Saturday, 27 August 2011

Fresh from the Oven: Pancetta, Sage and Potato Bread


There are certain events in most people's lives that are significant, and, as such, always remembered.

First day at school perhaps. Leaving home. Feeling oh-so-rich as you spend your first paypacket. That first date. The discovery of pre-cut (!) parchment paper. 

March 5th 2011 is one such date for us.

We tasted possibly the best soup we have ever had. 

It was a revelation. No soup has tasted the same since. 

The soup in question? Heston Blumenthal's pea and ham hock soup. Bray. The Hind's Head. 

I never thought I'd attempt it myself. What fool would attempt to recreate perfection?

Ahem... this fool.

You see, we were challenged by Sally from My Custard Pie to make a bread containing a vegetable for this month's Fresh From the Oven bread bake. Sally herself was inspired by the courgette bounty her garden had produced this year. And the bread I had in mind to bake was a Pancetta, Potato and Sage bread. It was a foregone conclusion that this mighty loaf needing to be dunked in a mighty soup. There was only one mighty soup that could deliver. 

One trip to the butchers, a purchase of a ham hock and four hours of cooking later and Heston's Ham Hock and Pea soup was right there infront of us. The recipe, which I followed word for word can be found right here.


As for the mighty bread, the recipe is taken from The Women's Institute 'Bread', my go-to bread book.

And the recipe goes exactly like this:

Ingredients
175g (6oz) floury potatoes, peeled
350g (12oz) very strong white bread flour
Three qaurters of a teaspoon fast acting dried yeast
freshly gorund pepper
175ml hand-hot water
105g (3 and a half oz) smoked pancetta slices, snipped
15g fresh sage, chopped plus leaves to decorate
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Put the potatoes in pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender
2. Drain well and mash until smooth. Then place a piece of clingfilm over the mash to prevent the potato drying out
3. Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Season with pepper
4. Rub in the potato. Make a well in the centre and add the water. Mix to a soft dough
5. Turn out onto an unfloured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth
6. Oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in it and cover with a damp tea towel
7. Prove in a warm place until doubled in size
8. Heat a saucepan and cook the pancetta for two minutes until the pancetta becomes crispy and any fat runs out. Stir in the sage and cook for a further thirty seconds. Set aside to cool
9. Grease a baking sheet
10. Knead the pancetta and sage into a dough and form the dough into a circular shape and place on the prepared baking sheet
11. Cover the dough and prove until in doubled in size
12. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220C/425F
13. Dip each sage leaf in oil and arrange a pattern on top of the loaf. Drizzle the remaining oil over the surface of the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack

Baker's notes...
  • The dough can be very very sticky, but bear with it, it'll be worth it. I promise.
  • The bread tastes best on the day it is baked, but will last for up to 72 hours in an airtight container
  • As for the soup? A's verdict: 'Can we have this for tea every day please!?'







14 comments:

  1. BOTH recipes saved thanks Kate, because as luck would have it, I have just taken a gammon joint out of the freezer for Sunday!
    GREAT combo and I am totally smitten!
    Karen

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  2. Two for the price of one, I like it! Especially seeing as I have been a very bad FFTO baker recently, you have put me to shame Kate (and not before time either!) I shall be baking along with you next month, you have inspired me with your post!

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  3. Wow, both the bread and the soup sound wonderful. Thanks for a wonderful pairing. I do love soup and bread (or soup and salad) for dinner. :)

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  4. Looks like gorgeous bread - I like the idea of adding potatoes to bread, I vaguely remember doing it in the past to good effect.

    Soup looks great - it's a fantastic colour.

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  5. That sounds like a very special meal! Your bread sounds amazing - perfect for the challenge. And I am very impressed that you followed a heston recipe!
    Lou.

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  6. So glad you joined the challenge and I must admit to not thinking of potatoes as an alternative vegetable in bread before. The recipe sounds divine.

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  7. Very inventive, and looks really lovely (though dont do ham myself, but the bread is beautifully risen and has such a lovely texture. I have just joined the group so am lookign forward to taking part in some of these challenges

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  8. both dishes look heavenly - love the idea of putting pancetta and sage into the bread

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  9. Bread looks fab and a brilliant accompaniment to the soup (if only I didnt have such an aversion to peas!)

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  10. Um mm both the soup and bread sound delicious. Pea and ham soup is a favourite so I'll be trying out both recipes.

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  11. I love the sound of both the soup and the bread. Such great flavour combinations

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  12. Wow great job on re-creating Heston's soup. Love the sound of the bread - I could do with some right now!

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  13. Thank you all so much for your lovely, lovely comments. I was a little nervous of trying a Heston recipe (what, no molecular gastronomy involved? Phew!). And, yep, I think I'm getting some practice in for some winter baking with the bread 'n' soup ... much more on the way!

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  14. I'm so impressed that you made a Heston recipe, I've never even dared buy any of his books. I completely forgot about potato as a common bread ingredient.

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Thank you very much for your comment- I appreciate every single one of them!