Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Pesto and Cheese Pull Apart Loaf





Makes 1 medium loaf, serves 4.

For the loaf:
1 medium white loaf, unsliced
100g mozzarella, torn into chunks
100g mature cheddar, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons pesto
4 tablespoons olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Cut a criss-cross pattern into the loaf with a sharp knife, making sure you don't quite slice all the way through.
Place a piece of cheese into each opening on top of the loaf, trying to alternate evenly between each cheese.
Stir the pesto and the olive oil together and then drizzle on top of the cheesy mound.
Place the bread onto a lined baking tray and cook for around 15 minutes, or until the cheese has gone a deep golden brown.
Leave to cool on the baking tray for a couple of minutes before serving.


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Porridge Loaf


I have seen 'porridge bread' popping up everywhere in the last few weeks. From artisan bakeries to food bloggers, everyone seems to be putting this breakfast staple into their loaves, and as I love combining oats into my bakes, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give it a go. During my first attempt at coming up with a recipe for this new trend, I added wayyy too much porridge, making the dough very hard to handle, and the texture of the finished loaf very dense. This version uses a little less porridge than my previous endeavours, but still manages to keep that creamy oaty texture. I have made two medium loaves here, but you could combine them and just make one very large bake, if you wanted.




Makes 2 medium loaves.

For the porridge:
150g porridge oats
300ml water

For the loaf:
500g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
250ml water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rapeseed oil




Make the porridge by heating the oats and water in a pan on a medium heat, stirring until all the water has absorbed and the oats have gone all creamy.
Take the porridge off the heat and leave to cool completely.
Once the porridge has cooled, make the loaf by placing the flour into a large bowl and then rub in the yeast.
Add the porridge, salt, oil and water and mix until it forms 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 more 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, divide it into two equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
Place the balls onto a lined baking tray (leaving plenty or room between each one) and cover with a tea towel.
Leave the loaves to rise for about an hour, or until they have noticeable puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees c.
When the loaves have risen, dust them with a little flour and make some slashes in the top with a sharp knife.
Bake the loaves for around 25 minutes, or until their crusts are a deep golden brown and the bottom of each one sounds hollow when tapped.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

'Trick or Treat' Rocky Road


These rocky road squares are a great way of using up any left-over goodies that your trick or treater's haven't taken. So quick and easy, these chocolatey delights take a matter of minutes to put together and are great to make with children (as there is no actual baking involved). I have used a selection of my favourite confectionary in this recipe, but feel free to use whatever left over loot you have lying around (sweets, chocolate and biscuits will all work well here), just make sure that you have enough melted chocolate to cover everything evenly.





Makes around 12 squares.

For the rocky road:
200g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
150g mini marshmallows
100g biscuits of your choice, broken into small pieces (I used McVitie's digestive nibbles)
A selection of treats (I used a variety of chocolate, see photo for details)






Place the treats, marshmallow and broken biscuits into a large bowl.
Melt the chocolate.
Pour the melted chocolate into the treats and stir until everything is well combined.
Place the chocolate/treat mixture into a medium rectangle baking tin, that has been lined with clingfilm.
Smooth the mixture into the sides of the tin and then place in the fridge, for at least two hours, until it has set.
When the rocky road has set, dust it with a little icing sugar and then cut into large squares.
This sweet treat will keep well in an air-tight container, for about a week ( that's if it lasts that long!).

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Snickers Cookies


These cookies combine two of my most favourite things, chocolate and peanut butter. The recipe makes a fair amount of dough, so you could keep some of it (well wrapped in clingfilm) in the fridge for a few days, if you only wanted to bake a couple of cookies off at a time. The baked treats keep well for a week (if they last that long), stored in an airtight container at room temperature.




Makes 12 large cookies.

For the cookies.

4 x regular sized Snickers bars (cut into small chunks)
100g milk chocolate chunks
1 large egg
140g unsalted butter
200g crunchy peanut butter
250g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract



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 mix on a very low speed until combined.
Finally add the chocolate and chunks of Snickers, 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 has 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.

Monday, 17 October 2016

An Evening With Jenny Chandler and Chilli and Oregano Pitta Breads



Last week I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Jenny Chandler, the food writer, teacher and UN FAO special ambassador for pluses. She was showing us how to cook some easy and delicious dishes using beans and lentils, which are among some of the most sustainable crops you can find and have been feeding people world-wide for centuries. I have been a fan of pluses for a while now, as someone who does not eat meat, and they more accessible than ever these days, often coming pre-cooked and soaked so all you have to do is open the packet and enjoy.

I almost assumed before the event that Jenny was a vegetarian, because, why else would you be pushing lentils when the rest of the cooking world is meat mad? It turns out Jenny is not a herbivore, but someone who just loves the taste of these ancient food sources and is really passionate about promoting their nutritional value through delicious recipes. It was a really refreshing evening, with the focus on tasty food that you could enjoy every day.

What we ate - Jenny cooked us falafels (the best I have ever eaten, she cooks her's with fava beans instead of chickpeas) and quesadillas with re-fried beans and Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire cheese. The falafels were so quick and easy, simply put all the ingredients into a processor and blitz, and nothing like the dry/flavourless ones I have had in the past from supermarkets. The quesadillas were spicy and moorish, a quick and easy dinner that I have already made twice since attending the class!

If you want to find out more about Jenny and her recipes, head down to Borough Market every Thursday in November, where she will be cooking delicious pulse dishes from around the world.


















Jenny will be cooking at the demo kitchen in Borough Market every Thursday in November, 12.30pm - 2pm.



Something to serve your falafels with - Chill and Oregano Pitta Bread.



Makes 6 large pittas.

For the pitta breads:
250g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
175ml water



Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the yeast.
Add the salt, water, oregano, oil and chilli 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.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees c.
When the dough has risen, place it onto a lightly oiled surface and divide it into 6 equal balls.
Roll out each of the balls into a long oval shape, about the length between your wrist to your elbow.
Place the pittas on to 2/3 lined baking trays, leaving a small gap between each one.
Bake the pittas for around 5 minutes, or until the middle has puffed up and they are a pale golden colour.
Leave the pittas to cool for a minute on a wire rack before serving.


Friday, 14 October 2016

Spiced Marmalade Buns

I got the inspiration for this bake whilst having breakfast at a quiet bakery in Covent Garden. They were serving these orange chelsea buns, which were deliciously sticky and sweet, and once I tasted one, I knew I was going to have to try and make my own version at home.
I have added mixed spice to my buns, because I like the warmth that it brings on a cold autumn day. Enjoy these treats with a large cup of tea, as a late afternoon pick-me-up.



Makes 10 large buns.

For the buns:
450g strong white flour
60g butter
7g dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 pint of milk

For the filling:
250ml milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 egg yolks
50g sugar
45g flour
Zest of an orange
4 tablespoons marmalade

For the sticky marmalade glaze:
2 tablespoons marmalade
2 tablespoons boiling water



Place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips, until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Rub the yeast into the bread crumb mixture.
Add the salt, mixed spice and milk and combine until the mixture forms a dough (adding more milk if it feels a little dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels soft but not sticky.
Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for about an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size.
Whilst the dough is rising, make a creme patisserie for the filling.
Place the yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together until pale.
Add the flour and orange zest into the egg mixture, stirring until there are no lumps.
Heat the milk and vanilla, in a pan over a medium heat, until it just starts to boil.
Take the pan off the heat and pour half of the milk into the egg mixture, stirring well until it is fully combined.
Stir the rest of the milk into the egg mixture and then place it all back in the pan.
Put the pan back on the heat, and stir until the mixture goes thick and gloopy (you may have to whisk it a little if lumps start forming).
When the mixture has thickened, place it into a large bowl and cover with clingfilm (making sure that the cling film directly touches the creme patisserie, to avoid a skin forming), then leave to cool completely.
When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a lightly floured surface.
Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, and then spread the cooled creme patisserie and marmalade across it.
Roll the dough up into a large sausage and then cut it into 10 equal pieces.
Line a rectangle baking tray with some grease proof paper, and then place the dough pieces on it, leaving 2 cm (ish) gap between each one.
Cover the buns with a tea-towel and leave to rise for about an hour, or until they have noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Make the glaze by mixing together the marmalade and the boiling water.
When the buns have risen, bake them for around 20 minutes, or until they have turned a deep golden brown.
When the buns are ready, brush over the marmalade glaze and leave them to cool in the baking tray, before serving.

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Saturday, 8 October 2016

Lady Grey Teacakes

Autumn is here!!! which for me means cozy nights in, knitted socks and warm, spice scented comfort food. These teacakes take their inspiration from my Lady Grey Tea Bread, which I wanted to make, but in a different form, and nothing is better on a crisp autumn morning than a hot buttered teacake.
I have made my teacakes quite big, partly because I am greedy and partly to remind me of the ginormous ones I used to get at school, so feel free to make 8 slightly smaller ones, instead of 6, if you wish.




Makes 6 very large teacakes.


For the teacakes:
450g strong white flour
7g dried yeast
60g butter, plus a little extra for brushing on the teacakes
150g currants
1/2 pint of milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
6 Lady Grey tea bags





Heat up the milk in a small sauce pan on a medium heat, until it just starts to bubble.
Remove the milk from the heat and add in the 6 tea bags.
Give the milk and tea bags a good stir, and then leave to infuse for about an hour, or until the milk has completely cooled.
When the milk is cool, place the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter, until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Rub the yeast into the bread crumb mixture and then mix in the salt, mixed spice and currants.
Remove the tea bags from the milk and then add the milk to the rest of the ingredients, mixing until it forms a dough (adding a little water if it feels a bit dry).
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until it feels soft but not sticky.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave to rise for about an hour and a half, to until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, divide it into 6 equal (ish) pieces and the roll each piece into a ball.
Place the balls onto a lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for around 30 minutes, or until they have noticeably puffed up.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c.
When the teacakes have puffed up, place them into the oven for around 15 minutes, or until they have turned a deep golden brown.
When the teacakes are done, place the baking tray onto a wire rack and then brush the teacakes with a little butter.
Cover the buttered teacakes with a tea towel and leave them to cool (this will help keep them to stay nice and soft).
These teacakes will keep well for a couple of days, wrapped and placed in a cool dark place (not the fridge!).
The teacakes taste best toasted and then spread with a generous lick of butter (or peanut butter, which I insist on putting on everything).

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Friday, 7 October 2016

Liverpool Food and Drink Festival

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival, which was held in Sefton park on the 17th and 18th September. I have been to a fair few food shows before, and have always been left a little disappointed with the choice of food and drink on offer. The shows always seem to be filled with stalls selling tacky gadgets and accessories that you would probably use once and then would be banished to the back of the cupboard with the apple corer and the magnetic toaster tongs. These type of events never quite match my appetite for exciting new cuisines to try, instead just offering over-priced burgers and soggy sandwiches that you could get down at your local supermarket .

This festival, however, couldn't haven been more different. There were so many interesting and unique food and drink options to choose from. From street food, to delicious bread and pastries, speciality gins and vodkas to BBQs and chocolate, every taste and curiosity was catered for.
What also made the festival stand out for me was that they were offering cooking classes for children. These classes were free to attend, and every child got to take home what they made. I thought this was an excellent way of teaching children valuable skills such as healthy eating, correct food preparation and general hygiene. A far cry from the cup cake decorating classes you usually get at these sort of events.

The weather really held out too, it was gloriously sunny and warm, which made the party atmosphere even more incredible.
Its safe to say I would definitely go again, in fact I am looking up tickets for the April festival now...

My highlights of the day were:
Food and fizz at Neon Jamon, which is already a firm favourite of mine.
The Pimms tent (always).
The GIANT caramel slice from Bold Street Coffee.
The gorgeous tea pots on display at Alison Appleton (she has a tea house on the edge of the park too, which I am desperate to visit).
The onion bread and pastries from The French Corner.
The free seeds Seeds Of Change were giving out, a great incentive to grown your own ingredients.



Fizz from Neon Jamon



Spanish Omelette, croquettes and olives from Neon Jamon



World's biggest caramel slice from Bold Street Coffee.



Best Bakewell tart ever



Free seeds from Seeds of Change