We're loving this programme, by the way. If it's still on iPlayer, go and check it out. I can't help wondering why they made such a ridiculous hash of the baked bean recipe. Two possibilities come to mind, and both spring from a deep well of cynicism:
- The researchers called the press office at Heinz to ask for help with the programme and the reply was not only a refusal of help but,
... and if you even attempt to show people how to make baked beans, we'll sue you!
- No-one working on the programme had any faith in Guy's ability to make a tin that would keep food fresh, so they added stupid amounts of salt to make absolutely sure there'd be no mould when they opened the tin up.
So how does one go about finding this closely guarded recipe? In fact, the ingredients list and nutritional information on the tin give quite a lot of clues.
- Beans (51%) - so we're aiming for half and half beans and sauce.
- Tomatoes (34%) - so tomatoes make up two thirds of the sauce. I'll assume the rest is water, as none of the other ingredients are very large contibutors.
- Salt equivalent 0.7g per 100g - that's really not very much. I'll use a pinch of salt.
- Total sugar 5g per 100g - that's quite a lot. It's not,
OMG I can't believe how much sugar they put in this!lots, but a fair bit.
- Cornflour is further down the list, i.e. less, than sugar. Well I could have guessed that.
- Ascorbic acid is further down the list than salt. I know this is a preservative, but it's bound to affect the flavour, so I'd better have some acid in there.
6% acidso I took that to be 6% of something equivalent to the ascorbic acid in the ingredients list, and worked out the quantity from that.
At this point I got to the difficult, secret recipe bit, where the ingredients list just says,
spice extracts. I added a pinch of mustard powder, a small sprinkle of pepper, and tasted. It was far too sweet and sour - mostly sweet. I added another pinch each of celery salt and mustard, but that didn't help much and I didn't dare add more. I tried a few drops of Worcester sauce, because I'd seen that recommended, but that really wasn't what I needed.
Casting around for what I could possibly use to balance the sugar and vinegar, I realised the answer was right in front of me - the perfect flavour was in the cooking water from the beans. What I need is bean flavour in my bean sauce! I added this and then, rather late in the day, realised a bay leaf might be a good idea. I added one anyway, even though there wasn't much cooking time left.
The result was quite good, though there's definitely room for improvement. Next time I'll definitely use bean-flavoured water from the start. I'll skip the Worcester sauce and probably the balsamic vinegar too, and I'll add the bay leaf at the beginning instead of the end. When I get a recipe I'm happy with I'll post the details.
What about the dandelion fritters?I hear you ask. No I don't, because you'd forgotten about them, hadn't you? These were a seperate meal, but I wanted to mention them because I'm happy about the fact that dandelions are flowering again.