Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Honey and Sunflower Sourdough

I have found that my sourdoughs always turn out quite heavy and dense in texture, compared to the light, airy, deliciously chewy ones I've tried at places like Bread Ahead and The Snapery. I read a fair few recipes and online articles to find out what I was doing wrong, and it turns out to achieve that light, airy, hole-y texture that is expected in this bake, you need to treat your sourdough almost like a ciabatta, trying to keep as much air in as possible when you shape it. So I gave this a go and was really gentle when shaping, trying to manhandle the dough as little as possible, and I feel that I really got the crumb I was looking for.
  This loaf, like most sours, is really amazing toasted, or simply served alongside some nice cheese. As always, I have made my sourdough using a sponge, I am not saying that this is the right or best way to go about it, it just happens to be the method that works for me every time.



Makes 1 large loaf.

For the sponge:
150ml active sourdough starter (click here to learn how to make it)
250g strong white flour
3 tablespoons honey
300ml water

For the loaf:
100g sunflower seeds
250g strong white flour
50ml water (you might not need this, depending on how wet your starter is)
10g salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

Make the sponge by combining the starter, flour, honey and water in a large bowl.
Cover the sponge, with a tea towel and leave to bubble up overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
When the sponge has bubbled/foamed up quite a bit it's ready.
When the sponge is ready, stir in the flour, seeds, oil and salt and mix to form a dough (adding the water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until it feels quite elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave to rise overnight, or for at least 6 hours until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, really gently remove it from the bowl and shape it into a ball (being as careful to keep in a much air as possible).
Place your loaf onto a lined baking tray (or into a proving basket if you have one) and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the loaf to rise for at least 3 hours, or until it has puffed up considerably.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf is ready, make a couple of slashes in the top with a sharp knife and dust it with a little flour.
Bake for around 40 minutes or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.


Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Brazil Nut Loaf

I have used a sponge (poolish, ferment, whatever you want to call it) when making this loaf. Kind of like the sourdough's little brother, a sponge is where you combine a small amount of yeast with some flour and water, and leave it to ferment for a few hours. This method means you can get a away with using less yeast, resulting in a longer rising time, which gives your bake a much greater depth of flavour.



Makes 1 medium loaf.

For the sponge:
3.5g dried yeast (1/2 of one of those little packets)
250g strong white flour
275ml water

For the loaf:
250g strong white flour
125g Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
100ml water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

To make the sponge, place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Stir in the water and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the sponge to ferment overnight, or for at least 8 hours. When it is ready it should have bubbled up a fair bit.
When the sponge is ready, add the flour, salt, oil, nuts and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a floured 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 to rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough is ready, shape it into your desired loaf (I went for a bloomer, make a long rectangle, tucking in the ends to round them off) and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover the loaf with a tea towel, and leave to rise for about 30 minutes, or until it has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, make a slash down the middle with a sharp knife, and dust the top with a little flour.
Bake the loaf for around 30 minutes, or until it is a rich golden brown and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Coconut and Dark Chocolate Rocky Road

Sweet and moreish, this treat will last for up to a week in the fridge (if you haven't eaten it all by then). Make sure you wrap it up well in clingfilm before chilling, as chocolate tends to take on the other flavours around it, and no one wants their rocky road tasting of celery.





For the rocky road:
200g of dark chocolate
100g shortbread biscuits, bashed into small peices
50g desicated coconut (plus more for sprinkling)
50g glacé cherries, halved
100g mini marshmallows (or normal sizes ones chopped into quarters)

Line a 20cm round cake tin with some clingfilm.
Place the cherries, biscuits, coconut and marshmallows into a bowl.
Melt the chocolate and add it to the bowl.
Stir until everything is combined.
Place the mixture into the prepared cake tin, pressing down as you go.
Sprinkle over some more coconut and chill for at least an hour, or until set.
Slice and serve!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Spelt, Onion and Herb Focaccia

I have to say this loaf was absolutely delicious. I upped the amount of herbs I would normally use to make sure that this bake was jam packed full of flavour. Once again I have added my onions and herbs at the beginning, rather than after the first rise, to ensure a more even distribution. Serve this focaccia alongside pasta (for a carb fest) or a with delicious summer salad.






Makes 1 large loaf.

For the loaf:
400g white spelt flour
7g dried yeast
10g salt
300ml water
2 tablepoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano

For the topping:
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Oil for cooking

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and cook the onion and the herbs, on a medium heat, for about 10 minutes (or until the onion has softened).
Leave the onion mixture to cool.
Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, water, oil and onions and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to 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.
Lightly oil a medium rectangle baking tray.
When the dough has risen, place it into the baking tray, lightly stretching it so it pretty much fills the tray.
Cover the tray with a tea towel and leave to rise for about half an hour, or until the dough has puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the dough is ready, make indents in the surface with your knuckles and sprinkle over the herbs, salt and oil.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the loaf turns a deep golden brown colour.
Let the focaccia cool slightly in the tin before removing and serving.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Gingerbread Loaf

This bake essentially carries all the warm spicy flavours of a gingerbread biscuit, but in a loaf form. Delicious toasted with a big dollop of raspberry jam, this bread is ideal for breakfast or brunch.



Makes 1 small loaf.

For the loaf:
300g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons mixed spice
150g chopped dates
2 tablespoons malt extract
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon salt
200ml water

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, syrup, malt extract, dates, mixed spice, ground ginger and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave to rise, for at least an hour and a half (the fruit and spices will slow down the rise, I left mine over night in the fridge) or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover again with a tea towel, and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, sprinkle the top with some flour and cut an x shape into the surface with a sharp knife.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the top is a deep brown and the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving. Tastes best toasted.




Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Ice Cream, Three Ways


 Summer is nearly here, and that can only mean one thing... Ice cream! With so many delicious puddings out there, ice cream often gets demoted to something on the side, well no more as here are three incredibly easy recipes that make ice cream the star of the show.
 The ice cream I have used for these recipes is from the Handmade Ice Cream Company, which is based in the Lake District. I have have chosen their products because they are delicious and also because they are local to me. (if you have a fancy ice cream maker, then feel free to make your own).

Mocha Milkshake





















Adding coffee to this classic childhood treat makes it a little more grown up. Super refreshing, this pick me up is best enjoyed to cool down on a hot summer's day.

Makes 1 large milkshake

For the milkshake:
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 teaspoon boiling water
100ml milk
1 tablespoon condensed milk
4 scoops chocolate ice cream (I used the HICC's Belgian Chocolate ice cream)

Place the instant coffee into a large jug and stir in the water.
Add the milk, condensed milk and 3 scoops of the ice cream and combine together using a hand-held blender.
Pour into the glass of your choice and place the final scoop of ice cream on top.



Eton-sort of-Mess with a Hot Blackberry Jam Sauce





















Perfect for a dinner party, this dessert is so quick and easy to make. Serve with a nice chilled glass of Prosecco.

Makes 4 puddings.

For the Mess:
1 500ml tub raspberry ice cream (I have used the HICC's Raspberry and White Chocolate ice cream)
150 meringue kisses
100g frozen blackberries (or other soft fruit of your choice)
50g sugar
2 tablespoons boiling water

Make the hot blackberry jam sauce by heating the blackberries, sugar and water in a pan on a medium heat for around 20 minutes (or until the blackberries have gone very squishy). Set aside.
Crush up the meringues slightly.
Place a spoonful of the blackberries into the bottom of each of your chosen bowls.
Add a couple of scoops of ice cream and a sprinkle of the meringue. Repeat this layering process until you have filled your bowls.
Serve.


Chocolate Fudge Arctic Roll





















Retro classic with a chocolate twist. Best to take it out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to serve. Goes nicely with a hot chocolate sauce.

Makes enough to for 12 servings.

For the roll:
120g caster sugar
60g butter, very soft
80g self-raising flour
40g coco powder
2 large eggs
50g dark chocolate chips

For the filling:
1 500ml tub of fudge ice cream (i used the HICC's Caramel, Fudge and Honeycomb ice cream)
2 tablespoons Nutella

Caster sugar and icing sugar for dusting.
Butter for greasing.

A couple of hours before you make the sponge, select a baking tray that you are going to use (you want a rectangle around 20cm x 30cm).
Take your ice cream out of the freezer and spoon it onto a large sheet of clingfilm.
Wrap the ice cream up in the clingfilm (so that you don't get it everywhere) and mold it into a long cylinder shape, the same length as your baking tray.
Make sure the ice cream is fully sealed in the clingfilm and place it back into the freezer.
Grease your baking tray and then line it with greasproof paper (greasing that as well).
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
To make the sponge place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, coco powder and chocolate chips into the bowl of a standalone mixer (or just use a hand mixer) and mix to combine (using the paddle attachment).
Spoon the mixture into your prepared tray, spreading it into a even layer as you go.
Bake for around 12 minutes, or until the sponge feels springy to the touch.
Place a tea towel onto a flat surface and then cover it with a sheet of greasproof paper sprinkled with caster sugar (this will help you roll the roll).
As soon as the sponge is ready, carefully turn it out of the tin onto the sugared greaseproof paper. Leave it to cool slightly.
When the sponge is almost cool (you will need it to still be a little warm to roll it) spread it will the Nutella and place your ice cream cylinder into the centre.
Roll the sponge around the ice cream and then wrap it tightly in the greaseproof paper.
Cover the roll in a couple of layers of clingfilm and place in the freezer to set, for at least 4 hours.
Dust with icing sugar and slice just before serving.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Fruit and Nut Loaf with Malt Extract

I did originally want to add black treacle to this loaf, to make it extra dark and sweet, but I didn't happen to have any in, and to be honest, it tasted pretty good without it. I added the fruit and nuts in at the beginning (rather than after the first rise) because I think it guarantees a more even distribution. I don't think this compromises the rise that you get too much, it just means a longer proving time. This bread is perfect for toasting, or served alongside a cheese board. If you happen to have any left over, that's gone a little hard, turn it into a delicious bread and butter pudding.





















Makes 1 medium loaf.

For the loaf:
300g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
4 tablespoons malt extract
100g mixed nuts
100g sultanas
50g chopped dates
1 teaspoon salt
200ml water

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, malt, nuts, dried fruit and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels quite soft.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with e tea-towel.
Leave the dough to rise for around a couple of hours, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover again, with a tea-towel, and leave to rise for about 30 minutes, or until it has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C.
When the dough has puffed up, sprinkle the top with a little flour and make a couple of slashes with a sharp knife.
Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180 degrees C and bake for a further 15 minutes.
When the loaf is ready it should be a dark golden brown colour and the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Garlic and Herb Flatbreads (with cheese)

I have added garlic granules to my actual dough here, to give my bake a real garlic-y kick, but feel free to just stick with the garlic oil if you want a milder taste. The cheese I have used is a French Comte, but a nice mature cheddar or a crumbly Lancashire would work well too. I served my flatbreads with a vegetable and red wine stew, they would also be tasty as a starter or served alongside pasta.



Makes 4 flatbreads

For the flatbreads:
400g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic granules
1 tablespoon garlic oil
300ml water

For the topping:
4 teaspoons dried thyme
4 teaspoons dried rosemary
4 teaspoons dried chilli
50g cheese, grated
garlic oil to drizzle

Semolina for dusting.

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the garlic granules, garlic oil, salt and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough  onto a lightly floured 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.
Once the dough has risen, sprinkle a work surface with some semolina and tip the dough onto it.
Cut the dough into 4 equal (ish) pieces and roll out each one into a long thin rectangle.
Dust a couple of baking trays with semolina and place your flatbreads onto them.
Sprinkle the toppings equally over your flatbreads and drizzle with a little more garlic oil.
Cover again with a tea towel and leave to rest for about 15 minutes, or until the flatbreads have puffed up slightly.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the flatbreads have rested, bake them for 15 minutes, or until they have turned a nice golden brown.
Serve warm.

Tip: You can make these flatbreads a few hours in advance, simply re-heat in a medium oven for 5 minutes, just before serving.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Oat Loaf with Malt

Now that I have managed to get my hands on some malt extract, I am literally trying to include it in all of my bakes. Next up I will be trying a malted fruit bread with some dark black treacle, but for now I am baking a more savoury-friendly oat and malt loaf. I haven't soaked my oats or anything before putting them in the loaf, this is so that I can give my bake a little bit of added texture. I have also been quite sparing with the malt, only adding one tablespoon, but feel free to add more if you prefer a stronger taste.



Makes one medium sized loaf.

For the loaf:
400g strong white flour
100g oats (whatever you have in your cupboard)
7g dried yeast
10g salt
350ml water (or beer, if you fancy)
1 tablespoon malt extract


Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, oats, malt and water and mix to form a dough (adding more water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a tea- towel.
Leave to rise for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover again with a tea-towel and leave to rise for about half an hour, or until the loaf has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, cut a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife, and sprinkle over a little flour and/or oats.
Bake for around 25 minutes or until the loaf is a deep golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before tucking in.
Tastes great with peanut butter (as I say about everything).

Monday, 4 April 2016

Chewits Rice Krispie Squares

Gooey and moreish, these tasty treats are great for a kid's party, or just a Saturday night in by yourself. They can be made in advance, and left covered in the fridge for up to a week (if they last that long).





For the squares
50g unsalted butter
150g marshmallows
120g Rice Krispies (or similar cereal)
2 packs of strawberry Chewits
100g white chocolate
Edible glitter

Line a rectangle baking tray with some clingfilm.
Remove the Chewits from their rappers and carefully cut each one into quaters. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat.
When the butter is melted, add the marshmallows and stir constantly until they melt together into a sticky mass (should take a couple of minutes).
When melted, take the marshmallow mixture off the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies and half the chopped Chewits.
When the mixture is combined, spoon in into the prepared tin, pressing down as you go.
Melt the white chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the squares. Sprinkle on the remaing Chewiest  along with a pinch of edible glitter.
Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting into squares and serving.