Sous-chef, so helpful …

We didn’t have anything planned for yesterday afternoon so I decided to do some baking as well as prepare something extra tasty for our dinner. My 10 year old decided that he wanted to help. I wasn’t sure if he meant help a little or if he was going to last the full duration. I needed have worried, he was a full on ‘sous-chef’, in fact I think there were times when I was helping him rather than the other way round!!

We began with the baking – some simple cupcakes and white chocolate cookies to take to my in-laws when we go there for lunch later today. We then went on to the more demanding aspect of our afternoon: foccacia bread and home made spinach and ricotta ravioli.

Using Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’ Foccacia recipe, we made 2 beautiful foccacia loaves, one was made by my son in its entirety and the other made by me:

I was really impressed, we ate my son’s loaf with our dinner and it was delicious, it was perfectly ‘springy’ to the touch, baked right through and it looked and smelled incredible.

I was glad that I followed Paul Hollywood’s recipe as it totally changed how I make bread. I’ve noticed the following in many of his recipes and if they all turn out this well, I’ll be making them again and again:

  • Cold water should be added to the flour/yeast/salt, I’ve always added warm or even fairly hot water, mistakenly thinking that this would activate the yeast in a more efficient and speedy manner
  • Bread dough should be kneaded on an oiled work surface, rather than floured, this stops the dough from sticking and it prevents additional flour from being added to the mix which alters the proportions of the ingredients. There are some exceptions to this rule, all of which are indicated in his recipes
  • Dough should be left somewhere to prove, that is room temperature. Again, previously I’ve always tried to leave it somewhere warm, thinking this would aid the proving process
  • Proving can and should take as long as possible. In his recipes PH recommends that both first and second proving take at least an hour each and if possible, longer. I’ve always stuck to the times given in other recipes and didn’t realise that the longer and slower the proving process, the better the flavour of the bread. I have to say that based on the evidence yesterday, he’s right!

Next was making the ravioli filling. This did not turn out as we had hoped. It was way too runny to put inside ravioli so we made the decision to make wide ribbons of pasta instead. We then heated the spinach/gruyère/cream cheese/parmesan combination (we didn’t have any ricotta so had to improvise) and then we tossed the freshly cooked pasta in it to coat the ‘ribbons’.

Making the pasta was good fun, my other son joined in so that we had 3 pairs of hands turning the handle, feeding the pasta sheets through and collecting it as it came out of the machine, we then used our pasta tree to dry it a little whilst we made the rest:

We all agreed that the meal was delicious – even the spinach! I’ll certainly be asking my ‘sous-chefs’ for their help again.

 

 

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