Archives for posts with tag: Bread

I had been thinking about making Swedish St Lucia buns since I watched Paul and Mary’s Christmas Masterclass in December. I then discussed the brightly coloured balls of goodness with Bronya (of brioche fame) over Christmas, and decided to make some myself. Coincidentally Will and I were off to Stockholm in mid Jan, and so it seemed like a good idea all round.

I am not a big fan of bread making, however I figured that the more I do it the less I will be scared of yeast failure, and less confused by the way that it seems to have a life of it’s own.

I followed the recipe of Mr Paul Hollywood himself, which you will find here, and actually it all worked out OK. I loved the brightly coloured saffron and the way it infused in to the milk.

Milk and saffron  Infused saffron

Whilst the recipe is straight forward, what takes the time is the double proving of the dough. I put my dough under the kitchen radiator in a bowl covered in cling film, since Paul suggested a warm, dry place to undertake the activity.

dough    Shaped dough

I watched with satisfaction as, true to form, the dough did double in size over a few hours. I then shaped the dough in to the suggested S, bull and cross shapes, and completed the look with raisins in appropriate crevices of dough. Just after 25 minutes in the oven, these golden yellow little beauties appeared.

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A last minute egg wash pre-cooking gave a lovely shiny glaze and I would definitely recommend doing so. The saffron flavour was sweet but subtle, and they were nice buttered with breakfast or as a midday desk-based snack.

We had a great time in snowy Stockholm, not just for the lovely scenery but for the delicious cakes. Our favourite was definitely the Princess cake, regally coated in green marzipan and filled with light vanilla sponge, custard AND cream!

 

 

 

 

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We also really enjoyed what seemed to be the cake version of a Viennese whirl, and a delicious cardamon – vanilla cream filled doughnut / muffin! Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

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Our next adventure will most likely be our wedding, which has been keeping me reasonably busy! I would like to write some blog posts on healthy eating for brides, since it is quite a challenge for me, so watch this space.

 

 

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I have been experimenting with a few things in the last few weeks, but work had caught up with me and I haven’t made a chance to sit down and write about my efforts. I have also been busy mourning the end of the only TV show I religiously watch, the Great British Bake Off. Content with the finalists and the winner, I have been inspired to try a few different recipes, so I guess there is a happy ending after all.

I can summarise my rises and falls (#GBBO puns) of recent escapades with the following statements:

– Don’t try to adapt a Mary Berry cake recipe – she is official Queen of Cakes for a reason
– Successful Pierre Herme macarons require patience, precision AND a sugar thermometer (now on the Christmas list)
– Lemon curd really IS easy to make
– Despite my first ever attempt at brioche being a success, I am still scared of baking bread

good crumb structure

Whilst my chocolate cake for my friend Vic’s birthday turned out alright, I did fail on an adapted version of Mary Berry’s  spiced orange cake. Pulverised lemon in a cake does NOT taste nice.

Chocolate cake

However I would say that I have perfected my white chocolate icing recipe. I made another chocolate birthday cake, another Mary Berry recipe and added fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips to the batter. I have already had a re-order for next year so that must be good feedback!

Another choc cake

In a somewhat less successful episode, I couldn’t even bring myself to take a photo of my failed macarons. What have previously been such beautiful treats were reduced to burned splodges after trying to rush through the 36 steps of making  macaron shells, according to the master Mr Herme. I will try again, hopefully once in possession of a sugar thermometer, and will report back on progress. Passion will prevail over precision!

Inspired by my friend Sally’s delicious macarons (which were never a failure), and in anticipation of warm, fresh brioche, I had a go at making some lemon curd. I also had a lot of egg yolks and lemons to use up after the above failures. I followed Delia’s lemon curd recipe and as usual, her words of wisdom are right on the mark. Zingy lemon curd with just the right tinge of sweetness was ready to be slathered on to brioche.

Lemon curd

Moving on to the main subject of this post, Bronya’s brioches.  Bronya is Jess’s mum (see “a bit of savoury on the side” for cooking adventures with Jess).  As teenagers, she was picking Jess and I up in the early hours of the morning after a night out and bringing us tea and toast in bed the next day. As adults, she is sharing her delicious bread recipes with us.

This recipe makes makes one large loaf, which can be shaped to make it easy to share. It has a crisp, sugary coating and soft, fluffy, buttery middle. Yum!

Brioche

I was so proud of my loaf, no soggy bottom (GBBO reference) and it tasted delicious.

nice bottom

Just a little forward planning is required as you need to assemble the dough the night before baking it.

Before proving

 

Look at how the little beaut rose after a few hours of proving…

after proving

Bronya’s recipe is below, unadulterated and with full credit to her. Delicious served warm with lemon curd or another spread of your choice.

Crispy sugary topped brioche

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g salt
50g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
140ml warm full-fat milk  I have used skimmed, it works
5 medium eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

Method

1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk and eggs and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for a further 6–8 minutes, until you have a soft, glossy, elastic dough. Add the softened butter and continue to mix for a further 4–5 minutes, scraping down the bowl periodically to ensure that the butter is thoroughly incorporated. The dough should be very soft.

2. Tip the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight or for at least 7 hours, until it is firm and you are able to shape it.

3. Grease a 25cm round deep cake tin.

4. Take your brioche dough from the fridge and tip it onto a lightly floured surface and fold it in on itself a few times to knock out the air. Divide it into 9 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball by placing it into a cage formed by your hand and the table and moving your hand around in a circular motion, rotating the ball rapidly. Put 8 balls of dough around the outside of the tin and the final one in the middle.

5. Cover with a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for 2–3 hours, or until the dough has risen to just above the rim of the tin.

6. Heat your oven to 190 c

7. When the brioche is proved, bake for 20–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Bear in mind that the sugar and butter in the dough will make it take on colour before it is actually fully baked. Remove the brioche from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

So, my first ever post and I thought I would keep it to a simple but delicious kitchen staple.

I’d like to share a recipe for what I have finally created as perfect banana bread. Not only is it really tasty, it takes literally five minutes to whip up the mixture and around 40 minutes to bake. It smells and tastes heavenly.

We get through at least 15-20 bananas a week in our house, two per work day for Will, one per day for me, plus extra for the weekend. However any change to the routine (such as a much coveted free breakfast at work) and we are left with surplus bananas. This is a great recipe for using  up bananas that are beyond their best.

Whilst not such a pleasure to eat, it is imperative that your bananas for this recipe are old and manky; brown, spotty and quite soft. This lets the banana juices flow during cooking and makes the texture so sweet and sticky.

I experimented a couple of times with various recipes, including odd/ unnecessary ingredients such as buttermilk, and didn’t like how they turned out. My first attempt was too dry (not enough banana) and second attempt was too plain-tasting (I subsequently discovered that this was due to using the wrong sugar).

Most recipes call for caster sugar, but during my second attempt I used some muscovado due to a shortage of the white stuff in the kitchen. It was sticky and almost caramelised once backed, making the cake smell of warm toffee, however it was a little too heavy. It did give me the idea of using soft brown sugar though, which has made it into the final, perfect recipe.

I was then having a small dilemma between putting cinnamon or chocolate chips in the banana bread, surely you can’t have both? Then, I realised that since there was no law against it (quick Google check for obscure cooking rules in other geographies), why could I not have both!? Of course, both are optional according to taste, you may want the focal taste to be the bananas. But don’t be afraid to experiment!  As an alternative, I think some small pieces of stem ginger would also give the cake a great zingy taste.

Beautiful, breakneck speed, banana bread recipe (makes one loaf):

Ingredients:

100g softened unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas
175g dark soft brown sugar
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/ Fan 160C/ Gas 4
  2. Grease loaf tin with a little soft butter
  3. Put all the ingredients listed above in to a large mixing bowl
  4. Mix together using a hand whisk, fork or mixing spoon
  5. Continue mixing until all ingredients are combined
  6. Bake in pre-heated oven for between 45-60 minutes, rotate cake to ensure even cooking if you do not have a fan oven
  7. Check that a skewer/ knife comes out clean from the centre of the cake and then remove to cool on cooling rack
  8. Carefully run a knife around edges before removing cake from its tin

Serving suggestions:

Banana bread

Sliced and buttered with a cup of tea or wrapped in foil for lunchboxes

I actually added a freshly made, warm caramel sauce and ice cream to this as a variation on our “Sunday night sundaes” – to be detailed at a later date…

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