I love cooking, in my own time and style. Cooking is a treat, is relaxing and I usually fit it in my weekend schedule. I love tossing the ingredients and kneading, in a nutshell I love the manual aspect of cooking. Here is my list of favorites, in no particular order: make bread, gnocchi, pasta, pastry, cakes, cheesecake. Everything from scratch. The only downside is that the British Lord (aka boyfriend) does not like sweets and desserts, while I enjoy the preparation than the eating. The main beneficiaries are therefore colleagues and friends.
A little story lies behind Pippa’s bread. I am afraid Pippa is not the young Middelton’s sister, but a lady I met in Scotland while I was spending a long weekend near Inverness, pretending to enjoy the local sports (fly-fishing, golf). She would prepare it the night before, so we could have it for breakfast. The best thing about this bread is its level of difficulty. Inexistent. If you own that object of desire called food processor or Bimbi, then this become far too easy.
Here is the recipe:
450 grams of bread – all types of flour
a very full teaspoon bread yeast in powder
half a teaspoon of salt
300 ml of cold water
And then mix the dry ingredients; add the water a bit at a time. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, and then knead it vigorously for ten minutes. Put the mixture in a bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and then leave it to rest in warm place for an hour.
I place it in the boiler’s room, which makes the bread rise divinely.
Bring the oven to 180-200 degrees. Take a tin, rub a bit of oil or butter on its side, put the dough in it and bake it for about half an hour. You will get a simple and tasty bread, crunchy on the outside and soft inside, healthy and without preservatives.
You can also freeze the mixture after rising, and bake it within the next month. You can make variations by adding seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins, or whatever you like. Just put the ingredients in the dough during the mixing process.
The second recipe belongs to my homonymous and dear friend Alessandra. She sent me this seasonal recipe for fig’s bread last week, while I was in bed with tonsillitis. The figs are in season in London during the autumn too.
This bread smells like home. Perfect when you feel a bit ‘down’ physically or emotionally.
500 grams of flour normal
2 packets of yeast, or two tablespoons of baking powder
300 grams of figs, crushed or mashed
a small pot of plain yogurt
130 grams of sugar
a teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
And here’s the preparation: Mix fruit, yogurt, cinnamon and sugar, then add the flour and baking powder until you get a smooth batter.
Add a little extra flour if necessary. Put the mixture at rest for over an hour, as above, and bake in a tin at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes. Dust the surface with a little oil and sugar. It will make it shiny.