Monday, February 18, 2013

The boring baking

I've taken quite a bit of care not to leave the boring, difficult or unappealing recipes until last. Any meals, desserts, sweets, chutneys, jams etc. that I wasn't looking forward to doing (for whatever reason) have now been done. I was not, on the other hand, quite as careful with the baking recipes. I tended to pick whatever appealed to me at the time, and as long as I was covering the different baking chapters reasonably evenly, I didn't worry too much.

So now I find myself with only a handful of baking recipes left, and among them were two fairly drab-sounding items: bran biscuits (p36) and wholemeal loaf (p33) I decided to get both of these done in one go, and find out whether either of them tasted better than they sounded.

I started with the biscuits, creaming butter and sugar, beating in an egg, then mixing bran flakes, wholemeal and plain flours, baking powder and salt. This made for a very dry mixture. I had to use my hands to get it combined, and even then, it was very crumbly.

The recipe says to roll out small amounts at a time, so I rolled the dough on a board, a handful at a time, before cutting out rough rectangles. The rolling was a frustrating task; the dough was so crumbly it just fell apart. By the time I had one tray filled with biscuits, and part of another, I found the remaining dough was just too crumbly to work with. I threw it out.

After 20 minutes in the oven, one tray was overdone, but the other looked about right. I took the bran biscuits from the baking tray and laid them on a wire rack to cool. It was my intention to start on the wholemeal loaf immediately, but I found I was missing an ingredient. My loaf had to wait until I'd been down to the supermarket for some wheatgerm.

Once I had the missing item, I was able to whip up the loaf fairly quickly. I combined milk, golden syrup, butter and eggs in a bowl, then added the dry ingredients: wholemeal and plain flour, wheat germ, oat bran, baking powder and soda, and a bit of salt. All of this combined into a fairly wet mixture, which I spooned into a lined loaf tin and popped in the oven for half an hour.

After half an hour in the oven, the loaf was crusty on top and still gooey in the centre: the same old problem I've been having with loaves since I started this challenge. It took another 10 minutes' cooking, plus 10 minutes' cooling in the tin, before the loaf was cooked through.

The wholemeal loaf was, as expected, fairly bland. It's clearly not intended for eating as is, but would probably work ok with a bit of cheese and/or chutney. Hang on, I'll just go try that.

* * *

Hmm.. it's ok, I guess, but the dense, dry texture and the branny flavour manage to dominate even with the addition of cheese and chutney (by the way, that peach chutney I thought would be good? It is). I won't be rushing to make this loaf again.

As for the biscuits, they're actually not bad. Not much flavour, of course, but they have a nice crisp texture and are pleasantly filling. I wouldn't object to eating them again, but the sheer frustration of rolling out that crumbly dough means I'm unlikely to bother making any more.

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