Banner Photo – Fougasse Bread

I have had a lot of requests and interest about the bread in my banner photo.

I first found out about this bread as part of my product design and development unit in the second year of my degree. The class was split up into groups and each given a bread product to develop. My group was given Fougasse. We researched, came up with our own flavour combinations and designed our own shape and finished look for the product.

It is a French flat bread called fougasse and is a variation on the Italian foccacia. Fougasse was traditionally used to assess the temperature of a wood fired oven. The time it would take to bake, gave an idea of the oven temperature and whether the rest of the bread could be baked. One of the distinguishing characteristics of fougasse is that it’s often baked into a shape that is somewhat like a tree or leaf, with one end resembling the trunk and the wider opposite end being more or less round in structure, the holes represent the stems of the leaf. It’s a great snack bread, to eat on the run or as part of a meal.

Recipe
500g Strong white bread flour
300g Water
50g Olive oil
8g Yeast
10g Salt

Additions
Red onion
Olives
sun-dried tomatoes
Anchovies
Pepper
Chillies
Mozzarella
Goats cheese
Caramelised balsamic onions
Feta
Bacon
Capers
Rosemary
Thyme

The flavour combinations are endless and are great fun to play with. You could also try sweet additions.

Yield
4 at 220g
Oven temperature 200′c

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. Place it in a lightly oiled bowl to ferment for 1 hour, cover with cling film. After 40 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 20 minutes.

Then scale at 220g (approx 250g if you have added many different ingredients). Mould into rounds and leave for a 10 minute intermediate prove. On a lightly floured surface using a rolling-pin ,roll out the dough to your chosen shape. Then with a sharp blade cut the dough and separate using your fingers to shape the holes. Place on a tray and prove for 25mins. Once proved bake in a preheated oven for 10-12mins. Remove from the oven when golden and leave to cool. Some bakers brush the finished bread with olive oil to add shine and flavour.

Bread baskets - they always look awesome

Enjoy
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 :)

Anything you fancy – Pancakes

This week is Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. We eat fried foods in memory of the oil (candle oil)  that lasted 8 days. Traditionally these fried foods included potato latkes (pancakes/rosti) and doughnuts. I decided to mix it up this year making not potato pancakes, but both savoury and sweet pancakes. I know – rebellious!
These are the simplest easiest pancakes!

Basic pancake recipe
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup milk
1 egg
pinch of salt

That’s it! whisk it all together and you have your pancake mix. Easy as. Now add any flavour you like. For my savoury pancakes I added wilted spinach, spring greens and spring onion. Add to a hot oiled pan and fry on either side for a couple of minutes or until golden.
You will be surprised at how many pancakes this mix makes!

A few savoury ideas:

  • Potato
  • Spinach
  • Corn
  • Tuna
  • Onion
  • Mushroom
  • Leek
  • Parsnip
  • Honey and mustard
  • Chives or other herbs
  • A base topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon

I also made some sweet pancakes. Use the same recipe as above including the pinch of salt and add a few tablespoons of sugar. I added grated apple and pear.

Please note, once I had added my grated fruit the mix was a bit wet from the water content in the fruit. If yours looks the same add a few more tablespoons of flour. Had I only added one fruit it probably would have been fine.

A few sweet ideas:

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Cinnamon
  • Blueberries
  • Lemon juice
  • Maple syrup or honey
  • Bananas
  • Orange or lemon zest

These pancakes are great for a breakfast, brunch, a snack, glammed up as dessert or as part of a meal. They are also a basic Yorkshire pudding recipe.
As it is the season I’m sure you could use some Christmas leftovers the next day and turn it into something new. A Christmas pancake?

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!

Versatile Blogger Award

I am so honoured to have been nominated this week for the versatile blogger award.

 Thank you so much to http://nocturnefirefay.wordpress.com/for nominating me. I am so touched. I really enjoy blogging and its great to know that other people enjoy reading my blog too.

The rules for the award are:
1) Thank the person who nominated me and link back to them in my post.

2) Share 7 things about myself

3) Pass the award on to 15 more bloggers that I enjoy

4) Contact the bloggers I have chosen to let them know that they have been selected!

Okay so seven things about myself
1, My father is half English half Italian and my mother is Indian. I was brought up in a house with the most delicious food from these countries and it probably started my love affair and passion for food.

2, I left school at 16 to study at catering college, after a year on a professional chefs diploma course I did business studies (with the intention of opening my own eating establishment) and then onto university to study Baking technology management Bsc. I am in my third and final year now.

3, My favourite colour is red. To the point I’m a bit obsessed with anything red :)

4, I love travelling. I want to travel around the world. I love trying new and interesting foods and exploring a countries culture.

5, I started reading the hobbit and Lord of the rings with my dad when I was about 9 and didn’t finish till I was about 14. My favourite book and I think the films are pretty good too. Love it!

6, I am the youngest of 3 daughters and my sisters are my best friends in the world.

7, If I had to choose 5 desert island dish’s, that I would live on for the rest of my life i would have:
- Mums chicken soup, It’s full of veg, ginger and dumplings. Completely delicious.
- Nicoise salad, I love this salad, its perfectly filling and fresh but not too heavy.
- Egg and tomato, a lovely garlicy tomato sauce, the eggs are poached in the sauce and served runny on toast to soak up all the juices.
- Salt beef bagels, the stuffed to brim with salt beef kind, mustard and pickled ccumber.
- Crispy aromatic duck with pancakes. Crunchy, crispy and succulent duck with plum sauce cucumber and sweet pickles.

Now for the 15 more bloggers that I enjoy and think also deserve the reward!

1) http://recipeadaptors.wordpress.com/
A great blog with ideas of cheap alternatives to classic recipes with a twist.

2) http://jenniferamergott.com/about/
A cool blog about music, fashion, photography and food. There’s something for everyone here.

3) http://earthygurl.com/about/
Another great blog about food and fashion with lovely and pretty recipe ideas.

4) http://carosparro.wordpress.com/
A fellow Londoner with a passion for photography and food.

5) http://alternativeeating.wordpress.com/
A great blog for recipes to deal with a number of allergies and still have lovely food.

6) http://couturekrumbs.wordpress.com/
A great blog with lovely recipes written by two sisters all about fashion and baking.

7) http://eatnowtalklater.wordpress.com/
This is my sisters blog but that’s not why I’ve chosen her. She writes great recipes and takes stunning photos good enough to eat.

8 ) http://dalysbreadhomebaking.wordpress.com/
A lovely blog all about bread with recipes and advice on bread baking.

9) http://sundaydreamings.com/
Who doesn’t love Sundays and lie ins. Great recipes for a Sunday lie in breakfast/brunch.

10) http://monsieurwag.com/
A lovely food blog with great recipes from a passionate cook.

11) http://violetsandcardamom.com/
A wonderful blog with a bit of everything. Nice photographs, recipes and simply lovely posts.

12) http://threecleversisters.com/
Another charming blog with recipes and craft ideas written by three sisters.

13) http://nerdybaker.wordpress.com
A delightful blog from a lover of baking.

14) http://zestybeandog.wordpress.com/
A foodie blog with great recipes, a well rounded blog.

15) http://delgrossofoodblog.com/
A captivating food blog with an Italian influence and delicious recipes.

Enjoy :)

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 :)

Sour Dough Product Development

For my advanced bread exam yesterday I had to create and develop a sour dough product. Here’s the artisan bread I came up with:

Sour dough bakery pizza I topped my sour dough pizza with: passata,  onion, courgette, olives, mozzarella and finished with fresh basil.

Sweet potato, pumpkin seed and rosemary sour dough

The flavour, texture and crumb structure are divine

I couldn’t have been happier with both the way my exam went and the products that I created. It was a great baking success and these breads will certainly be going on the menu when I open my bakery :)

Bitter Sweet Orange Marmalade Cupcakes

I had really wanted to try out these cakes,and been thinking of new recipes to try and saw a blog post that gave me the push. I am really happy with the result. I used a basic cupcake recipe and added in the flavours I thought would go well using an orange cream cheese icing to top it off. Here’s how I did it.

Recipe
For the cake batter:
100g Butter
100g Caster Sugar
2 Free range eggs
100g Self raising flour
2 Tsp Orange marmalade
(optional to taste, drop of orange extract and or orange zest)

Extra marmalade for the centre

For the orange,cream cheese icing:
180g Cream cheese
350g Icing sugar
Zest of one orange

Makes 12 cupcakes
Baking time:15 minutes

Preheat the oven to 170′C. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and blend in. Then mix in the flour and marmalade ensuring there are no lumps. If you want more of an orange punch add orange extract and or zest. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 mins in the tray before transferring to a wire rack.

While waiting for the cakes to cool, using an electric whisk, mix the cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth and combined. Bear in mind, if the kitchen is hot the icing will become very loose and may need more icing sugar. Once cooled I added marmalade to the centre of the cake to give an extra bitter sweet marmalade yumminess when you bite into the cake.  Now you are ready to top the cupcakes with the orange flavoured cream cheese icing. I chose to pipe them but you could top with any design style you fancy.

I added thick cut orange marmalade strips to the top of each cake for the final touches :)
These bitter sweet cupcakes are perfect to serve with tea or to those who don’t particularly have a sweet tooth.

Enjoy.

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 :)