Sunday, 4 May 2014

Bank Holiday Blogging

So, things have changed. I now live in Didsbury, in Manchester! I lost a little faith in blogging whilst I was finding my feet. The good news is I have a new job! I am a libraries and archives trainee at Stockport Heritage Library. It is a traineeship for a year and I am really enjoying it! I haven't been doing much baking of late. Moving and looking for jobs was much more difficult than I expected, but the wonderful thing about my new job is I have weekends off! I can indulge in weekend baking like any other 9-5 worker. So with a renewed enthusiam i hope to post much more.
This post is a recipe for bagels. It is bagels because despite my lack of enthusiasm for baking, I have been baking bagels. They are far easier than I expected and have a soft, chewy texture. The flavor is much more lovely than the shop bagel.

The recipe is from the Good Food magazine. It is written by Edd Kimber, the Great British Bake Off winner.

7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
500g strong white flour, plus a little extra for shaping
2 tbsp light brown sugar
a little oil, for greasing
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg white, to glaze
seeds of your choice for the topping

1.  Mix the yeast with 300ml lukewarm water. Put the flour, sugar and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and mix together. Pour over the yeasty liquid and mix into a rough dough.
2. Tip out onto the work surface and knead together until smooth and elastic – this should take around 10 mins.
3. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a piece of oiled cling film. Place in a warm area and leave until doubled in size, about 1 hr, then uncover and tip onto your work surface.
4.  Divide the dough into 10 portions and form into balls – I like to weigh them to make sure that they’re all the same size. Line up on 2 parchment-lined baking trays and cover lightly with cling film.
5.  Leave for around 30 mins or until risen and puffy, then remove the cling film.
6.  Use a floured finger to make a hole in the centre of each bagel, swirling it around to stretch the dough a little, but being careful not to knock out too much air. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
7. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the bicarbonate of soda to alkalise the water (see tip, below left). Place 1-2 of the bagels in the water at a time and boil for 1 min (2 mins if you want a chewier bagel), turning over halfway through. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the bagels, drain well and place back on the baking tray.
8. Brush the bagels with the egg white and sprinkle with your chosen seeds. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating. They will keep for 3-4 days, or freeze for 2 months.

I find boiling the bagels for just one minute is enough and make sure you time it! I have found the texture is chewy enough and still soft when boiled for this length of time. I also found it easier to have everything prepared ready for shaping and boiling. Have the trays prepared, a slotted spoon and some method of draining the excess water from the bagels.

I fin

Friday, 9 August 2013

Long Long Time, No Post

I HAVE GRADUATED. I am a graduate, I have finished University, I am done.  I have moved from Edinburgh, to Lincolnshire and now to Manchester. So the start of my Manchester life has not been smooth. For someone who does not handle change easily, its been a difficult summer. However, things are looking up. I have a part time job, I am volunteering with the National Trust (life time ambition), and I am moving into a shiny new flat next week. I miss Edinburgh, a lot,  but I am looking forward to making a life in this northern town. I have been baking but photo's are scare so I will post a favorite to settle me back into some baking, blogging and life routine.

So Soda Bread. It is wonderfully easy, takes minutes to make and is very satisfying. Just try not to eat to much in one sitting, it makes great toast drizzled with honey the day after. Soda Bread has creamy, close texture and you can add many different flavors, from ham and mustard to herbs or treacle.

Recipe from 'Bread', River Cottage. This recipe book is simple and honest. The recipes show off the ingredients at their best and the ingredient lists are unfussy.


500g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yogurt, like natural yogurt. Or 400ml of milk can be used with a squeeze of lemon juice in it and left to stand for a few minutes. 
A little more milk, if necessary

  1.  Preheat the oven to  200°C/gas mark 6 and pop the baking sheet into the oven to warm up.
  2.   Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together to form a soft dough. It wont come together perfectly so just work with it
  3.  Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly for about a minute, just long enough to pull it together into a loose ball but no longer. Do not over knead the bread. I would time a minute to make sure.  You need to get it into the oven while the bicarbonate is still very active. The dough won’t appear like a yeast dough, it should feel fragile and light, all of the flour might not be incorporated.
  4.  Lightly flour the warm baking sheet and place the round of dough on to it and dust generously with flour. Mark a deep cross in it with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting about two-thirds of the way through the loaf. Put it into the preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. It should also feel light when you take it out. It is hard to judge with just tapping, if in doubt leave the dough in the oven. It will not affect the doughy part of the bread, only the crust will be chewier if left in oven for more time. 
  5. Cool on a wire rack if you like a crunchy crust, or wrap in a clean tea towel if you prefer a soft crust.
  6. I often halve the quantities of the recipe and make a smaller loaf. Take ten minutes off the cooking time 

Monday, 8 April 2013

A busy Easter!

I spent many hours reading Women's Cricket Magazine...
on the 5th floor of the library. The view is not so bad though...

My favorite cake dater and I went for an an Earthy Causwayside brunch, it was wonderful. I highly recommend it!

It snowed a little in Edinburgh

I won Star Baker at Bake Soc. This is my beauty of an enamel prize 

Easter came and went in a haze of long days with little sleep and plenty of hot cross buns

I finally finished the dissertation! 

I think I made it to the History Ball, there is at least some photo evidence 
I spent my freedom charity shop shopping, unearthing some Mary Berry  greatness

Spiced Muscavado Loaf with Brown Sugar Icing

This was the lovely product of Fair Trade fortnight  It is gingery and dense, exactly what a ginger cake should be like. I had never used brown sugar for an icing before but I would definitely use it again, I think it would especially taste nice in a coffee cake. So make a good old fashioned loaf, it is the height of classic comfort.

Recipe from Sainsburys Magazine

175 ml whole milk
2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground nutmeg, plus extra to finish
1tsp ground cinnamon
75 g dark muscavado sugar
75 g soft unsalted butter
75g black treacle
100g golden syrup
200g self raising flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 medium egg, lightly beaten

For the brown sugar icing
25g very soft unsalted butter
40g dark muscovado sugar
25g icing sugar
1 tbsp double cream
½ tsp vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oc, fan 160oc, gas 4 and line a 7cm-deep 20cm x 9cm loaf tin with baking paper
2. Put the milk, spices, sugar, butter, treacle and syrup in a large saucepan and slowly bring it to a simmer, stirring. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda in to a large mixing bowl. Pour the wet mixture on to the dry ingredients and stir well, add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool.
4. To prepare the icing, put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat for 5 minutes until fluffy, spread on top of the cooled cake

Hot Cross Buns and Spiced Honey Butter

The dissertation is in. I have slept. And now I can face reading and writing again. 

This recipe is lovely, the buns are fluffy and soft, and they smell wonderfully sweet and spicy. You can add any fruit or spices you like, I think diced apple would work lovely next time. 

I think it is important to try and do these things for hot cross bun success!
1. prepare all the ingredients before you start, it will get messy
2. keep the dough sticky by not adding hardly any more flour than stated in the recipe
3. knead the dough for at least 15 mins, otherwise the buns will be heavy.
4. leave the buns to prove for plenty of time, the dough will be pillowy and light when it is ready to be shaped.
5. If you are not sure if the buns are cooked, an extra 5 mins in the oven wont hurt. They will just have a harder crust on them.

The bun recipe is from River Cottage, the ring shape and honey butter is from GoodFood

For the buns:
250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
250g plain white flour
125ml warm water
125ml warm milk
5g powdered dried yeast
10g salt
50g caster sugar
1 medium free-range egg
50g butter
100g raisins, currants or sultanas (or a mixture)
Finely grated zest of ½ orange
1 tsp ground mixed spice
For the crosses
100g plain white flour
100ml water

To finish
1 tbsp apricot (or other) jam, sieved
1 tbsp water

For the butter:
200g salted butter , softened
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
4 tbsp clear honey

1. Combine the flours, water, milk, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl and fit the dough hook. Add the egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough. Now add the dried fruit, orange zest and spice and knead until silky and smooth.
2.  This can be done in a food mixer or by hand. The dough is VERY sticky, don't be tempted to add to much extra flour, just keep kneading  Even after 15 mins the dough will still be sticky but it will be kneaded enough so, cover the dough a leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
3. Knock back the risen dough and divide into 11 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour. Place on a floured board in a ring shape, leaving a little space in between. Cover with plastic or linen and leave to prove for about half an hour until roughly doubled in size.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
5. To make the crosses, whisk together the flour and water until smooth, then transfer to a greaseproof paper piping bag and snip off the end to make a fine hole.
6. Transfer the risen buns to a baking tray or a pizza tray and pipe a cross on top of each one, then bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. They will be cooked when they sound hollow when tapped, and they feel light.
7. Meanwhile, melt the jam with the water in a pan. Brush over the buns to glaze as you take them from the oven.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or toasted.

To make the spiced honey butter:
Put the butter, spices and honey in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Tea Time Teacakes

I had all the right intentions to post Christmas and New Year baking but Christmas feasting got in the way, and now festive recipe's of mince pies and Christmas cake just do not seem right. So, here is an afternoon tea time treat, no mincemeat, royal icing or chocolate in sight. This recipe is from How to Bake by Paul Hollywood, I cannot recommend this book enough, each recipe is clearly written with a little explanation of its origins, a photo accompanies each recipe and the book covers all manner of lovely bread, cakes and pastries!

1. Make sure you kneed well for at least ten mins, just keep going even if the dough is wet at the start. It is nearly impossible to over knead dough by hand. 
2. This makes 8 huge Teacakes, I think dividing the dough into 12 would be a little less greedy. 

Makes 8 large teacakes, could make 12 medium

500g strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
10g salt
60g caster sugar
1tsp ground cinnamon
10g instant yeast
50g unsalted butter, softened
300 ml cool water
Vegetable oil for kneading
100g sultanas
100g chopped mixed peel
1 egg, beaten, to glaze

1.     Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt, sugar and cinnamon to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter and three-quarters of the water, and turn the mixture round with your finger. Continue to add the water, a little at a time, until you have picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all of the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture is a rough dough.
2.     Coat the work surface with a little vegetable oil , then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft smooth skin.
3.      When you dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a teatowl and leave to rest until at least doubled in size – at least one hour, but its fine to leave for 2 or even 3 hours.
4.      Line two baking trays with baking paper, or lightly oil with vegetable oil.
5.     Tip the sultanas and mixed peel on top of the risen dough in the bowl and start to work them into it. After a minute of two, tip the dough out onto a light floured surface and knead until the fruit it thoroughly mixed in,
6.     Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each into a ball, then using a rolling pin to flatten each one out to a round bun, about 1cm thick. Transfer to prepared baking trays, spacing them apart.
7.     Put each tray into a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for about an hour until the teacakes are at least doubled in size. Meanwhile heat your oven to 200oc. 
8.  Brush the top of the teacakes with beaten egg. Bake the teacakes for 10-15 minutes until risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack. 

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Bookmarked Recipe no.1 (and no.2)

In order to keep track of my endless blog trawling and recipe searching, I am going post at least one bookmarked recipe from my far too extensive collection, and endeavor to bake it with in the week. However, this may turn out as successful as my sourdough, a total failure.

No. 1  Bara Birth Bread - The Caked Crusader 

This is one of my favorite baking blogs, the recipe collection is extensive and the posts are useful and completely honest, it is a little jem of inspiration.

No. 2  Poires au Chocolat - Raymond Blanc's Lemon Cake 

A simply beautiful baking blog and Raymond Blanc is one of my ultimate favorite chef's, its fate that I make this lemon cake.