what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the tag “raisins”

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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sometimes less is more

Sometimes I think I think too much about baking. However, I do think that bakers should think a bit about what goes into their bakes and what it contributes to the diet (in the old-fashioned regime sense of the word rather than the current emphasis on weight loss) of the person or people eating it. Sweet stuff is of course a treat and should not be a staple part of any regime, although sometimes I argue that cake is one of the major food groups along with protein, fruit and veg, carbs and fats but it really should only be the thin slice on that food plate the health people would have us use.

Readers of previous ramblings will know that I often cook with older cookbooks that have a bit of a wholefood spin to them. And on balance, that’s pretty much where I like my cakes and breads and stuff to be, full of interesting tastes and textures and hopefully not doing too much damage to anyone. Now I know I’m swimming against the tide here most days because yet again popular new books are all about the ‘look’ and not about the contents and what that contributes to the diet. I will admit to making too many rather worthy chewy efforts in the past, and I try to look for the more inspiring ones these days. However, you probably won’t find cup cakes here unless they have something special about them not just a fancy topping.

So this week I have baked the caramel layer cake from Great British Bake Off’s latest book. I halved the quantities because it is a mighty thing.  You can find the whole recipe on the web here (but please come back if you go there!) and we did manage to eat half of it before I caught it for a photo.

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So, that’s all well and good but it is a lot of butter and sugar all in one place and while it does taste lovely it is a lot of ’empty calories’ that I’d rather not eat myself. I thought about having something a bit more nutritious about the house too. A recent census of the kitchen cupboards revealed a pack of dried figs I’d forgotten about so I cast about for a recipe to use them up and found a Dan Lepard cake, cinnamon honey fruit cake which luckily for everyone is available online for free as well as in his book “Short and Sweet“. What a difference in the ingredients – raisins, apricots from Daily Bread, figs, not much butter, honey, brown sugar and treacle! Dan suggests a tray bake so I did that baked it for about 45 mins and it made 16 lovely solid slices of goodness.  That’s a lot for me to eat if the others here don’t like it but I’ve also put some in the freezer for another day.

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What ever your favourite is, remember cake is a treat not a staple food group.

Writing this while ‘enjoying’ Terry Leahy on Desert Island Discs, sadly his taste in music so so apt for Tesco, middle of the road and cheap! Must remember to put a link up when it’s available! Listen again.

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