Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Beer Tear and Share Stollen

Replacing the creamy milk usually found in traditional stollen with beer will give the loaf a delicious adult taste. Using the beer cold straight from the fridge will make the bread take a little longer to rise, which means you will get extra flavour. I used sour cherries in this mixture but feel free to swap for mixed peel if you want a sweeter taste.



For the filling:
300g mixture of currants, sour cherries and sultanas
2 shots of brandy
200g marzipan
50g flaked almonds

For the loaf:
400g strong white flour
1 egg
14g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
zest of a lemon
200ml beer
1 teaspoon mixed spice
50g butter, softened
50g sugar

To top:
icing sugar.

Add the shots of brandy to the fruit and leave to soak.
Rub the yeast into the flour and then add the salt to the opposite side of the bowl.
Add in the butter, egg, mixed spice, lemon zest, sugar, beer and half the fruit and mix to form a smooth dough (adding more beer if you need it).
Knead the dough for around 10 minutes until it's smooth and elastic. Cover and leave until it doubles in size (this could take up to two hours).
When the dough is ready roll it into a large rectangle (around 20cm wide and 30cm long).
Roll the marzipan out to around the same size and place it ontop of the dough.
Add the rest of the fruit along with the flaked almonds.
Roll the dough into a long sausage shape and cut into 1 inch discs.
Grease two 20inch loose bottomed sandwich tins with olive oil and lay the rounds of dough into them, leaving a slight gap between each one.
Cover the tins and leave to rise again until the dough has puffed up a little. This should take around an hour.
Pre- heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
When the dough is ready, bake for 20 minutes or until the stollen go a nice golden colour.
As soon as you take the loaves out of the oven dredge with a layer of icing sugar straight away, then leave the loaves to cool out of the tins.
When the stollen are cool add a second layer of icing sugar and serve.


Tip: You could also use a muffin tin to bake individual stollen buns. Just grease a regular muffin tin and add the rounds to the holes.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Double Chocolate Rocky Road

One of the easiest treats I have ever made but one that certainly won't fail to impress. Great to hand out to trick-or-treaters, or to scoff all to yourself.





For the rocky road:

200g milk chocolate
200g white chocolate
100g mini marshmallows
1 standard packet of 'Oreo' cookies
2 teaspoons of icing sugar (for dusting)

Line a rectangle baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Roughly break up the Oreos.
Melt the white chocolate and then mix in half the Oreos and half the marshmallows. Spread over the bottom of the prepared tin.
Melt the milk chocolate and add the remainder of the Oreos and marshmallows. Spread over the white chocolate mixture.
Leave to set in the fridge for at least an hour.
When ready to serve, dust with the icing sugar and cut into small squares.
Keeps really well for a week (if it lasts that long) in an airtight container.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Lemony Iced Fingers

Makes around 16 delicious buns.




For the fingers:

500g strong white flour
70g caster sugar
7g dried yeast
1/2 pint of water
1 egg
70g butter
1 teaspoon of salt
Zest of 1 lemon

For the icing:

500g icing sugar
Lemon juice

Filling (optional):

Lemon curd


Rub the butter into the flour and then rub in the yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring together to form a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes, cover and leave to rise for about an hour and a half.
  When the dough has doubled in size, divide it into around 16 equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a sausage shape and place onto lined baking trays, with a good distance between each bun. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise again, for around an hour (check after half an hour). Pre- heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
   When the buns have risen slightly and feel soft and plump, bake them for 20 minutes, or until they turn a warm golden colour. Place on a cooling rack.
   When the fingers are completely cool make the icing. Add enough lemon juice to the icing sugar to create a slightly runny constancy (at this point you could slice the buns in half and spread on a thin layer of lemon curd). Place a spoon- full of the lemon icing on each finger, smoothing it along the length of the bun as you go. Leave the icing to set slightly before scoffing.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Bread 'Shots'

These little flavour bombs are great as a canope at a party or simply just to accompany some soup. 





For the bread:

100g wholemeal spelt flour
100g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
100ml water

For the toppings:

50g very soft butter
1 clove of garlic
1 sprig of rosemary
Olives, pitted


Rub the yeast into the flours and then add the salt and water. Bring together to form a smooth dough and then knead for around 10 minutes. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave to rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
 Meanwhile prepare the garlic butter for the fillings. Simply crush the garlic clove into the soft butter and mix well. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  When the dough has risen, place onto an oiled surface and roll into small balls. Using your thumb, make a dent into each ball and then place a small spoonful of garlic butter in each one. Add an olive or a few bits of rosemary (or both) to the balls and then place onto a couple of lined baking trays. Cover and leave to rise a little, this should only take around 15 minutes as the balls are quite small.
  Bake the 'shots' for 15 minutes and then leave to cool slightly before serving.

You can freeze these too! Simply leave to cool completely before placing in a freezer bag. When you are ready for your 'shots', bake from frozen at 180 degrees C for around 10 minutes.

Lemon and Thyme Focaccia

I made two small loaves with this recipe but you could just as easily convert it into one big one. Tastes great dipped into some lemon olive oil and balsamic vinegar .




For the loaves:

500g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
7g dried yeast
300ml water
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil


For the topping:
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of one lemon
A large sprig of thyme (you could even use lemon thyme for even more of a citrus hit)


Rub the yeast into the flour and then add the salt, lemon zest and oil. Add the water and bring it together to form a soft dough (if it feels a little dry, add more water). Knead for around 10 minutes. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover and then leave to rise for about an hour.
 Oil two 20 inch round cake tins and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C. When the dough has doubled in size, divide it in two and place into the cake tins. Spread the dough out, cover with a tea towel and leave for around 20 minutes.
  When the dough is ready it should have risen a little and feel spongy to touch. Use you knuckles to create dents in the dough and then add equal amounts of lemon zest, thyme and salt to each loaf. Drizzle the focaccias with olive oil and then bake for 20 minutes. When they are golden on top take them out and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Leave to cool out of the tins.

These loaves freeze really well, simply place in a freezer bag when completely cool and freeze for up to one month. When you are ready to eat your loaf just bake at 200 degrees C, straight from frozen, for about 10 minutes.


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Garlic and Herb Flatbreads

I served these with some pasta, they were great for dipping in the sauce.



For the flatbreads you will need:

200g self raising flour
100ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for frying)
1 teaspoon salt


For the herby garlic butter:

50g butter
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Melt the butter in a pan and then add the garlic and herbs. Turn off the heat but keep it on the hob, so it stays warm.
Mix the flour, water, oil and salt together until they form a soft dough. Divide into 4 equal pieces.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c and place a frying pan on a medium heat with a splash of olive oil.
Roll or stretch out the dough pieces into circles just larger than scotch pancakes.
Fry the flatbreads for about a minute on each side then brush with the garlic butter (be quite liberal with the butter).
Place in the oven for about 10 minutes just to make sure they are cooked through.
Serve warm.





Thursday, 10 September 2015

Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies

A slightly more adult version of the much loved chic-chip cookie. The nuts add a nice crunchy texture as well as a much needed savoury hit.



For the cookies:
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
100g pistachios, chopped
250g sugar (brown ideally)
140g butter
240g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until they turn pale and fluffy.
Add the egg and beat again until well combined.
Fold in the flour, baking powder, chocolate and pistachios.
Place the mixture onto a sheet of clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape.
Place the sausage into the freezer for 20 minutes, or into the fridge for at least 2 hours.
When firmed up, slice into pieces ( you should get at least 12) and place on baking trays with a good distance between each one.
Bake at 180 degrees C for around 20 minutes.
The trick is to take them out a little before you think they are done, when they are still fairly soft on top. This way they stay nice and chewy.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Another one of my no-churn favourites. This ice cream keeps a nice soft consistency, which means you don't have to leave it out for ages before you want to eat it (handy for greedy people like me).


Salted Caramel Ice Cream



For the Ice Cream:

450ml double cream
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tin of condensed milk
100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
50ml water
1 teaspoon of sea salt




Place the sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and pour the water on top.
Leave it on a medium to high heat until it turns a nice golden brown colour (don't be tempted to stir!).
Take off the heat and pour in 200ml of the double cream, stirring all the time (be careful as it will steam up quite a bit).
When the cream is fully combined, stir in the salt and leave to cool.
Whip the rest of the double cream with the condensed milk until it reaches soft peaks.
Fold in the cooled salted caramel and the chocolate and place in a freezer proof container.
Freeze for at least four hours before devouring.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Fruity Pancakes

A great way to incorporate fruit into your breakfast. I've used American cup measurements to make mine, but you could just use a regular builders mug (the important thing is that the flour and milk are the same amount). I served these with golden syrup, as the blackcurrants I used were quite tart, but yogurt and honey would be tasty too.

Fruity Pancakes



For the pancakes:

1 cup of self raising flour (makes the pancakes fluffy)
1 cup of milk
1 egg
pinch of salt 
2 handfuls of any soft fruit (I used strawberries and blackcurrants)


Whisk together the flour, egg, salt and milk until smooth and gloopy.
Chop the fruit into small pieces and stir into the batter.
Melt some butter in a frying pan on a medium- low heat.
Add the batter (I made my pancakes quite large so just did one at a time) and fry the pancake for 2 minutes on each side.
Repeat until you have used all of your mixture.
Serve warm. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Incredibly Easy Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

I took this to a dinner last night and it went down a treat. This simple tart looks great to the un-initiated, but it couldn't be easier to make. It's a great way to make use of in-season raspberries.



For the tart you will need:

125g butter
250g plain flour
Water
300g raspberries
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
250ml double cream

For the pastry case:
Blitz the butter and flour together in a food processor (or rub together with your fingertips) until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.
Add water, a few splashes at a time, until the mixture comes together to form a dough.
Knead the dough slightly, then wrap in clingfilm. Leave in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
Grease a 10 inch loose bottomed tart tin.
Roll out the chilled pastry (until the thickness of a pound coin) and carefully press into the tin. Cut off any excess pastry around the edges.
Place the pastry case in the freezer for 15minutes (this will stop the pastry shrinking when baking), then bake blind at 180 degrees c for 20 minutes.
When the pastry has gone a nice golden colour, remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.

For the filling:
Place the raspberries into the cooled pastry case (leaving the case in its tin)
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl.
Heat the cream until it almost boils and pour over the chocolate.
Stir until the chocolate has all melted and the pour onto the raspberries.
Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
Remove from the tart tin and serve!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Strawberry Crumble with Granola

This is my summer twist on the classic autumn staple. The granola in the topping gives an added crunch (and you can pretend you are being slightly healthy). Tastes great served with strawberry and Pimms ice-cream.



For the crumble:
200g strawberries
2 tablespoons caster sugar
150g plain flour
75g butter
50g sugar (brown, caster or whatever)
50g granola


Hull the strawberries and place them so they cover the bottom of an oven proof dish. Sprinkle over the 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Place the butter and flour into a bowl and rub together with your fingers until the mixture resembles corse bread crumbs.
Stir the sugar and granola into the butter and flour and then sprinkle on top of the strawberries.
Bake at 180 degrees C for around 20 minutes.
You'll know that its done when the strawberries start to bubble up round the edges.


Monday, 20 July 2015

Potato and Thyme Focaccia

Great accompaniment to a BBQ. The potato adds a deep earthy taste to this much loved Italian classic.


For the Loaf:

300g strong white flour
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
1 teaspoon salt
7g dried yeast
5 small potatoes (salad or whatever)
couple of sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon of sea salt






Boil the potatoes until they are very soft, set aside to cool.
Rub the yeast into the flour and then add the oil, salt and around 200ml of water (you may need more or less, depending on your flour). Mix together until it forms a dough and then knead it until smooth.
Cover the dough with some cling film (or a shower cap, like I use) and leave to prove, for around an hour, or until its doubled in size.
When the dough is ready, place into an oiled baking tray (I used a 10 inch round cake tin), cover and leave to prove for around 20 minutes, or until slightly risen and springy.
When ready, use your knuckles to make indents in the bread.
Break up the potatoes, with your hands, and poke into the indents in the bread.
Sprinkle over the thyme and the sea salt and then drizzle with olive oil.
Bake at 200 degrees C, for around 20 minutes. It should come out of the tin easily when its ready.
Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.







Sunday, 19 July 2015

Coconut, Strawberry and White Chocolate No-Churn Ice Cream

Following my recent obsession with no-churn ice cream,  this sweet little number will have you craving it all summer long! Coconut adds a retro- twist to one of the nations favourite flavours. Keeping the strawberry a little chunky makes for a more adult treat.



For the ice cream you will need :

400ml double cream
1 tin of condensed milk
200g of coconut milk
200g of strawberries
100g white chocolate chips
100 desiccated coconut

Hull the strawberries and place in a pan on a medium-low heat and cook until mushy.
Take the strawberries off the heat and leave to cool completely.
When the strawberries have cooled, whip the cream, coconut milk and condensed milk until stiff peaks.
Stir in the strawberry mixture, white chocolate chips and the desiccated coconut.
Pour into a freezer proof tubs and freeze for at least 4 hours.
Take out 20 minutes before you are ready to serve, as it sets quite hard.


Friday, 3 July 2015

The Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

Chocolate + more chocolate = best food ever.




For the Brownie:

100g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
3 large eggs, beaten
50g cocoa powder
30 self-raising flour
250g sugar

For the Chocolate Ganache:
100g dark chocolate
100ml double cream

Melt the chocolate and the butter together, set aside.
Mix the sugar, flour and cocoa powder together and then fold in the chocolate and butter.
Pour in the eggs and stir until combined.
Place the brownie mixture into a rectangular tin lined with grease-proof paper.
Bake at 160 degrees C for about 20 minutes. You are looking for the brownies to create sort of a crust on top, but still be soft in the middle. When the feel like they could do with an extra few minutes in the oven, that's when they are done. You want them to be sticky and moist in the middle, not dry like a cake.
Leave to cool.
Whilst the brownies are cooling, make the ganache.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.
Heat the cream until it just boils and then pour over the chocolate.
Stir until the chocolate melts and it becomes thick and glossy.
Once the brownies are cool enough, spread over the ganache. Cut and then serve!




Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Strawberry and Pimms Ice Cream

Nothing quite screams British summer time like sweet in-season strawberries and a cool glass of Pimms. This is a great (and easy) way to combine the two in a delicious after-dinner treat. And with the weather being so un-bearably hot, who doesn't deserve some delicious ice cream?!



For the ice cream:

200g strawberries
1 can of condensed milk
350g of double cream
3 shots of Pimms
100g white chocolate chunks

Cut the tops of the strawberries and the slice them into small chunks. Place them in a pan on a medium to low heat and leave until they have turned to mush, stirring occasionally.
Once the strawberries are mushy, sieve them, stir in the Pimms and leave to cool completely.
When the strawberry mixture is cooled, whip the cream and condensed milk to soft peaks.
Fold the strawberries and the white chocolate chunks into the cream and condensed milk mixture.
Place in a freezer proof container (with a lid) and freeze for about 4 hours.
Make sure you leave the ice cream out for at least 20 minutes before you are ready to serve as it sets pretty hard!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Olive loaf

If you have any left-over olives that are sat in the fridge, going a bit manky, this is a great way to use them up. This loaf works really well with a cheese board or to accompany a selection of cold meats.



For the loaf you will need:

300g strong white flour
7g of dried yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
175ml water
100g olives (stones removed) cut into small peices.

Rub the yeast into the flour and add the salt and the olive oil.
Mix in the water (adding a little more if you need it) and knead into a smooth dough.
Put the dough into and oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for about an hour (or until doubled in size).
When risen, flatten into a rectangle shape and spread over the olives, so that they cover most of the rectangle (leaving a little room at the edges). 
Fold over the the dough, as if you were making a little parcel, leaving a slight gap in the middle so the olives show. I pinched together the ends of my loaf so that it had more of a baguette shape, but you could leave it squared off, like a ciabatta. 
Cover and leave to rise again, for about 20 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
When risen, bake the loaf for about 20 minutes.
Enjoy! 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Cheese and Chilli Bread

Dried chilli flakes are my over-used store cupboard staple. I will sprinkle them on anything from pasta to scrambled eggs. I find they give what would be quite ordinary food an extra bit of oomph. This bread is a perfect accompaniment to any BBQ (just cut the rolls in half and use as burger buns) and is especially good for some late night nibbles.

   For best results, serve warm.




For the loaf you will need:
400g spelt flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
250ml beer or cider

For the filling:
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of dried chilli flakes (plus more for sprinkling on top)
2 teaspoons of english mustard

Place the flour in a bowl and rub in the yeast with your fingertips. Add the salt, olive oil and the beer/cider, then knead for 5-10 minutes, until you have a smooth dough. Cover with a tea towel or clingfilm and leave to rise for around 1 hour, or until it has almost doubled in size.


When the dough has risen, roll it into a long rectangle. Spread on the mustard, then sprinkle with most of the grated cheese and chilli flakes. Roll the dough into a sausage shape and cut into 10-12 pieces.
 Transfer the rolls to an oiled baking tray, making sure you leave a slight gap between each one. Leave to prove again, for around 20 minutes, or until slightly risen.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. When the rolls have risen, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and chilli flakes and bake for around 20 minutes, or until golden on top.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Cider, Cheese and Onion Tear and Share


This loaf is the perfect accompinement to any soup or pasta dish. The cider adds a tartness which balances out the rich, creamy cheddar.


For the loaf: 400g strong white flour
                    100g rye flour
                    7g dried yeast
                    2 teaspoons of salt
                    350ml of cider

For the filling: 1 red onion (finely chopped)
                       2 tablespoons of english mustard
                       100g mature cheddar cheese


Place both the flours in a bowl and rub in the yeast with your fingertips. Add the salt along with the cider and knead for around 5 minutes, until you have a smooth dough. Cover with a tea towel (or some cling film) and leave to rise for around an hour, or until it has almost doubled in size.
   In the mean time, soften the onions in a pan on a low heat and the set aside to cool. Grate the cheese.
When the dough has risen, roll it into a long rectangle. Spread on the mustard and the sprinkle on the onions and most of the grated cheese. Roll the dough into a sausage shape and cut in to 10 (or so) pieces. Oil a baking tray (or a 20cm cake tin, like I used) and arrange the rolls into any shape you desire, making sure you leave a slight gap in-between each one. Leave to prove again, for around 20 minutes, or until they have risen slightly. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
    When the rolls have risen, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for around 20 minutes, or until golden on top.
                   

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Apple Soufflé with Toffee Sauce

Souffles are a classic dinner party staple. They never fail to impress, but always seem like they would be too tricky to make. Well this recipe couldn't be easier. The soufflé itself only contains four ingredients and is the perfect end to any heavy meal. The toffee sauce adds a sweetness to this otherwise tart dessert.



For the Soufflé:

2-4 cooking apples (depending on size)
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
4 egg whites
3 tablespoons of caster sugar

For the Toffee Sauce:

300ml double cream
85g butter
100g brown sugar

To make the apple puree for the soufflé, peel and cut the apples and place in a pan with the brown sugar over a medium heat. Leave until they have softened into a mush and then sieve whilst still warm. Then leave to cool.
    To make the meringue whisk the egg whites until foam-like and then add the sugar. Whisk until stiff peaks and the fold through 200g of the cooled puree. Place the soufflés into ramekins lined with butter and caster sugar. Bake at 180 degrees C for about 15 minutes, or until the soufflés have risen.
    To make the sauce, heat all the ingredients in a sauce pan on a medium heat until it starts to bubble.
When the soufflés come out of the oven, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with the sauce.

Blackberries- Two ways

Blackberries are the ultimate autumn pudding staple. I always seem to have a stash clogging up my freezer. Here are two exciting ways to include them in your baking. And there’s not a crumble in sight.



You will need:

For the jam- 200g blackberries
                        100g sugar



For the rice pudding- 60g of pudding rice (you can also use risotto rice)
                                         1 pint of milk
                                         50g of sugar
                                      1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or the seeds from a vanilla pod)
                                           A knob of butter



For the meringue- 4 egg whites
                                    200g of sugar
                                    a teaspoon of cornflour





To make the jam, place the blackberries and the sugar in a pan on a medium- low heat. Leave for about half an hour (you don’t want any whole blackberries left), stirring occasionally. Sieve the jam and leave to cool.


To make the rice pudding, heat the milk with the butter, sugar and vanilla, until the butter melts. Scatter the rice into a pie dish and cover with the milk mixture. Bake at 150 degrees C for about 40 minutes. You will need to stir the pudding around four times throughout the cooking process to stop the rice sticking.
   Unlike a stove- top version, this baked rice pudding will feel slightly more set, but still creamy and delicious.
    When cooked, ripple through the blackberry jam and serve.


The left-overs are delicious re-heated with some white chocolate chips. Simply microwave for a minute.




To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites (you can use a hand held mixer, a freestanding mixture or do it by hand if you are feeling strong) until soft peaks. Still beating, add the sugar slowly (in about four goes) and add the cornflour with the last lot of sugar. Beat until stiff peaks, or until you can turn the bowl upside down. Gently ripple in the jam with a metal spoon.
    You can either pipe your meringues into big circles and small ‘kisses’ (like I have done) or you could smooth it into a large circle to make a pavlova.
    Bake at 130 degrees C for about an hour and a half, I would check them every thirty minutes or so. They are ready when they feel hard on the outside and come easily off the baking paper.

   Serve with cream and fresh fruit, or bag up ‘kisses’ to make unique gifts.