what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Banana bread with spelt flour

I have an old and splattered copy of The New Internationalist Food Book, first published in 1990. It is out of print now, but second hand copies are available. It contains recipes from Africa, Asia and Latin America, worked out for Western kitchens and with some information and food facts. I guess it was published long before we all got exercised about food miles, food waste, eating locally and still appreciating the foods of other cultures. It is a book that I go back to from time to time for recipes and ideas. Today I retrieved it for the Caribbean banana bread.

Ingredients are: 3 large bananas, 175 g margarine, 175 g sugar, 225 g flour, pinch of salt, half teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 large egg, 125 g chopped walnuts, 100 g raisins or sultanas. The cinnamon and dried fruit are marked as optional.

Instructions: mash the bananas, beat in the margarine, then the sugar, then the dried goods, then the egg, and finally the fruit and nuts. Bake for one and a half hours in a 1 kg loaf tin at 180C.

I had a couple of squashy bananas in my fruit bowl and one I’d tucked away in the freezer, so I was good to go. Because the recipe is not specific about sugar, I find it easily accommodates whatever you fancy. Today I went with light soft brown sugar, but another time I might have used a heavier sugar. As the recipe only needs plain flour I’ve also tried something for the first time. I spotted Sharpham Park Organic Spelt White Flour in Waitrose the other week. As it claims it is suitable to use anywhere white wheat flour is used, I’m taking them at their word. I have used spelt flour in baking before, but not in cakes so far, unless it was just a bit mixed into the carrot cake recipe. I’ve also replaced the walnuts with some chopped brazil nuts.

Some pictures below of the mixture, and then one of the finished result. It takes quite a while to cool down, but finally after the wait I can say that the cake was …. delicious, or as my husband said “you wouldn’t know there was anything different in it”.

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Lemon Drizzle cake – Mary Berry recipe

This may be the shortest blog I’ll write. A little while ago before she became the face of BBC’s Great British Bake-Off, Mary flirted with UKTV and this lemon drizzle cake recipe is on their website. A four egg recipe is a bit much for us, so I cut it down to three eggs and use a square pan to bake it. Today I only had one lemon, but used a fine microplane grater to get the zest off and heated the lemon in the microwave oven for 30 seconds to make sure I had got out as much juice as possible.

A nice quick recipe, you can just bung all the ingredients in together and give it a good seeing to for a couple of minutes, or do it in stages. So we have butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest. With a topping of granulated sugar and lemon juice. So simple I don’t know why I don’t make it more often.

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Saffron loaf

A work colleague brought in a fruited saffron loaf she’d been given as a present and no-one at home wanted to eat (wouldn’t happen in my house but there you are). I think it was one of these from Warren’s Bakery. Very nice it was too, but a bit on the yellow side, so I thought I search out a recipe and see what I could do.

In Dan Lepard’s Hand Made Loaf I found one that didn’t look too taxing. It starts with a sponge of plain flour, milk and yeast, and then in go some saffron threads soaked in hot water, strong white flour, caster sugar, sea salt, butter, more milk and currants. Only a couple of quick kneads and two proving stages. Baking was started at 210 deg C and then turned down, I had to turn it down earlier than the recipe said as it looked like it was going to burn, and I turned it even lower for the last 10 minutes. Result – very nice – fruit loaf without spice but with a definite flavour of saffron. I’ll be doing this again!

Sponge just mixed

Sponge just mixed

Sponge after an hour

Sponge after an hour

Ingredients all mixed

Ingredients all mixed

After kneading

After kneading

After forming and resting

After forming and resting

Shaped

Shaped

Brushed with egg

Brushed with egg

Baked

Baked

Cooled and cut

Cooled and cut

 

Doughnuts – River Cottage recipe

New Year, and finally, new baking. Having had my fill of lovely Christmas things I didn’t fancy anything with dried fruit in today, which is most unlike me because I love my dried fruit. So, taking some inspiration from the celebrity Sport Relief Bake-off programme which featured doughnuts as a recipe, I’m trying them for the first time. The easiest-looking recipe I had to hand was from the River Cottage handbook 3, and which also handily appears on the Telegraph website (sssshhh, don’t tell the Guardian I’ve gone off-piste, but it isn’t the same without Dan Lepard). You can try Paul Hollywood’s recipe over here too.

As I often do with recipes when trying them for the first time, I’ve only done a half measure of all the ingredients, and I’ve used fresh yeast, not dried. I don’t have a mixer so I’ve adapted the River Cottage recipe to the Dan Lepard method.

I mixed all the ingredients, left it for 10 minutes, kneaded lightly and then repeated two more times. In between I left the bowl cuddled up to the big pan I have boiling oranges for marmalade (I use Delia’s recipe for that, and there’s a blog over here about it from last year, nothing new to say on that subject this year) as the kitchen is heading for Baltic conditions again – currently 18.7 C.

Then I left the bowl to allow the dough to prove for about 45 minutes before making it into balls and rings. My son doesn’t much like jam doughnuts, but he does like the ring ones. I just poked my finger through like I would for bagels. I’m also making pizza so need to fit it all in together. They got to rest for about an hour before being fried.

Some time later…. Results are in. Not bad for a first attempt, but a bit stodgy. Next time I might let it prove a bit more the first time, fry them with a bit more oil, or make them smaller or make them all ring doughnuts. The ball ones expanded a bit, then split, but the outer surface was cooked before the inside had finished expanding. Here are some pictures of what went on! I’ll definitely be needing a good long run tomorrow.

All mixed up

All mixed up

After kneading

After kneading

All shaped

All shaped

After rising

After rising

First two

First two

Three balls

Three balls

Scandinavian cinnamon buns – Guardian recipe

Tired of mince pies? Can’t face another bit of stollen? Don’t want to eat your Christmas cake yet? Need a bit of something sweet and bready? Today’s Cook supplement in the Guardian had a lovely front page picture of cinnamon buns and the recipe couldn’t be easier. I did give the dough a couple of quick Dan Lepard style 10 second kneads while it was resting. I used some spelt flour because I had some, and I didn’t have any demerara sugar so it got topped with some soft brown sugar. My tin is also a bit smaller than required, so I added a few extra minutes baking time. Here’s some pictures while I wait for it to finish cooling.

after mixing

after mixing

a quick knead after 10 mins

a quick knead after 10 mins

another quick knead

another quick knead

dough patted out to size

dough patted out to size

filling spread across

filling spread across

rolled up into a sausage

rolled up into a sausage

popped in the pan

popped in the pan

after 30 mins rising

after 30 mins rising

with egg and sugar before baking

with egg and sugar before baking

baked, but in the tin

baked, but in the tin

out of the tin in one go

out of the tin in one go

Dan Lepard’s stollen

Finally getting somewhere near the Christmas spirit, so to keep us going until the big day (well probably until next weekend at any rate), here’s Dan Lepard’s stollen as printed in the Guardian some time ago. The slightly tricky bit about this recipe is the first stage of boiling some milk and rye flour together. The pictures below show how this goes in my house, blend milk and flour together cold and introduce some gentle heat and keep stirring until it makes a thick goo, but don’t let it boil. You then thrash in some melted butter, eggs and yolks, lemon zest and in my case brandy. If you are using fresh yeast you can keep back a little milk and blend it with that. The rest is easy peasy and while I’m not a fan of shop marzipan, this is an ideal use for it. The recipe didn’t call for cherries, but I didn’t have enough peel, so I made up the weight. Makes a terrific breakfast too, natch to muesli today!

milk and rye flour cold

milk and rye flour cold

milk and rye flour after heating

milk and rye flour after heating

after adding egg, yolks, brandy and lemon zest

after adding egg, yolks, brandy and lemon zest

mixed with dry goods

mixed with dry goods

after kneading after resting for 10 mins

after kneading after resting for 10 mins

after leaving for 90 mins

after leaving for 90 mins

oval shape with marzipan

oval shape with marzipan

rolled up ready for second rise

rolled up ready for second rise

after second rise before baking

after second rise before baking

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

With coating of butter and icing sugar

With coating of butter and icing sugar

Inside view

Inside view

Dan Lepard’s Classic Cheesecake

Very quick blog today to remind me of something I should make more often. From Dan’s book Short and Sweet . It’s also on the web here. I also make about half the recipe as there’s only three of us and we’d be eating it forever if I made more. A full-sized one is good for family gatherings however.

Oat cookies and butter for the base, cream cheese (I use ricotta and marscapone), sour cream, sugar, plain flour, lemon zest, vanilla essence and eggs. Simple and delicious.

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Christmas cake and a word about marzipan

I realised that I hadn’t blogged the making of a Christmas Cake. This year’s trendy thing to do apparently as sales of dried fruit and other cake ingredients have risen by over 30% compared to last year, according to The Times (but you’ll need a subscription to read the rest). Now this could mean several things – we’re not just making Christmas cakes and puddings, we’re making all sorts of lovely things packed with sultanas, raisins and currants, cherries, peel and nuts. It may also mean that the stores have over-ordered their own Christmas offerings and there will be lots of cut-price goodies on Boxing Day, so if you’re not making your own, hang on for a post-Christmas blitz, but don’t blame me if I’m wrong.

I must say there are few things I like more than good fruit cake. However, at this time of year it is all to easy to end up with everything tasting of dried fruit and spices so sometimes it is good to go outside the box. So I will be making Panettone and probably stollen just to keep us going until the big day. There’s a great Dan Lepard recipe for stollen which I also don’t seem to have blogged about yet, so maybe next week for that one.

You can find all sorts of recipes on the web from all the celebrity bakers, and they’ll all be just slightly different, also they’ll be telling you “you should have made your cake a month ago”. Does it really make a difference whose recipe you follow and how long you leave it to sit? Personally I don’t think so. I’m not that keen on treacle in cake recipes or filling them up with alcohol so I’m here now with my split-at-the-spine copy of the National Trust Christmas and Festive Day Recipes, another copy of which I may have to put in my trolley next time I’m on Amazon, as it has suffered. For a good read about historic Christmas cakes you could do worse than read Ivan Day’s blog and course where he talks about yeast-leavened plum cakes.

I reduce a 6 egg recipe down to 4 eggs and proportion all the ingredients likewise, as while we like the cake, if it hangs around the house much past Twelfth Night I find it’s gone a bit dry. Absolutely nothing tricky in here: sultanas, currants, raisins, cherries, peel, some orange juice, butter, soft brown sugar, eggs, plain flower, salt, baking powder, mixed spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, almonds, lemon juice, brandy/rum or sherry and vanilla/almond or ratafia essence. Some pictures below as I went along and one of the finished article.

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It won’t be getting decorated until much nearer the date, but I do also like to try and remember to make my own marzipan, as along with how shops treat dates at Christmas, I can’t be doing with the added stickiness of the syrup that shop-bought brands contain. The above-mentioned book also includes a recipe for almond paste which features ground almonds, caster sugar, icing sugar, egg, lemon juice, brandy or sherry, vanilla essence, almond essence and orange-flower or rose water. The finished mix my be a little more gritty than shop bought, and the cake does benefit from leaving for a week wrapped in paper before icing, so is not a last-minute thing, but most importantly, does not stick to the teeth!

And here’s the finished article. Maybe a bit on the blue side, but my son said it was awesome, so who am I to argue?

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Chocolate orange cake

I asked my son what kind of cake he’d like and he replied “chocolate and orange” so using Dan Lepard’s brown sugar chocolate cake recipe from Short and Sweet, which is mostly like this one from the Guardian, plus the zest of an orange in the mixture, and a quick topping using the juice of half the orange plus some icing sugar and butter and a quick waft of cocoa powder, here’s a giant cupcake. Using a 20cm cake tin liner in a tin which is a bit bigger means the liner gets nice and full, the recipe gets room to spread and the result is lighter than making it in a loaf tin.

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Stamped cookies

Making biscuits with patterns on top is an ancient art. There’s a lovely blog about it from Ivan Day, who owns some beautiful historic biscuit stamps. Me, I bought one in M&S last week. I’m stuck at home with a sprained ankle this morning so I thought I’d try it out with the Hairy Bikers Cardamom and Lemon cookies. I only made half a batch as I didn’t have enough almonds, and I had to plump up the portions to 30g pieces to make the stamp work. I weighed the pieces, rolled them into balls and pressed them flat with my hand before using the stamp. The stamp is probably a bit too ornate and I had to use plain flour to coat it before stamping out the cookies.

Now I have something to eat with my morning coffee. Before and after pictures below.

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