Saturday, 15 September 2012

White bean and kale stew with salted spelt bread

This is not the prettiest dish but there is nothing like the smell homemade breads and stews. The smell of bread baking reminds me of my mum making bread rolls when I was a kid and we would eat them covered in butter and honey hot from the oven. This bread is a bit different, it remains a little chewy and I like it better the next day when it is a little dryer. You can make it as salty or not as you prefer, I like the bread a little salty and to keep the stew light and clean tasting. If you are feeling creative you could make salty croutons out of the bread after a few days and add them into the stew..... yum.
This stew is one to make the day before. Not because it is time consuming or complex but because after resting for a day the flavors come together better and it gets more and more delicious. 

White bean and kale stew

1 bunch of kale cut up and washed
2 cups of white beans (either tinned or dried which have been soaked and cooked if you are unsure how to cook beans from scratch have a look here)
1 large leek diced
2 cloves of garlic
juice and zest of 1 lemon 
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of fresh or dried thyme
1/ 2 tsp of fresh or dried basil
1 tsp corn flour
vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the leek in some olive oil, when it is soft add the garlic, beans, salt, thyme and basil. Continue to cook for 5mins. Add just enough water or stock to the pot to cover the beans. Add kale and lemon juice and zest cook for about 10mins. Mix cornflour with a  2 tbsp spoons of cold water to make a runny paste. Add the cornflour mixture to the beans stirring constantly to thicken the liquid. Cook for another 5mins. Do a final seasoning check and add salt/ pepper as required. Put in a bowl and finish with a little more lemon juice and fresh herbs. The stew will be even better the next day.   

 Salted spelt bread

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 cup white spelt flour
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp dried yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar 

Mix yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl and leave to sit for 5-10min or until looks really frothy. If your mixture doesn't froth, your yeast has died (sad) and you will need to buy some fresh yeast. As a side note, I like to keep my yeast in the freezer, I find it keeps way past the best before date.
When you have a nice frothy yeast mixture, place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Create a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the oil and yeast mixture and stir to combine. If you have a electric mixer (lucky people!) you can do all of this in the mixer with a dough hook. For those of us who don't have such things you will need to use your muscles to knead the dough together.  When the mixture has come together either leave it to do its thing in your fancy machine or tip it out on a lightly floured surface and get stuck into it for a good 10mins. If you have a friend near by this is a good time to share the fun as your arms can get very tired! When you or your machine has finished kneading the dough, place it back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise for about an hour. 
After the dough has doubled in size, tip it out again and "knock it back" or  in other words knead it again for another 10mins. You are stretching all the gluten and making your bread have good texture. Lightly grease a bread tin and shape the dough into a loaf and put in the tin, leave to rise again, alternatively you can just shape the bread into whatever shape you like and put it on a baking tray, cover it with a tea towel in that nice warm spot for another 30-60mins. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees ready to go. When the dough has doubled in size take a knife and score the bread. To do this put 3-4 slices across the dough, it isn't crucial if you are baking it in a pan but if you decided to free form the dough I would really recommend it to help control the shaping of your loaf, see here for more information. 
When the oven is nice and hot, place the bread on the middle shelf for 40mins or until it is nice and dark in colour and sounds hollow when you tap it.
Leave the bread to rest for 10-20mins and then enjoy!

Notes: You can reduce the salt and this will be just a regular spelt loaf and really lovely with jam and other sweet treats! If you decide to make bread rolls reduce cooking time to about 20mins but keep a eye on them.

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