After a very long hiatus, I decided it was time to enter Belleau Kitchen‘s Random Recipes challenge again. And this time, the recipe I picked turned out to be a real challenge and forced me to face one of my culinary fears.
You may already know the rules of this challenge but for those that don’t, basically Dom from Belleau Kitchen sets a challenge each month to pick a recipe at random from your collection of cookbooks. You then have to cook, photograph and blog about the resulting dish. Some months there are unusual ways to pick a recipe, but this month was a straightforward case of pick a book at random and pick a page at random from that book.
I used a random number generator to pick a number from my 100+ cookbooks, and then counted through until my finger finally landed on Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake.
That made me feel a little nervous because while I’m a pretty confident cook, I’m less sure of myself when it comes to baking. But hey ho, that was the book that I had picked, so I had to use it. I opened the book at random, opened my eyes (yes, I was feeling that nervous!), and I have to admit my heart sank when I saw that I had managed to select a Olive, Coriander and Onion loaf.
The combination of olives, onions and coriander sounded delicious – coriander is probably my favourite herb, however I really wasn’t looking forward to completing this challenge. I had never successfully made a loaf by hand, they invariably turned out heavy and stodgy.
The Olive, Coriander and Onion bread used olive oil in place of the butter in the White Cob, but otherwise the method looked pretty much the same apart from the shaping. I added in the chopped onion, coriander and olives before the final proving, but at this point the dough looked horribly wet. Lyle wrinkled up his nose in disgust, and I felt like crying – how could it have gone so wrong?
I left the dough for another 30 minutes as per the recipe and when I went back, somehow it actually looked OK. I flattened the dough out and rolled it up into a rough sausage, then snipped into it with scissors before adding a mixture of nigella seeds and sesame seeds. The recipe did call for black cumin seeds as well but I couldn’t lay my hands on any, so just stuck with the two types of seed.
After a final hour of proving, the dough was ready to go into the oven. I crossed my fingers, and waited 30 minutes.
The result was a delicious loaf with a light crisp crust, morsels of sweet onion and salty olive throughout the rich, soft interior, and my kitchen smelled amazing. I would probably reduce the quantity of olives and increase the quantity of onions next time, because I really loved the flavour of the onions in the bread, although Lyle the Olive Lover was quite happy with the balance as it was.
I’m delighted that I decided to do Random Recipes again this month, and glad that I accepted the challenge that fate threw at me this time. I think I have pretty much conquered my fear of breadmaking, and I’m now sure that I will go on to try more of the delicious recipes in this book.