Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Cheddar, Olive and Pesto Scones


I made these for my two daughters lunch today. They are both getting picky with what they eat but, as long as there is olives somewhere in the mix, they'll eat anything. Today they were even looking for more which I must say was a bonus!
Ingredients for 5 Scones:
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
10g caster sugar
40g soft butter
50g sliced black olives
50g strong white cheddar
1 tbsp. pesto
1 lg egg
100ml milk
Preheat the oven to 430F. Sieve the flour and baking powder. Stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, olives and cheddar. whisk the milk, egg and pesto together. Combine with the flour mixture to form a soft dough. Roll on a lightly floured surface, cut out the scones and place on a lined tray. Brush the scone tops with a beaten egg (mixed with a couple of desert spoons of  milk) then bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden. Cool on a wire rack and serve still warm with butter. :op   

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Rose Scented Raw Chocolate

I absolutely love chocolate, so when I discovered that it was possible to make with a meagre three ingredients I had to give it a go. Admittedly it took me a while to locate the cocoa butter, but the other two ingredients, dates and cocoa powder can be found in most supermarkets.
I have to say though this recipe sounds like it could be thrown together in a matter of minutes it took me quite a while. The main problem was the dates, they are so difficult to process and after filling the kitchen sink with sticky mini and major food processing bowls, chopping boards and forks, I finally had my pureed dates. The next difficulty was folding them into the wet chocolate mixture, eventually, after more messy bowls and appliances I stuck the lot in a zip lock bag and mushed it together with my hands. I then left it to partially solidify in the bag before rolling out between two pieces of grease proof paper, before cutting.

I hope I'm not completely putting people off making this, but I do think you may as well know the difficulties before getting stuck in. Next time I'm going to try to buy the dates all ready processed. This would save a world of time and trouble. Or alternatively buy extremely soft dates, I thought mine were pretty soft but judging the trouble I had, they can't have been nearly soft enough.
The Chocolate is delicious however, plus it is a guilt free alternative, been sugar free!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Fruit Loaf

This bread should come with a health warning, not that it's particularly difficult to make, it's just impossible to stop once you've had that first buttered slice, delicious! I found the recipe in a book my Mother in Law Sandra gave me (she always gives me the best books, Thank you Sandra). It is the Paul Hollywood's "How To Bake" book and I can highly recommend it!

500g strong white flour,
plus extra for dusting
10g salt
10g instant yeast
40g soft butter
50g caster sugar
3 medium eggs,
lightly beaten
160 ml warm milk
160ml cool water
100g sultanas
80g raisins
60g ready to eat apricots, chopped
60g mixed peel
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:
100g icing sugar, sifted
Finely grated zest of one lemon
2-3 tsp water

Put the flour in the bowl of a mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, milk and half of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Mix on medium speed for a further 5 minutes. The dough should be elastic and soft to touch, if it breaks easily continue mixing for another 2 minutes. Add the dried fruits, mixed peel and cinnamon and continue mixing for 2 minutes. Cover the bowl and leave for at least 1 hour until doubled in size, it's fine to leave for up to 3 hours.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knock back by repeatedly turning in on itself until smooth. Divide into two pieces and form each into a ball, place these on a lined tray and cover. Leave for at least an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 210C. Bake the loaves for 20 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow, when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack.
Put the icing sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Slowly add the water, until the mixture is that of batter. Brush this mixture over the top of each warm loaf and cool completely before cutting, Enjoy!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The trials and tribulations of Sourdough!

I have wanted to be able to make a decent bread for the longest time. One with big bubbles through out, soft in the centre and a crunchy chewy crust. Each time I've managed to make an okay bread, but generally something though soft in the centre, and with not a bad crust, it always had a pretty close texture. What I wanted was something you buy in your local artisan bakery!
I decided after several failed attempts, and putting my quest for the perfect bread off for another couple of months each time, that sourdough was the way to go. I do have a copy of The River Cottage Bread Book but, I was always put off by what seemed like a lengthy process to produce a sourdough starter. My initial starter, was an absolute non starter, so to speak and was enough to put me off for another while.
Just before Christmas a work friend of my husband lent me his Baker Brothers book which got me started again. This time instead of relying solely on the bacteria in the air, my sourdough starter got a splash of wheat beer. Now I know traditionalists would be unimpressed but what the hell it worked, and after a week of feeding on a regular basis it was ready to go. My first sourdough was o.k, it was not out of this world but acceptable. The second however, which was produced after Christmas, after the starter had spent several weeks in the fridge and was brought back to life with daily feeding again for a few days, is the beauty pictured above.
I must say it was a proud moment, after so many failed attempts, I was delighted and a bit relieved to have finally conquered sourdough. Yay and yum!!! 

Basic Sourdough:
375g strong white flour
250g sourdough starter (see link below)
7g salt
220ml tepid water
1 tbsp olive oil

Put the salt, flour, sourdough starter and 150ml of the water in a mixing bowl. Mix, using a dough hook, on a load speed adding the remaining water as the dough begins to come together. once the dough has come together add the olive oil and continue mixing for approximately 10 minutes. the dough is ready when it is soft, silky and stretchy. Place in a lightly greased bowl coating the top of the dough lightly with the oil also. Cover with cling film and leave to prove, in a warm place, until it has at least doubled or tripled, up to 5 hours. Place a clean linen (if possible but cotton will also work) tea towel in a bowl and coat generously with flour. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knock back by repeatedly turning in on itself. Shape into a round and place in the floured cloth, cover again with film and prove once again this time for 10-13 hours. If your dough has over proved it will be wrinkly. If this happens it will have to be knocked back and proved again for approx. 5-6 hours or until doubled in size. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Turn the bread out of the basket onto a lined baking tray and slash the top using a sharp knife or blade. Place a roasting tray on the bottom shelf of the oven, when the bread is being put in pour a cup of boiling water in the tray (this will cause some steam which will in turn give the bread a crisp light crust). Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and sounds hollow when the base it tapped. Leave to cool fully on a wire rack.

Sourdough starter:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Biscuiteers Biscuits

I treated myself to the "BISCUITEERS BOOK OF ICED BISCUITS" over the Christmas. I decided that biscuits would be the first thing to grace the pages of my very badly neglected blog, in 2013! The book is fab, with brilliant ideas of biscuits, for every occasion. The one little drawback that became clear is, if you only want a small quantity of biscuits you don't need lots of icing, so making a lot of different colours for both flooding and piping becomes quite the ordeal with lots of washing up to do after. I'm going to have to have a biscuit icing afternoon with some friends, that way we could make large quantitys of everything, so we could let the creative juices flow and basically go mad with the icing. Plus I'd have help with all the cleaning up after, bonus!

Above is my first foray into the world of iced biscuits. Below is their web site, just to get a taste of what the book contains. Who wants to be a Biscuiteer, I know I do! Lol

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Soda farls

Soda farls are a favourite of my husbands. So at his request, they were made this morning. The recipe was suprisingly easy and they turned out really well, so I dear say we'll be seeing a lot more of them in the months to come!

225 g Soft (Plain) flour
4 g Bicarbonate of soda
7 g Cream of tartar
150 g Buttermilk

Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the buttermilk and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and Knead lightly. Roll into a thick round (approx 10") and quater. Sprinkle a thick bottomed frying pan with flour and put on the hob at the highest setting. When the flour begins to brown, empty it out, give the pan a quick wipe and lower tempature. Place the soda farl quaters on the pan and cook until the bottom is nicely browned, turn and cook the other side for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Test by pressing the centre if very soft turn again and continue cooking until firm.
Split, butter and top with hot crisp bacon and fried egg or smoked salmon and sour cream, or indeed a breakfast topping of your choice, enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Flat breads

These flat breads are brilliant. They are so impressive the way they puff up during cooking. I'll definitely be making these again! Before you get started make sure you have a good big, heavy bottomed frying pan for cooking.

250g white bread flour
250g plain white flour
10g dried fast action yeast
10g salt
160ml warm natural yogurt
170ml water
1 tbsp olive oil

It's easiest to use a food mixer, but also possible to do by hand. Fix dough hook in the mixer. Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl, making sure to keep the salt separate from the yeast. Add the warm yogurt and water. Mix on a low speed until all the ingredients are combined. Add the oil and then continue to mix for a further 10 minutes until the dough is silky and smooth.
Place the dough in a clean bowl, and leave in a warm place, for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Deflate the dough, then separate into 6 equal pieces (you do not need to be precise, plus if your frying pan is somewhat lacking in the size department, maybe make it 8!). Roll each piece by hand into a ball then flatten. Using a rolling pin roll each piece into a circular shape on a floured surface.

Turn a ring on the hob, and the grill to full. Place your largest pan on the hob and when it is good and hot, add the first flat bread you rolled. When the bottom begins to break out in little brown spots, place the pan under the grill. The flat bread will puff up and after a little while the top will begin to brown, then your flat bread is ready. Serve with a yummy kebab or a selection of dips!