what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Great British Bake Off Apricot Couronne

It was sweet bread week on GBBO last Tuesday. There’s not much I like more than sweet, fruity buns and breads so this was one of my favourite programmes in the series so far.

The technical challenge was a Paul Hollywood recipe – the apricot couronne, which just means ‘crown’ in French apparently. The recipe can be found on the BBC Food website here.

Regular readers will know that I don’t much like all the salt that Paul Hollywood puts in his breads, so the first change I’ve made is to reduce the salt by half, just a half a teaspoon of salt flakes for me please, ground in my pestle and mortar.

I also use fresh yeast, so that’s 14g of that, and this time I’ve mixed it with the milk and egg before adding to the dry goods.

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I’ve also not got in there and got sticky, I’ve gone the Dan Lepard way, so it was mixed,

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left for 10 mins, kneaded briefly

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and then left another 10 minutes, kneaded briefly,

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left and, then in a change from the normal Dan way, kneaded until smooth while I listened to the Archers,

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before putting back in the bowl for the rise.

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I’ve also used the milk and egg straight out of the fridge so it was pretty chilly and I hope the extra handling at the third knead has put some warmth into the dough. Next time, I’m going to try and remember to use the milk and egg from ambient as we’re heading into winter and my kitchen is not the warmest.

The filling consists of butter, sugar, apricots, plain flour, raisins, walnuts and orange zest. I have tried the recipe before and forgot to put in the flour because I was in a bit of a rush, the result was edible but a lot of the butter ‘fell’ out of the crown while it was baking and made a gooey mess on the baking paper with some of the sugar, which burned. So lesson learned, I measured out all the ingredients while the dough was resting, remembered the flour and I hope the butter doesn’t fall out this time. It is unusual to see flour in the filling paste, usually there’s some spices but this recipe doesn’t seem to have any.

In another diversion from the recommended ingredients I have slightly reduced the apricots because the bags of pre-soaked apricots contain 200g, so I’ve used half a bag of those, 100g instead of the listed 120g. I didn’t have quite enough raisins either, so I’ve made up the quantity of fruit with dried cherries. There’s another recipe on the BBC site that also contains marzipan, that could be nice nearer Christmas I think.

I needn’t have worried about the temperature, the first rise went off quite nicely. Then I spread the dough by hand,

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filled it, rolled it up, cut it down the middle

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and then did the twisting.

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Paul Hollywood liked the ones on the show that were open and where you could see the filling, so I tried to get the layers open. Getting the beast on the tray is a bit of a wrestle, as it is all quite soft. The second rise in the plastic bag was for about half an hour or so, then it went into the top oven as I was roasting chicken in the big one.

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30 minutes later and there we are,

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a few burnt bits of fruit round the edge, but the butter and sugar pretty much all stayed in, then on to the cooling rack, some apricot jam and icing drizzled on it, topped off with nuts. I can’t wait ’til tea time.

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Keeping the customer satisified

I am the very first to admit that my cake decorating skills are somewhat mediocre. I would never claim that I would ice a cake for you and I would recommend friends who can do it to professional standards.

However, when my son asked me to make his birthday cake last week and he had a very specific idea for the decorations I had to rise to the challenge and do my best. He’s a cartoon fan and with some of his buddies they have produced their own comic called The Red Hawk, it is based loosely on The Phoenix, although they make up their own stories and characters. The front cover of The Red Hawk is characterised by the wings, under carriage and legs of a bird of prey. He has drawn them on T-shirts and baby-grows with textile pens and on many bits of paper with normal pens. So we produced one in rolled icing, and used some squeezy tubes of goo from a supermarket and supplemented this with an icing ‘pen’ that allows you to write directly onto icing.

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He described it as ‘awesome’, you can draw your own conclusions.

The cake underneath was an 8 inch square chocolate cake made to my own recipe, which has to be in old money I’m afraid:

8oz unsalted butter

8oz sugar – use mostly caster and about 1 oz of light soft brown

4 medium egs

6 oz self-raising flour

2 oz cocoa powder

The cake was sandwiched with some chocolate butter cream – icing sugar, butter, cocoa, hot water, laid over a scraping of sieved raspberry jam. The top was coated with some more jam to make the ready-rolled icing stick. It was announced as ‘delicious’ by the buddies that came for the sleepover. The cake itself was just fine.

So, even when you think it might be a bit amateurish and rubbish, there will be someone who thinks it’s great.

Rocky Road Rock Cakes

I think my scales are on the blink! Had a bit of a ‘mare with these, because the scales were being freaky and not weighing properly, this is the second time they’ve been a bit off, so I have condemned them to the bin. But despite some gross inaccuracies on the measuring front I have emerged with something edible and promise to make them properly next time.

A very quick and easy Dan Lepard recipe available over here or in Short and Sweet. Easy cakey/biscuity munchies that can be made if you don’t have eggs and are mostly stuff you’ve got in the cupboard. Flour, baking powder, cocoa, chocolate, nuts, condensed milk (and you get to use a whole tin or so), butter, and a spoon of cinnamon. The topping is more chocolate, butter, condensed milk, boiling water and marshmallows.

I ran out of dark chocolate so used some cheap milk chocolate that was in the cupboard and surprisingly it all worked OK. I think it would be nice to play about with some sour cherries, big raisins, apricots and whatnot in the mix too.

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Chocolate cupcakes with beetroot

At this time of year the veg boxes that Riverford Organics deliver tend to have beetroot in them. I’m OK with beetroot, but the rest of the household aren’t that keen. So being, mostly, a good mummy I thought I’d try to find a cake recipe with beetroot in that they’d accept.

There are plenty available on the web:

Nigel Slater on the BBC – which looked a bit plain.

A community recipe on Nigella’s website – which needed cream for the topping which I didn’t have.

BBC Good Food – 100g of cocoa and 100g of chocolate – well no wonder you can’t taste the beetroot!

Then I found one for cupcakes on the goodtoknow website and thought that would do the business. Being somewhat risk averse in the kitchen I did a half measure for the first attempt, and it made 7 cakes. I also didn’t bother with quite so much topping, I had about a tablespoon of mascapone cheese and gave that a beating with some icing sugar and vanilla extract. Result – without telling the offspring, he snaffled 4 of the 7 cakes over the next couple of days. He did say it was too much chocolate so I will be reducing the cocoa content in the next attempt, and balancing with extra flour.

So for version two we have sifted plain flour, cocoa, caster sugar and some baking powder

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Then you whizz the beetroot, eggs, oil and vanilla – I only have a stick blender and that was OK, and not all of it went up the wall!

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And then mix with the dry goods – it was quite a firm mix for me,

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but it baked out evenly.

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Today topped off with some icing sugar, butter, orange flavouring and colour and some chocolate curls

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The offspring has eaten one and says it is OK. (Damned by faint praise!)

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