Oooh, I’m getting all behind like a cow’s tail, as Mother used to say! Still says, actually. I was wanting to do my macaroons to show that they weren’t ALL disasters, then there’s the chicken pie and the meringue pie from last week too – and it’s only a few days until Program 6 of The Great British Bake Off and cheesecake/roulade/croquembouche!
But first, Bread.
In the showstopper challenge for Bread Week on The Great British Bake Off, we had to bake 2 different types of rolls, and a basket to display them in. I chose sweet Chocolate and Chilli rolls and these savoury Herb and Walnut.
I also chose to bake some of them in flower pots, having read that Eliza Acton used to bake in ‘earthen pans’ instead of the loaf tins we know today. There’s nothing special about the pots – they’re regular clay flower pots from the local garden centre. HOWEVER – they must be seasoned before use – and not seasoned as in salt and pepper – seasoned as in treated so that the bread dough won’t stick to the insides.
How to season flower pots for baking.
- Wipe the pots with a damp cloth and arrange them on a baking sheet right side up.
- Using a pastry brush, paint the insides of the pots with vegetable oil.
- Turn the pots over and paint the outsides and the base.
- Bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes – Best to do this when you’ve got the oven on to bake bread (you ARE baking bread, I hope! 😉 ).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Repeat the painting with oil and baking 3 times (for a total of 4 times altogether). As the pots bake, the oil will soak into the clay and gradually build up a kind of non-stick surface.
- Don’t wash the pots after you use them – soapy water will undo all the good work you put in seasoning them. A quick wipe with a damp cloth when they’ve cooled down will suffice.
The recipe itself is another mix of flours and flavours. Spelt flour can be tricky to work with due to the low gluten, which is why I’ve teamed it with some rye and some white flour. Stoneground wholemeal flour just made the dough way too heavy, so I lightened things up by using just brown bread flour. The herbs really do pack a delicious punch when fresh, but dried the intensity of flavour just isn’t there. Go with what you can get, though. If you like a really nutty flavour, toast the chopped walnuts in a dry pan for 5-10 minutes.
Herb and walnut flowerpot rolls – Makes 8-12, depending on size
300g brown bread flour
200g spelt flour
50g rye flour
50g white bread flour
1½ tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 sachets dried fast-acting yeast
about 500ml/18fl oz warm water
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
200g/7oz walnuts, roughly chopped
For the glaze
1 free-range egg
1 tbsp water
- Mix the flours with the salt in a large bowl then add the herbs and the yeast and make a well in the centre.
- Mix together the water, sugar and oil, pour into the flour then mix until ingredients come together to form a dough – you may need to add a little more water.
- Turn the dough onto a floured board, knead for 10 minutes then place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Knead the walnuts into the dough.
- Divide the dough onto portions and shape into rolls.
- Oil the insides of your flower pots and place a square of baking parchment over the hole in the bottom.
- Drop the balls of shaped dough into the pots. To ensure there’s enough room for rising, they should be no more than 2/3 full.
- Place pots on a baking sheet and cover with a cloth. Leave to rise until the dough springs back slowly when pressed with a fingertip. You want the dough to be about 3/4 risen and to finish rising in the heat of the oven. If you wait until it’s fully risen before putting it in the oven, it will deflate, especially if you knock the baking sheet as you put it in.
- Mix together the egg and water. Brush the rolls lightly with the egg mixture – try and avoid letting the mixture pool against the side of the pots – it’ll stick the dough to the pot.
- Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until the bottoms of the rolls sound hollow when tapped. If you have trouble getting the rolls to pop out of the pots, slide a knife around between the side of the pot and the side of the bread, then poke the handle of a wooden spoon through the hole in the bottom of the flowerpot.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Cost: £3.45 (Herbs from my garden, September 2011)