Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Tear and Share Bread

One of the best things about having time away from work is exactly that, having time. Being able to spend leisurely periods baking and making is so much fun it's almost therapy, no more so than baking bread. All that kneading and stretching really allows one to work out the weeks frustrations! This tear and share bread is a relatively straightforward recipe, that is elevated into the stratosphere by the deliciously naughty fillings you choose to stuff it with. I've used a simple jar of caponata, picked up from the supermarket, but you can try whatever you think will work, from caramelised onions to cured meats. You can even have a crack with sweet fillings such as chocolate spread and chopped nuts, or maple syrup and mixed fruit. Just have a play around and see what works. :-)

Prep time: 25 Mins (Plus proving time)
Baking time: 20-25 Mins
275g Very Strong White Bread Flour
1tsp Fast Action Dried Yeast
A good pinch of salt
175ml Tepid Water
1tsp Olive Oil

Let us begin. Take a large mixing bowl and add the flour, yeast and salt. Mix together then make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and oil, then start to bring together with a flat bladed knife. Tip all of the mixture out onto a clean dry surface and bring together to a dough. Knead the dough, stretching apart, folding back on itself, turning by a quarter and repeating for about 7-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Dust all over with flour, place in a clean large bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for around 90 mins until risen.

When the dough has risen tip out onto an oiled surface and roll out to a large flat rectangle using a lightly oiled rolling pin. Place or spread your filling onto the flat dough, leaving a little border around the edge, then roll up to a fat, swiss rolly type sausage. Using a lightly oiled and very sharp (but not serrated) knife slice the sausage into twelve rounds and place each facing up into a greased, round tin. I actually use a 21cm pie tin! Don't be afraid to nestle them against each other. Place the tin in a sealed container (such as a large cake tub) and return to a warm place for a further 45-60 minutes, until the dough has risen up all fat and lovely again.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Remove the tin from the container and place in the centre of the oven. Bake for around 20-25 mins, until deep golden brown on top, then remove. Carefully lift the bread from the tin and place on a wooden chopping board until you are ready to serve. I must add before we finish that the share part of tear and share is entirely optional!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Hot Cross Bun Bread Puddings

With Easter upon us there are lots and lots (and lots) of treats to be enjoyed, from chocolatey eggs, to cakes, to hot cross buns. In the event that you have any hot cross buns left over or going stale, then why not give this fun recipe a try? It's not only delicious to eat, but mud pie messy to make and keeps fantastically well in a sealed container. So even when Easter is but a distant memory you'll still have something sweet to enjoy!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 40 Mins
450g Old Hot Cross Buns
350ml Milk
3 Dessert Apples (Peeled, cored and grated)
75g Light Muscovado Sugar
200g Mixed Dried Fruit
1 Large Egg (Beaten)
65g Unsalted Butter (Melted)

The first thing you need to do is line a 12 cup muffin tray with paper cases. You could just grease it, but I find lining it safer! At the same time preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

In a large mixing bowl break up the buns into small pieces. Add the milk, apples, sugar, fruit and beaten egg, then get your hands in there and smush it all together. Add the melted butter and stir through with a wooden spoon to combine.

Spoon your mixture into the lined cups and press down firmly until completely filled. Really pack it in tightly! Bake in the centre of the oven for around 40 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch on top, then remove and leave to cool in the tray.

When the puddings are cool carefully remove from the tray and peel off the cases. Then get the kettle on, as they are finished!

Friday, 18 March 2016

Blueberry Spring Cleaning Cake

As you can imagine, with the amount of ingredients I regularly get through I often find myself with a few handfuls of this and that left over in the store cupboard. So this one was the result of a bit of a spring clean of what I had sitting around. Don't let that put you off though, as the result is quite the show stopper, with a beautifully soft and delicate crumb and deep, complex flavour. It went down a treat when I served it recently I suggest you give it a crack forthwith!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 55-60 Mins
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
150g Caster Sugar
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Lemon Extract
1tsp Orange Extract
75g Ground Almonds
150g Self Raising Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
2tbsp Milk
275g Fresh Blueberries
1-2tbsp Icing Sugar

Let's get baking! Preheat the oven the 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm deep cake tin and line with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugars, then beat in the eggs one at a time along with all three extracts. Add the ground almonds, then sift in the flour and baking powder. Pour in the milk and mix to a smooth, consistent batter. Fold through 200g of the blueberries, spoon into your prepared tin and even to the edges. Scatter over the rest of the blueberries and gently press each into the surface of the mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven for around an hour, until risen, deep golden on top and a metal skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven, leave in the tin for around 15-20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, peeling off the paper.

When the cake is cool dust liberally with icing sugar and you are ready to slice and serve. Boom, all finished!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Gluten Free Chocolate, Hazelnut and Coffee Cakes

I think I intended these to be solely chocolate cakes, but once I started adding more and more lovely loveliness I couldn't stop myself. You can find ground, toasted hazelnuts relatively easily these days but if you have trouble sourcing them from the supermarket then online is your best bet. The rest is relatively common fare, although try and get the best chocolate and cocoa powder you can. It'll make the world of difference!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 40-45 Mins
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
225g Golden Caster Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Extract
200g Ground, Roasted Hazelnuts
2tbsp Cocoa Powder
1tsp Baking Powder
1tbsp Black Coffee (Cooled)

For the Icing
80g Unsalted Butter
150g Dark Chocolate
A splurge of Golden Syrup
1/2tbsp of Brandy

Let's start shall we! Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a smallish baking tin (around 27x22cm) with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time, along with the vanilla extract. Mix through the ground hazelnuts, followed by the cocoa powder and baking powder. Finally add the coffee and mix to a smooth, consistent batter. Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 mins, until a metal skewer comes out just sticky with crumbs when inserted into the middle of the baked sponge mixture.

When you are happy it has baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin. Once cool remove from the tin and leave on a board whilst you prepare the icing.

Speaking of which, melt together the butter and chocolate over a bain marie. As they start to melt add a little splurge of golden syrup and the brandy. Stir together until smooth and glossy, then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Slice your baked sponge into slices or squares then generously top with the chocolate icing. Leave in a cool place to set and you are done!

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

White Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

This white chocolate cake is doozy. Soft and (yes I will say it) moist with a lovely deep caramel flavour, the addition of a buttercream infused with white chocolate and vanilla bean paste is not entirely necessary. But dammit why should that stop you! It's never stopped me...

Prep time: 25 Mins
Baking time: 50-55 Mins
For the Cake
175g Unsalted Butter
200g White Chocolate
175g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs (Beaten)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
125g Self Raising Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
100g Ground Almonds

For the Buttercream
85g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Icing Sugar (Sifted)
100g White Chocolate (Melted)
1/2tsp Vanilla Paste

Let's begin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm deep cake and line completely with baking paper. Melt together the butter and white chocolate, either over a bain marie or in the microwave (if you are confident with your timings). Stir together until smooth and silky, then set to one side to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract for a good 30 seconds, then add the cooled melted chocolate and whisk again to combine. Sift in the flour and baking powder, fold through, then add the ground almonds and do the same until evenly combined. Spoon into your prepared tin, even to the edges and bake in the centre of the oven for around 50-55 minutes, until risen, golden brown on top and a metal skewer comes out slightly sticky with crumbs when inserted into the middle of the cake.

When you are happy the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for around 60 mins. Once the tin is cool until just warm remove the cake from the tin, peeling off the paper and leave to cool on a wire rack. The cake will sink a bit during cooling, but you'll be willing to take that hit after tasting it!

When the cake is cool you can prepare the buttercream. Cream together the butter and icing sugar, then add the chocolate along with the vanilla paste. Mix together until smooth, then spread all over your cake. Time to serve!