Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Wholemeal Bread

I hope you've all been having fun and indulging in fine food over the festive period, as well as the occasional cake or two! However as the new year approaches I thought I would offer up something a little more wholesome. Also if you've never made bread before why not make it your resolution and give it a try!

Prep time: 25 Mins (Plus proving time)
Baking time: 20-25 Mins
250ml Tepid Water
12g Fresh Yeast (If you're supermarket has a bakery section have a word and they will supply you!)
1tsp Caster Sugar
315g Wholemeal Flour (Plus extra for dusting)
50g Very Strong White Bread Flour
1tsp Salt

Let's begin. Add the water to a jug, then mix in the yeast and sugar until blended. In a large mixing bowl mix together both the flours along with the salt, then tip in the water. Loosely bring together with a flat bladed knife, then tip out onto a floured surface. Bring together to a sticky dough then start to knead, stretching the dough apart, folding back on itself, turning by a quarter and repeating. Do this until the dough is smooth and elastic which will take around 10 minutes. Depending on the environmental conditions you may find the dough to be a little sticky, or even a little dry so you can add a touch more flour or even water as you're kneading if required. Please do this with care though.

Once the dough is smooth and elastic dust with flour, transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for around 90 minutes until doubled in size. Once risen remove from the bowl onto a fresh, lightly floured surface and press lightly all over with the ends of your fingers to knock any excess air from the dough. Divide into 8 buns and shape each into a round. As you can see I'm making buns here, but you can easily shape into a loaf or something else if you prefer. Leave the buns on a lightly floured surface and cover for 30 minutes. You don't want to cover with a tea towel this time as it will stick so I actually use an large upturned tupperware container, although you could lightly grease a sheet of clingfilm and use that instead.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and lightly grease a large flat baking tray with oil. Also place a tin half full of boiling water in the bottom of the oven, which should create a light steam. Uncover your buns and very gently transfer to the baking tray, evenly spaced apart. Place in the oven for around 20-25 minutes until the buns are a nice even brown then remove. The steam should have helped create a lovely crust on the bread but if you'd like it a little softer then just cover the buns with a tea towel as they are cooling. And there you go, all done!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


Vanillekipferl are a light and crumbly Austrian biscuit that are popular all year round, but ESPECIALLY at Christmas. Crescent shaped and coated in vanilla sugar they are so very moreish and easy peasy to create, with only a few processes required. You can find vanilla sugar relatively easily these days, but you can also make your own by leaving a vanilla pod to infuse in a jar of caster sugar. Oh and you'll get about 24 biscuits out of this quantity of mixture!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 15 Mins
140g Plain Flour
50g Ground Almonds
100g Unsalted Butter (Cold and in tiny cubes)
1 Large Egg Yok
60g Icing Sugar

For sugar coating
20g Icing Sugar
1tbsp Vanilla Sugar

Let's get started! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line either one large or two medium sized flat baking trays with baking paper. Mix together the flour and almonds, then add the butter and rub together until no lumps remain. Add the egg yolk and icing sugar, start to bring together with a flat bladed knife, then get your hands in there and bring together to a smooth dough.

Break off small balls of the dough (about the size of a small walnut), shape into small tubes, then turn into crescents, pinching the ends to points. Place evenly spaced apart onto your prepared tray(s) then bake in the centre of the oven until golden brown. When you are happy the biscuits are baked remove from the oven and leave on the tray for 15 minutes to firm up slightly.

Combine the icing sugar and vanilla sugar. Toss each biscuit in the sugar and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. If any sugar remains after coating then you can sprinkle each biscuit as they cool. There you go, all done!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Carrot and Cardamom Cake

December is such a busy month with all the revelry, shopping and general merriment, so a sweetly satisfying treat is always welcome fortification. Carrot cake is usually spiced with cinnamon, but this time I've gone with cardamom to mix things up. The combination is thoroughly lovely but a word of warning, take care with the cardamom as a heavy hand can mean an overpowering perfume that is far from pleasing!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 60-70 Mins
The seeds from a few Cardamom Pods (I used 6 small ones)
175g Plain Flour
175g Light Muscovado Sugar
1tsp Baking Powder
165ml Rapeseed Oil
2 Large Eggs
200g Fresh Carrots (Peeled and grated)
125g Sultanas
50g Icing Sugar
A few teaspoons of Water

Let's get cracking! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper. Crush the cardamom seeds to a powder and add to a large mixing bowl with the plain flour, muscovado sugar and baking powder. Mix all together and set to one side. In a large jug beat together the oil and eggs then pour into your dry ingredients. Mix together to a smooth and consistent batter, then fold through the grated carrots and sultanas. Spoon into your prepared tin, even to the edges and bake in the centre of the oven for around an hour, until risen and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted in to the middle of the cake. When you are happy the loaf cake is baked remove from the oven, leave in the tin for around 20 mins then turn out onto a wire rack.

Once the cake is cool you can ice. Mix together the icing sugar with a few drops of water until smooth and glossy, then drizzle all over the cake. Leave to set, then slice and serve. Yum yum yum!