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Sunday, 11 November 2012

So, mr Bond, we meet again...

Sorry that's a terrible in joke - let me explain.

Yesterday I got to visit the NEFF headquarters in Wolverton, and become one of their Bake It Yourself experts. I kept thinking on the way up that 'NEFF Headquarters' sounded like one of those crime organizations that James Bond has to fight in their secret bunker - National Evil Fendish Federation or something.
However, they day did not involve shark tanks, high octane escapes or Daniel Craig (sorry to say) but in way of much compensation, I did get a sneak preview of the Daniel Craig of ovens, the most amazing creation with a prove to bake capacity, which if you like to bake is truly amazing.It's a steam warmed oven where you place your kneaded bread dough to rise and then with hardly a second's pause you can shape your loaf and put it right back in, and the oven is ready at 210 degrees and full of lovely hot steam to make your bread rise a treat, no second proving, nothing.
The proof of the pudding as they say is in the eating, so here's my (prize winning) loaf -

It was dead easy to make -

500 g bread flour
7g Hovis dried yeast (shake that into the flour first)
20 g sugar
10 g rock salt
25 g butter
320 g tepid milk.

The basic recipe was thanks to the lovely Jo Wheatley,   last years British bake off's winner, who was there all day to demonstrate and inspire and give out great tips, such as drop the butter into the warm milk to soften and add both to the flour together, which worked a treat.

It was up to us to make the loaves our own, so I added sesame and poppy seeds to the bread and an egg yolk, keeping back the white to glaze. I then kneaded the dough using this -
The new Ergo mixx from Bosch which is not out until next year but we were given one each to take home and test. It's got a dough hook for kneading, and so I put mine to good use kneading my dough.
What did I think? Well, for a single loaf or a wet dough which produces a lovely, aerated bake but can be hard to knead by hand, it worked very well. The issue I have is that I get RSI in my wrists after so much writing so holding the machine got a little tiring even though it's not very heavy. I also felt that if I were making a big batch of bread, I would still stick to my stand mixer, because of the volume I tend to use. Actually, I most often hand knead big batches, but I will give my new mixer a go back at Kappuke-ki headquarters and let you know how it goes - the whisk looks amazing!

Anyway, back to the bread. If you want to make my bread at home, once your dough is nearly ready I then add my pumpkin seeds. I don't put them in at the start of the knead as they are quite large and sharp and the kneading process tends to make them break up a little.

Once all together and silky smooth, the dough goes into rise, and if you don't have the absolutely wonderfully totally amazing NEFF oven with the proving setting, (which I don't at home) you'll need to put the dough in a bowl and cover it with cling film, leaving it somewhere snuggley to rise. This can take between 1 and 3 hours, but you don't have to do anything else to it until it's ready. Then you knock it back, squash out the air and shape your loaf. I made a simple 4 strand plait.

Again, if you have a super NEFF oven you can bake straight away (WHICH IS AMAZING!) but if you don't, then you'll need to let the loaf sit on it's tray ready to bake to prove. Put a plastic bag over it to keep the moisture and warmth in, and leave it for an hour.

Heat your over ready to 210 degrees, and before you put your loaf in, brush it with the egg white you saved from before and sprinkle with poppy seeds and sea salt. Throw a baking tray of ice cubes into the bottom of your oven, count to ten and then pop in your loaf to bake.
(Jo gave me the tip about the ice cubes and it really works.)

Bake for 20 mins and check, it may need a another ten mins if it's not ready, but you should then have a lovely seeded loaf perfect for a bread and cheese lunch or to eat with soup.

So, after a day of baking excellence, I am proud to announce that I am now one of NEFF's official baking experts and will be answering baking questions on their facebook pages - The official launch is on Tuesday, so keep a look out for my ugly mug and for my baking adventures, brought to you from my Kappuke-ki Kidswear blog.

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