I am new to craft cider. My recollections of drinking cider is of those well known brands that give you an alcoholic hit, but little flavour. What would craft cider be like?
I love using and eating local produce, and what could be more local than our wonderful apples? Recently, a whole gaggle of Cotswold Bloggers met at The Stable in Cheltenham to discover craft cider. This restaurant has a whole wall of cider available on draft. Quite a sight.
Rory Souter of the Cotswold Cider Co came to introduce his brews to us. Rory has created a range of quirkily named ciders. Names perhaps more reminiscent of beers from a brewery such as Brew Dog and indeed Cotswold Cider Co’s ciders are stocked in their pubs.
Having moved to a new house, Rory decided to start making cider from the apples in his orchard. Only to find that they were the wrong sort of apples resulting in a rather horrid tasting drink. He now sources cider apples from all over Gloucestershire which differ greatly from eating apples, with their bitter tastes and drying effect on the mouth. Rory’s aim is to produce distinctive ciders with a much higher percentage of apple juice than the big brands. Around 80% rather than a measly 30%.
We taste the ciders. It’s quite a revelation to me and others. There’s definitely a good apple-y flavour. There’s Side Burns named for “real cider drinkers” who allegedly sport such facial hair, its very drinkable and at 5.4% fruity and distinctive and Sweet Cheeks that has a lovely rosy glow (rather like a blush) that comes from the addition of blackberry and elderberry.
And so to my favourite, Blow Horn, with subtle spicy chai flavours. Rory and I get into a discussion about the heavily decorated trucks you see in India. Driving in that country is scary to say the least. Trucks have signs on the back saying “Blow Horn” and indeed that’s what you hear all the time when you are being driven about. It’s a cider very comfortable with itself and comforting. I’d say most of us really went for this one in a big way
Blow Horn Cider Bread
I’m always thinking about cooking and baking and thought that Blow Horn cider in particular would make wonderful bread. I soaked oats and seeds in the cider and added to flour, yeast and salt. The result is a beautifully light texture loaf of bread, with just a hint of the cider and spice flavours. Of course, it would go perfectly with a glass of cider and local cheese. Why not try some?
You can of course use other craft cider or indeed beer if you have no Blow Horn to hand. You’ll need baking trays (and or baking stone or piece of marble), a water sprayer (from at DIY store). Adding steam will give you a crustier crust.
Makes 2 large loaves. Time to make: Approximately 2.5 hours.
500 gr strong white flour (eg Shiptons or FWP Matthews)
350 ml craft cider or beer (you may need a little extra)
150 gr porridge oats
100 gr mixed seeds. I used sunflower, pumpkin, linseed and sesame seeds
10 gr fresh yeast
10 gr salt
- Place the oats and seeds in a bowl and add 250 ml of cider. Leave to soak for about 15 minutes
- Rub the fresh yeast into the flour to mix through. Add the salt.
- Add the oat and seed mixture to the flour, yeast and salt mixture. Mix.
- Add a further 100 ml of cider. Mix well. If there is any flour left after a good mix, add more cider. The mixture should be not too dry.
- Knead until smooth – about 10 minutes. When stretched the dough should be able to be stretched without immediately breaking.
- Place in a plastic box or bowl covered with cling film and leave one hour.
- After an hour, form into a ball, turn over and pull the dough in to form a tight domed shape. Cut into two equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a tight ball. Turn upside down and fold the bottom into the middle. Roll to make an oblong. Place on a baking sheet to prove ideally on a piece of silicon on a baking tray. or alternatively in a banetton or tin.
Preheat your oven to 220C. If you have one, place a baking stone or piece of marble into your oven.
After 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, the dough will be ready to bake. It should feel slightly soft, with a bounce when you prod the dough.
Place a tray of water the shelf above the shelf you bake on.
Slash the top of each ball of dough with a serrated knife. One long cut will be ideal.
Now the tricky bit. You want to place the dough and the silicon onto your baking stone or tray. Do this by tipping the silicon off your tray onto the tray in the oven.
If you have a sprayer, spray the oven and the bread.
Bake for 35 minutes. Take out of the oven and cool on a cooling rack.
The Stable also have great pizzas in addition to the cider.