Back to school lunch rolls

The end of August means one thing back to school. Back to school means new pens , teachers and homework but also with the start of school their is an attempt to make better lunches. This resolution, despite it’s best intention usually lasts about two months at most, before I return to sliced bread sandwiches. Yesterday after my first day of school I came up and made a brown/white/spelt roll for school lunch. I simply weighed out whatever flour I had in the press (left over from my summer bread making spree) added salt and yeast then mixed in some water, then added more yeast. I kneaded it for a little while – it allowed me to take my anger out on the starting of 5th year. I put in back in the bowl and forgot about it for about two hours. Then took it out cut it into squares, dipped in semolina and cooked for about 30 minutes. The result was a delicious roll/bap perfect holding all sort of fillings for a school lunch. Much better than a Sliced pan sandwich.

Suggestions for school lunch

Home made rolls filled with your choice salad, carrot and hummus

These lovely wraps mmmm….

This yummy quinoa salad

These muffins are top of my must try for lunch 

Bread Rolls

500g of flour (200g of spelt, 150g of strong white flour and 150g of whole wheat flour)

7g of yeast

400ml of water

7g of salt

40ml of olive oil

semolina for dusting

Put the flour in a bowl add the salt to one side and the yeast to another.  Pour in the 4/4 of the  water and oil. Mix the dough together until it forms a rough dough.  Add the rest of the water if needed you might not need to add the rest of the water, the dough should be soft but not sloppy. Tip the dough out onto a oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes ( hard work but you “knead” to do it) Oil a square container and put the dough back in. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 2-3 hours. When the dough has more than doubled in size and is springy to touch tip it out again onto a surface dusted sithe semolina. Try to keep as much air in the dough as possible so work gently with it. Cut it into 8-10 equal amounts and shape into a square by tucking the dough in underneath.Place on tray dusted with semolina and leave for ten minutes. At this point you could brush the rolls with milk and top them with seeds of your choice. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C. Cook for 25-30 minutes. 

Baguettes

I have being going through a bread making phase lately. I recently bought Paul Hollywood’s “How to Bake” and have been making a different bread everyday. No low carb diets in my house anyway. Before I had always found that when I made yeast bread it never turned out right so I decided to start at the very beginning and make  a plain white Cobb, I followed the recipe and steps exactly – the result a delicious white loaf of bread. Next day I advanced on to brown bread. Again the result was  good well texture wise anyway, it was a little salty to taste but that’s easily corrected. I now felt I was ready to advance to a seed bread which contained a combination of rye, wholewheat and strong white flour. This time my loaf was not a success it was heavy and stodgy. I reviewed what I did wrong and I think I came up with my problem, you NEED to knead. For the previous two breads I had kneaded them for 5-10 minutes for the third loaf I had become more relaxed an kneaded for about 3 minutes. So it was back to basics I made the white Cobb again just to prove I still had my bread making mojo. Then I advanced to a spelt bread which was really tasty despite sticking to the parchment case used to line the tin. Then today I stepped a little outside my comfort zone and made baguettes. I was a little nervous about this their is something daunting about the long thin loaf. I was wrong though the hardest part making these was not eating all 6 as soon as they came out of the oven they smell so good. 

This recipe for the classic french loaf coincides with the 100th birthday of the women who made French cooking famous outside France, Julia Child

Baguette Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywoods How to Bake 

This dough is a lot wetter than most other dough so don’t be tempted to add more flour

500g of strong bread flour

7g of salt

7g sachet of instant yeast

370ml of water

olive oil for kneading

Lightly oil a rectangle or square container. (The shape of the tub is important as it plays a role in shaping the baguettes.)

Put the flour in a bowl. Put the yeast to one side and the salt to another side of the bowl (the salt can kill the yeast if it comes in direct contact with it). Add three quarters of the water to begin with and using a wooden spoon mix it vigorously ad the dough comes together add the rest of the water. Now using your hand shaped in a claw position combine all the flour and water. Keeping it in the bowl knead it, pull and mix it. I oiled my hands with the olive oil to prevent to much sticking. Work with the dough for about seven minutes. It is a little tedious but keep at it. Tip the dough into the square container and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise for about 1 hour or until double in size.

Coat the work top with oil and tip the dough out on it. Handle it carefully you want to keep as much air as possible in it.

Divide the dough into 5-6 pieces.  (Shape each into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each into a sausage – the top should be smooth with a joint running along the bottom. Now beginning in the middle roll each sausage out with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavly. Concentrate on a backwards forward movement and gently use the weight of your hands to roll out the dough to the length of the tray. ) I couldn’t do this instead I dipped each piece of dough into flour and gently rolled it out to a baguette shape.

Lightly flour two baking trays  Place 2-3 baguettes on tray. Place each tray inside a clean plastic bag tucking the edges under the tray. Leave for about one hour until the the dough has doubled in size and springs back when likely prodded. Meanwhile heat your oven to 220C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.

When your baguettes have risen and are light dust them with a little flour adn slash them with a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray in the oven with water to achieve a steamy oven that creates a crispy crust (essential) bake for 25 minutes or until the baguettes are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and try not to eat straight away. 

Flour Power

I love going into town (Dublin) on a lazy Saturday not to shop but simply stroll around. I love rambling around Temple Bar especially Cows Lane, home to the lovely Queen of Tarts. Temple Bar is described as the cultural quarter of Dublin. It comes alive at night with it’s tourist focused lively night life but I love it during the day with its medieval streets and quirky shops. I love the little markets that take place in the meeting house square. Temple Bar is our little Greenwich Village. The other part of town that I love is between Grafton street and Temple Bar. It is probably less well known to tourists but these streets are filled with little cafes and vintage shops that create a holiday vibe. Georges Street Arcade is filled with fun shops and cafes. I am a huge fan of Yogism a self serve frozen yogurt bar that gives you a free yogurt if you guess the correct weight ( I did ). As you can imagine my when I go into town with friends I don’t drag them from food shop to vintage shop instead we spend our time on Grafton Street or Henry Street shopping on the high street which I do enjoy but sometimes I like to get away from it all and go to on a “me” trip into town. Occasionally I drag Sister No. One with me. Last time I took her I dragged her from Vintage store to Food store. I took base in Falllon and Byrne where I spent an hour “looking at bags of flour” to quote my sister. I loved it, as my sister pointed out only I could get excited at a shelf that had  different types of flour.  I finally decided on buying rye flour, I had never used it before but heard of it’s health benefits and eaten bread made from it. I returned home from Dublin satisfied with my  two purchases a bag of bulgar wheat and and rye flour,  Oh and a  FroYo ( I didn’t guess right this time). I then looked for a nice sourdough rye to make with my new purchase but stumbled upon a pizza recipe form Green Kitchen Story  I subsituted the spelt flour for rye and voila we had yummy pizza snacks.

Rye Pizzette 

200 ml of lukewarm water
2 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tsp sea salt
250g rye flour (we used light)
2 tbsp olive oil

Tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 can of tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano/basil
salt & black pepper to taste

Topping suggestions

  • 4 pre boiled potatoes
  • 250 g marinated artichoke hearts
  • 100 g kalamata olives
  • 1 courgette/pepper (cooked)
  • 1 aubergine(cooked)
  • 4 brown mushrooms, cut in quarters (cooked)
  • 1/4 fennel, thin slices
  • 300 g small tomatoes

Put the Rye flour in a bowl with the yeast make a well in the centre. Mix the salt and warm water in a jug and pour in the water until it comes to a kneadable dough. Knead for a couple of minutes, add additional flour if it sticks to your hands. Put the dough back in the bowl and drizzle it with olive oil. Work the dough until it’s completely covered in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for 1 – 2 hours.

Make the sauce by sauteing the onion and garlic in the oil. Then add the tomatoes and oregano. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes under a lid.

Preheat the oven to the HIGHEST temperature abour 270C if you have a pizza stone put it in the oven. Work the dough for about 1 minute, on a floured surface. Make 8 to 10 small portions. Stretch and flatten the dough until you get the desired size and thickness that you prefer and move it to a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Rye flour doesn’t stretch as good as wheat flour but if you work carefully and flatten it with the palm of your hand you will get it right. Brush the dough with 2 tbsp tomato sauce. Cover them with topping of your choice. Bake for about 10-15 min until the outer part of the topping and the edges are slightly burnt. Sprinkle with fresh goat cheese, a bit of olive oil, fresh aragula, salt and freshly grounded pepper. Serve immediately.

Our Daily Bread

I am mad about bread. I love all types but brown soda bread is something i believe to be above all other breads. I almost get offended at non-Irish people who announce their dislike for the bread. Maybe it’s because they haven’t tried homemade soda bread instead they are basing their judgement on the dry, sour green bread you get in supermarkets – not a scratch on the homemade version. Mammy and her Sisters  take bread very seriously they share recipes,methods and slices regularly (unfortunately one has been omitted from this circle since she was diagnosed with celiac disease, now she is pitied). I find wherever you may go if there is good bread the place can’t be too bad. I find kindred spirits in those who make bread. This Particular recipe is from a cousin of Mammy’s it contains lots of different grains and “healthy stuff” but the result is a really wholesome loaf. It is so simple to make and lovely served with anything from soup to paté but I like it with this homemade raspberry jam for breakfast.

Mary Breens Brown Bread

225g of wholewheat flour

70g of wholemeal flour

40g of wheatgerm

40g of oat bran

40g of wheat bran

40g of pin head oatmeal

3 rounded tsp of bread soda

pinch of salt

500ml of butter milk (or natural yogurt)

Seeds/rolled oats to top it (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 2b loaf tin with loaf liners (handy pieces of grease proof paper made to fit in a loaf tin availible at good supermarkets or kitchen shops) or grease it well. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Slowly mix in the milk. Stir well until all the mixture is comined. It should resemble thick porridge. Pour into loaf tin and flatten with the back of a fork. Top with seeds or oats if using. Place in oven and cook for about 50 minutes. The loaf is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottem. I would reccomend taking it out of the tin for the last 10 minutes and turning it upside down.

Rasperry Jam

Any sort of berry can be used in this jam. Raspberries are the easiest as they have high level of pectin but logan berries, blackberries,  are also good. If using strawberries add a squeeze of lemon to help it set.

400g of Raspberries ( I use Frozen)

400g of sugar

Put a saucer in the fride this will be used to test the jam later.Put the raspberries into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring slowly. Cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile put the sugar in the bottom of a low oven to heat through. Stir the sugar into the raspberries and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and boil for 10 minutes. To test the jam and see if it’s done, remove the saucer from the fridge and put a small spoonful of jam on it. Leave for a minute or so, then Push the jam with your finger if the it wrinkles it is set. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Remove any scum that has formed on the surface before potting in sterilised jars and seal tightly.

The Hunger Games Inspired Fruit and Nut Bread

I, like the rest of the world have just finished reading “The Hunger Games” first book. I unlike the rest of the world did not fall madly in love with it. I will admit it is a good book and enjoyed every minute of reading it but I just wanted the Hunger Games to end and for Peeta’s and Katniss’s romance to bloom. I suppose I won’t really enjoy the next two in the trilogy hence the name “The Hunger Games Trilogy”. I have a sneaky feeling that the next two book will not focus on a happy ever after the hunger games theme. Oh well, I still commend Suzanne Collins for like J.K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer she has gotten people who never read before to start reading which is always great.

When I read a book or watch a Movie I remember and focus on the food eaten and prepared by the characters ( Anne of Green Gables -Liniment Cake, The Help-Mississippi Mud Pie, Laura Ingalls Wilder Maple syrup snow). I am an avid foodie. In “The Hunger Games” food and lack of it plays a big part. One food scene that I remember most (and don’t worry it won’t ruin the end of the book) is at the start when Katniss recalls Peeta purposely burning Fruit and Nut Bread so she could feed her starving family. I decided to try for myself fruit and nut bread.

Peeta’s Fruit and Nut Bread a.k.a Hazelnut, Raisin and Honey Wholemeal Loaf.

^note you could call it a Honey I’m Wholemeal Loaf


When I made this bread for the photo I killed the yeast so it didn’t rise. Instead of light airy bread it was dense and heavy in texture but the flavour was still really nice (and I ate it all) that’s why I have included it on my blog. I am going to try it again hopefully with a better outcome

80g of hazelnuts blanched toated and chopped

400g of wholemeal flour

100g of plain flour

1.5 tsp of salt

7g sachet of fast-action yeast

1tbs of honey

350 ml of lukewarm milk

60g of raisins

2 tbs of milk to brush top with

Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl or freestanding electric mixer. Add the yeast and make a well in the flour. Stir the honey and milk together and pour into the well.

Using your hand or a dough hook attachment of the mixer, mix the flour into the liquid. If it feels or looks to dry add a tablespoon more milk at a time and vice versa with the flour if its too wet.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed by hand for 10 minutes until it feels elasticy.  Add the nuts and raisins and gently work in to evenly distribute. Return to bowl cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and shape into a loaf. Cut a line down the center. Tuck the ends under each other on a lined baking tray Cover loosely with cling film and leave to double in size again for about an hour. Towards the end of the rising preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6

Uncover the loaf and glaze with milk. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

This bread is lovely plain or just buttered but it is not too sweet to serve with savory toppings either such as cheese or chutneys.