Saturday 17 August 2013

Courgette bread

Courgettes. Those of you that have grown them will know that they are everywhere. For weeks, you have nothing, you think the plant's dead, the soil's too dry, the slugs are eating them....and then one day you get up and you see this.....
...and underneath the foliage, you find your first courgette, swiftly followed by many more. In fact, we have so many that we decided to make some bread with them. Even the kids wanted to help! A miracle!

Courgette bread (or Zucchini Bread) is a lovely, sweet loaf with green flecks of courgette running through it. It proved to be very popular in our house and with Mrs B's workmates too!

This is the table before the kids helped.
And after!

We found a great recipe from Rachel Allen's Bake book and based our recipe on her Zucchini Bread. I can't locate a copy of this recipe online. But here's the book. Buy it! We didn't include the walnuts, as we didn't have any in the cupboard, the kids didn't fancy it and, to be honest, I'm not certain it misses it! I've included them in the ingredients below in brackets. 

The recipe involves a lot of ingredients, but the process is very straightforward (basically put in a bowl, give it a stir and slam into the oven!). It also has both bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, which may seem excessive, but the mixture is very sloppy due to the courgettes!

So here's our version of Courgette Bread. 

This makes two medium sized loaves. Halve the quantities if you just want one loaf.

Plain flour 400g
Salt 1/2 tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 1tsp
Baking powder 1/2 tsp
Ground cinnamon 1 tsp
Nutmeg (freshly grated) 1/4 tsp
Ground cloves 1/4 tsp
Caster sugar 300g
Soft brown sugar 100g
Eggs x 3
Soft unsalted butter 200g
Vanilla extract 2 tsp
Courgettes (grated) 380g
(Walnuts 75g) We didn't add these!

Preheat oven to 150C. Line two 1lb loaf tins.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients first. The flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, spices and sugars. Stir.

Add the beaten eggs, butter, vanilla extract and courgettes to the dry ingredients and stir well. Add walnuts if using.

Divide the mixture by two and spoon into the loaf tins.

Bake in the oven for 35 mins.

Let it cool in the tin, then carefully place upon a wire rack.

Enjoy and bake more to use more courgettes!

Thursday 8 August 2013

Bread fears two

 'Bread, it's scary isn't it?'

I have to say I've never experienced fear and trepidation looking in the bread bin (well only if I thought it might be empty). I've never looked at a bloomer sideways and then looked back at it quickly in case it moved. I've never been worried that one of Mr B's Hippy loaves was creeping up the stairs accompanied by a looming shadow wishing me ill intent. I haven't looked in the fridge and thought 'That sourdough starter looks like it's trying to escape!' Actually the last one isn't true I have thought this, on more than one occasion.

I don't find bread scary, but that maybe because I'm surrounded by the stuff all the time. I'm immune to the fear. I could just be fooling myself like the flippant teenage ingenue who walks into the the dark creepy house, telling her friends she'll be right back..

The scary bread comment came from a couple of people at Mr B's pilot basic bread making class. Everyone who came along were people used to cooking and baking, but when it came to making their own bread that was scary.

There's something comforting about cake for example, even a cake gone wrong has it's uses, usually nothing that can't be rectified with icing, custard, cream or all three! If you make someone a cake and it doesn't work out, it's still a nice thought. If they aren't an experienced cake maker you'd still appreciate the effort. But bread is a whole other proposition.

There's certainly an air of mystery about it. If a cake is going to go wrong you'll usually know fairly soon. It curdles, it goes in the oven and doesn't rise, comes out and sinks. Bread takes so long to make there's so much that can happen. And what is it doing all that time while it proves, rises and falls? Most loaves are made from yeast - whether dried, fresh or wild in the case of sourdough. Which means when you make a loaf ...


That's what makes bread making scary.

When you make bread you get to play Dr Frankenstein, you create something that's living, well right until the point you chuck it into a brutally hot oven and kill it! But the bit before, that's the bit people worry about. While it sits there in it's bowl, under clingfilm, polythene or a damp tea towel. Plotting, deciding if it's going to double in size, craving warmth, making bubbles. Sometimes if you're really, really quiet [whispers] you can hear it growing.

When people start making bread they usually assume they're going to fail or that this unknown commodity is going to conspire against them. Hence the fear.

Much like Daddy Pig (here comes a reference for the people with small children) you must be at one with the puddle, sorry bread. Bread needs time, and some attention (not lots just enough in the right doses).

So don't be afraid, give it a go and go. Mr B's included some posts on here to lead you by the hand. This one is particularly handy.

If you still have the bread fear there's one other solution - our bread baking classes! Yes, this elongated analogy on why bread is scary is actually some promotion for our baking classes! If you're worried about what that flour, salt, water and yeast is thinking about you while it ponders life beyond the bowl, come along to one of our classes in South West London and let Mr B take the fear away. Just get in touch via the contact us tab at the top. Here's some contented students!

Now what is that I can see under that teatowel? I'll just go and look. Don't worry - I'll be right back ...