Thursday, 25 March 2010

Mid week bread baking - with sausages in!

I don't normally get the chance to bake much bread during the week as I do shift work, though luckily was on the 'early' today and as the beloved was going to be home later this evening the kitchen beckoned and I decided to make some bread, using a pretty failsafe recipe translated and passed on from the Italian In-law's :) I also realise that I've been using this base recipe for a couple of years now and never blogged it!

This dough makes rolls, loaves and is very flexible as can use fresh or dried yeast, plus a variety of things liked dried herbs or even sweeter with a few rum soaked raisins and cinnamon! Flavoured oils are also good, I like to make rosemary infused oil specially for breads. Depending on the time of year it seems and flour ratio you may need a little more or a little less liquid.

Overall I like to mix 70/ 30 mix of organic stoneground wholemeal and strong white bread flour for most of my bread but today just used strong white bread flour and made some poppyseed rolls, along with a few experimental ones filled with a half a bockwurst sausage (like frankfurters!) which were really good!

When I was in Amsterdam last year I had something similar and had been meaning to make ever since, were very tasty warm from the oven!

Amsterdam Bread -

Todays mix was:
450g strong white bread flour + extra for dusting
1 x 7g sachet fast action yeast
280ml warm water (maybe go for 250ml next time as needed a little more flour)
2 tsp EVOO
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

A little milk for finishing

Place the yeast, sugar, 1 tbsp flour and 1/2 the water in a bowl, mix well and leave to settle for about 5 minutes.

Sift the flour, add the salt and mix in, make a well in the middle. Add the remaining water and oil to the yeast mix, stir into the dry ingredients until you have a dough, tip onto a well floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until soft and smooth, place in a covered bowl and allow to rest in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled.

Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, knock the air out and shape as desired! Either milk or egg wash, you can sprinkle with herbs, cheese etc at this stage. Allow to rest for a further 20 minutes or so. Heat the oven to 180o fan/ 200o. Small rolls will take about 12-15 minutes, turn upside down and tap - if hollow sounding then will be cooked. Allow a little longer for larger shapes. Can really recommend using baking parchment to line your tins as no sticking!

These are previous ones using the base recipe:

Left: Italian herb - right: Sultana and rum

Seeded bun loaf and mini rolls

Poppyseed topped with rosemary oil and herbs round loaf:

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Maple, Pecan and Lemon Loaf

As much as I adore cake, over the last few months I've been growing increasingly fond of tea loaf's, partially as they are just perfect for dipping into your favourite hot drink without falling to pieces and also that I tend to normally have most of the ingredients already in the kitchen!

This little beauty is just perfect with a cuppa, and is fit to bursting with delicious pecan nuts, its a little on the pricier side as involves lovely maple syrup (mine carefully bought back from Canada by my boyfriend last month!) and lots of pecans but I think its worth it! Its more loaf than cake in texture but still has a soft crumb. The lemony icing gives a lovely tang to the loaf and is ideal for afternoon tea :)

The recipe is once again taken from Step by Step baking, published by Starfire books.

Makes 12 slices..

350g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
175g butter, cubed
75g caster sugar
125g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
3 medium eggs
1 tbsp milk
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
5 tbsp maple syrup


75g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
25g pecan nuts roughly chopped

Line a 2lb/ 900g loaf tin (I love the baking parchment liners from Lakeland)

Pre-heat oven 170o/ 325o/ gas 3/ fan 150o

Rub the butter and flour together until breadcrumb like (I cheated and used the food processor!) Stir in sugar and pecans

Beat seperately the eggs, milk and lemon, stir in maple syrup, gently stir into the dry ingredients until mixed together

Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes away clean, allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, stir in the lemon juice to form a smooth icing, drizzle over the cake and top with the remaining pecan nuts, allow to set before slicing.

With the icing - I had actually made two loaves, one to take to my family in Devon and one for my boyfriends mum. One cake I drizzled the icing with a teaspoon, the other by filling a small food bag, snipping the corner and drizzling that way - there isn't a huge difference but marginally neater using the bag:

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Moist Mincemeat Tea Loaf

This recipe almost didn't get blogged, due to greed I realised when eating the last slice I had forgotten to photograph it, and so the picture you see below was indeed the last of it mid-devour!

Its very tasty on its own but even better with a little butter on too!

Its a great way of using any leftover mincemeat up from Christmas (where has the time gone - we are nearly April??) or also incase you found any in the sale post-xmas - I picked up two jars of mincemeat reduced to 60p, despite being in date till 2011!
Recipe is taken from Step by Step Baking, one of my favourite baking books as everything always works!

Makes one lovely fruity loaf (Apparently makes 12 slices..yeah, erm, depends on how thick you cut it really!)

You will need a 2lb/ 900g loaf tin

225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
125g cold butter, cubed
75g flaked almonds (I had run out so improvised with pecan nuts)
25g glace cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
75g light muscavado sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly whisked
250g mincemeat
1tsp lemon zest (I had previously frozen some which worked perfectly in this)
2tsp brandy or milk (I used Port!)

Pre-heat oven to 180o/ 350o/ gas 4 (I have a fan oven and set it at 160o)

Sift flour and spice into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in until breadcrumbs

Reserving 2 tbsp of the nuts, add the remaining, the sugar and cherries to the bowl

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl lightly whisk the eggs, stir in the mincemeat, lemon zest and brandy /milk (or port even!). Fold into the dry ingredients, spoon into a lined loaf tin, smooth over and top with reserved nuts. Bake for 30 minutes, cover with tin foil to stop the nuts burning and bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until well risen and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy!


Alongside the loaf I made some experimental carrot & dried cranberry muffins - tasted good but didn't rise as hoped, will carry on tweaking though and post if succesful!

P.s. really not loving silicon bakeware, did not come away cleanly from the case at all!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Where have you been all my life Ribs

A revelation happened this week in our house. I am not a big carnivore and perfectly content with a plate of aubergines or mushrooms. However this week the boyfriend asked for ribs, and after enquiring in Waitrose who advised they don’t do racks till BBQ season, I stopped off at a favourite butchers nearby, who I have previously sworn by for the best tasting lamb. After a conversation with the friendly butcher he bought out from the back a giant sized rack, which came in at an eye-watering £18! Even at first glance I could see they were a meat-fest and settled for about 2/3rds which came in at £10.96, as it was only 3 of us for dinner a whole rack was a little extravagant on a week night! It also weighed in at just under 1.6kg!

My oh my these ribs were amazing, and so they should be for nigh on eleven pounds! Totally worth it! The ribs had about 2 inches of beautifully tender meat on them and tasted fantastic, a carnivores meat dream! Whilst admittedly we did eat them all between the three of us, I reckon it would serve 4, when I make them again. Maybe next payday if we can wait that long ;-) ?

For their marinade, I used Jamie Oliver’s recipe for 5* pork ribs from the Jamie’s America cookery book, it had no less than 21 ingredients in, not including the separate spice rub and several processes but overall I found it manageable, a recipe for when you fancy an afternoon pottering in the kitchen! Also justification I believe at long last for having way too much in my store cupboard! The final result had lots of flavours going on with sweetness, spicyness and orangeyness all working in harmony together. I have not posted the recipe as its a bit long winded but will if anyone fancies a go!

The ribs only required half of the marinade, most of the remainder I used to cook some turkey breast in and the two went very well together.

To go with the ravishing ribs, I also made Jamie's Southern Pecan and Apple salad, which is a new favourite of mine, the orange mustard dressing sounded a little off putting as I am not a mustardy person (though I am slowly converting to the stuff..) but it went perfectly with the ribs and was not overpowering at all.

I do warn you now to make extra pecans as you will find they mysteriously disappear when you have caramelized them…..Not that we overly needed any more food I did put together a simple bulghar wheat and pepper mixture which tagged along nicely.

Salad Ingredients:

Olive oil
25g (1oz) butter
50g (2oz) soft light brown sugar
100g (4oz) pecans
2 red or green apples
2 chicory, leaves removed, washed and spun dry – didn’t manage to find any!
A couple of handfuls of mixed leaves, such as rocket and radicchio, washed and spun dry. Mine came from Tesco, a mixed rocket salad was best found!

Zest and juice of 1 orange
1tsp Dijon mustard
1tbsp white wine vinegar
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Jamie advises to oil a baking tray, I used baking parchment which worked perfectly. Gently heat a pan and add the butter and sugar. Leave on a gentle simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it catching, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture starts to darken. Now gently stir in the pecans until they are all coated in the caramel. Tip the nuts on to the oiled (or lined!) tray and separate them out into one layer. Allow them to cool until the caramel has hardened. Don't be tempted to taste the caramel at any point as it will be very hot!

2. For the dressing put the orange zest and juice, Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar into a large salad bowl and add a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. (I used a jam jar) Whisk together and have a taste - you want to get a nice balance between the sharpness of the vinegar and the smoothness of the oil, so add a little more oil if needed, then season carefully with salt and pepper.

3. Core, quarter and finely slice your apples and add to the bowl with all your leaves. Break the cooled pecans apart, add half of them to the bowl, and use your hands to delicately toss and dress everything.

3. Serve on one big platter, or divide up between plates, and finish by crumbling over the rest of your beautiful caramel pecans.
Serve immediately - I made sure everything else was ready before adding the dressing.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Apron Love

I originally saw this gorgeously retro apron over at Kitchen Delights and was very envious until The Last Detail asked if I would like one too! Didn’t take me long to say yes please!

The apron arrived lovingly packaged in tissue paper and its beautifully made. I can’t wait to wear it next time my in-law’s are over. Even more so in that I chose my future married name to be printed on to it, should raise a few eyebrows ;-)

Please do check out their wonderful range of special party, wedding and table accessories and beautiful gifts, including for Mothers Day, which is the 14th March this year. Its taken me by surprise this year as I am used to it being the week after. However due to the fact I’m unfortunately working on the Sunday we are celebrating a day early and my mum is coming over for dinner instead, am sure she is going to love my new apron too!
01 09 10