Thursday, November 8, 2012

For soaking up soup

I'd turned my leftover spicy chicken into a soup - fairly successful and entirely suitable for the unseasonably cold weather we've been having this week. I'm always happy to have a bowl of soup for a meal, but it's nice to have some bread to dip in it. How about cheese bread (p22)?

Cheese bread is a variation on the apple bread recipe. Unlike many of the variations I've tried, this one is actually quite different from the main recipe, though the basic process remains the same. Effectively, you make a completely different bread, simply by swapping the apple for potato and adding some cheese and cayenne pepper.

One useful aspect of this recipe is that it doesn't use yeast. I find it hard to keep yeast on hand, since it has a fairly short shelflife and I always find it's expired when I go to use it. For some reason, you don't seem to be able to buy it in small quantities, so unless you make bread quite often, most of the jar ends up going to waste.

That's why it's interesting to see a bread recipe based on baking powder instead of yeast. Of course, you're not going to get that lovely bread-baking smell wafting through the house, but hey, you can't have everything!

So this bread is made rather like a scone recipe. You sift together the dry ingredients, and stir through the grated potato and cheese. Then you add enough milk to mix, and you should have a nice soft dough.

This is where I ran into trouble. I opened the fridge and found I had much less milk than I thought. I poured in the little I had, but had to make the rest up from powder. It didn't work too well, and the resulting dough was dry and lumpy instead of soft and smooth.

I kneaded it a little (it doesn't say to do this in the recipe, but I couldn't use it the way it was) and eventually produced a dough that was at least holding together, though it still looked a bit lumpy. I placed the dough in a greased loaf tin and got it in the oven.

About two-thirds of the way through the baking time, I checked on the bread. It appeared to be cooking ok, but it was very dry on top. To make it look and taste a bit more appealing, I scattered a handful of grated cheese over the top and put it back in the oven.

The bread didn't look too bad when it came out of the oven, but it was very heavy for its size. I wrapped it in a teatowel and let it cool down a little before cutting a couple of slices. I immediately saw that it was much denser than an ordinary bread. It turns out that it's not just the recipe that's similar to scones - the result is very sconeish as well.

Even for a scone, this would have been very dense-textured, but I put that down to the watery powder-milk and my heavy-handedness in mixing and kneading. I suspect that, done right, this bread comes out a lot like a large, well-made scone. Nice, but not quite what you'd use for a sandwich.

Luckily, this heavy, cheesy bread was ideal for dipping into my soup. It soaked up lots of moisture without falling apart, and was crusty enough to still have a slight crunch around the edges even when the rest was dripping soup.

In short, not a bad recipe - as long as you're going to use it in a suitable way. Sandwiches, no. Mopping up gravy or dipping in soup, definitely!

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