didn't actually improve my photography skills. Sigh.

Well, it’s been awhile, for a whole range of reasons. First my computer’s card chip reader stopped working, meaning I could take, but not use, photos of food. And since I’d taken photos I didn’t want to go and make the posts without them. Then I entered a prolonged food funk, where everything I made came out … not exactly the way I had envisioned it, none of my modifications worked, and basically all I was good for was making Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies and spaghetti bolognese. This was depressing, but fine, because there are after all much worse things than spaghetti bolognese twice a week for a month. Then I could cook (but not bake), and only if I followed a recipe exactly – and something just seems wrong to me about posting food that’s freely available on a million other blogs (for the record though I made this tofu & brussel sprouts dish about 1000 times during that period, it is AMAZING.)

Finally I decided yesterday that there was nothing for it but to power through making something I’d never even thought about making in my life before and, since Laura at Hungry and Frozen had just posted Seven Habits of Highly Effective Ice Cream Makers, I felt immediately galvanised and ready. (Check our her shiny new URL, by the way.)

Also, I had approximately a crapload of very over-ripe navel oranges. With the exception of my mother’s profiteroles, I’m not actually a big fan of citrus in baking. I love oranges and lemons and limes – in cooking. But orange muffins leave me cold, I dislike lemon cakes and frostings, and I can usually eat a couple of spoonfuls of lemon meringue pie before I make a face because it’s just too damn sweet. (This doesn’t stop me from making a good lemon meringue pie, mind you, because a lot of people in my life apparently flip for it. But I’m not really a fan.) So I thought, well, what ice cream flavour is more classic and delicious and yet not boringly vanilla than orange?

Sweet Orange Ice Cream
Adapted from this epicurious recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
1 cup cream
1 pinch salt
2 navel oranges or enough to produce 1/2 C juice when squeezed
1/2 cup sugar
2 t triple sec
4 egg yolks

Method

1. Zest both the oranges. Roll them around a little on the chopping board before slicing them in half and juicing them. You want about half a cup of freshly squeezed juice. Pick the seeds out if you’re, you know, me. Add the triple sec to the juice and set aside.

2. If you’re me and only have a grater with enormous, um, what are they called? Well, whatever, my grater is crude and produces ginormous strips of cheese, orange zest, etc. So I diced the zest a little more finely.

a small pile of orange zest on a chopping board in the foreground, two oranges in the background

yeah, so now all my my photos are taken with my ipod. I know they're hiddy, blame apple.

3. Place half the orange zest, the milk, the cream, the salt, and 1/4 C of sugar in a largeish, heavy-bottomed pan, and heat slowly until it boils. Set aside and allow to cool and infuse for half an hour.

A stainless-steel pot on a stove with milk, cream, and orange zest in it. The zest is visible at the top.

I love working with zest; it just can't help but be pretty.

A stainless-steel pot on a stove, with a creamy yellow liquid
This isn’t my shitty camera, it actually went more yellow.

4. Beat the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 C sugar until thick and pale – a minute or so with an electric mixer.

a bowl with four egg yolks, not very well separated tbh, and eggshells in the background

Check out my crappy egg-separation job!

5. Prepare two bowls set inside each other: one large bowl filled with ice and cold water, and a smaller bowl (preferably metal or something that conducts heat well) placed inside.

5. Add the milk mixture in a thin stream, beating away. When the milk mix is all incorporated, return the custard to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon and thickens a little. (Note, I found this bit really terrifying. What you want to be able to do is draw your finger in a channel down the back of the custardy spoon and have the mix not run in and fill the gap. However, at this point my custard was still fairly runny, and so I basically held my breath closed my eyes and kept stirring until it had thickened further – not to the usual point I’d expect a custard to go to, but quite thick.)

6. Strain the custard through a sieve into the metal bowl, and beat (I think by hand at this stage) for ten or fifteen minutes until the mixture has completely cooled.

7. Stir in orange juice, remaining orange zest, and triple sec. Now you can put it in your ice cream maker. Ahahah. Or, if you’re more like me and everyone I know and too broke/space-poor for such fancy-pants machinery, pour into a container or, probably, two containers (I used the metal bowl and an old ice-cream container) in as thin a layer as you can manage.

8. Freeze. Check on the containers periodically. About every 45 minutes or an hour or possibly half an hour depending on how thin your layers were, get in there with a whisk or spoon or fork and beat the shit out of the ice cream, breaking up ice crystals and trying for an even texture. Note, this took me for. ever. There are a few possible reasons including having upped the fat content, but I think the guilty party was the triple sec. I added a full tablespoon which is obviously quite a lot and it basically took all afternoon/evening. So I halved it here and it should take a more reasonable three or so hours – I hope. (Let me know, eh?)

9. Before it freezes completely solid you can add things like chocolate chips or a chocolate sauce ripple or something else fancy. I think this happens when you’re at, like, soft-serve consistency, so the stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom.

10. Eat! And check it out, my first ice cream and it is though I say it as shouldn’t effing delicious.

A small bowl of a pale yellow ice cream - basically french vanilla colour - sitting on a window sill.

The reason it didn't scoop well is because I don't have an ice cream scoop & therefore can't get those pretty curly spheres.

Potato Rosti Stack

4 Jun

So the first order of business is that I clearly can’t keep up this regular-posting differently-themed-days thing. I never have the right thing to talk about on the day I have time to write. So I sadly bid farewell to yet another attempt to have an organised online life; oh, well.

Luckily I have something AMAZING to make up for it.

Potato Rosti Stacked with Halloumi and Grilled Tomato on a Bed of Spinach

A few weeks ago I had breakfast at Baobab. It was truly delicious, beautifully prepared … and not very large for its price tag. I was still kinda hungry after it, not going to lie. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it and decided I absolutely had to make it, myself, in abundant, satisfying quantities. So I did. And unlike most home recreations, I thought this was actually kinda better than the version I had there. It’s been awhile so I don’t know how exact the duplicate is (I don’t think they used carrot and I think they had a pesto of some kind as well as the balsamic vinegar) but this owes a lot to the Baobab Potato Rosti Stack.

Ingredients
Makes six rosti; serves two or three people depending.
Gluten free, vegetarian. Not too spendy except for the halloumi.

Rosti:
4 smallish potatoes
1 large carrot
1 egg
3 large cloves garlic
A handful of parsley
Salt and pepper
Canola oil

Stack:
Around 300g halloumi
2 fresh, ripe but still firm tomatoes
Fresh spinach
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to the maximum temperature.

2. Wash the potatoes and carrot. Peel them if you want (I didn’t).

3. Grate both coarsely, and rinse thoroughly under cold water (a colander is good and easier to clean than a sieve; you could also use a vege steamer). Let drain as long as you have patience for.

4. Crush the garlic and finely chop with the parsley. Squeeze the liquid out of potato and carrot by twisting portions up in a teatowel. Get it as dry as possible – you want them to not be sticking together much, and to come apart from each other easily in the bowl.

5. Lightly beat the egg, and toss with the carrot, potato, garlic, and parsley. Season to taste.

6. In a frying pan, heat enough canola oil (or other cheapo vegetable oil) to cover the pan about 1 centimetre (a bit over half an inch) deep.

7. Heap large spoonfuls of the vege mix into the oil, and pat and squish (with a spoon or other utensil!) into rough patty shapes. Fry for around five minutes until they’re a golden brown on the bottoms, flip and repeat on the other side. Drain briefly on a paper towel. You might have some integrity issues (i.e. they might fall apart under pressure, e.g. when they’re being moved around). Don’t worry about it. It’s possible this could be avoided by using a little flour or extra egg in the mix, but I wanted to stay gluten-free. Plus also I don’t really like a floury rosti; it really affects the taste and texture.

8. Grease a baking tray or cover it with baking paper. Place the rosti on the tray, and top them with a slice of halloumi – at least half a centimetre thick; they don’t need to be too much thicker than that although they can be if you like – and a thick slice of tomato (like 2 cm/an inch thick; each tomato should become around four slices).

9. Turn the oven to grill (broil) and grill them directly under the element for 7-10 minutes, until the halloumi looks a little wobbly and the tomato looks heated through.

10. Meanwhile, beat a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar with a teaspoon or two of olive oil, and possibly salt and pepper if you like. Wash and dry the spinach.

11. Place the spinach on a plate. Top with the rosti stack and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

12. Eat up!

I don’t have pictures because my camera battery died and my charger is at my parents’ house. Sorry. But really, the photos would not have done this justice. (They present very prettily though; the spinach with the crispy golden potato, the pale halloumi and the red tomato look fantastic together.) Also, this is really best served very hot; if it were me and I was feeding this to other people and wanted to do stuff ahead, I’d fry the rosti but not grill them until everyone was there. Even then though, I wouldn’t leave it too long.

Friday Feed: Some Assembly Required Burgers

27 Jan

Some Assembly Required Burger

I have made a lot of burgers in my life, because they’re one of the most delicious things you can do with mince, and I’ve been a student for basically the whole time I’ve been a cook. For many, many years, my favourite burger of all time has been an adapted version of the Tigers & Strawberries Bulgogi Burger, a beautiful burger that’s been popular among my friends and is specially good because you can serve it without buns. As, again, a student, I learned from my extremely thrifty flatmate Lucy that special meal ingredients, the kind of thing that you pop into Pak’n’Slave to get on the way home, are the fastest way to break the budget – so that recipe has served me faithfully and well. But last week my dad and I made burgers and they were, in my opinion, even better.

This meal definitely bears the influence of the bulgogi burgers – especially in the spuds – but in other ways is definitely symptomatic of my family’s chuck-it-in-there-and-see-how-it-tastes food philosophy, with bits and pieces from all kinds of recipes – so obviously, I had to call them Some Assembly Required Burgers.

I don't know why I go to the Frankenstein's monster place when I'm cooking. Thanks to Screencap Paradise for the caps, I futzed with them a bit.

Serves 4-6. Ingredients in order of recommended preparation.

6 large roasting-variety potatoes, washed but not peeled
Olive oil
Chili flakes to taste
Salt
3 cloves of garlic, diced
Fresh basil and parsley, shredded

2-3 large beetroot

Burger ingredients laid out and ready, including a hunk of Best Soup Bread waiting to be breadcrumbs.

500g beef mince (ground beef, in the USian. NZers, I think the 500g packs of Angus Pure are a really good deal, especially at New World where mince doesn’t get cheaper than that anyway. Pak’n’Slave store packed is probably cheaper tho.)
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 onion, diced
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1-2 eggs (I used 2 and they were, ok, a little sticky)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
A tablespoon or so grated ginger. Protip from my mother: Keep it in the freezer, peel & grate when you want it
Salt & pepper
Fresh rosemary to taste, diced
1 T soy sauce

Lettuce and other salad greens
Spring onions, diced
Tomatoes, diced or sliced
Whatever else you like in your salad
Vinaigrette – optional

Burger buns – we bought them tonight, but if I plan ahead/have tonnes of time I like these light brioche burger buns.

Condiments, i.e. mayonnaise, tomato sauce, cheese slices for whiny sisters, fried eggs for whiny brothers, malt vinegar for whiny fathers, mustard for whiny brothers, butter for whiny fathers, after this point I would (& did) say if they want anything else they can shut up and make it themselves. I mean, I’m cooking here!

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Slice the potatoes smallish, toss with olive oil, a shake of chili flakes (don’t overdo these, a little goes a long way especially if you have a fussy sister) and sea salt, shake them out into a try (I recommend lining with baking paper if you don’t want them to stick like mine do, I just hate the waste/don’t mind sloppy presentation. When they’ve been cooking for 20-30 minutes, toss in the garlic. When they’re about 10 minutes from being done – they should take around 50 minutes all up – toss over the shredded parsley and basil.

I dunno if you can really see the seasoning here.

Cooked taties. These look messy because I'm too cheap to use paper. Taste good though! And they're more crispy this way.

2. Prepare the beetroot by slicing off the leaves to leave very short stalks, and slicing off most of the beardy stuff at the bottom. Don’t peel them. Boil them for 40 minutes. If you got the beetroot out of the garden/they came with tops, preserve some of the beet tops for your salad!

3. Chuck all of the burger ingredients in a bowl and mush them up with your hands (WASH FIRST). This is kind of yucky and kind of fun! Cover the bowl and pop it in the fridge until you need them.

4. You probably have time to make your salad now. I gave ingredients up top but like, you could pretty much do whatever you want. Or you could just shred the lettuce and slice the tomatoes. Or coleslaw would be really good too (COLESLAW: shred a bunch of cabbage, grate a couple carrots, a couple apples, and some cheese, maybe toss in some raisins, put on a vinaigrette, DONE. Look, I know you probably know how to do that, but once upon a time I made a coleslaw in front of a friend and she was like “whoa that tastes really good”. Coleslaw is easy and cheap, you can have it in your life too!)

 

As you can see, I like tomatoes and flowers (borage and nasturtiums) in my salad

 

Sidebar on vinaigrette

Vinaigrette is one of those things that everybody makes completely differently but it tastes delicious. I like two parts olive oil, 1.5 parts balsamic vinegar, a heaped teaspoon of seeded mustard (or hell, sometimes dijon if I’m desperate), a crushed minced garlic clove, salt, pepper. And a little honey if it’s a spinach salad and whisk it all with a fork to emulsify. Other people skip the mustard, or the garlic, or they use red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of balsamic, or they use avocado oil. In my really really studenty days, I have made vinaigrette with malt vinegar, I don’t really recommend that though. You should play around and try to figure out what you like. Learn it, though, because it is SO much cheaper to make this than to buy it. Also I guess you can put  a creamy or mayoy dressing on your salad or coleslaw but please do not tell me about it. Anyway, chuck the dressing on just before you serve, to keep your salad fresh and crisp.

5. Put the salad on the table, put the dressing beside it, and forget about it (yay!) Shape burger patties according to how many people you’re feeding and then fry/barbeque/grill (broiling in the USian). I grilled because I like grilling things but usually people would fry them (you only need to grease the pan a little, and about 5 minutes on either side depending on how thick your patties are) or barbeque them on the flat plate.

As ever, I don't really go in for pristine presentation. These are pre-cooking, I didn't manage to get a photo of the cooked ones!

 

6. While the patties are cooking, take the beetroot off the heat and flush with cold water. Peel them – this is really easy: you just push the skin off with your fingers. Then it’s sort of like you’re holding a warm, bleeding organ in your hands, so feel free to do the Stefan Salvatore Dance of I Just Ripped Your Heart Out. Slice the beetroot and plate it. Also take the potatoes out and plate them, put them on the table and cover them with at teatowel and forget about them (yay!)

7. At this point you could toast your buns if you can be bothered, but I never can, especially if they’re fresh. Put everything on the table. Assemble your burger: Bottom bun, swirl of mayo, swirl of tomato sauce, burger, cheese slice if applicable, salad, beetroot, top bun. Potatoes on the side.

A half-assembled burger and potatoes on a brown plate.

Om nom nom! This is a terrible photo, sorry, of a half-assembled burger.

 

8. Nom that burger good! Now have another. You’re welcome.

Friday Feed: Best Soup Bread

7 Jan

I’ve written about this bread before elsewhere, but since then I’ve changed up the recipe quite a bit and it got rave reviews from my father last night. Plus, everything else I’ve made lately is probably best described either with the words “bog standard” or with the words “Stephanie Alexander is a goddess“, so I doubt they’d be very interesting. (Except one thing I made with red cabbage, which can best be summarised as “hideous disaster.”)

This herbed bread, adapted from an Epicurious recipe for French bread, is the bread that I always make when I’m serving soup. It has a crispy, chewy crust and a soft centre. It’s delicious with pretty much any kind, from leek and kūmara to ham and barley. It’s also good with a hearty stew or warm with butter. It’s not a great sandwich bread because of the herbs, and it’s also a fairly solid bread, but you could always change those up; there’s a comment on Epicurious from someone who makes this bread with rosemary and lavender, which I always forget I want to try but which I also imagine would be delicious with honey.

It’s a very versatile recipe. But this is how I do it.

Best Soup Bread

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
~5 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
A good handful of fresh herbs, or a tablespoon or so dried
1 1/3 cups warm water

1.  In a small cup, dissolve the honey in the first quantity of water and sprinkle over then stir in the yeast. Leave it alone for five minutes until it gets fluffy. If it doesn’t go fluffy, it’s time to buy new yeast.

yeast in a cup

Seriously, it's gotta look like this.

2. Meanwhile, select your herbs. When using dry I like to used Pam’s Mixed Herbs, which is, I believe, parsley, sage, oregano and thyme. When using fresh I use whatever’s around, so today I used a good sprig of rosemary, a little basil and a little sage, a good bit of parsley and a bit of thyme. You could amuse yourself/me parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and then call this Simon & Garfunkel bread, or maybe Folk Bread. That’s entertaining, anyway. Dice the fresh herbs, if using, finely.

little green

3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the herbs, salt, and vinegar through three cups of the flour. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and the second quantity of water. Mix together firmly.

4. Keep adding flour until your mixture comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl, and looks like it won’t absorb much more flour. This is a tricky step if you haven’t made bread before. You almost certainly will not need to use the full extra two cups; today I used about 1 1/2 extra cups (on top of the 3 cups already in there.) I usually find my bread looks a little raggedy at this stage, that’s OK because it’ll knead in together.

Basically it should look like this. My camera got floury for the sake of this picture y'all.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flour your hands and then knead for about ten minutes. This is quite a wet bread, so remember the rule of flouring your hands and your surface, not your bread. Bread is kneaded when stretchy, pliable and cohesive. Also there are a lot of YouTube tutorials for this, so.

6. Wash out the mixing bowl and lightly oil it. Place the dough in turning it over once so it’s a little oily, then cover the bowl tightly with gladwrap or with a damp teatowel. Put it in a warm place and rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Warming cupboards are a good place to rise bread; alternatively if your place is cold (after all, this is soup bread), pre-heat your oven to a very low temperature like 50 C, turn it off, and place the bread in there.

quod subigo farinam.

7. Decide how you want your bread shaped. Rolls are good, so are slashed loaves and braids. If making rolls, divide the dough into evenly-sized portions and roll into balls. 8 produces slightly oversized balls, 10 a nice size (but 10 is a hard number to divide stuff into, so.) To make loaves, divide the dough into two portions, pat these portions out into rectangles and then fold into a loaf shape by folding the shorter ends under. Slash the tops before putting into oven. To make a braided loaf divide the dough into three, roll between your hands into cords, then plait like your sister’s hair. (There are many way more complicated ways to braid bread but I am not going to tell you any of them, so there.)

My seriously wonky ropes. It's OK for them to be a little longer than the tray because of the way plaiting shortens them.

post-plaiting, all my sins are covered!

8. Rise for another 30 minutes on a greased, lightly floured tray (or ditto bread pan for loaves.) Brush the tops of the bread with a lightly beaten egg. Bake at 200 C (400 F) for 10 minutes for rolls, 20-30 minutes for the loaves. Flip over and bake upside-down for a further 5 minutes. Bread is done when you can tap the bottom and it sounds hollow.

9. Eat dipped in soup or slathered in butter, preferably while it’s still hot. Deeeeelicious.

I like bread because presentation is easy. No fiddling around with piping or perfectly greasing baking paper. It just looks good and the smell does 99% of the work.