Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spelt Bread and Homemade Baked Beans

Ok, I admit it, I'm addicted to River Cottage. If the self-sufficient lifestyle appeals to you at all, I strongly suggest you investigate the British TV series, River Cottage. Based on the lifestyle choices of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a city-dweller turned country, River Cottage is the ultimate escapist TV for a day-dreamer and long-term planner like myself. Lately, with the earthquake being such a present component of my life, and the weather turning more wintery by the day, snuggled up on the couch with a cup of peppermint and lemon balm tea, watching any or all of the River Cottage series' and dreaming of the day when I can own my own self-sufficient paradise, makes the day seem a little brighter.

An episode I watched recently introduced a new grain into my baking repertoire. According to Venerdi, spelt is "an ancient grain that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Spelt is a relative of wheat that has not undergone centuries of selective breeding. It contains significantly lower levels of gluten, and in a more easily digestible form". It has a mild, nutty taste, not unlike wholemeal flour, and is a pleasure to bake with. After a quick trip to the local Bin Inn, I was pleasantly surprised to find spelt flour stocked, amongst a wide variety of other, more novel flours. Home I trotted to trial my new flour, using a recipe based on spelt rolls made on my beloved River Cottage. I googled 'spelt bread + River Cottage' and discovered the recipe below, which turned out wonderfully. Link here.

The method I am explaining below is my interpretation of the no-knead bread process, which I am adapting for a lot of my bread-making now, when I have the time. I will do a more complete post in future about this, but for more information, see here. This recipe can also be made in the bread maker: add all ingredients and mix on the dough cycle. Once the cycle has finished, shape and bake as below.

For bread in the morning, follow the steps below; for bread in the evening, reverse them (e.g mix in the morning, leave all day and rise and cook in the evening).

Spelt Bread

200 grams spelt flour (I got mine from Bin Inn)
300 grams high grade white flour
10 grams salt
7 grams yeast
300mls water

Place flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. If using yeast granules, sprinkle over the water and leave for a few minutes, or, add instant yeast directly to the bowl. Add the water and mix with your hands, slowing bringing it together to form a ball. Cover in gladwrap and place in the fridge over night. In the morning, remove bowl from fridge and leave to sit for half an hour or so. Then, turn dough out onto a floured surface. It should have risen to almost double it's size over night. Gently knead the dough for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic; then shape into a large ball (or whatever shape you desire). Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for another half an hour or so. Place risen dough on a floured baking tray and make three deep slashes across the top with a sharp knife. This will help the dough to not explode when it bakes. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 30-40 minutes or until brown, and hollow when you tap it's bottom. Leave to cool on a rack for a while before slicing.

This bread is delicious with butter, or cheese and chutney, or, try it with these homemade baked beans below and you won't be dissapointed!

Spelt bread, before baking
Homemade Baked Beans

1 cup dried haricot beans
1 kg fresh tomatoes
5 cloves garlic
Handful of fresh herbs (I used thyme, oregano and basil)
Slug of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse beans under running water and place in a bowl or jug. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for at least an hour or even better, overnight (while your bread rise in the fridge!). Meanwhile, half the tomatoes, smash the garlic cloves (skins can stay on) and lay them out in a large roasting pan. Scatter the herbs over top, season with salt and pepper and finish with a slug of good olive oil. Roast in a low oven (150 degrees Celsius ish) for 1-2 hours or until broken down and caramelised. Leave to cool and then pass mixture through a fine sieve to remove the bits and pieces.

Boil the soaked haricot beans in fresh water for an hour or until soft. Drain and stir in about half of the roasted tomato sauce (or, as much sauce as you like). Warm through and serve on fresh buttered spelt bread with a sprinkle of parsley. Yum!!

This sauce freezes well and makes a fantastic base for soups and pasta sauces.

1 comment:

  1. I make no knead bread daily - would like to try the spelt variation. I often use spelt in cakes as it gives a lovely fine texture. Love River Cottage!