Tuesday, August 17, 2010

That Fresh Bread Smell

I love baking and should really do it more often.  This weekend I made my famous carrot and orange cake, and I also made bread for the first time in ages.  I love fresh bread but it's so much hard work and our current kitchen is very tiny so it's hard to do things that require a lot of bench space like bread or pasta making.  However, this post at Blue Milk, followed by this one, inspired me to try the no-knead bread recipe she talks about.

After reading the recipe, I admit I was suspicious, because it seemed so easy: no kneading, one (long) rise, no faffing around, basic ingredients...But I decided to give it a try.  I also had a lot of carrots to use up, so made carrot cake.  Picture-heavy results after the jump!

Bread
After I mixed up the bread mixture to what the recipe said was the correct texture, I was sceptical.  It certainly was not dough-like: more like really thick cake batter.  And doesn't yeast like to be warm?  It's not freezing here but it's still not pleasantly warm.  Here is the mixture:


I dutifully covered it with a wet tea towel and put it aside on the bench overnight.  By the end of the afternoon it was starting to smell yeasty, so I figured the yeast was starting to do its job.

By the next morning, the mixture had risen a lot, I'd guess doubled in size, and smelled divinely yeasty.  When I tipped the bowl a little it was all strandy which was a good sign.  There were little yeast bubbles on the top as well:


But I was a little worried about getting it into the pot.  It looked kind of runny and I was worried it wouldn't hold together in a nice doughy lump but end up more like porridge.  When I scooped it up and tipped it out though it held together nicely:


I used the round Chasseur pot we got for our wedding.  Once it was in the oven it smelled delicious.  It took 40 minutes to cook and when it came out I was feeling quietly confident that it had turned out alright:


Of course after that we had to leave it for a while to cool down.  I just wanted to eat it to end my suspense!  Did it taste good?  Was it cooked properly?  Our oven can be a little unreliable so I was worried it might be doughy in the middle.  But it turned out perfect!  The texture is lovely, like ciabatta, nice and chewy.  I'd like to get a smaller or oval pot because the bread is not very high so we can't really use it for sandwiches but it's perfect just buttered.  I will definitely be making this again!

Carrot and Orange Cake
I love collecting recipes.  I have a bunch of recipe scrapbooks and another folder stuffed full with photocopies, clippings, recipe cards from the supermarket, illegibly scrawled notes and so on.  This particular recipe I have had floating around for years and years, so I was worried I wouldn't be able to find it to share with you all, but happily I did manage to find it here.  Sorry Aussies, the recipe is in Kiwi but I'm happy to help translate if required!  I'm not sure if Allyson Gofton is still doing the Food in a Minute ads in NZ but I have fond memories of her easy, delicious recipes and have quite a few of the Food in a Minute recipes in my collection.

Mixing the batter:


In the tin:


Cooling on the rack:


The finished product:


The absolute best thing about any carrot cake is the cream cheese icing!  Carrot cake is not carrot cake without cream cheese icing.  When I make this cake I double the icing mix so I can put it around the outside and have plenty of filling.  I took a couple of slices to work today for a couple of my co-workers and they were very impressed!

PS: Sorry my blog has been sporadic at best recently.  I am completely swamped with work and university.  I just have to get through a couple more months and then my uni courseload will be easier to manage!

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