let me count the ways. It's much much more than a thousand ways I can assure you!! You may or may not know my love of all things cardamom spiced and todays recipe from Rachel Allen's book Bake is no exception!!! As I type my hands smell of cardamom and yeast and I am feeling satisfied and home-makery as I'm making bread. I always feel like this when I work with yeast....like a real baker and I love watching my dough double in size and feel very proud indeed when it comes out of the oven all golden and beautiful.
I must admit of late that I've been feeling rather underconfident about my baking, I went back to weight watchers a while ago and I think I must have subconsciously decided that baking is bad and that it's too much trouble to point everything. I've lost a good bit of weight, mostly for holidays, but I intend loosing more but am not being as rigid and strict with myself since we can back and am enjoying my food more as a result. So when my bread came out so well I think I got a little of my baking mojo back, the smell and the texture were divine, it's breakfast bread at it's best!!
So anyway, this bread smells amazing, there's yeast as mentioned, freshly ground cardamom which smells amazing to me, I added some orange zest and am sure thart some freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon could be added this to dough too to make it more festive and christmassy, it's very easy to work with and comes together very quickly. I've never made a plaited loaf before either so this is an achievement for me and I one I will definitely return to again! This is the perfect breakfast bread, reminiscent of brioche with it's lovely eggyness and texture but much less work!
Here's what you need, courtesy of Bake;
125 ml/4 fl oz water
75g/3 oz butter
50g/2 oz plus 1 tsp of caster sugar
175ml/6 fl oz warm water
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast/15g or 1/2 oz fresh yeast or 1 7g sachet of fast acting yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp freshly ground cardamom, I used about 40 pods as mine were kinda small but the recipe advises 28 pods
grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
600g/1 lb 6oz plain flour, sifted
Place 125ml water and the butter in a saucepan, bring to boil and then set aside in a bowl and allow to cool.
Mix together the teaspoon caster sugar, 60ml of the warm water and yeast together and let stand for 5 mins until frothy.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, the 50g caster sugar and salt together then add the remaining 115ml warm water. Mix together until combined.
When the butter and water mixture is warm add the yeast mixture and the egg mixture and stir until well blended.
Transfer the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the centre, pour in the yeast, egg and water mixture and mix*.
*I used Rachel's technique of making a claw shape out of your hand and mixing the ingredients to a dough, it worked very well and was less messy than I find dough sometimes is. Just keep your hand stiff and go in circles in the bowl, I'm hoping this makes sense!
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 1o mins adding more flour if needed, I add 3 generous sprinklings of flour to my dough, it was smooth and pliable and felt loose after these and the 10 mins kneading.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to double in size, this could take up to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180/Gas 4.
Knock back the dough and shape into a normal rounded loaf plait by dividing the dough into 3 and rolling each piece into a long sausage shape approx. 1 1/4 inches wide and 12 inches long. Pinch the ends together and tuck under neatly and plait the normal way. Tuck the ends in and place on an oiled baking sheet to allow double in size again.
Bake for 30-35 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.
Serve with lashing of butter and a cup o tea!!!
Oh and p.s I'd like to mention www.askaboutfood.ie a wonderful forum set up by John Maguire where us foodies can go to ask questions, there's also a new section where bloggers are asked to submit their posts too. Check it out at the link above!