Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fresh Bread with Homemade Ricotta & Herbs


Ever since my successful experience using yeast to make garlic naan, I've been wanting to try my hand at a loaf of bread.  When I saw this recipe for a three-hour, one-bowl loaf of bread on Blueberry Kitchen, I decided to give it a go.

I've also been eager to try making homemade ricotta.  It turns out that it's really easy.  The bread isn't hard, either, but this ricotta is truly simple.  Heat the cream and milk, stir in the vinegar, wait a minute, then strain.  The hardest part was getting my hands on some cheesecloth.

You should make both these things because the homemade versions are much tastier than store bought, and because they both provide great opportunities to witness some everyday kitchen magic.  I don't know about you, but I'm going to be impressed that my bread dough has doubled in size, even though the recipe said it would.  Yeast is a great magician.  Vinegar performs a similarly impressive feat when it makes cheese curds suddenly appear in a saucepan of hot milk and cream.  These recipes are just so much fun!  Your own magic show, with delicious results.


Ingredients for the bread (recipe from Blueberry Kitchen, adapted from BBC Food; makes one small loaf):

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups flour (I used all purpose, but you can use bread flour if you have it), plus extra
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
Oil for greasing

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water.  Let sit for about ten minutes until foamy.
Add the flour, salt, and butter and stir just until combined.  The dough will look a little shaggy.



Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface.  Knead for five minutes, adding a little more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  Rinse out your bowl and grease it lightly.  Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for an hour.  The dough should double in size.
   
  

Prepare a lightly greased baking sheet.  After an hour, knead the dough gently to remove excess air, and form into a rounded loaf shape.  Place the loaf on the baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let rise for another hour.






Preheat the oven to 425.  Place an empty roasting tin on the bottom rack of the oven.  Lightly flour the outside of the dough, pressing in a little with your finger.  Use a sharp knife to score the dough in a few places, cutting about half an inch deep.


Place the baking sheet with the bread in the oven, and pour a little cold water into the roasting tin.  This will create steam that helps the bread develop a crispy crust.

Bake the bread for about 25 minutes, until it's golden and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.  Cool on a wire rack.  Store wrapped at room temperature for up to a week.


Ingredients for the ricotta (adapted from Ina Garten; makes about 3/4 cup):

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 scant teaspoon white wine vinegar

To make the ricotta, combine the milk, cream, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, line a sieve with two layers of dampened cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

Once the milk mixture has come to a rolling boil, remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar.  Let the mixture sit for a minute or so to curdle.  Slowly pour the mixture through the cheesecloth lined sieve, and let it drain for 20-25 minutes.  Draining for longer will give you a firmer, less moist ricotta.  Discard the whey and cheesecloth, and store the ricotta in the fridge, covered, for up to five days.





Ingredients for the herbed ricotta:

3/4 cup ricotta
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Small handful of fresh basil, julienned
Small sprig of parsley, finely chopped
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix together and season to taste.  Serve with fresh bread.




3 comments:

  1. Your bread looks gorgeous Becky and I'm so happy you liked the recipe! I love making homemade ricotta too and love the idea of serving the bread with ricotta and herbs - yum!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Rosie! :) for the comment and the great recipe!

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  2. To me, there is nothing better than homemade bread and sometimes its just the smell it creates in the house!

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