I am not sure which bit of the yesterday was better:
1. seeing and tasting the bread that the chefs are now baking weekly – rye sourdough (that they made themselves) with whole wheat flour, honey and nuts.
2. being told that the home made bread is now being served with soup (rather than bought in baguette) and toasted with things like pates and terrines
3. making some wheat sourdough (from the 1857 sourdough) English muffins, some 100% rye sourdough (with The Clink sourdough) with grated sweet potato and seeds, and some plain white sourdough bread – big and fluffy, rising in the basket when I had to leave, and some whole wheat soda bread
4. eating what was definately the best ravioli I have ever eaten – home made, stuffed with fresh crab and dressed with a simple pesto dressing
Hard to know…hard to know…
For those of you who are not familiar with The Clink, it is the restaurant in a prison, staffed with prisoners who gain valuable work experience, get various NVQs (in cleaning, restaurant management, waiting tables, and cheffing), and gain self esteem and valuable life skills that the average prisoner does not get. The average prisoner spends 23 hours a day in his or her cell. Just last week Michelin (as in Michelin guide, Michelin stars) ate lunch there and I am lucky enough to be able to work with them to develop their bread skills, teaching those who want to learn how to bake bread (without yeast) and helping to shape their bread menu.
The sourdough English muffins tasted fantastic but looked a little wonky. English muffins (for those of you who are not North American and do not know about them necessarily, as they have nothing to do with England, or muffins) are the things on either side of an egg Mcmuffin. Ash and I have a competition on to see who can get them into the flat, round shape they are supposed to be, rather than the kind of wonky space ship shape they turned out to be. We foresee toasted English muffins and preserves, eggs benedict, eggs florentine….That is the homework between yesterday and next month.
Watch this space.
The recipe for The Clink sourdough English Muffins:
Refresh your wheat sourdough
1/2 cup refreshed white wheat sourdough
1 cup of warm milk (or 2 teaspoons of powdered milk and 1 cup of warm water)
2 cups of white wheat flour
Cover and let stand overnight
Mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and sprinkle this on top of the bubbly mixture that you made the day before.
Mix this and then knead it well for at least 10 minutes. Incorporate the rest of the flour (and more if necessary so that it is not super sticky)
Let it rest for 30 minutes.
Form the dough into 10 or 12 little balls, place them on a baking tray that you have sprinkled with corn meal (polenta), with plenty of room between them, cover them and let them sit for 30 minutes.
Gently press them down to form a flattish disc about 1 inch thick (2.5 cm) and, using a little seive, shake some polenta over the top of them. Cover them and let them sit for 30 more minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes at 200 degrees. Let cool. English muffins are pretty lame unless they are toasted (they are supposed to be doughy) so do cut them in half and toast them. Lots of little holes to trap butter and jam and hollandaise sauce.