Ask the Chef
Gabriel Gaté has learnt his craft from some of the great master chefs of France, knows the reality of being a family cook with little time, and communicates with dazzling success both the joy of cooking and how to make tasty food that is simple, easy and achievable.
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I love making bread, but I've never quite been able to get the same results from a good bakery. While delicious eaten the same day, it tends to go stale quite quickly and isn't as soft and light inside or as crunchy in the crust as bakery bought bread. Any tips?
It’s always hard to make bread at home that is equal in quality to a good bakery’s bread – a good bakery has access to very select bread flour. It has also special equipment to prove the dough, and bakery ovens are specifically made for cooking bread.
Here is one of my bread recipes.
Makes 1 loaf
This is a great bread for sandwiches or for eating freshly baked at the weekend. You’ll find soy flour and unprocessed bran in the health food section of the supermarket.
2 cups stoneground plain wholemeal flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup soy flour
2 tbsp unprocessed bran
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp peanut oil or olive oil
2 to 2 1/4 cups warm water
30g fresh yeast
Place the wholemeal, white and soy flours, the bran and salt in a large bowl with the molasses and oil.
In a second bowl, pour half of the warm water, then crumble the yeast into the water and whisk until dissolved.
Using one hand, mix the yeasty liquid into the flours, gradually incorporating the remaining water (you may not need it all) until a soft dough forms and comes away from the sides of the bowl. It takes about 1 minute. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave on the bench to rise for 30-45 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a clean kitchen bench and, using a little extra bran to prevent sticking, knead energetically with both hands for about 2 minutes. The dough quickly becomes firmer and more elastic.
Form the dough into a sausage shape long enough to fit your greased tin and place the dough in the tin with the seam underneath. The dough will almost two-thirds fill the tin. Again leave to rise until the dough comes above the rim of the tin. It takes about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C.
Bake the bread in preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes. When cooked, the sides of the bread are a golden brown colour. Tip the bread out onto a cake rack and check that it is cooked by tapping the bottom of the loaf. If it is cooked it will make a hollow sound. If necessary, return it to oven to cook a little longer.
Allow to cool, then store either in a flip top bread container or in the cupboard in a brown paper bag.
Which one is the best bread to use for bread pudding?
For bread pudding, it's best to use white bread. I personally like to use brioche which gives a more "gourmet" flavour to the dish. You can also use pannetone.
I purchased a steamer to cook purchased pure Chinese food. I have starer with pork buns and pork dim sums. Can you tell me how long they should be steamed?
It’s a bit hard to give you an exact answer because cooking time varies depending of the size and density of the food. My guess is that it would take between 20 and 30 minutes. I suggest you test it after 20 minutes by cutting a dim sum and a bun in half to check if the centre is hot.
I’d love to make a baked vegetarian stuffed capsicum. Can you suggest a good stuffing recipe?
I’d like to share this recipe using rice, but you can also use a wide selection of vegetables mixed with breadcrumbs or cooked lentils.
Baked capsicums with rice
This dish makes a popular light meal for adults and can be quickly prepared if you use cooked rice, for instance leftover rice from the previous day.
4 red or green capsicums
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 brown onion, chopped
1 stick celery diced
1 medium carrot diced
2 cups cooked rice, preferably brown rice
1 cup cooked peas
2 tbsp chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper
I tsp chilli paste
1 tbsp soy sauce
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Open capsicums by cutting off a lid from the top. Chop these four ‘lids’ quite finely. Discard the seeds and wash capsicums under the tap. Place capsicums in a roasting dish just large enough to hold them and roast in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Heat a pan with olive oil. Add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and chopped capsicum ‘lids’ and cook on medium heat cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are almost soft. Add the rice, cooked peas and chopped parsley and season with a little pepper. Stir on low heat for 2 minutes then remove from heat and stir in the chilli paste and soy sauce.
Pack this preparation fairly tightly into the capsicums and bake for a further 10 minutes by which time the rice should be hot and the capsicum soft.
Hi Gabriel, my friend has just bought a convection oven, but I’m not sure what we can cook in it. Do you have any tips or a recipe you could share with us?
Nowadays, most new ovens are convection ovens. A convection oven has a fan that moves the heat around in the oven and allows you to cook food faster. The hot air circulation also tends to eliminate hot spots in the oven. Your friend can cook the same dishes she used to cook in her previous oven. She only needs to cook the food at a slightly lower temperature. For most foods, like roasts and cakes, she can cook at about 10 degrees less. She’ll soon get used to it.
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