Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Monday, 16 September 2013

Raspberry, Chocolate and Coconut Tart

This tart was an idea that came to me late one night. Raspberry and coconut is one of my favourite sweet parings and I thought it would be a tasty idea to add them to my most used chocolate tart recipe.
    I took this tart into work and it was gone within an hour (which is always a good sign). I love how the raspberries add a fresh tartness to the decadently rich chocolate filling. I added coconut to the pastry, but I don't think you could really taste it, so I have upped the quantities in this recipe.
    To make the pastry combine 250g of plain flour with 70g of caster sugar, 150g unsalted butter, 150g desiccated coconut, a few splashes of milk and 2 egg yolks. Blitz in a food processor until it comes together in large crumbs and then bring it together into a large ball with your hands. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour and then blind bake in a 28cm tart in (with a removable base) at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.
    When the pastry is cool, cover the base with raspberries. In a large pan heat 350ml of double cream with a pinch of sugar and salt and bring it to the boil. Take it off the heat and add 120g of unsalted butter, 200g of good quality milk chocolate and 200g of good quality dark chocolate (I tend to use Green and Black's for both). Stir the mixture until everything is melted and then add 120ml milk. Pour the chocolate mixture over the raspberries and sprinkle with desiccated coconut.
    Leave for at least an hour to chill then slice and enjoy!


Spelt and Olive Bread

My brother has recently decided to go on a low carb diet, which is something that I could never do. Even though he is finding it easy to not eat any bread, he can't resist a good olive loaf.
    This olive loaf is soft and moist and is a great accompaniment to any dinner. I like to grill mine with a little camembert cheese, which is deliciously salty and gooey.
    To make the loaf, combine 500g of spelt flour with 7g of dried yeast and 1 tablespoon of salt (remember to add the salt and the yeast to different sides of the bowl as they don't get on). Then add about 350ml of water and knead until it forms a smooth dough. Leave in a warm place until in has doubled by half and then take out of the bowl and slightly flatten with the palm of your hand. Chop 100g of olives and add this to the centre of the dough, then fold the sides round the filling as if you were creating a parcel. Smooth in to a ball and leave it to rise by half again. Bake in a hot oven for about 20 minutes and then leave to cool.
    Serve with a little butter and enjoy!

Fruit Crumble

Autumn is approaching fast, and that can mean only one thing will do for pudding, fruit crumble. I look forward to this dessert all summer, waiting patiently for the blackberries at the bottom of the garden to be ripe enough to pick and use. Everyone knows how to make crumble. It's literally the first thing you learn to make in food tech in year 7 (well that and a 'hot drink'). It always tastes good even if it looks really bad, and it seems to keep for days in the fridge.
    There are loads of recipes for crumbles, using a variety of fruits and toppings, but I like to make mine up as I go along (depending on what I have in and if I can be bothered to go to the shop). I usually like to use blackberries and apples, as my mum grows these in the garden, and there always seems to be a large supply on the windowsill. One of my friends once suggested that she thought bananas and peanut butter would work well in a crumble, I can't say I have tried this out yet though. Topping wise I like to add rolled oats to mine, and brown sugar. I also prefer a lot more topping to fruit (which isn't very healthy, but still).
    Crumble should always be served with hot custard, or maybe ice cream (if you are really desperate) but never cream (its not a summer pudding!).
   Coming home to the smell of fruit crumble is literally one of the best things life has to offer.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Chocolate Brownies

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am obsessed with chocolate brownies. I must make them at least three times a month for anyone that asks for a batch (and even for anyone that doesn't). I must have tried hundreds of recipes in search for the perfect gooey brownie, and I have to say none of them beat Jamie Oliver's 'Bloomin' Brilliant Brownies'. They are the perfect combination of chocolaty-ness and gooey-ness without being too heavy or sickly.
    The original recipe made an absolute ton of brownies (even too much for me), so my mum kindly scaled the recipe down to a more manageable size.
    To make the brownies simply melt 150g butter withe 100g of dark chocolate (in a microwave or over a pan of simmering water). In a separate bowl mix together 40g coco powder, 30g of flour, 270g of sugar and 1teaspoon of baking powder and then add this to the chocolate mixture. Beat three eggs (free range) and add them to the mixture. Pour into a prepared tray and bake at 180 degrees (about 150 for a fan oven) for about 20 minutes. Make sure you keep checking them though as then can cook a lot quicker than you might think. The secret to a good brownie is to take them out a little bit before you think they are ready, that way the will stay all lovely and gooey.

Peanut Butter Ripple Ice Cream

This weekend I was invited to a BBQ to celebrate my friend's dogs' birthday (true story) and as its been so hot and sunny I decided to make some ice cream to take with me. I am not the world's biggest fan of ice cream, but I am obsessed with peanut butter, so when I saw how easy it was to make this recipe I couldn't not try it.
   All you need to make this delicious summer treat is 1ltr of double cream, 8 big spoonfuls of peanut butter (I used smooth but crunchy would probably be better), 1 can of condensed milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Now all this might sound like a heart attack in a bowl, but trust me a little goes a long way and you could always serve it with some fruit (such as bananas or strawberries) to make yourself feel like you are being slightly healthy!
   Heat 300ml of the cream with peanut butter until combined and smooth and then leave to cool. Whisk the rest of the ingredients to soft peaks and then put into a freezer proof container. Ripple through the peanut butter and then freeze for at least 8 hours. I would suggest leaving it out for at least 15 minutes before you want to eat it as it will be rock hard when you take it out of the freezer.
    If you are not a peanut butter fan you could always replace it with some stewed fruit, chocolate or some chopped nuts.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Currant Tea Cakes and Spelt Bread

My mum recently bought me 'Good Things in England', a re print of an old fashioned cook book by Florence White containing a wide collection of recipes that were written between 1399 and 1932. It's such a fascinating book, especially if you are interested in how we used to cook and eat. Most of the older recipes contained ingredients I had never even heard of or had any desire to cook with (Calf's Head Soup, no thank you).
    Being obsessed with bread I jumped right to that chapter, and having been craving toasted tea cakes for a while, I decided to go with Currant Tea Cakes.
  I have to say, even though the ingredients were in pounds and ounces, the recipe wasn't that different from ones produced today. To make the tea cakes I used 1lb of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 oz butter (the recipe suggested lard but I used butter as I don't eat meat), 1/2 pint milk, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of yeast (I just used a 7g sachet). I rubbed the flour, butter and salt together and then added the milk yeast and sugar. I mixed in about 100g of currants, kneaded and then left to rise for about an hour. I then shaped into eight tea cakes, left to rise for another fifteen minutes and the baked in a medium oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes. The book suggested that, when they had come out of the oven, you should rub them with butter and place under a tea towel to keep them soft. I found this really worked and my tea cakes stayed soft for a few days in the bread bin.

I am obsessed with spelt flour, and use it in most of my baking. It's an ancient cousin of wheat and I tend to use it a lot because some people find it easier to digest than its relative. To go with a dinner of homemade pasta I made some toasted bread (yes carb overload) by cutting my spelt loaf into slices the topping with a little olive oil, sea salt and rosemary and then toasting under the grill. I find that this is a really tasty way to use up any left over bread you might have. It was lovely dipped into the pasta sauce.

Breakfast Bars

I am always in need of something to take to work for my morning break. I was eating bananas, but after consuming what felt like 10,000 of them, I wanted something new. I decided a breakfast bar would be a good healthy (ish) alternative to fruit and I found that Nigella had a recipe in her 'Nigella Express' cookbook. I tweaked some of the ingredients she used to go with what I had in the cupboards at home (adding dried bananas and substituting raisins for cranberries). My good friend Sophie had also recently given me some of her delicious homemade vanilla essence, so I decided to put that in too to really add to the flavour.
    I made them by melting 250g of butter with 150g of golden syrup and about 50g of maple syrup. I then added 250 of oats, 75g of shredded coconut, 100g of raisins, 100g poppy seeds, 50g of dried bananas, 100g peanuts and mixed them together and pressed them into a tin. I baked them at 130 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Chocolate Cake

My next door neighbour had organised a charity event and asked if I would make a 'spectacular' cake that they could auction off. My cake decorating has never been amazing so when people use the word 'spectacular' it always worries me. Using seasonal fresh fruit is always an easy yet effective way to make a cake look good, but as I wasn't sure about how the cake was going to be stored I decided that chocolate was a safer option.
    I decided to double my usual chocolate sponge recipe to make a four layered cake and then covered that in a chocolate buttercream (700g icing sugar, 400g butter, 100g melted dark chocolate and a dash of milk creamed together). After the buttercream had set I made a chocolate ganache using 250ml of double cream and 250g of dark chocolate (I tend to use Green and Black's). To make the ganache I heated the cream (not until boiling point) and then poured it into a bowl with the chocolate in, gave it a good whisk to combine and melt the chocolate and left to cool. I have to say though that you shouldn't really put the ganache in the fridge to cool as it will loose its shine. I did this as I was short on time, which is why my cake didn't look as beautifully glossy as it should have done.
   To finish the cake I added edible gold starts, chocolate curls (which I made using a vegetable peeler and a bar of dark chocolate) and edible glitter.
    I hope whoever won the cake enjoyed it!

Birthday Afternoon Tea at the Ritz!

Ok so I didn't actually make this but for my birthday I was lucky enough to go the the Ritz hotel in London for afternoon tea. I was so excited and I have to say it totally lived up to my expectations! I don't think I have ever seen so many cakes in my life!
    The sandwiches included fillings like hummus and red pepper, cheese and chutney, classic egg and cress and (my favourite) smoked salmon. Cakes included lemon drizzle, chocolate torte, an individual fruit birthday cake and a macaroon/lemon mousse creation (pictured) that was extremely delicious. AND there were scones galore. I could go on all day...
   It was the best birthday present I got this year.

A Very Special Birthday Cake!

Recently it was one of my favourite auntie's (and my godmother) birthday, and to say thank you for always supporting me in my baking adventures, I decided to make her a cake.
    Chocolate Cigarellos are a great way of making any cake look great with minimal effort, but they are quite expensive (costing up to £20 just for enough to make one cake). However, my friend Laura had recently made a cake substituting much cheaper chocolate fingers in place of the cigarellos and the results still looked really good. So I decided to copy her, opting for milk chocolate fingers to go with my raspberry and chocolate chip cake.
    I made the cake by adding a couple of hand-fulls of raspberries and 100g of chocolate chips into my usual vanilla sponge mix. I like to slightly crush some of the raspberries with a fork before adding them to the cake. I find this really adds to the flavour and creates a nice texture. When the cake was cool I covered it with a vanilla butter cream (300g of butter, 500g of icing sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and dash of milk creamed together) and lined up the chocolate fingers around the outside (I used around two and a half packets of Cadbury's milk chocolate fingers). I then filled the centre of the cake with raspberries and edible gold stars.
    My auntie said it was very yummy!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Maple and Pecan Tray bake

A lovely lady, who works with my mum, asked me to make a tray bake to take to her daughter's wedding. As she told me maple and pecan was her favourite flavour combination, I decided to turn one one my most used layer cake recipes (which incorporates the same flavours) into a tray bake.
    To make a maple and pecan cake, you basically want to add about 100g of chopped pecans and 80ml of maple syrup (or to taste) to your usual sponge mixture and bake as normal. Easy peasy.
    She also asked if I would top the tray bake slices with pink sugarcraft roses. Sugarcraft is something that I haven't had much practice at, I don't have very steady hands (as I am sure you can tell from all my blurry photos!) and have never been particularly neat in my cake decorating. For these reasons it was never something that appealed to me to try, but I thought I should give it a go anyway.
    I decided to order some ready made roses online, incase the ones I made turned out to be awful! I made my roses using pink sugar paste that I got from a company called Squires Kitchen ( They were actually very easy to do and didn't take me very long. I used the end of a (very clean and new!) paintbrush to shape the petals and then I moulded them together with the help of a tiny amount of clear alcohol (I used malibu, you should probably use something like vodka though if you need it).

 Not bad for a first attempt!

Rye Bread Rolls

May was a busy month for me baking wise, which was a very good thing but it left me with very little time to write (hence why I haven't posted for a while!). Last week for tea my mum had made some delicious beetroot burgers and to go with them I thought I would make some rye rolls to use as burger buns. 
    Rye flour is something that I have wanted to experiment with for a while, but have I have only recently got the opportunity (trying to find it in the small town where I live isn't that easy). Rye flour makes a very dense bread, so I decided to mix it with some white bread flour to create lighter buns whilst still keeping the nutty rye flavour.
    To make the rolls I mixed 250g of rye flour, 250g of strong white flour, 7g of dried yeast and a teaspoon of salt with about 400ml of water (the amount of water depends on your bread flour, and remember with bread dough 'the wetter the better') and kneaded for about 10 minutes. I then left it for about an hour by the oven, shaped into 8 rolls (makes 8 quite big rolls you could probably get about 10 to 12 smaller ones), left to rise again and then baked in a very hot oven for about 15 minutes.
   They were delicious but very filling! 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Carrot and Orange Cake and Coffee and Walnut Cake

One of my mum's work friends is having a family get-together and she kindly asked if I would make these two classic cakes for her.
    Carrot cake is defiantly one of my all time favourites, although I never seem to enjoy the ones I have made as much as other ones I've had!
    Both recipes I have used here come from the Primrose Bakery book ( As I have probably said before, the Primrose Bakery is one of my favourite cake shops and I always try and pop in when I am in London. The last treat I had from there was a carrot cake muffin (so it probably was made from the same recipe I have used here) and it was delicious.
    Normally I would decorate the carrot cake with mini white chocolate carrots. However, I didn't have any so I decided to sprinkle over some left over orange zest as I had used it in both the icing and the cake (and its always good to remind people of flavours you have used in the cake).
   I just hope my mum's friend enjoys them!
   Happy Baking.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

'Free from' baking isn't something I have ventured into much, but as one of my friends has recently become intolerant to cows milk I decided to try out this Nigella Lawson recipe to take to hers for a spot of afternoon tea.
    I found making this cake wasn't that different to making any other chocolate cake, its just that you use olive oil instead of butter. I was worried that the oil would be too overpowering and I wasn't sure how it would taste. However, because the cake was so chocolaty you only got a hint of olive oil.
    I assume olive oil was used, as opposed to a flavourless oil, to add to the overall taste of the cake. I am not sure that it was something that I personally enjoyed too much, although everyone else said it was very nice. I think if I were to try it again I would replace the olive oil with maybe a vegetable oil and see if it made a difference to the taste and texture.

Seeded Loaf

At the moment, I am trying to make all my own bread and as my first sourdough wont be ready for a couple of days yet, I decided to make a seeded wholemeal loaf to get me through (I can't really go a day without bread, I am a bit obsessed).
    I got some malt flour samples from a company called The Flour Bin ( but hadn't got a chance to try them out yet. They say that you only have to add about a tablespoon to your breads or biscuits to bring out a lovely malty flavour. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but added a spoonful of the medium flavour malt anyway, just to give it a go. I have to say, the results were really tasty and this has to be one of the best loaves I have made so far.
    I would defiantly recommend giving malt flours a try. I can't wait to add them to other loaves.
    To make the loaf I mixed 250g seeded wholemeal flour, 250g strong white flour, 7g of yeast, a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of medium malt flour and about 350ml of water (amount of water depends on your bread flour) then kneaded for about 15 minutes. I then left it for about an hour next to the oven, put it in a loaf tin, left for another hour and then baked at 230 degrees for 20 minutes.
    Happy baking!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Chocolate and Salted Butter Caramel Cake

Salted caramels seem to be everywhere these days, and as a fan of anything with salt on, this is one food trend I am not going to complain about.
   I saw Eric Lanlard make this cake at the cake and bake show. It was one of those things that I knew I wanted to try and make as soon as I got the chance, it just looked so amazingly delicious.
   I am not usually a massive fan of chocolate cakes, as I find some chocolate sponges don't taste as richly chocolaty as I would like, but instead of coco powder,  this recipe uses melted chocolate which tends to create more of an indulgent taste.
   For this cake you make the caramel first and then freeze it, so that when the cake is baked it stays quite firm. This is supposed to create amazing layers when you cut into the cake, but as I was quite impatient and didn't let it cool properly, my layers of caramel sort of merged into each other. I can't say I cared to much though as it still tasted good!
Happy baking

Sourdough Starter

I love sourdough bread and for ages I have kept meaning to make it, but as it takes a while to create the starter culture I have only just gotten around to doing it.
    Three days ago I mixed 50g of spelt flour (although you can use any flour you like) with 50ml of water and left it in a sealed jar on the windowsill (I think you can leave it anywhere, but leaving it on the windowsill means its out of the way). I have repeated this process everyday and will carry on until I have been doing it for ten days. After that my culture will be ready for me get baking!
    I am hoping to get to the point where I can be enjoying a fresh sourdough loaf ever couple of days, although you can leave your starter untouched in the fridge for up to two weeks.
    I have started to see some bubbles already on the surface of the starter, which apparently is a good sign. I just hope I keep remembering to feed it everyday!
Happy baking!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Banana and White Chocolate Muffins with a Caramel Icing

There were a lot of bananas in my house that needed using up, so I decided to treat my work colleagues to some banana and white chocolate muffins. The chocolate and bananas combine together to create a wonderful moist and creamy cake mixture. Whilst I call these muffins, they are probably more like cupcakes, its just that 'banana cupcakes' don't really have the same ring to them as 'banana muffins'.
    I made these by combining 3 large bananas (or 4 small ones) and 100g of white chocolate chips to my usual sponge cake mix. The sponge cake recipe I tend to use (for cakes that I am going to add fruit to anyway) is a doubled up version Delia Smith's 'All In One Sponge' (which is 220g of butter, 220g of caster sugar, 220g of self raising flour, 4 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of baking powder all mixed together).
    I have made these muffins quite a few times, as they keep really well, and I would usually decorate them with a white chocolate buttercream. This time though, I decided to try something new and decorate them with a caramel buttercream from one of the Primrose Bakery's books.
    I made the buttercream by placing butter, milk and brown sugar in a pan over a high heat and bringing to the boil for one minute. I then removed from the heat and added the icing sugar. I found that the taste of the buttercream reminded me a lot of a fudge I like to make (I suppose because most of the same ingredients are used). I found I had to beat this buttercream a lot in-between decorating the cakes as started to set quite fast. It was very tasty though and I would defiantly use it again.
Happy baking!


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Rosemary and Sea Salt Spelt Rolls

On Saturday I went to the Cake and Bake show in Manchester. It was so inspiring I couldn't wait to get home so I could do some baking!
I usually take some home made bread to work to have for lunch with my soup, so I decided to put some of the new skills I learnt at the bake show to the test and make some rolls.
I started baking with Spelt flour a while ago ( as it is used in one of my favourite banana bread recipes) but have only recently started using it in bread doughs. It adds a subtle nutty flavour which is really yummy.
Rosemary and sea salt is one of my most used flavour combinations for savoury baking. I know salt isn't all that good for you, but surely a little bit doesn't matter and it tastes good!
To make the rolls I combined 400g of white bread flour with 100g of spelt flour. I then added 7g of dried yeast, a teaspoon of salt (put the salt and yeast opposite sides of the bowl as the salt can stop the yeast from doing its job as well) and about 400ml of water (the amount of water depends on your bread flour). I kneaded this for about 15 minutes by hand, left it for an hour next to the oven, shaped it, left it for another hour, added the seasoning on top and then baked them for about 20 minutes.
I had one with some cheese and it was delicious!
Happy Baking.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Chocolate Lava Cake

As Easter is over and I have been left with A LOT of chocolate (not that I am complaining), I decided to make one of my favourite desserts, chocolate lava cake.
  Its such an easy dessert to make, and takes less than five minutes to prepare! All you have to do is combine melted chocolate and butter to eggs flour and sugar and decant into prepared ramekins (butter and coco powder will stop them sticking). The problem is you have to leave them in the fridge for at least two hours to chill so that the centre of the cake stays all gooey and yummy.
    The last couple of times I made this I prepared them in the morning so they were ready by the time I got home from work. They also keep for a week in the fridge (cover the tops with clingfilm) which means you can have a homemade dessert in under twenty minutes.
    Once they have chilled, cook them for fifteen minutes at 180. The middles should still be gooey when you take them out.
    I am going to enjoy mine with some ice cream, yum.