For this month’s Random Recipe challenge, Dom over at Belleau Kitchen has created an A-MA-ZING random number generator thingamidoodah for us to select our random recipes with. Not wishing to rain on Dom’s creative parade but it looks suspiciously like the regular old random number generator I use every month. Dom reckons it’s patent pending. I’m not sure the Dragon’s Den lot would agree……
Anyway entering into the spirit of the occasion, I did indeed use the random number generator thingamidoodah for my recipe selection. It gifted me a recipe by a certain Michelin starred female chef that took 4 hours of my life and yielded an oh-so-disappointing dish. So I have to confess that this cardamom bread from Rachel Allen’s book Bake is my random recipe selection, mark two.
I am still very much a novice bread baker. Every time I manage to bake a perfect loaf it still seems like I have achieved the impossible. Like splitting the atom or finding the solution to world peace. Well this cardamom bread turned out to be one of those ‘perfect’ loaves. With a super soft and fluffy crumb and a beautiful hint of fragrant cardamom. This was also my first ever attempt at a plaited loaf and whilst not flawless, I’m pretty pleased with the result.
This is very much a sweet bread, a little akin to brioche. Rachel says that it is delicious with butter and jam but I found that masked the flavour of the cardamom. Really it is just a loaf to be eaten in a plain, unadulterated fashion or dipped into a steaming mug of coffee or hot chocolate for a little je ne sais quoi.
Cardamom Bread (adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
- 50g caster sugar plus 1tsp
- 300ml warm water
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 75g butter, melted plus a little extra for the finished loaf
- 1 tbsp ground cardamom (or the seeds from about 28 pods, crushed)
- 600g plain flour plus extra for dusting
1. Mix the yeast with 1tsp of caster sugar and 4tbsp of the warm water. Set aside for about 5 minutes or until frothy.
2. Beat the egg with the remaining 50g of caster sugar and salt. Add the remaining warm water, melted butter, yeast mixture and ground cardamom. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. You should now have a soft dough.
3. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if it seems too sticky. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
4. Divide the dough into 3 even pieces and roll each piece into a long sausage shape, about 2-3cm in diameter and 30-35cm long. Lay the strips of dough side by side on the worktop then pinch the three ends together at the top. Plait the dough by alternately bringing each outside strand into the centre. When you have plaited the entire length of the dough, pinch the bottom ends of the strips together then tuck either end of the loaf under slightly, to hide the messy bits!
5. Place the loaf on a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 180C/160C fan for about 25 minutes until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Rub the surface of the loaf with a little butter then dust with flour.