Friday, March 9, 2012
50 Women Game Changers in Food - #38 Darina Allen - Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread
Ballymaloe Cookery School
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This week, Darina Allen, Irelands's most famous chef, is being featured in our series celebrating the lives of the 50 women Gourmet Live selected for spots on their list of female game changers in food. She graduated from the Dublin Institute of Technology with a degree in hotel management, and is the author of an impressive number of books on Irish cuisine that you can find here. She is a leader of the Slow Food movement in Ireland and instrumental in establishing a network of farmers' markets in the Cork area. Allen has, in the past, been voted Cooking Teacher of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She is also a host on the British television series, Simply Delicious. This all began when she decided to take a cooking class with Marcella Hazan in Italy. There she became convinced that the ingredients to be had in Ireland rivaled those found in France and Italy and her mission began. The Ballymaloe Cookery School is the jewel in her crown. The school was opened in 1983 at the Ballymaloe House Hotel which was owned by her husband's family. Over time, it has earned an international reputation, due, in large part, to its emphasis on fresh seasonal cooking and the sophistication of her recipes. The school maintains its own organic gardens and Allen, who is known to be outspoken, believes no serious chef should enter a kitchen without first spending a year working in a garden. The school is a family affair and all members, save for her husband, participate in its operation. It is a beautiful and serene place as you can see here. If you'd like a more detailed look at Darina's life, be sure to read this article.
When it came to selecting a recipe to represent the work of Darina Allen, I had an unusual problem. There was a surfeit of riches. I went in circles for several days deciding whether a simple or sophisticated dish would be more appropriate. As you can see, the journey ended in the cottages of the Irish countryside. Ballymaloe brown bread was developed in an attempt to find a bread that wouldn't stale as quickly as Irish soda bread. I can't speak to the success of that quest. Neither bread lasts long enough in my kitchen to stale. I can tell you the brown bread has wonderful flavor, a lovely crumb and a crust that will make you weep. It is delicious when smeared with really good butter or served with a great slice of aged Irish Cheddar. Hey, it's not half bad with a pint of Guinness for that matter. Parts of this recipe will seem counter-intuitive, but I ask you follow the directions as they are written. Your reward for suppressed creativity will be a lovely loaf of bread. Here's the recipe.
Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Darina Allen and the Ballymaloe Cookery School
3-1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
1-1/4 cups (400ml) water
1 teaspoon molasses
3-1/2 cups (500g) whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoon salt
Optional: Sesame seeds
1) Grease an 8in x 2 1/2in (20cm x 10cm x 6cm) loaf pan and warm it in a preheated oven 250°F/120°C, for 10 minutes.
2) Place 2/3 cup of warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over top. Let sit for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve. Add molasses. Let sit until frothy, about 10 minutes more. Stir in remaining water.
3) Mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in center and pour in dissolved yeast mixture.
4) Gently mix batter with hands until it forms a soft sticky dough that pulls away from sides of pan, about 1 minute.
5) Place dough in prepared pan and cover with a dish towel. Proof until it has risen 1/2in (1 cm) above the top of the pan, about 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds, if using.
6) Meanwhile preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Bake for 30 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 400°F/200°C and bake for 15 minutes longer.
7) Turn loaf onto a baking sheet. Return bread, bottom side up, to oven and bakefor10 minutes more. Loaf is done when it has a golden color and underside sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Let cool on a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf.
The following bloggers are also featuring the recipes of Darina Allen today. I hope you'll pay them all a visit. They are great cooks who have wonderful blogs.
Val - More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan - The Spice Garden
Heather - girlichef, Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney, Amrita - Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Mary - One Perfect Bite, Sue - The View from Great Island, Barbara - Movable Feasts
Linda A - There and Back Again, Nancy - Picadillo, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen, Annie - Most Lovely Things, Jeanette - Healthy Living
Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce - More Time at the Table
Next week we will highlight the career and recipes of Ina Garten. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information no later than Monday, March 12th.