My favorite TV show is the Great British Baking Show (Channel 11, 6:00 local time, on Sunday). If you like to bake, this program is the most fun ever. Contestants are presented with one fiendish baking challenge after another. One of the judges is Paul Hollywood, a master baker. His name rang a bell, and I looked through my collection of bread cookbooks, and found 100 Great Breads by him. (Sometimes I really do feel I have every cookbook ever written.) Since a clump of chives is still fresh and green in my garden, I chose one of his recipes to bake called “Ricotta and Chive Bread.” I have made some tweaks, because a British recipe can have pitfalls for Americans. For instance, he uses fresh yeast, and I haven’t seen fresh yeast in a supermarket for a long time. So I subbed dry yeast. I also upped the water a bit. Otherwise, the recipe is his. It’s moist and fine-textured with a wonderful green note of chives.
Ricotta and Chive Loaf
4 cups white bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 package yeast (1/4 oz., not instant rise)
1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 cups very warm water
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons snipped chives
Put the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, water and cheese into a large bowl, and stir until mixed into a shaggy mass. Knead for about 5 minutes. Dough should be a bit sticky, but kneadable. Let it rest as you snip the chives. Knead the chives into the dough thoroughly. The dough should feel smooth and satiny. Cover bowl with dough with a plastic bag (twist bag opening under the bowl, so the dough is in its own humid little bubble chamber) and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, for about an hour. Exactly how long depends on your kitchen temp and humidity.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Punch down the dough, and form (roughly) into a torpedo shape. Place on baking sheet. Let rise for about 4o minutes in a warm spot. I cover the rising dough with a kitchen towel. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes, or until top is golden.
Baking notes: The ideal place to bake bread is in a steam bath, but lacking that, let the dough rise in the warmest spot in your house. I set my dough on a heating grate. Cool dough in a cool room may eventually rise, but it will be slow going. I specify using regular yeast, because instant yeast gives a fast rise, but no flavor. Preheat the oven for 15 minutes, so it really is 425 degrees, and place a pan of water on the lower oven shelf. It helps the rise. When you purchase ricotta cheese, you will be confronted with full fat ricotta, light, and skim. I chose the full fat. Let’s live!
How do you tell if a bread is done? This is a light bread that took about half an hour to bake. The key is that the bottom is golden brown, not just the top. If the top is golden, but the bottom light colored, cover the bread with foil and keep baking for about five to ten more minutes.
Haven’t tried it, but I think you could use finely chopped green onions for this, if you don’t have chives.
The birds got a lot of use out of a seed bell I recently hung with the feeders! Note to myself: Get more!
And, it’s time to say goodbye to summer. Take care. Fran