(This one’s for Christina, who asked me to share the recipe for these over a month ago – sorry its taken me so long!)
It is officially ‘Soup Season’ again in our household. We don’t tend to go for soup when the weather is warm, but now that the days are shorter, darker, colder and currently wetter, we crave a warm bowl of soup at lunchtime. I make two or three kinds a week at this time of year, and boxes of it get taken in to work or are heated in the microwave here at home. The basic soup is made from roughly a kilo of whatever veg is around plus onion and garlic and whatever other flavourings “hum”, cooked up with a litre of fresh chicken stock (or if I’ve run out, veg stock). We sometimes make croutons (most recently from stale breadsticks chopped into chunks and lightly fried with some garlic). We often add a swirl of home-made yoghurt and/or a handful of toasted seeds. Delicious, but not quite filling enough without some sort of bread.
I’ve recently discovered a kind of quick bread, that has more in common with a savoury cake than anything, but mostly we eat our soup with Spelt Sunflower Rolls.
Spelt is an ancient grain, more easily digested by those with a mild gluten intolerance. The rolls are quite dense, with a wonderful nutty taste, so I make them quite small or they are too much of a good thing! As with any heavier flour, they tend to require kneading for slightly longer (I tend to go for 15 mins) but are well worth the extra trouble. I stick the music on and drift off while I work the dough to a soft and smooth ball. This time I got a melancholic mix of Strawbs, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, The Cure and Tom Petty! They also work best with milk or milk and yoghurt as the liquid rather than water, it makes them lighter.
1kg wholemeal organic spelt flour
10g dried yeast
20g fine sea salt
100g sesame seeds (plus extra for coating)
600ml warm milk (or half and half milk and natural yoghurt)
1 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and stir in the milk to make a soft and slightly sticky dough.
- Add the olive oil, mix in, and turn dough out on to a clean work surface…
- Knead well for 10-15mins until dough is smooth and silky
- Form dough into a round, lightly oil with olive oil, place in a clean bowl and cover with plastic until doubled in size
- Divide the dough into 12-16 equal pieces (depending on your appetite!)
- Form each piece into a round, roll top lightly in a bowl of milk and then in a plate of sesame seeds to coat, then place on floured board to rise, covered in plastic.
- Heat the oven to its highest temperature with a heavy baking tray in and a smaller tray for boiling water. If you find – as I tend to – that you need more than one tray, leave out the water tray and just spray the oven with a mister later on.
- Once your oven is up to temperature and the rolls have almost doubled in size, carefully remove the tray(s) from the oven and gently transfer the rolls to them, working as swiftly as possible, but be gentle!
- Mist the rolls with the plant sprayer full of clean water and carefully return the tray(s) to the oven. If you have room for a water tray fill it with boiling water at this point and put it in the bottom of the oven, otherwise spray the inside of the oven before gently shutting the door and setting the timer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes turn the oven down to 200C (390F) and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, until the rolls are nicely brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Remove rolls from trays and leave to cool on a rack. Enjoy with a bowl of soup, or filled with cheese and pickle, or anything else you fancy!