Friday, July 01, 2011
What manner of devilry is this? Triffid spawn? These fanciful looking critters are in fact standard, easily-baked-at-home rolls encased in cabbage leaves, resulting in this cool effect:
I came across the technique while reading an old English cookbook, "English Cookery, New & Old", by Susan Campbell. In parts of Gloucestershire, bakers would wrap bread dough in cabbage leaves before baking. Once in the oven, the cabbage leaves would soften, allowing the bread to expand and become imprinted with the vein pattern of the leaf.
Given that my first task upon arriving at work is to make bread, it seemed the perfect excuse to give it a try.
According to Campbell, the best part of the cabbage are the outer leaves; they're big and will quite comfortably envelop your roll. The side of the leaf facing outwards is where you'll place your roll, being suitably venous and knobbly. Wash your leaves, then pat dry. Trim the stalk at the base of the leaf, or simply remove it depending on size; leaving it in will distort the pattern.
Make your bread dough; allow to rise. Knock back, cut into equal sized portions and roll into, er, rolls. Wrap each roll up loosely in a leaf with everything tucked up underneath; ideally, the weight of the roll will keep everything in place. Place on a tray lined with baking paper, and leave the rolls to prove.
Pop your parcels into the oven to bake. Ordinarily, the rolls I make at the restaurant take around twenty minutes to bake (pre-bake weight of grams). I allowed an extra five minutes baking time, taking into consideration the cover provided by the leaves.
Twenty five minutes later, I opened the oven door to be met by the smell of marmite! The cabbage leaves had blackened, and upon scraping them off, there was a lovely golden crust waiting underneath. I don't think I'd had the leaves tucked in firmly enough because the dough had burst through at one end - no matter. The patterned surface on the crust looked awesome, and the marmite smell from the burnt cabbage leaves could be detected in the crust. Bakers of Gloucestershire, I salute you!