Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grape Bread and Chestnut Purée

Slightly sweetened and only a little butter enriched bread makes an ideal match to a warm cup of coffee on a lazy weekend afternoon, and topped off with some sweetened chestnut purée spread it’s addictive.

If you can’t manage to work your way through an entire loaf, sandwich together slices of the bread with chestnut purée spread, arrange in a casserole dish. Whisk 3 eggs with 25 g sugar until tripled in volume, stir in 500 ml milk, pour over the bread, leave it to rest for 30 minutes, bake at 180°C until the top is golden and the custard set, best bread and butter pudding ever.

Grape & thyme bread

The night before
2 Tbsp Raw sugar
300 ml Warm water
100 g Flour
1 tsp yeast

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water then stir in the yeast, leave it to stand for 10 minutes, until the yeast has bloomed. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Cover with cling-film and leave overnight.

The morning after
50 g Butter, melted
25 g Raw sugar
400 g Flour
12 g Salt
Grapes, about 18
Thyme, fresh leaves
Raw sugar for sprinkling
Butter for brushing

Mix together the dry ingredients, add the flour mixture and butter to the yeast, which should be bubbly and aromatic, stir together and form a rough ball of dough, cover and leave it to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Tip the dough on to the bench and knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes, letting it rest every couple of minutes while kneading helps the flour hydrate and will speed up the process. My preferred method for kneading, at the moment, is to roll the dough out into a log shape, fold in half and repeat. This seems to speed up the kneading process and results in some seriously fluffy bread.

Place the dough in a bowl and cover, leave it to rise in a warm spot for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Knock back the dough and leave it for another hour to double in size.

On a lined baking tray, shape the dough by forming it into an elongated rectangle tucking the ends under, use your fingertips to dimple and push out the dough. Push in the grapes into a regular pattern. Cover and leave it for about 30 minutes to rise.

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle over thyme leaves and raw sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes in the top third of the oven, when cooked the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the underside. Remove from the oven and cover with a clean tea towel, leave it cool for a while, if you can, before tucking in.

Chestnut purée spread

This is pretty simple and well you could go the extra step and roast/poach fresh chestnuts but they’re not always readily available, but I find a can of plain chestnut purée does the trick.

440 g Chestnut purée
200 ml Water
100 g Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla paste
Decent pinch of salt

Place a pan over a medium heat and add the sugar, leave it to dissolve and slowly caramelise, be careful not to burn the sugar. Add the water to the pan, it will spit and hiss a little so add with caution. When the caramelised sugar has dissolved stir in the vanilla.

Break up the Chestnut purée in a bowl, and little by little whisk in the sugar syrup to form a thick paste, you may not need it all. Taste and season with salt. I like to pass it through a sieve to get a perfectly smooth paste.

It should store in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long!

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