End of Exam’s Baking Day – Freedom Baking

To celebrate the end of exams I invited a friend from my course, Kim, over for a relaxed day of freedom baking.
We had to think up what to make using the ingredients I had at home, (including the herbs and vegetables growing in the garden) so we decided on sour-dough pizza and courgette loaf. I had heard of courgette loaf and really wanted to try it.

After letting the sour-dough bulk ferment we pinned out the dough and topped with passata and garlic to prove

The Baked pizza.

The pizzas were topped with: onion, mushrooms, courgette (zucchini), swiss chard from the garden, olives and finished with rocket (also from the garden).
I usually go for thin and crispy pizzas, but the addition of sour-dough created such a light aerated fluffy pizza base that I actually really enjoyed it. It didn’t have that heavy, doughy characteristic usual to a thick base pizza.

You may be thinking that my photos are not of my usual standard and yes, you are right. Apologies, it was all so exciting and delicious I was far too busy eating to get my good camera out and used only the camera on my phone…… I know, I know.

The aerated sour-dough base

He he he, I couldn't help myself

The courgette loaf was beautifully risen and topped with a lemon glaze

I had found a recipe online, but it called for 2 cups of sugar which I felt was too much, so only added 1 1/2 and we added lemon extract. Then we decided to top it with a lemon glaze. Our baking instincts were spot on and the lemon just brought the whole loaf together. It was unbelievably moist, light and fluffy and full of flavour. I am so blown away with this courgette loaf I think it will become a favourite bake of mine.
 This morning I got out my camera to take some good shots of the remains of the courgette loaf. 

The lovely soft and moist structure with the speckle of courgette

All in all it was a delicious day!
Peace and loaf :)

Rainy Saturday afternoon – Chilli and Cheese Sourdough Baps

You all know the feeling on a Saturday afternoon when it’s horrible, wet, grey and cold outside. I was fortunate to have my lovely sister Vered from eat now talk later staying with me. This of course meant it was acceptable to stay in, make a nice dinner and watch a film. We started brainstorming ideas of what to have for dinner, something yummy and makes you feel warm but not too heavy. We had a few boiled eggs in the fridge to make into egg mayo, we had humous and various other dips. So we decided on bread rolls. I got a piece of paper and calculated a recipe adding in  hot dried chilli and chunks of cheese. I have both a white and rye sour at home, since learning about and researching sourdoughs  I really like the combination of a rye sour with white flour, so that’s we decided on. 

Recipe
327g Strong white bread flour
186g Water
55g Rye sour
7g Yeast
7g Olive oil
6g Salt
2g Sugar
4g Dried chilli (flakes are best)
20g strong hard cheese cut into chunks
Makes 4 large baps at 160g each or 5 at 130g

As it was already afternoon and we wanted the baps for dinner I decided to add yeast as well as the sour to quicken the fermentation time without compromising on taste.

Method
Mix all the ingredients together till a dough is formed. I always use my kitchenaid with a dough hook on speed one for about 10 mins. If you are kneading by hand, once the ingredients are combined stretch and knead the dough for approximately 20 minutes until a soft dough is formed. Then place it in a lightly oiled bowl  to ferment for 2 hours, cover with cling film. After an hour and 20 minutes you need to knock back the dough. This is done to get rid of excess air bubbles. Push the dough a few times with your knuckles (like a light kneading) until it looks at it did before fermentation, cover and leave for the remaining 40 minutes.

 Remove the dough from the bowl and scale into the size required. Lightly mould into balls and leave covered for ten minutes. This allows the dough to rest and be more manageable when shaping.

Giving the dough an intermediate prove

Giving the dough an intermediate prove

After a ten minute rest re-shape the dough, I chose to make mine round baps. Place on a baking tray making sure the dough has enough space to rise and leave covered in a warm place to prove for 35 minutes. After proving top with extra cheese (if you really like it hot you could add chilli powder or pepper to season the cheese) and add to the top of the baps.

Ready for the oven

 Bake in a pre heated oven at 210′c for 15-20 minutes( if using a fan oven lower the temperature to 200′c). If you’re unsure as to whether it’s fully baked tap the bottom of the bread, if it sounds hollow it’s fully baked, if not it needs a bit longer in the oven.

The dough structure

They tasted really good and went very well with all the dips and salad! I am very happy with the way these turned out, especially as I made the recipe up on the spot. It gave me a real boost of confidence in myself, a great feeling! The combination of rye sour and white flour worked well and the dough structure was lovely.

Enjoy :)

Pre-made Cake Mix

The other day in the supermarket I was in the baking aisle. Needless to say, I can spend hours just looking at what’s available. Suddenly, I saw the enormous section of pre-made cake mix. They have brownies mix, chocolate cake, victoria sponge cake, lemon cake, marble cake, carrot cake, cookies, scones, muffins and so much more! All you have to do is add an egg, some butter or water and that’s it really.

The array is quite astounding; you can pretty much get anything you want. Then, of course, there’s also all the cupcakes mixes for children with different cute toppers. I couldn’t help but be intrigued and while my initial reaction was some what of a snobbery baker, I found myself compelled to buy the Tesco brand and do a taste test. (Watch this space!) I was pretty gob smacked by the price too as they are all well under £1.

There are many other brands such as Betty Crocker, Mcdougalls, Dr Oetker and celebrity chefs own brands. As I continued shopping I was wondering why people buy pre-made mixes and came up with a number of suggestions. Maybe they don’t enjoy baking? Maybe they think it produces a good product? Or maybe its just so much quicker?

Tell me what you think and take my poll!

The Season of Baking

It seems everyone’s in the baking spirit and its great to see so many bloggers posting about baking! Keep it up guys :)

Food club this week was suitably Christmukka theme. We had a great night which included: mulled cider, purple brussel sprouts, potato latkas, artichoke dip and more!
As part of my contribution I wanted to make something ‘everyday’ in a holiday theme. Here’s what I made:

Triple chocolate chunk cookies
These are chocolate cookies with milk and white chocolate chunks. The holiday is all about colours, so by adding in some pink hearts and a few sprinkles a chocolate cookie is transformed into a seasonal item.

In my opinion the chewier the better!

Brownies
I made my gooey chocolate brownies and decorated them to look like a Christmas tree. Glitter is always a great decoration :)
So there you have it. Think of simple ways to jazz up your tried and tested recipes!
Happy Baking :)

All Purpose Rich Fruit Cake

The original recipe is by Dan Lepard and I’ve altered it slightly. This is a rich moist all purpose fruit cake. You can make it a few weeks before Christmas and feed it alcohol. Or, if like me, you live with people that just love fruit cake, it can be for any occasion. :)

Ingredients:

  • 105g golden syrup
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • 7g mixed spice
  • 5g cinnamon
  • 125g butter
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • Zest of a large orange
  • 3 medium free-range eggs
  • 500g currants, raisins,mixed peel (any dried fruit)
  • 250g natural glacé cherries
  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • brandy, whisky or alcohol of your choice
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 2 hours

Preheat the oven to 170C/335F/Gas 3 and line a round deep cake tin with non-stick paper. Place the syrup, sugar, cream and spices in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Take off the heat and add the butter in small chunks and stir until melted, then add the orange and lemon extracts (or zest). Then add the eggs beat slightly till the mix looks smooth, then stir in the fruit. Mix the flour and soda together in a separate bowl, then stir this through evenly. Pour into the tin and bake for approx 2 hours, using your own judgement and a cocktail stick. Leave to cool in the tin.

When cold, spoon the top liberally with your choice of alcohol, wrap well and leave for 3-4 days before icing or leave for a day and eat it as it is. Alternatively, you could feed it alcohol for a few weeks leading up to Christmas and then cover with marzipan and icing.

The cherries go all chewy and yummy.
Serve with a nice hot cup of tea. Perfect :)

Princess Pink Cakes

I had an order for a 12 year old’s Batmitvah cake. She wanted a chocolate cake with pink butter cream and glitter. Here’s How I did it!

Fill the two layers with buttercream. Then apply the first coat all over the cake to catch any crumbs, refrigerate and repeat the process. Then decorate accordingly. Ive used glitter and a written message.

Waste not want not. With the leftover icing I decorated some princess cupcakes!