S1, Ep 1: Two Breads and a Pumpkin Pie
Annabelle writes the first dispatch to Gillian after Gillian visits and completely takes over her kitchen. Gillian replies from the Surry Hills library with a bread recipe from Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson's bread recipe adapted by Gillian
US poet Emily Dickinson's bread won first prize at her town fair in 1856. A slightly sweet rye and cornmeal loaf, I have adapted the recipe to make a simple loaf. You could add some raisins and chopped nuts to make your own fruit loaf, if you liked. It’s lovely toasted.
Makes one small loaf
Beat 125g fine cornmeal (polenta), 500ml boiling water and half a teaspoon of salt until smooth, and set aside. In a large bowl, sift a half-teaspoon of baking powder, 125g wholegrain rye flour, 200g strong white bread flour, 10g instant yeast (or freeze-dried) / 35gms fresh yeast, and three tablespoons of molasses or black treacle. Add the lukewarm cornmeal mix, and work to a dough. Tip on to a floured surface, knead for five minutes, then put in a bowl, cover and set aside somewhere warm to rise for an hour.
Tip out, knock back and shape into a round. Dust with rye flour, place on a floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and set aside for another hour.
Heat the oven to 200C, put a tray of boiling water on the bottom, and bake for 50 minutes, until the base sounds hollow when tapped. Slice once cool.
Jim Lahey's no-knead bread from Annabelle
Makes one loaf. And unless you want fresh bread out of the oven for dinner, the dough needs to be make the day before. This recipe by Jim Lahey came from here.
3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (8 grams) table salt
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) water
Wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour, for dusting
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Make sure it's really sticky to the touch; if it's not, mix in another tablespoon or two of water. Cover the bowl with a plate, tea towel, or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size. This will take a minimum of 12 hours and up to 18 hours
When the first fermentation is complete, generously dust a work surface (a wooden or plastic cutting board is fine) with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the board in one piece. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
Place a cotton or linen tea towel on your work surface and generously dust the cloth with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Use your hands or a bowl scraper or wooden spatula to gently lift the dough onto the towel, so it is seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal, or flour. Fold the ends of the towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, making an indentation about 1/4 inch deep, it should hold the impression. If it doesn't, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 250C, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered cast-iron heavy pot in the centre of the rack.
Carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel, lightly dust the dough with flour or bran, lift up the dough, either on the towel or in your hand, and quickly but gently invert it into the pot, seam side up. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut colour but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Don't slice or tear into it until it has cooled, which usually takes at least an hour.
Gillian's pumpkin pie
It took me years to convince myself that pumpkin pie was worth a crack. I love pumpkin, so I can''t explain my reticence to try this famous North American treat. But when I did decide to try it for the first time, I wanted to make my own with fresh pumpkin from my garden. I loved it. Now it's a regular each autumn in our household. I hope you'll give it a try too.
You can use any pumpkin or squash that has a dense, terracotta-coloured flesh.
I dry roast my pumpkin in the oven until its tender, to reduce the amount of water in the flesh and to intensify the flavour.
If you can, grind whole spices for the spice mix. The flavour is so much better.
You really can make up your own favourite spices into a mix. It's a good opportunity to use up any in the larder. My favourite blend for this recipe is mace, nutmeg, cardamon, cinnamon and allspice.
Any good pumpkin pie calls for a great pie crust base in which to hold the silken pumpkin custard. You can make your own pie crust or use a good shop-bought pastry that's made with butter. Here's a simple recipe for a sour cream pastry. TIP It's important to work quickly with this pastry as you want the butter to stay cold.
Sour cream pastry
250g of plain (all purpose) flour
200g of cold, unsalted butter
60g of cold sour cream
Pulse the butter and flour together in your food processor, or mix by hand, until the butter is distributed evenly and you can see it is in pieces roughly the size of a hazelnut. Add half the sour cream and pulse until it is evenly distributed before adding the additional cream. Pulse a few times again. The mixture should now come together easily into a ball. If it seems too dry, just add a a teaspoon of sour cream and try again. Keep adding small amounts of cream until the mixture forms a ball.
Wrap it tightly in clingfilm or place in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Heat your oven to 190°c/375°F. Roll the cold pastry to about 5mm thickness and gently cover the base and sides ofa shallow 20cm/8” springform tin. If you have a larger or deeper tin, just double the quantity of ingredients when you make the pastry. You don't need to grease the tin, which is a bonus.
TIP Blind baking is partially or completely baking a pastry base before adding the filling. This creates a stronger crust that can hold a moist filling without getting soggy.
Blind bake the pastry case for 25 minutes. I like to start my pastry baking on the hot floor of the oven for 15 mins and then raise it to about the middle of the oven for the remainder of the cooking time. We don't want soggy bottoms! Gently remove your baking beans and paper and return the pie crust to the oven for 5 minutes to dry out the pastry a little. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the filling.
Roughly chop up 450 grams of fresh pumpkin into large pieces. Roast in the oven until tender. Allow to cool. Turn oven up to 200°c /395°F Add to a food processor bowl or blender:
the cooked pumpkin
2 large eggs
385ml of evaporated milk
80 ml of maple syrup
1½ teaspoons of your freshly-ground spice mix
Blend until smooth. Carefully pour the filling into the baked pastry case. Place in oven at 200°c /395°F for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 140°c/285°F for approximately 40 mins. Remove from the oven before the filling is completely set. I test by jiggling the oven shelf that the pie is sitting on and if I see a wobble in the centre but the outer edge doesn't move, I remove it from the oven. Allow to cool in the tin and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Release from springform tin carefully. Decorate as you wish and serve.
Watermelon, chia and rose petal pudding
This is a wonderful simple, light, healthy and snack or breakfast. And it looks lovely. The trick is to find the sweetest watermelon, so summer is the best time to enjoy this dish.
half a medium-sized watermelon.
2 cups of white chia seeds
rose sugar to taste*, or add just a drop of rosewater
pink or red rose petals to decorate
Chop the flesh of the watermelon then blend to a puree. Pour into a pretty bowl. Stir the chia seeds and rose sugar into the watermelon puree until well blended. Leave to set in the refridgerator. If the pudding hasn’t set within an hour, add additional chia seeds. Stir thoroughly. Decorate by sprinkling fresh rose petals on the suface just before serving.
Blend the petals from five red or dark pink, highly-perfumed, unsprayed roses with 1 cup of white caster or granulated sugar. If you have damask roses, they are by far the best. Blend until you have a deep pink sugar and you can no longer see any petals. Store in an air-tight glass jar, out of direct sunlight.