Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Monday, 29 August 2016

Peanut Butter and Honey Flapjacks

Flapjacks are one of the things we first learn how to bake at home. Quick and easy, they don't require much equipment, time or technical know-how. These treats make for some delicious bank-holiday baking and are a great way of incorporating local produce and seasonal flavours.

Makes 10-12 flapjacks

For the flapjacks:
8oz porridge oats
4oz sugar
2oz runny honey
3oz dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
6oz butter
3oz raisins

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees c.
Line a medium sized rectangle baking tray with greaseproof/baking paper.
Melt the butter, sugar, peanut butter and honey together in a large pan over a medium heat.
Once everything is melted, take the pan off the heat and stir in the chocolate, oats and raisins.
Spoon the mixture into the lined baking tray, flattening it so it evenly fills the tin.
Bake the flapjack mixture for around 20 minutes, or until it has started to harden in the corners, but is still soft in the centre.
Leave the flapjack to cool in the tin before slicing and serving.
Keeps well in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Cheesy Pull-Apart Loaf with Garlic and Chilli Oil

This bake is an easy way to turn a boring shop-bought loaf into something creative and exciting. I have used gruyere and mozzarella cheeses here, but you could always replace them with some camembert or a rich mature cheddar, if you fancied. Serve this loaf with something you can dunk it into like a rich beef stew, or a spicy tomato soup.

Makes 1 medium loaf, serves 4.

For the loaf:
1 400g un-sliced loaf
125g mozzarella, cut into small chunks
125g gruyere cheese, cut into small batons
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon sea salt

For the garlic and chilli oil:
30ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon dried chilli

Make the chilli oil by placing the oil, garlic and chilli into a bowl and mixing together.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave for at least an hour, at room temperature, to infuse.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the oil is infused, place the loaf onto a lined baking tray and cut a criss-cross pattern into it with a sharp knife, making sure you don't quite cut all the way through.
Place a piece of cheese into each opening on the top of the loaf, trying to alternate evenly between each cheese.
When you have used up all your cheese, sprinkle over the basil, chilli oil (discarding the chunks of garlic) and sea salt.
Bake the loaf for around 15 minutes, or until the cheese is molten and the crust is a rich golden brown.
Leave the bread to cool slightly on the baking tray before tucking in.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Double Chocolate and Marmalade Loaf Cake

Bake off starts next week, and watching it always makes me so inspired to try lots of new and exciting cake recipes. I have been using marmalade a lot in my bakes recently, partly because my mum has a huge collection of homemade jars in the cupboard under her stairs, and partly because I think the slight bitterness pairs particularly well with chocolate (and everyone knows I can't have a pudding without chocolate in it). This cake is very moist and dense, so it works really well slightly warmed as a dessert, just serve a nice hearty wedge with some ice cream or vanilla custard.

Makes 1 medium loaf cake. Serves about 6.

For the cake:
120g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
120g caster sugar
120g butter, softened
2 large eggs
100g white chocolate chips
100g milk chocolate chunks
4 tablespoons marmalade

For the topping:
1 tablespoon marmalade
1 tablespoon boiling water
30g milk chocolate, melted
30g white chocolate, melted

Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking paper, or a loaf tin liner.
Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C.
Beat the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in a free standing mixer (or using a hand-held electric whisk), using the paddle attachment, until well combined.
Fold the chocolate and marmalade into the batter and pour it into the prepared tin.
Bake the cake for around 40 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre.
Make the marmalade glaze by mixing the marmalade and boiling water in a heat proof bowl.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush over the glaze, making sure to use it all.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
When the cake is cool, remove it from the tin and drizzle over the melted white and milk chocolate.
Leave the chocolate to set a little before serving, making sure you cut big greedy wedges.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Triple Chocolate Rocky Road

This recipe is an improvement on my double chocolate rocky road (and there is no better improvement, in my opinion, that adding more chocolate). I have used peanut butter Oreos this time, to give a little extra flavour, but normal Oreos would work just fine too. These rocky road squares taste great alongside a mug of builders or a strong cup of coffee.

Makes around 20 squares (depending on how greedily you cut them).

For the rocky road:

200g milk chocolate
200g dark chocolate
200g white chocolate
300g mini marshmallows
1 1/2 packets (standard size) peanut butter Oreos, broken up a little
Icing sugar, for dusting

Line a medium sized rectangle baking tin with cling film.
Melt the dark chocolate and stir in 1/3 of the Oreos and 1/3 of the mini marshmallows.
Press the chocolate mixture into the lined tin, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon as you go.
Place the tin in the fridge for around 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has started to set.
When the dark chocolate is pretty much set, melt the milk chocolate and stir in half of the remaining Oreos and marshmallows.
Pour the milk chocolate mixture on top of the dark chocolate, spreading the mixture so it fills the tin.
Place the milk/dark chocolate rocky road in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or until the milk chocolate is pretty much set.
When the milk chocolate has set, melt the white chocolate and stir in the remaining Oreos and marshmallows.
Spread the white chocolate mixture on top of the milk/dark chocolate and place back in the fridge, for at least 30 minutes to set.
Once the rocky road is set, dust the top with icing sugar and slice into squares.
The rocky road will keep well for a few days in an air-tight container.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Dough Sticks

I always look forward to ordering the fluffy, pillowy dough sticks that you get in many 'Italian' restaurants. I love how the soft, rich dough often burns the top of my mouth, as I greedily tuck in before they have had chance to cool. I have tried, and failed, many times to make lovely soft and airy rolls, but they always end up too hard, too crusty or completely raw in the middle.
  From experimenting with many different recipes, I have learned that the two things you need for a soft, light bread are fat and air, so I have tried to incorporate both into my dough.  I have proved these dough sticks in the same way I would do a ciabatta, in a greased rectangular tub, so that you only have to gently tip the dough out to shape, therefore keeping in as much air as possible. These dough sticks are incredibly moreish and certainly wont disappoint. They taste best still a little warm from the oven. Serve alongside a pizza for the ultimate carb fest.

Makes 6 fat dough sticks.

For the sticks:

250g strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little more for greasing)
7g dried yeast
175ml water

For the topping:
1 tomato, cut into small slices
10g parmesan, grated
50g cheddar, grated
1 teaspoon dried basil

Grease a medium sized, rectangle lunch-box with olive oil.
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).
Tip the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels smooth and elastic.
Place the dough into the greased lunch-box, put the lid on and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, gently tip it out onto an oiled surface.
Being as gentle as possible, (you want to keep as much air in as you can, as this will make the sticks light and fluffy) cut the dough into six rectangles.
Place the rectangles onto a lined baking tray and place a few slices of tomato on top of each one.
Sprinkle over the basil and cheeses and then cover the sticks with a tea towel.
Leave the dough sticks to rise again, for around 20 minutes, or until they have noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the dough sticks have puffed up, bake them for around 15 minutes, or until they have turned a light golden brown.
Let the sticks cool slightly on the baking tray before serving.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Triple Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Spelt Cookies

The spelt flour and peanut butter in this recipe give the classic choc-chip cookie an extra nutty twist. I have gone for white, milk and dark chocolate here, using chips and chunks for added texture, but feel free to stick with one shade/type only, if you fancy.

Makes 10-15 cookies.

For the cookies:
140g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
225g white spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g crunchy peanut butter
100g milk chocolate chunks
50 white chocolate chunks
50 dark chocolate chips

Beat the butter and sugar together in a free-standing mixer, using the paddle attachment (or using a hand-held electric whisk), until pale and fluffy.
Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter, and mix again, until everything is combined.
Add the flour and baking powder and mix on a very low speed until combined.
Finally add the chocolate, mixing again, until it's evenly distributed.
Lay a large sheet of cling-film onto your work surface, and spoon the cookie mixture into the middle.
Wrap the dough up in the clingfilm, like a sausage, making sure it's well sealed.
Place the sausage into the freezer, for at least 30 minutes, or until the dough has firmed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the cookie dough had firmed up, unwrap from the cling-film and slice into discs (about an inch thick).
Place the discs onto lined baking trays (leaving plenty of room between each one) and bake for around 15 minutes, or until the cookies have started to harden round the edges, but are still soft in the middle.
Cool the cookies on the tray slightly, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.