Sunday, August 23, 2015

Baguettes - Great British Bake Off (#GBBOBloggers2015)

I love bread, so bread week is one of my favourites! I am continuing my baking of the technicals, and this week, it was baguettes. I was pleased with how these turned out, overall.

My sizing was a little off - these were sadly not four evenly sized baguettes. However, they had a wonderful crust, and a lovely open structure. I didn't have a proper razor to slash the baguettes, and none of my knives were sadly quite sharp enough.

Two of the baguettes had a good sheen, but two didn't, and I'm not quite sure why. It may have been that I was switching between recipes (a very similar recipe is in Paul Hollywood's "How to Bake"), and one had me to knead in oil rather than flour, or it may have been to do with position in my (non-fan) oven.

Recipe (From BBC Food)
olive oil, for greasing
500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g/¼ oz salt
10g/¼ oz fast-action yeast
370ml/13fl oz cool water
1. Lightly oil a 2¼ litre/4 pint square plastic container with olive oil. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough.)
2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water, then continue to mix on a medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until you have a glossy, elastic dough.
3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub. Cover and leave for 1 hour, or until at least doubled in size.
4. Dredge a linen couche with flour and lightly dust the work surface with flour.
5. Carefully tip the dough onto the work surface. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. (This helps to create the irregular, airy texture of a really good baguette.) The dough will be wet to the touch but still lively.
6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with the join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavily. Concentrate on the backwards and forwards movement and gently use the weight of your arms to roll out the dough to 30cm/12in long.
7. Lay a baguette along the edge of the linen couche and pleat the couche up against the edge of the baguette. Place another baguette next to the pleat. Repeat the process until all 4 baguettes are lined up against each other with a pleat between each. Cover the baguettes with a clean tea towel and leave for 1 hour, or until the dough has at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger.
8. Preheat the oven to 240C/220C Fan/Gas 9 and put a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven to heat up.
9. When the baguettes are risen, remove them from the couche and dust lightly with flour. Slash each one 4 times along its length on the diagonal, using a razor blade or a very sharp knife. Transfer to a large baking tray.
10. Fill the heated roasting tray with hot water, to create steam, and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden-brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.

I'm entering this in #GBBOBloggers2015, which this week is hosted by Jo's Kitchen.

Mummy Mishaps

I'm also entering this in #CookBlogShare, which this week is being hosted by Kerry Cooks


Baguettes previously: Sourdough Spelt Baguettes

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Savoury Cheesecake - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (41/100)

I was pleasantly surprised by this one - you see I am not a big fan of quiche, and was very concerned this would be too much like quiche.

It is pleasingly not - instead it is as it describes - a savoury cheesecake - with the tang and texture of a cheesecake, but with saltiness not sweetness.

I made a few modifications to this one - I only made half of the recipe, because I had no requirement for a 25cm diameter savoury cheesecake.

I substituted the fine beans and runner beans for mushrooms cooked with spring onions until they were no longer wet.

This would be an excellent dish for a bring and share lunch/pot-luck or for a picnic, I think.

(I made half of this)
For the base:
125g unsweetened wheat or bran biscuits or crackers
50g mixed seeds (sunflower and sesame)
50g unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake topping:
250g full fat cream cheese
300g soured cream
4 large eggs
140g mature cheddar cheese, grated
10g fresh basil, roughly chopped
200g peas
200g fine beans
200g runner beans
salt and black pepper

Next up: Custard Cream Cupcakes


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I am entering this in #CookBlogShare, which this week is being hosted by Kerry Cooks


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#CookBlogShare Round Up 11th to 17th August 2015

My week hosting #CookBlogShare has been such fun - I've read so many lovely recipes, drooled over countless delicious looking photos and bookmarked lots of new ideas.

In the time-honoured tradition of #CookBlogShare,  I will therefore present a round-up of my favourite four recipes. I now understand why previous hosts go on about how difficult it is to decide - it really is! I think it is probably rather telling about me, rather than those who linked up, that all of my favourites were sweet treats, and three out of the four were chocolate based! These are presented in no particular order:

I loved the idea of these delicious and unusual Lemon and Raspberry Meringues with Aquafaba by Only Crumbs Remain. I was utterly intrigued by the use of the Aquafaba (the liquid usually left in the can from canned beans in water) and inspired to use it (successfully) in a batch of egg-free chocolate chip cookies!

I'd Much Rather Be Baking Than... had me positively dribbling over her Nutella Chocolate Milkshake Bundt Cake - who doesn't love a milkshake, and a milkshake in a cake? Well, fabulous, no?!

Jo's Kitchen's Black Forest Ring Cake looked absolutely wonderful - I love Black Forest Gateaux and the idea of having the cherries as an integral part of the cake delights me.

And last, but definitely not least, Sneaky Veg's Black Forest Gateau Raw Brownies with Coconut Cream have firmly made their way onto my "Cook This" list - I love raw bars and brownies made from nuts and dried fruit, and the idea of a Black Forest version thrills me.

I'll be back hosting #CookBlogShare in September, but in the meantime, I'll hand you on to Kerry Cooks



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Arlettes - Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (#GBBOBloggers2015)

After last week, where I had actually seen the episode before baking, I'm back to my role of baking blind (oh, such a witty pun... no? Spoil sport.)

My lovely friends, who I usually watch Bake Off with, were away, so we saved viewing for their return.

So, arlettes - had never heard of them, but now we've been introduced, I think we could be good friends.

I had a little bit of a battle with the butter layer - I think it was too chilled, and it cracked and split, and refused to bond with the dough layer initially, but it turned out that this didn't really matter, a couple of book turns later and all was well.

I don't think I rolled my biscuits out quite thin enough, but I could only fit 3 on a tray going in to the oven as it was.

They are delicious and light and crispy, and although it is rather a palaver to make the special puff pastry from scratch, they were rather fun, and I would possibly repeat them.

Arlettes (from BBC Food)
For the dough
 60g/2¼oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
60g/2¼oz plain flour
1 tsp salt
40g/1½oz unsalted butter, melted
For the butter layer
125g/4½oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
25g/1oz strong white bread flour
25g/1oz plain flour
For the filling
50g/1¾oz granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
icing sugar, for dusting
Preparation method
1. Put the flours, salt, butter and 50ml/2fl oz cold water in a bowl and gently mix to form a dough.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Shape the dough into a square, wrap in cling film and chill for an hour (or freeze for 20-30 minutes).
3. For the butter layer, cream the butter and flours together using an electric mixer. Sandwich the mixture between two sheets of cling film and roll out to a rectangle the same width as the square of dough, but twice as long. Chill in the fridge for 25 minutes.
4. Unwrap the chilled dough and butter layer. Place the chilled butter layer, short end facing towards you on a lightly floured surface and place the square of dough in the centre of the butter sheet. Make sure it is positioned neatly and covers almost to the edges. Lift the exposed butter sheet at the top and fold it down over the dough, then fold the exposed butter sheet at the bottom up over the top, so the dough is completely enclosed in the butter sheet.
5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, short end towards you. Roll out to a rectangle, keeping the edges as even as possible. Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet neatly in the centre. Then fold the dough in half along the centre line. This is called a book turn. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.
6. Remove the dough from the fridge and make another book turn. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.
7. For the filling, mix the granulated sugar and the cinnamon together in a bowl. On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to a rectangle as before and sprinkle over the sugar.
8. Make another book turn to incorporate the sugar, then roll out the pastry 1cm/½in thick, to a rectangle 12x20cm/4½x8in. Roll up the pastry from the short end like a Swiss roll. Wrap in cling film and chill for 25 minutes.
9. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line 2 baking trays lines with silicon sheets or non-stick baking paper.
10. Trim the ends of the roll and cut into 8 x 1cm/½in thick slices. Dust the work surface heavily with icing sugar and roll each piece of dough out very thinly, turning to coat in the sugar and to prevent sticking. Place the biscuits on the prepared trays and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully turn the biscuits and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I'm entering these into Great Bloggers Bake Off, which this week is hosted by: All You Need Is Love And Cake

Mummy Mishaps

Edited to add: I'm entering this in #CookBlogShare, which this week is being hosted by Kerry Cooks

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chocolate Fudge - Home Sweet Home Bake Along - 40/100

These were not my finest bake. Indeed they nearly ended up as a total disaster.

The first time, I didn't fully dissolve the sugar, and thus ended up with a bizarre granular substance.

I then added 1/2 a cup of water, fully dissolved everything, and brought it up to temperature. However, there was then too much liquid, so the mixture wouldn't thicken properly.

The third boil, however, got everything to where it should be, and finally I had fudge - however, it turned out my tin was a wee bit too big, so I had very thin fudge.

Still, it tastes very good, and is has a beautiful smooth texture, such as I have never previously managed when making fudge.

400g caster sugar
60g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
2 tbsp golden syrup
120ml double cream
30g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanila extract

Next up: Savoury Cheesecake (I think it's a sort of quiche)


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Roasted Aubergines with Pesto, Tomatoes and Cheese

I have a love-hate relationship with summer gluts - on the one hand, HOMEGROWN PRODUCE, on the other hand - so-many-courgettes-aubergines-tomatoes-aaaaaaargh.

There are only so many ratatouilles anyone can tolerate in a single season. Of course, there was the year I put courgettes into every possible kind of cake, including chocolate.

This dish makes for a rather tasty summer lunch, served on its own, or could bulk up a dinner, if served with cous-cous or flatbread, and maybe a couple of lamb kebabs.

Ingredients: (per person)
1 medium, or 2 dwarf, aubergines
2 to 4 cherry tomatoes
4 tsp pesto
2 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt
20g cheese (I used mature cheddar, but parmesan, gruyere or even mozzarella would all work)
basil leaves to garnish.

1. Preheat the oven to 200C Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise - don't bother removing the green hat.
2. Criss-cross the white aubergine flesh, taking care not to cut through the purple skin.
3. Mix the pesto, olive oil and salt together, then spread the mixture equally over the cut surface of each of the aubergine halves
4. Put the aubergine halves into a roasting tin, and roast for around 20 minutes, until the flesh is soft (the pesto will darken in colour)
5. Thinly slice the tomatoes, and grate or slice the cheese.
6. Top each aubergine with slices of tomato and a sprinkling of cheese.
7. Return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden (mine never reached this stage due to an inconvenient power cut.)
8. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.

I'm entering this in #CookBlogShare, which I am hosting this week!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#CookBlogShare S'more Brownies (Home Sweet Home Bake Along 39/100)

A warm welcome to you, #CookBlogShare cooks (and regular readers!) I'm really excited to be hosting you this week.

If you're new around here, you might like to know that this post is one of a series of 100 week-by-week bakes - Gill (who blogs at Tales of Pigling Bland) and I are working our way through "Home Sweet Home" by the hummingbird bakery (one bake per week). We realised that we each owned several baking books, but had never baked more than one or two recipes from them, and so it began.

Anyway, this week was s'more brownies - a celebration of all that is good and unhealthy about America, in one sweet treat.

A layer of brownie, topped with buttered digestive biscuits, all finished off with gently toasted marshmallows.

These are rather exciting monster brownies, made even more so by using a tin slightly smaller than that recommended. Not that this mattered, they disappeared rather sharpish and with much excitement when presented for elevenses at work.

115g unsalted butter
120g dark chocolate
190g soft light brown sugar
130g caster sugar
1+1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
140g plain flour, sifted
200g digestive biscuits, crushed
125g unsalted butter, melted
400g large white marshmallows

Pithy instructions: Crush biscuits, mix with melted butter, set aside. Melt butter and chocolate together, mix with all other brownie ingredients, pour into 20x30cm tin (make sure it is deep, or make it a little tin foil collar). Top brownie with crushed biscuit mix. Bake. Top with marshmallows (make sure collar is higher than marshmallows) - melt in oven for 2-3 minutes, then finish with a grill or blow torch.

Without further ado, here's the linky:


Next up: Chocolate Fudge


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