January 17, 2016 by sarah
I love bread, but it needs to be fresh and crusty and tasty. If I had time I would make sourdough every day, but most of it would go to waste as we don’t eat that much bread. And it takes time, a serious commitment. I sadly had to consign my sourdough starter to the bin this week as it had been forgotten at the back of the fridge for too long and gone bad. When I crave bread, I either go to Waitrose and get some of the expensive French stuff or I make this bread. This goes perfectly with homemade soup so is great for these cold, snowy (at last) winter days and if knocked together in the time that the soup is cooking as there is no kneading or anything. Perfect! It is best eaten on the day it is made but you can freeze it successfully.
Soda Bread (Paul Hollywood recipe)
500g strong flour – I used stone ground wholemeal from Isle of Wight watermill
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and use a balloon whisk to mix. Stir in the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and shape into a rough ball.
Place the ball of dough on to the baking tray. Using a sharp knife, mark the dough into quarters, cutting all the way to the tray. Dust with a little flour.
Bake for 30 minutes (check sounds hollow underneath). Leave to cool on a baking rack.
Category Home, Recipe Index | Tags: baking,bread | No Comments
January 7, 2015 by sarah
Stollen is a traditional German Christmas cake bread found all over the continent at this time of the year and making its way over to the UK. Rather than buying an over priced cake drenched in that awful sweet powder that is not sugar, I decided to give it a go making one myself especially as it would give me an excuse for trying out an enriched dough recipe. An enriched dough contains butter or eggs (this recipe has both) which means the action of the yeast is suppressed. Basically this recipe cannot be rushed as the yeast will take longer to rise so find a day when you are in all day and start early in the morning. Our house does not have heating during the day so to give the yeast some warmth in which to do its magic, I placed the covered bowl on a vivarium heat mat. This heat mat is essential for me to make bread as the house is fairly cool even in summer – it only cost about £10 from eBay (something like this).
I am not sure if you would call stollen a yeasted cake or an enriched bread – they are the same thing I guess. The bread part is sweet and almost cake like in taste and texture, the mixed fruits add interest to the texture and the spices just scream Christmas. I love the taste of marzipan so I cannot think of anything better than stollen but if you don’t like marzipan I suppose you could leave it out (you heathen). I think I left my stollen to prove too long the second time as it slumped in the middle. Has anyone else had this problem? I also made it as one huge stollen but it was a real monster and would probably do better as two smaller loaves. Stollen freezes well once baked so by having two loaves, you could have fresh stollen for the whole Christmas period!
500g strong white bread flour
100g butter, melted
50g caster sugar
225ml warm milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10g fast action yeast (one and half packets of usual supermarket size)
an egg, beaten
For the filling
100g mixed peel
50g flaked almonds or chopped blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 green cardamons, seeds removed and crushed
25g butter, melted
For the icing
25g butter, melted
In a large bowl put the flour and sugar. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Add the melted butter, beaten egg, vanilla extract and most of the milk and using your hand, mix well together until comes together. Use the extra milk if the dough is dry; this dough starts off very sticky but will become shiny, smooth and elastic as it is kneaded. It needs kneaded for 10 minutes. When the dough is soft and elastic, place in a well floured bowl and cover with cling film.
Leave to rise somewhere warm to double in size – this may take a couple of hours.
In a clean bowl, mix together the filling ingredients except the butter and marzipan.
Once the dough has risen, knock back the dough in the bowl and then transfer the dough to the filling bowl. Mix the filling into the dough by kneading the dough from the outside of the bowl into the centre.
When all the filling is incorporated into the dough, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle (either one large one or two smaller ones). Sticking down the edge of the dough to the work surface nearest you and rolling away from the body is the easiest way of achieving this.
Roll out the marzipan to a rectangle that fits within the dough the dough rectangle. Brush the dough rectangle with the melted butter, lay over the marzipan and roll up the whole lot, making sure the marzipan is completely enclosed and the long edge and ends are well sealed (squidge with fingers). Place this rolled loaf or loaves onto a floured baking sheet, place inside a large plastic bag (I had to use a bin bag to get one big enough) and leave somewhere warm to prove. It needs to double in size again and when touched, the surface springs back.
Preheat the oven to 180 ºC/fan 160 ºC. Bake the loaf/loaves for 40 minutes to an hour depending on the size; they should be pale golden. When the loaf/loaves are removed from the oven,place on a wire rack, brush with the last lot of melted butter and dust liberally with icing sugar.
Once cool, wrap in paper or cling film to store. Keeps for 3 or 4 days.
Category Home, Recipe Index | Tags: baking,bread,dough,dried fruit | No Comments
December 29, 2013 by sarah
I made these to go with the cheese board over Christmas. If you know me, you how much I love cheese. But now I have found a recipe for crackers that are good enough to eat in their own right rather than just being a token apparatus to get cheese to the mouth!
The original recipe is here on ‘theKitchn’ and seems to be very adaptable and forgiving. I don’t normally cook by cup measurements as it doesn’t seem accurate enough for baking (and I don’t own a cup measure) but I used a small plastic cup as the measure and got stuck in. The recipe is based on soda bread. I shoved in some dried apricots and a mix of nuts and seeds as I didn’t have enough of any particular one and the only brown flour I had in the house was strong bread flour. AND they still came out fantastic. I still have one of the loaves in the freezer for another round of crackers when I feel like it! Brill!
1 cup dried fruit e.g. cranberries, apricots, dates, raisins
3/4 nuts e.g. pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts
1/2 cup mixed seeds e.g. pumpkin, sunflower
1 cup plain flour
1 cup whole wheat, rye, spelt or other whole-grain flour
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon herbs e.g. rosemary or thyme
2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt
2 cups milk with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice added, leave for 10 minutes
Preheat oven to 180 °C or 160 °C if fan. Grease two loaf tins.
Place the dried fruit in a small bowl and pour over very hot water from the kettle. Allow time to plump up while you get the other ingredients together.
Toast the nuts in the oven until golden brown and fragrant and then roughly chop. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours, herbs, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar. Pour over the buttermilk and stir together with a spatula until no dry mixture remains but do not continue mixing beyond this.
Drain the dried fruit and if using a large fruit such as apricots or dates, roughly chop. Add the fruit with the nuts and seeds to the batter, stir gently to mix. Do not be worried if your batter look very liquid at this stage.
Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf tins, place on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Then wrap in cling or greaseproof paper, put in a freezer bag and pop in the freezer until you are ready to do the next stage, but they need to be frozen for at least 4 hours before they are firm enough to cut thinly.
When you are ready to turn the cakes into crackers then preheat the oven to 150° C. Remove one of the loaves from the freezer and unwrap. With a very sharp knife, slice as thin as possible. Lay the slices out on baking trays so they are one layer thick.
Bake the slices for 15 minutes, turn the slices over and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so. They should now have turned a darker colour, be starting to curl at the edges but not blacken. Do not worry if they are still a little soft in the centre as they will firm up when you cool them on a cooling rack. Store in a airtight tin until ready to be eaten.
Category Home, Recipe Index | Tags: bake cake,baking,bread,cheese,cracker,fruit,other,soda bread | No Comments
December 8, 2013 by sarah
This is the plaited loaf I made for the Wigginton show this year. My basic bread recipes come out fine but I thought for a show I should push the boat out and enter a more elaborate loaf in the ‘one loaf baked in a fancy shape’ category. In the end a bog standard cob won; it looked tasty but wasn’t ‘fancy’ by any means and I even think the bottom looked stodgey.
I am very pleased with my first plaited loaf. Following the instructions and some clips on You Tube it was actually not that difficult. I tried to roll out the individual strands on an oiled work surface, how Paul Hollywood recommends, but the strands were slipping and sliding everywhere and not actually getting any thinner! It didn’t help that my work top really was not deep enough to do this properly so I had to work at an angle! My house is not the warmest, even on a late summers day, so I sit the bowl of dough on a heat pad that is meant for reptile aquariums. This provides the dough with a touch of background warmth which means I can get the rising and proving done without waiting all day and cooking them at midnight (and I have done that before).
Recipe from ‘How To Bake’ by Paul Hollywood
600g strong white bread flour
12g instant yeast
2 tablespoons of oil
400ml tepid water
Place the dry ingredients into a bowl, with salt on the opposite side to the yeast. Add the oil and three-quarters of the water and mix together by hand, adding the rest of the water if needed. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead by hand until silky and stretchy (at least 10 minutes of hard work!). Oil a medium sized bowl and place in the dough, cover with an oiled shower cap and leave somewhere vaguely warm until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knock back the dough by folding inwards repeatedly until the dough is smooth. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll out each piece into a strand about 40cm long.
Lay the strands out on the work top like octopus arms coming out from a central point at the top and squidge the top joined part to the work top to stick it down. You now need to follow the following braiding sequence , with the strands numbered 1 to 8 from left to right and renumbered each time you complete a sequence. This step is only done once at the start; place 8 under 7 and over 1. Now repeat the following steps until all the strands are plaited:
– place 8 over 5
– place 2 under 3 and over 8
– place 1 over 4
– place 7 under 6 and over 1
Squidge the ends together to seal and tuck top and bottom squidges under the loaf so it looks neat. Place the plaited loaf on a floured baking tray, place in a large plastic bag and leave somewhere warm to prove for an hour or so until the doubled in size and the dough springs back quickly if prodded.
Heat the oven to 230°C and put a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven. Brush the loaf with a beaten egg mixed with a pinch of salt but take care not to flood it otherwise the egg wash will glue together the strands so they can’t do the final rise in the oven. Put the loaf in the oven and immediately pour a half litre of water in the roasting tray. Bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked through (sounds hollow when tapped on bottom then another 5 minutes for luck).
Category Home, Recipe Index | Tags: bread,loaf,others,plaited loaf,yeast | No Comments