Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Monday, 30 May 2016

Rosemary and Dried Fruit Loaf

The flavour of this loaf was inspired by a new range of artisan breads at my local supermarket. The loaf that caught my eye was a rosemary and sultana, but as delicious as it was, I thought my bake would benefit from some added extras. The soft sweetness of the dates and the denseness of prunes make this loaf extra soft and moreish. One again, I have added the fruit and herb at the beginning, rather than after the first prove, for a more even distribution. This doesn't really affect the rise, it just means you will have a longer proving time. Serve this loaf with some soft goats cheese, or toasted with jam for breakfast.



Makes 1 medium loaf.


For the loaf:
1 large sprig fresh rosemary (or 2 tablespoons of the dried stuff)
50g sultanas
50 dried prunes, chopped into small chunks
50g chopped dates
400g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
300ml water

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, rosemary, dried fruits and water (click here to find out how to add your 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 more elastic.
Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the dough to prove for around an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into your desired loaf shape and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover again and leave to rise for about 40 minutes, or until the loaf has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf is ready, make a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife.
Bake the loaf for around 25 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown, and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

S'mores Pretzel Bites

From personal experience, I can verify that these bites are completely addictive. Salty, sweet and so easy, they can be enjoyed as mid-week treat or as a alternative to popcorn at the cinema.



Makes however many you like.

For the bites:
1 pack giant chocolate buttons
1 pack marshmallows (just the regular sized ones)
1 pack salted pretzels (the small ones you would find in the crisp/snack section)

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees c.
Place some of the pretzels onto a lined baking tray, making sure to leave a reasonable gap between each one.
Place a marshmallow on top of each of the pretzels.
Place a chocolate button on top of each the marshmallows.
Finish off by placing a final pretzel on top of each of the marshmallow/chocolate towers.
Bake the pretzel bites for five minutes, or until the marshmallows have gone all squishy.
Cool slightly on the baking tray before serving.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A Note On How Much Water To Add To Your Bread

My friend recently told me that when making bread, his dough always seemed quite wet, even when he had carefully added the correct amount of water suggested in the recipe. Even though usually with baking you have to be quite specific with your measurements (it is a science of course), with bread making it's really hard to know how much water a recipe reader will actually need, as there are so many factors that could change it. Different flours will need different amounts of water, so unless you are using the same flour that the baker used in the recipe, your bread might need a lot more or a lot less liquid. Also the weather can affect how much water you will need, say if it's a a humid day you might need less, or if it's a particularly dry day you might need more.... My advice would be, add a third of the water suggested in the recipe, give it a good mix for a minute or so, and then see if you need to add any more. If you do need to add more, do it slowly, about 20ml at a time, mixing well in between each addition.




    Having a really wet dough isn't wrong. Some of the tastiest bread has up to 80% hydration. All it will mean is a slightly different crumb structure, with larger holes. A wet dough might not keep it's shape as well during the second prove, so I would suggest placing it into a proving basket, or a tin. Wet dough can be quite hard to handle, so oil your hands and your work surface to stop it sticking everywhere.

Hope this has been helpful!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Oat and Ale Bread

I made this loaf in celebration of real bread week. Real bread is bread that has been handmade without using any chemicals and additives that make it rise faster, look better and last longer. Often naturally leavened, these loaves are better for you because you know exactly what you are eating, and exactly what you are putting into your body. This bake is really tasty served with some nice strong cheese .



Makes one medium loaf.

For the loaf:
400g strong white flour
150g oats, plus more for sprinkling (I just used porridge oats)
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
400ml ale/beer
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the oats, oil, salt and ale and mix to form a dough (adding more ale/water if it feels a little dry).
Tip the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes, or until it feels a little more elastic.
Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a tea-towel.
Leave the dough to prove for at least an hour and a half (or even better, overnight in the fridge) until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, shape it into a ball and place onto a lined baking tray.
Cover and leave to rise again, for at least half 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 a handful of oats.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the loaf is a deep golden brown and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

White Rye, Camembert and Raisin Loaf

I love the combination of fruit and cheese, whether it be grapes with your brie, or a slice of fruit cake served with some crumbly Lancashire. I have wanted to use these complimenting ingredients in my breads for a while, and I had some Camembert that was stinking out my fridge, so I thought I'd give it a go. This loaf is best served warm, alongside a simple summer salad or a hearty stew. It will keep for a couple of days in a bread bin, wrapped up well in tin-foil.




For the loaf:
200g white rye flour
200g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
10g salt
150g raisins
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
150g Camembert, chopped into small peices.
300ml water.

Place the flours into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, oil, raisins 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 5 minutes, or until it feels a little more elastic.
Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a tea towel.
Leave to rise for at least an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, gently knead in the Camembert and shape the loaf into a ball.
Place the loaf on a lined baking tray, cover again, and leave to rise for at least 30 minutes, or until it has noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaf has risen, make a few slashes on top with a sharp knife, and sprinkle with a little flour.
Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf feels hollowed when tapped.
Leave to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

White Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream

Another one of my quick no- churn favourites, this treat is a perfect way to cool down in this hot weather. I've based this flavour on my favourite takeaway drink, it's really sweet so pairs perfectly with raspberries and blackberries.




Makes 1 medium tub.

For the ice-cream:
2 teaspoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons hot water
100g white chocolate chunks
300ml double cream
1 tin of condensed milk.

Desolve the coffee in the water and leave to cool.
Whip the condensed milk and cream until they reach soft peaks.
Stir in the cooled coffee and white chocolate chips.
Place the cream mixture into a plastic Tupperware, with a well fitting lid, and freeze for at least 4 hours.
Take the ice cream out of the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to serve, so that it can soften a little.
This treat with keep in the freezer for about a month (not that it will last that long...).

Friday, 6 May 2016

Herb and Chilli Spelt Pittas

Pittas are so much easier to make than I ever thought they would be. They have become quite a regular in my baking schedule, however this is the first time I have tried using herbs and spices in my mix, and I have to say it has worked really well. These pittas are best eaten on the day (although they can be frozen, see end of instructions), so feel free to halve the recipe if you need to. The pitta breads taste great dipped in hummus, or served as an alternative to a burger bun this BBQ season.



Makes around 12 pittas.

For the pittas:
400g spelt flour
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
7g dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
300ml water

Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, herbs, chilli, oil 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.
Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea-towel.
Leave to rise for about an hour and a half, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees c.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 12 equal balls.
Lightly oil your worksuface and a rolling pin, and roll each one into oblong shapes (you are looking for the legnth to be around the distance between your elbow and your wrist).
Place the pittas onto a lined baking tray (you will probably have to bake them in a few batches) and bake for around 3 minutes, or until the pitta has started to blow up.
Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.
The pittas can be frozen and kept in the freezer for around a month (simply cool completely and wrap well in clingfilm). Make sure you re-heat the pittas slightly, after defrosting, for the best texture.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

White Chocolate Flapjacks

I can't take credit for this recipe, it's one of my nanna's go-to classics. She leant me an old hand-written cook book a while ago, and I am still trying to work my way through the recipes. Flapjacks are a baking institution and can be so easy to make. I have added white chocolate to this recipe for an extra sweet twist.



Makes around 18 flapjacks.

For the flapjacks:
8oz rolled oats (I just used porridge oats)
2oz golden syrup
4oz sugar
6oz butter
3oz white chocolate chips

For the topping:
3oz white chocolate, melted.

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees c.
Line a rectangle baking tray (around 30cm x 20cm) with some greasproof/baking paper.
Melt the butter, sugar and syrup together in a large heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat.
When melted, take off the heat and stir in the oats and white chocolate.
Place the oat mixture into the lined baking tray, pressing down with a metal spoon to smooth it out.
Bake for around 15 minutes, or until the flapjack is a deep golden brown.
Leave to cool in the tray before drizzling with the white chocolate and serving.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Double Chocolate, Oreo and Peanut Butter Caramel Slice

This recipe is kind of an improvement on my peanut butter caramel slices. I felt the previous version was lacking chocolate, so I added the biscuit base and a hidden layer of dark choc chips, for an extra coco hit. Sweet and salty, this treat makes a great alternative in an afternoon tea or simply enjoyed as a quick snack.



Makes 1 large slab.

For the biscuit base:
2 packs Oreos (just the regular size)
75g butter melted

For the caramel:
1 tin condensed milk
200g smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons golden syrup
50g butter

For the topping:
200g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate chips

Line a rectangle baking tin with baking paper (you are looking for one around 20cm x 30cm).
Make the biscuit base by blitzing the Oreos in a food processor until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the melted butter and then press into the bottom of the prepared tin, smoothing it out with a metal spoon.
Place the base in the fridge whilst you make the caramel.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Place the butter, syrup, condensed milk and peanut butter into a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, on a medium heat.
Stir until the butter has melted, then continue to heat for around 10 minutes until the caramel has thickened and darkened (making sure you stir frequently).
When the caramel is ready, pour it onto the biscuit base and bake for around 15 minutes, or until the caramel has started to bubble.
When the caramel is ready, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.
When cooled, sprinkle over the dark chocolate chips.
Melt the milk chocolate and pour it on top of the cooled caramel biscuit.
Chill in the fridge, for at least an hour, to set.
When set, slice into small squares.
This bake is best keep in an airtight container in the fridge.