Today I decided to try another of the recipes, having already tried out a very tasty salmon and tomato curry earlier in the week.
The choice for today was a pork and chorizo stew which, as well as being the rather appealing looking cover picture, I thought sounded very hearty and warming. As this particular dish was described as a “Spanish-style soupy stew” I was a little concerned, as Mud doesn’t like “watery” sauces but I added a tablespoon of plain flour at the meat browning stage which helped thicken the sauce to an acceptable consistency.
One serving suggestion the authoress had for this recipe was with crusty bread which sounded ideal but we didn’t have any. A quick perusal of my baking cupboard and I realised I had the necessary ingredients to rectify the situation and so I set about making a loaf to go with the stew.
For ease of access I decided to try out the bread recipe on the back of the fast action yeast sachets box, as it only required one proving and, by now, time was in short supply.
I was pleasantly surprised as to just how quickly the dough came together and the speed with which it kneaded from sticky to smooth. The instructions then said to shape the dough and place on a greased baking tray, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 45 minutes. That’s 45 minutes! Not an hour or two which is the norm but a mere 45 minutes and then put the dough into a preheated oven for 30 minutes.
I have to say that I was skeptical, after all every one knows that even using fast action yeast, to get a nice light bread, the dough should have a minimum of 10 minutes kneading, needs to prove for at least 1 hour, then be knocked back and then have another 30 to 60 minute proving session! Ask Paul from ‘The Great British Bake Off’, I’m sure he’ll tell you the same thing.
I popped my covered shaped loaf into the warming oven for the 45 minutes and carried on making the stew. I was getting a little concerned at this point because although the hob was nice and hot and the stew was bubbling away nicely, the oven temperature was struggling to get above 150 degrees centigrade and the bread needed to be baked at 230 degrees! I had already placed a pot with boiling water into the bottom of the oven, having read in two separate articles that the steam created, helped to form a nice hard, brown crust but this was immaterial if I couldn’t get the oven any hotter.
By the time the dough came out of the warming oven it was enormous, having tripled its’ size and pretty much filled the 14″ x 13″ baking sheet. My carefully formed round plait shape had swollen out of all recognition but the oven temperature was only just at 170 degrees centigrade – the joys of solid fuel Rayburn cooking. With time marching on I had little choice but to put the tray in the oven and hope for the best, otherwise it simply wouldn’t be ready for serving with the stew.
I wasn’t expecting much when I took the loaf out of the oven some 40 minutes later, in fact I was anticipating a heavy dough but I was quite surprised to feel how light the huge loaf was when I took it off the tray. I then tapped the underside and a gloriously hollow sound rewarded my efforts. I have to say that this loaf is probably one of the lightest, crustiest and tastiest I have ever made and I’ve made a few in my time. I can only assume that the steam created by the pot of hot water, helped to lift the loaf as it cooked, creating the air bubbles needed to give it a lovely light and airy texture, thereby compensating for the lack of heat in the oven. Either way, I’ll be trying this particular recipe and the steaming method again.
As for the stew, it was delicious and the bread was the perfect accompaniment for mopping up the flavoursome juices.