These past two weeks, also known as “The School Holidays” I have been reacquainted with my bread maker. And the little recipe book that lives permanently jammed between the bread maker and the wall: Alison Holst’s Bread Book. Ask anyone in New Zealand who Alison Holst is and they’ll be able to tell you at least one correct fact, even if it’s just that her face is plastered on the bulk bin bags at New World and that all bulk food is, you know, her “choice”. When I was a kid, I saw her making banana ice blocks with some unnecessary coating of (possibly) honey, nuts, chocolate… chocolate hail?… something like that (banana ice blocks are best just left plain, accessorised only with an iceblock stick shoved up the watusi). I’ve never been particularly interested in her recipes, except for that one in her vegetarian cookbook with the tomato and feta tart made on flaky puff pastry like a pizza. That one is good. I tolerated her Bread Book but that was only for a lack of something better when I wanted to use the bread maker.
But these school holidays… well. Alison is my new friend. Apart from the Crot Boss Huns on Good Friday, I have also made Cinnamon Swirls and a combination of those two recipes using a third: a wholemeal loaf made in a spiral with brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisins rolled into it. Like making the Swirls but without cutting them up before baking, just putting the ‘log’ in a pyrex dish and leaving it to rise before baking.
Really it started with the Swirls and a desire on a cold afternoon to make Pinwheel Scones without having to make scones – I thought about using a yeast dough instead and happened upon a recipe in the book requiring no adaptation to suit my ideas. In other words, I didn’t have to make anything up. All pressure of invention off, I followed the orders and everything was tickety-boo. Though I wouldn’t ‘sprinkle’ brown sugar in the bottom of the pan again. That’s just asking for trouble.
Next up, the Crot Boss Huns were delicious. Then a trip was planned to the Wairarapa to see our friend Dra, and although I wanted to bake something I didn’t want to have to MAKE it. Naturally my mind turned straight to the bread maker, my trusty friend, doer of the hard graft. Together we negotiated a recipe for Raisin & Nut Bread by pretending we were not instructed to put the raisins and walnuts into the dough itself, and that there is no such thing as milk powder. I rolled out the dough, sprinkled on the filling, went easy on the sugar, rolled it up into a sausage shape, fitted it into a greased glass dish and covered it with plastic wrap until it had doubled it in size. My flatmate made something vaguely similar last year when she and the bread maker were friends, but mine was better. Next time I plan to divide the rolled up sausage of dough between two smaller loaf tins.
So, for the last four days of the holidays, I wonder what other combinations of bread, spice and fruit/nuts I can come up with? I’ll be in the kitchen anyway, making chutney with my small catchment of fragrant quinces. I might as well make some afternoon tea while I’m at it…