Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Friday, 26 February 2016

Cheese and Olive Sticks

Whenever I am in London, I always head to 'Bread Ahead' at Borough market to pick up one of their cheese and olive sticks. I love the dense chewy texture of the bake and the rich savoury taste that comes from the strong cheese and the pungent olives. It's probably my favourite savoury bake of all time, but as I don't live in London at the moment, I can't pick them up as often as I would like. I have given them a go at home before, but this recipe is more of a perfected version (though it certainly isn't perfect). This bake is not exactly the same as the original, but still just as tasty. Enjoy one instead of a sandwich for a portable lunch.




Makes 4 fat sticks.

For the sticks:
250 strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
150ml water

For the topping:
About 20 olives (pitted)
75g cheddar cheese, grated
Semolina, for dusting

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, oil and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto an oiled surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the dough to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, cut it into 4 equal pieces and roll each one into a long sausage shape.
Sprinkle some semolina onto a large rectangle baking tray and place the sticks on it, leaving plenty of room between each one.
Cover with a tea towel and leave for around 10 minutes, or until they have puffed up a little.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the sticks are ready, sprinkle some more semolina on top and press down a few olives into each one.
Sprinkle over the cheese and bake for around 15 minutes, or until they have turned a nice golden brown colour.
Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Tip- this recipe works best if you add steam to your oven, click here to see how.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Lemon and Lemon Thyme Loaf Cake

Warning! This cake is EXTREMELY lemony, but if, like me, you are into that kind of thing then this is the cake for you. The lemon thyme adds even more lemon-y-ness with a subtle hint of savoury. If you can't find lemon thyme, regular thyme will do. This bake is best eaten slightly warm, with a dollop of cream.




For the cake:
120g unsalted butter, softened.
120g caster sugar
120 self raising flour
1teaspoon baking powder
Zest and juice of one unwaxed lemon
Couple of sprigs of lemon thyme
2 eggs

For the drizzly bit:
Zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
150g caster sugar
2 sprigs of lemon thyme

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c (160 for a fan oven).
Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder, in a free standing mixture using the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), until smooth.
Add in the lemon zest and juice and the leaves from the lemon thyme.
Mix again until combined.
Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking paper and pour in the cake mixture.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown on top and a knife comes out clean when inserted.
Leave the loaf to cool slightly in it's tin.
Make the drizzle by combining the lemon zest, juice and sugar.
When the cake is still a little warm, prick all over with a fork and pour over the drizzle.
Remove the leaves from the lemon thyme and sprinkle them on top of the cake.
Leave to cool and set in the tin before serving.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Pumpkin Seed Loaf

Once again I have used a seeded flour, as well as the pumpkin seeds, to give the bake extra flavour and texture. This loaf makes a great cheese sandwich, pair it with a nice soft camembert.





For the loaf:
600g seeded flour (I I used a malted seed flour)
7g dried yeast
400ml water
10g salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
200g pumpkin seeds

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, oil, water and seeds and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes, or until it feels smooth and elastic.
Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the dough to rise for at least an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a large ball and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover again and leave to rise for about 30 minutes, or until it has risen by half.
Pre-heat the oven up 200 degrees c.
When the dough has risen, make slashes in the top (any fancy pattern you like) with a sharp knife and dust over some flour.
Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before tucking in.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sundried Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Loaf

This loaf is dense, gooey and packed full of flavour. Best eaten whilst still a little warm, it makes a great accompaniment to any pasta dish with a thick sauce.





For the loaf:
400g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
10g salt
300ml water

For the filling:
100g mozzarella
70g sun-dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons pesto

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the oil salt and water and mix until it forms a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels smooth and elastic.
When the dough is smooth, place back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the dough to prove for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Chop the mozzarella and tomatoes into small chunks.
When the dough has risen, place it onto a lightly oiled surface and flatten it into a small rectangle.
Spread the pesto down the centre of the rectangle and then sprinkle on the cheese and tomatoes.
Fold the dough up so that it covers the filling (tucking in the ends too), and transfer it onto a lined baking tray (making sure the it is seam side down).
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around 30 minutes, or until it has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
When the loaf has risen, slash it across the top with a sharp knife (to expose some of the filling) and sprinkle with a little flour.
Bake for around 30 minutes, or until it has turned a nice golden colour.
Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Spelt Hot Cross Buns

Easter may still be a little while off yet, but I always like to get in early when experimenting with new ideas, so that I have plenty of time to perfect them! I am so glad the spelt works within such a traditional recipe, the nuttiness really adds another dimension to the flavour and texture. Spelt doesn't contain as much gluten as strong wheat flour, so it doesn't require as long a kneading time. You also might find that the dough doesn't rise as much as with wheat flour, but don't worry it will be just as tasty.




Makes 8 greedy person size buns.

For the buns:
300g white spelt flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
100g sultanas
50g chopped dates
30g caster sugar
1 egg
150ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)

For the topping:
50g apricot jam
40ml boiling water
50g white spelt flour
30g water

Place the flour into the bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to form a dough (adding more milk if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes, or until it feels soft and smooth.
Return to the bowl and cover with some clingfilm.
Leave the dough to rise, for a good couple of hours, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 8 equal portions and shape each portion into a ball.
Place the balls on a lined baking tray (making sure they are a good few inches apart) and cover with a tea-towel.
Leave the buns to rise for around 30 mintes, or until they have noticably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Mix the spelt flour with the water, to form a thick paste, and then spoon into a pipping bag.
When the buns have risen, pipe a cross shape on the top of each one with the paste mixture.
Bake for around 15minutes, or until the buns have turned a nice golden brown colour.
Mix the apricot jam with the boiling water and brush it on the hot cross buns as soon as they come out of the oven.
Transfer the buns to a wire rack. Leave to cool before serving.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Seeded Sourdough (with rye)

This will be the last of my rye recipes (for a while at least) as I have FINALLY used up my bag of flour (it had a hole in, it had to go). This loaf, like most sours, tastes amazing toasted or simply dipped in some fancy pants olive oil.




For the sponge:
150ml sourdough starter (click here to find out how to make it)
250g rye flour
300ml water

For the loaf:
300g strong white flour
150g mixed seeds
10g salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
more water, if needed



Place the starter, rye flour and water into a large bowl and stir to combine.
Cover with some clingfilm and leave at an ambient temperate for at least 8 hours, or until it has foamed up and loads of small bubbles have appeared on the surface.
When the sponge is ready, add the white flour, seeds, salt and oil and mix until it forms a dough (adding more water if its feels a little dry).
Cover again, with some clingfilm, and leave to rise for at least 8 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
Place the dough onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball.
Place the ball onto a lined baking tray, cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise for at least an hour, or until the loaf has noticeably risen.
When the loaf has risen, remove the tea-towel and cut a diamond shape into the top of the loaf, with a sharp knife.
Sprinkle the loaf with a little flour and then bake for 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia

A couple of years ago, I had an amazing garlic focaccia at a little Italian restaurant (I can't remember the name) somewhere in the middle of the Lancashire country-side. The amazing flavour of this bake has stuck with me and I always wanted to try and recreate it at home. I only infused my garlic in the oil for a couple of hours, but if you had the time, doing it overnight would give you much more of an intense flavour. Serve it alongside any pasta dish that has a thick sauce.




For the garlic oil:
75ml olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed

For the focaccia:
400g strong white flour
10g salt
275ml water
7g dried yeast
50ml of the garlic oil

For the topping:
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon corse sea salt
the remaining garlic oil


Place the olive oil into a bowl and add the crushed garlic.
Cover with clingfilm and leave for at least an hour to infuse.
When the oil is infused, place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, oil and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea-towel, and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Grease a rectangle baking tray and pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
When the dough has risen, place it in the baking tray, stretching it out so that it pretty much fills the entire tray.
Cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise again, for around 20 minutes, or until the dough has noticeably puffed up.
When the focaccia has risen, make lots of dents in the surface with your knuckles, and sprinkle over the rosemary, salt and the remaining oil.
Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the loaf is a nice golden colour on top.
Cool in the tin, for around 10 minutes, before removing and serving.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Salted Caramel Brownie

I needed to bribe someone at work the other day, and this treat was the only thing that was going to do the trick! Salty and sweet, this bake works as a decadent dessert or just as pick-me-up on a bad day. Enjoyed best when you are not worrying about how many calories are in it.




For the brownie:
One batch of chocolate brownie, without the ganache topping (click here for recipe), baked in a high sided rectangle tin

For the caramel:
1 tin condensed milk
100g salted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons golden syrup

For the topping:
200g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate

Bake the brownie as per the recipe instructions, leave to cool slightly.
Make sure the oven is set to 160 degrees c.
In a heavy bottomed pan melt together the butter, condensed milk, salt and golden syrup.
When the ingredients have melted together, lower the heat and cook until the caramel starts to thicken (should take about 10 minutes), stirring regularly.
When the caramel has noticeably thickened, and is a couple of shades darker, pour it ontop of the brownie and place in the oven.
Bake the caramel brownie for around 15 minutes, or until the caramel is dark and has started to bubble on top.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
When the caramel brownie is cooled, melt the chocolate and pour it on top of the brownie.
Place the brownie into the fridge for an hour, or until the chocolate has set.
When the chocolate is set, slice and enjoy!

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Seeded Cider Loaf

Never wanting to waste anything, I used the cider left over from my baguettes to make this tasty loaf. The alcohol adds a subtle sweetness along with a gentle tang. This bake is great for making cheese on toast with, just use a really strong cheddar.




For the loaf:
350g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
75g mixed seeds
10g salt
200ml cider

Add the flour to a large bowl and rub the yeast into one side.
Add the salt, seeds and cider and mix to form a smooth dough (adding more cider if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until it becomes smooth and elastic.
When the dough is ready, return to the bowl and cover with a tea-towel.
Leave to rise, for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a bloomer and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover again and leave to rise for about 20 minutes, or until it has puffed up nicely.
When the dough is ready, slice 3 or 4 deep cuts along the top of the loaf.
Bake for around 20 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

These are my go to cupcakes if I need to bake something for a birthday or a gathering. Because they are made from a batter, they stay quite moist for a good couple of days, which means you can make them in advance (just store in an air-tight container). I usually decorate them (very messily) with coloured butter cream, but you could try simple water icing, or a rich chocolate ganache for something a bit different.




Makes 12-16.

For the cupcakes:
80g butter, softened
220g caster sugar
240g self-raising flour
250ml semi-skimmed milk
2 medium eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste


Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees c and line 1-2 12 hole muffin tins (with any cupcake cases of your choice)
Beat the butter, sugar and flour in a standalone mixture, using the paddle attachment (or use a hand-held one) until the mixture looks like corse breadcrumbs.
Add in the eggs and then the milk and vanilla.
Mix until it forms a smooth batter.
Place the batter into a jug and pour into the cupcake cases, filling them about 2/3 full.
Bake the cupcakes for around 20 minutes, or until they are springy to touch and are a nice golden
colour on top.
Cool on a wire rack before icing and serving. 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Cider Baguettes

I am not sure that this is the authentic baguette-making technique that the french have been using for generations, but it has always given me fantastic results, so I have stuck with it. I have worked out that adding steam creates the signature crusty-ness and makes the bake look and taste so much more professional. The cider adds a subtle sweetness and a gentle tang, which makes this bread a real grown-up treat. Serve with a selection of cold meats and cheeses or simply with a slathering of butter.







Makes around 10 small baguettes.

For the baguettes:
400g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
10g salt
250ml good quality cider

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt and cider and mix together to form a dough (adding more cider if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with some clingfilm. Leave to rise in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours.
When the dough has had its time in the fridge, leave it to come to room temperature (this could take a good hour).
When the dough is ready, cut it into 10 equal pieces.
Select the baking tray(s) you are going to use and roll each baguette the same size as its long edge, so that you have ten thin strands.
Liberally flour a tea-towel and line the baguettes on it, creating a ridge with the tea-towel between each one (see picture), so that they don't touch and they retain their shape.

Cover with another tea -towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
When the baguettes have rested, move them onto your selected baking tray.
Sprinkle each baguette with a little flour and create a couple of slashes in them with a sharp knife.
Place in the oven and spray some water onto the bottom of the oven floor (click here to see how), shut  the door quickly.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until the baguettes have turned a lovely golden colour.
Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Overnight Malt, Seed and Rye Loaf

I have used a seed mix, in addition to a malted seed flour, to give this loaf an extra nutty crunch. I proved this bake in the fridge overnight, the cold atmosphere produces a slower rise, which means the dough has a more intense flavour. This loaf makes amazing toast, spread generously with a lick of butter.



For the loaf:
250g malted seed flour (plus a little more for sprinkling)
150g rye flour
7g dried yeast
10g salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
200g water
100g mixed seeds


Place the flours into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, seeds, oil and water and mix until it forms a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Place onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 5 minutes.
Place back in the bowl, cover with some cling film, and leave in the fridge overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
Take the dough out of the fridge the next morning and leave it to come to room temperature (this could take at least an hour).
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
One the dough is ready, shape into a loaf and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about half an hour, or until the loaf has risen by half.
When the loaf has risen, slash the top with a sharp knife and sprinkle on some of the seeded flour.
Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before tucking in.