Archive of ‘Baking’ category

A Lovely Loaf of Bread

I have baked a lot of bread before, no knead bread, one hour bread, soda bread, potato bread and various other things which have been eaten too quickly to blog about. But I never seem to get around to cooking a normal white loaf, you know one you can slice and use for sandwiches and toast. I guess because it is easy to get supermarket bread for that and make fancy bread homemade. But really baking an everyday loaf is really satisfying because you can include in your everyday meals to make them more interesting.

 This recipe has more water in than normal bread doughs and I proved it once for an hour, and second in the loaf tin for 45 minutes. This mean it was moist,  very well risen and airy, I think if I’d left it the second time for another 15 minutes it would have bloomed a bit higher. I sprinkled it with poppyseeds for extra crunch and prettiness.

Simple White Loaf
makes one small loaf

300g (2.5 cups) of strong white bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
3/4 tablespoon of salt
1 flat tablespoon of instant yeast
1 tablespoon of olive oil
150ml of warm water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then make a well in the centre and add the oil and water. Slowly incorporate the flour into the well until it combines fully, mix to a fairly sticky dough. Flour a board well and knead the loaf for a few minutes until it is smooth, you may need to keep adding flour to stop it being too sticky.

Put into a large clean bowl dusted with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

After an hour turn the dough out and knock it back, kneading lightly for a minute. Then shape into a rough loaf shape and pop into a floured loaf tin. Prove again for 45 minutes to 1 hour in a warm place, covered with a tea towel. Preheat your oven to 180c / gas mark 4 before the proving is nearly up.

Once proved slash the top with a sharp knife, about 3 or 4 slashes should do. This will allow the loaf to rise and air to escape during cooking. Dab with some water or brush with milk and sprinkle on about 1 teaspoon of poppyseeds.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes in the middle of the oven.

Remove from the oven, grab the butter, slice and spread and EAT!

I think this bread would take really well to other flavourings such as cheese, herbs, sundried tomatoes, whatever you can think of. Sesame seeds and a drizzle of oil would be an nice twist too. The possibilities!

I toasted it the next day and spread it with honey, it toasts extremely well.

Coffee & Hazelnut Cupcakes

I think I have a cupcake fixation. I think it is because they are a) really easy to make b) cute and c) great to photograph.

I have no less than 7 (now 8) cupcake recipes in my reasonably petite recipe archive. They are a bit like brownies (I have a lot of those blogged too), adaptable and everyone loves them. I don’t always like icing or frosting, it can make the cupcake overly sweet for an everyday lunchtime snack, but for special ocasions you have to. My favourite cupcake is lemon drizzle, which is also my favourite cake.

These cupcakes are again super easy and people always swoon when you mention coffee cake in any form – have you noticed that? I played around with the traditional walnut and decided to sub hazelnut instead because I prefer them. There is a mixture of whole and chopped hazelnuts, along with one of the top which gave it a slightly er, protuding appearance – oops!

I am a coffee snob and I much prefer proper fresh ground coffee to instant, but instant is always the best thing to use for baking – unless you can find coffee extract. You can get a much stronger coffee taste, and I’ve tried using freshly made proper espresso before, than real coffee. Trust me!

Coffee & Hazelnut Cupcakes
makes about 12 cupcakes

200g butter, softened
200g white or brown sugar
4 eggs
175g self raising flour
4 tsps of instant coffee (dissolve about 2 tsps of powder in as little water as possible, approx 75ml)
dash of vanilla extract
chopped and whole hazelnuts – about 100g in total plus extra for the top.

Preheat your oven to 200c / gas mark 6
Cream together your butter and sugar with a spoon and then whisk in the eggs one by one, mixing well to incorporate each time. Add in your vanilla, coffee and then the flour, folding in, try not to overbeat. Then add in your hazelnuts.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases, and fill to about 2/3 full, top with hazelnuts. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes til cooked all the way through.

I did intend to ice them with chocolate and coffee icing but trying to eke out some leftover chocolate frosting with extra coffee and milk made it go all runny, whoops! I experimented with one but the chocolate just wouldn’t set, but it was tasty when topped with more hazelnuts.

P.S. The other cupcakes in the picture are lemon cupcakes, recipe in the Hummingbird Bakery Book 🙂

Rhubarb Custard Cake with Lemon Glaze

Forced rhubarb time is here! It definitely feels like spring time when seasonal fruit comes back into the shops. I love the colour of forced rhubarb too, shocking pink just reminds me of summer time rather than dull old February.

I bake with rhubarb a lot, cakes, cupcakes, pies, simple crumbles and jam. This recipe is super simple to make, the crumb is creamy – to me it actually tastes of custard  – and we all know what rhubarb goes with! This batter has more eggs and less flour, hence the custard taste, and the juices from the rhubarb seep out whilst it makes which makes it extra moist.

I experimented with a lemon glaze too, rhubarb is sour but I think the glaze works surprisingly well.

Rhubarb Custard Cake
makes one cake, I baked mine in a 7 inch square tin.

150gs of softened unsalted butter
150gs of white sugar plus extra for the top
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100gs self raising flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
zest of one lemon
2 large sticks of rhubarb

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, mix in your eggs one by one and then the vanilla. Fold in your zest, flour and baking powder til just combined. Pour the batter into a greased and lined cake tin (mine was non stick so I didn’t use any baking paper)
Trim your rhubarb and chop into 1 inch pieces, arrange over the top of the cake, sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar over the top, this will add a bit of extra sweetness to the rhubarb.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 200c / gas mark 6 til cooked through. When a knife is inserted it won’t come out absolutely clean because it is quite a moist cake, a few crumbs should stick.

Leave to cool for about 5 minutes and then very carefully transfer to a plate or a board to allow you to glaze the cake.

For the lemon glaze
juice of one lemon
dash of vanilla extract
approx 70g caster sugar

whisk both together until well combined, the sugar doesnt have to dissolve as you want a nice crunchy top. Spoon over the warm cake and leave for as long as you can before grabbing yourself a slice.

This cake is just lovely out of the oven as it is incredibly crispy on top, you can reheat it slightly from cold to crisp up again too.

Starting a Sourdough Starter

I have started a sourdough starter! I started it on Sunday, so far it is going well and I had bubbles last night. I am probably too excited about it. Hopefully I can make some sourdough over the weekend.

This blog post from Joy the Baker is super useful, some of the other recipes out there are ESSAYS on the subject, really it is simple. One cup of bread flour. One cup of water. Blend. Every 24 hours for the first 3-4 days you need to feed it. Do this by throwing half away, and adding half cup of water and half a cup of flour. Stir. Leave in a warm place. Once it has established itself you keep it in the fridge and feed it once a week.

(if anyone knows how to take an attractive picture of this big yeasty floury mess I’d be grateful, haha).

My First Macarons & Using Up Your Egg Yolks Lemon Curd

Hurray some food blogging!

I’ve been a bit remiss since Christmas (ok way before then) even though I’ve been baking lots of things and making lots of things.

Macarons have been on my lists for ages and ages, our last house had the worse oven on the planet, it couldn’t even cook a baked potato evenly so I wasn’t trusting it with macarons. Since we have moved we have a nice shiny electric oven which keeps the temperature even and cooks things nice and quickly. I can now bake a whole cake in less than an hour and without checking it every 2 minutes impatiently.

This also means I can now make meringues, lemon meringue pie specifically! Yum.

I used the recipe over on The Catty Life, she embued me with confidence that I Can Do It. Macrons scared me a bit, maybe I read too much into them and worried about how hard they would be.

I didn’t age my egg whites, like you should, because I forgot. I still got the taste of macarons and the airy inside, but I didn’t get the longer for ‘feet’ and a thicker shell. You can make macarons with un-aged egg whites but they won’t be as pretty!

Vanilla Macarons with Lemon Curd Filling 
recipe from the catty life 

100g ground almonds
200g caster or icing sugar (I used caster which was fine)
50g caster sugar
3 egg whites – preferably aged by leaving them in a bowl at room temperature for 24 hours.
squirt of vanilla extract

Whip your egg whites still they start to foam/turn white, then add in the 50g of caster sugar slowly to combine. Whisk further til you the eggs form stiff peaks, add in the vanilla extract.
Combine the almonds and the 200g of sugar in a bowl, mix, then carefully fold them in to the meringue mix, adding it in quarters til combined.
Using a piping bag dot the mixture on to a lined baking tray, mine were about 1.5 inches wide, they don’t spread too much in the oven.
Leave for 30 minutes to an hour til the mixture sets a little, it should form a ‘shell’ on the top.
Bake at 150 degrees celsius for 15 minutes. Keep checking, the recipe says 10 minutes but I needed a bit longer.

Remove when cool by sliding a knife under each macaron.
Sandwich with lemon curd, eat four in a row like I did.

Lemon Curd
This lemon curd is great because you can use up your leftover egg yolks from the macarons.

3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
juice and zest of one lemon
50 grams of unsalted butter, cubed

Beat the egg yolks and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl using an electric whisk til the sugar has dissolved.
Then place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, add in the lemon juice and zest plus the butter. Whisk to melt the butter, the eggs should start to thicken, keep whisking. Keep an eye on the heat as you don’t want the eggs to scramble. The mixture is done when it coats the back of a wooden spoon – it will thicken further as it cools.
Immediately pour into hot sterilised jars (this actually makes one jar) and seal. Keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge, after opening.

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