Category Archives: cake

Making biscuits

biscuits

Sometimes you can’t beat a good biscuit, particularly a biscuit that can withstand being ‘dunked’ in a cup of tea.  I don’t often make biscuits, however this week I have made two batches.  Firstly a slightly more ‘grown up’ biscuit involving ground almonds that are great if you are having a coffee morning.  The second batch was my take on a childhood favourite, the bourbon.

Both of the biscuits are very straightforward to make.   It is a bit faster and less messy if you can use a food processor to mix the ingredients due to the golden syrup in the recipes.  However, if you are prepared to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in then it is just as easy to make the biscuits by hand.  For me the test of a good biscuit is if it stays crunchy on the second day, this largely depends on how long you leave them cooking in the oven.  This can be a little tricky as the golden syrup means that the biscuits can catch and burn quite easily due to the high sugar content.  My advice to prevent this is – watch your biscuits like a hawk whilst they are in the oven and turn the oven down if you think they are cooking too quickly.  When the biscuits come out of the oven they will feel a little soft, but they should harden up nicely if they are left to cool completely on a cooling rack before eating.


DSC_0429 (2)

Almond Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 6oz plain flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 1oz sugar
  • 1oz golden syrup (roughly 2 heaped tsp)
  • 1oz ground almonds
  • a pinch of salt

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 190C fan.

2.  Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and crumb together using your fingers, after a few minutes the ingredients should come together.  Alternatively, place the ingredients in a food processor and blitz for a minute, tip crumbs onto the surface and shape into a ball.

3.  Dust a piece of baking paper with sugar and roll out the dough till it is about 2-3mm thick.  Then cut out the biscuits using a cutter or a glass.

4. Continue to roll out scraps of dough until you have used it all.

5.  Place the biscuits on baking trays that have been lined with baking paper.

6.  Bake for 7-10 minutes, make you keep an eye on them as they can burn easily if necessary turn your oven down slightly.

9.  Once cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.  Serve with a cup of tea/coffee.

 

DSC_0400 (2)

My Chocolate Bourbons

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:

  • 6oz plain flour
  • 4oz butter
  • 1oz sugar
  • 1oz golden syrup (roughly 2 heaped tsp)
  • 1oz cocoa powder

For the buttercream:

  • 2oz butter (at room temperature)
  • 1oz cocoa powder
  • 4-6oz icing sugar
  • 1tbsp milk

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 190C fan.

2.  Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and crumb together using your fingers, after a few minutes the ingredients should come together.  Alternatively, place the ingredients in a food processor and blitz for a minute, tip crumbs onto the surface and shape into a ball.

3.  Dust a piece of baking paper with cocoa powder and roll out the dough till it is about 2-3mm thick.  Then cut out the biscuits using a cutter or a glass.

4. Continue to roll out scraps of dough until you have used it all.

5.  Place the biscuits on baking trays that have been lined with baking paper.

6.  Bake for 7-10 minutes, make you keep an eye on them as they can burn easily if necessary turn your oven down slightly.

9.  Once cooked, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack, whilst you prepare the buttercream.

10.  To make the buttercream, beat the butter until soft, then gradually add the cocoa powder and icing sugar until you have a smooth consistency adding the milk if needed to loosen the mix slightly.

11.  Spoon a little of the buttercream onto half of the biscuits and then sandwich them together by placing a biscuit on top of each of them.  Enjoy!

Fondant icing

First off I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas – I hope you all stuff yourselves silly with good food and drink over the course of the next couple of days.  I shall be eating roast goose and gammon (because one meat on the big day just isn’t enough) along with all the trimmings…

Secondly, I need to apologise for not blogging about how to ice your Christmas cake (see recipe) sooner.  Sadly, over the course of the last two days we have been moving into our barn conversion – consequently I have been between two kitchens and I only finished icing my cake about an hour ago…  Just in time to let it dry slightly before eating it with a cup of tea tomorrow.

DSC_0258

Icing your Christmas cake

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 350-450g marzipan

For the fondant icing:

  • 650-750g icing sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp glycerine
  • food dye (optional)

Steps:

1.  Use the bottom of the cake as the top – make sure the bottom is even by slicing off any excess cake.

2.  Cover the cake in apricot jam (sieve it if the jam contains pieces of fruit).

3.  Roll out your marzipan until it is 2-3mm thick and large enough to cover your entire cake.  Lay the marzipan over the cake and gently smooth over trimming off any excess marzipan.  (Ideally leave the cake now for 2-3 days to dry out but if you haven’t got the time then don’t worry).

DSC_0212 (2)

4.  After the marzipan has dried out, make your fondant icing.

5.  Place 650g of the icing sugar in a food processor, along with the lemon juice, glycerine and egg whites.   Blitz until it comes together in a ball adding a little more icing sugar as required (you don’t want it to be too sticky, but you do want it to be malleable).  Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

6.  Take a piece of baking paper, dust it with sugar then roll out your icing till it is 3-4mm thick and large enough to cover your cake (this will make it far easier to get onto your cake and stop it sticking to your work surface).

 DSC_0244 (2)

7.  Carefully place the icing in the centre of your cake then peel off the baking paper.  Smooth the icing gently over the cake, easing it down the sides.  Trim off any excess and keep it to decorate your cake.  (Tip:  I tend to use a palette knife and the back of a metal spoon that I have heated in a little hot water, and then dried to help me smooth it down.)

8.  Once your cake has been iced, decorate it with the excess icing (which you can colour with food colouring) or with old Christmas tree decorations!  Enjoy!

DSC_0254 (3)

Mince pies

Well it is that time of year and Christmas would not be Christmas without a mince pie.  Mince pies do not last long in our house especially when all the boys are at home.  I tend to vary how I make my mince pies over the course of Christmas sometimes using plain pastry (a combination of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter and a pinch of salt brought together with a little water) sometimes I make sweet pastry (by adding an egg and some sugar to the pastry mix).  However, today I decided to make almond pastry which is lovely and crumbly and goes very nicely with the mincemeat.

Nothing can really beat a homemade mince pie, particularly when it is served with a little cream or brandy butter (a combination of softened butter, icing sugar and a splash of brandy).  If you have the time, do make the pastry by hand as it will make it far more crumbly and it won’t run the risk of being ‘overworked’!

If you think you are going to be short of time over Christmas, you could always prepare a batch of mince pies in advance and freeze them – if you do this, don’t glaze them with egg and sugar before placing them in the freezer, do it just before you put them in the oven (make sure you take them out of the freezer at least an hour before cooking so that they can come up to room temperature beforehand.

DSC_0213 (3) Continue reading

Chelsea buns with a marmalade glaze

My Chelsea bun recipe requires you to make an enriched dough (meaning that it has milk, sugar, butter and/or oil in the recipe).  The process is identical to making a standard dough, however the dough is wetter.  I have a plastic dough scraper/cutter that I use to help me stop the dough from sticking to the work-surface – it is a handy little tool but not absolutely necessary.

Do not be put off by the number of steps there are in this recipe, making Chelsea buns is very straightforward and is very worthwhile.  The buns are light and fluffy and have a lovely sharp zing from the marmalade.  By soaking the sultanas in boiling water they become much juicier and they stay plump even after cooking.


DSC_0642

Chelsea buns with a marmalade glaze

Ingredients:

For the dough:DSC_0629

  • 250g wholemeal flour (Type 80)
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 200ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 50g sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:DSC_0631

  • 25g butter (melted)
  • 75g sultanas (put in boiling water to plump up, then drain)
  • 25g mixed peel
  • 2-3tbsp brown sugar

For the glaze:

  • 1 heaped tbsp marmalade
  • 1 heaped tbsp caster sugarDSC_0632
  • 1tbsp water

For the icing:

  • 2-3 heaped tbsp icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp water

Steps:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix together.
  2. Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.
  3. Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.  The dough will be fairly wet.
  4. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.
  5. Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 2 – 2½ hours (until it has doubled in size).
  6. Knock the air out of the dough, place on a floured surface and flatten into a square shape.
  7. Brush the dough with the melted butter, scatter over the sugar, mixed peel and sultanas.
  8. Roll the dough up into a long cylinder shape then, cut into 12 equal-sized pieces.
  9. Place the pieces in a greased and floured tin, then leave to rise until they have doubled in size.
  10. Once they have risen, bake in an oven at 180C fan for 15-16 minutes, turning the oven down to 160C fan after 8-9 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and place the buns on a cooling rack.
  12. Make the marmalade glaze by heating the marmalade, sugar and water together in a saucepan
    and heat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a syrupy liquid.
  13. Brush the glaze over the buns, making sure the tops are well covered.
  14. Finally make the icing by mixing the icing sugar together with a little water until you have a smooth but slightly runny icing.
  15. Drizzle/brush the icing over the tops of the buns.

 
DSC_0640

Ginger slab cake

Last Friday I went for drinks at a friend’s house with my parents, it was a normal affair up until the point that our host brought out some 6 ½ week old puppies.  I am what people might describe as a “soft touch” and have a complete weakness for all animals.  So when I was asked whether I would like to have one of the puppies I melted and it was a no-brainer!  The Old Man is of the opinion that the drinks were arranged as a great trap and believes that we were effectively sandbagged into taking the puppy (please note as I write this the puppy is sound asleep curled up in the Old Man’s arms as he takes his daily afternoon nap).  I have decided to name her Hetti, which apparently means – home leader/lord of the manor.  This is probably quite a fitting name as it is very likely that she will dominate Shadow (Belgian Shepherd) and Biggles (Springer Spaniel) despite the fact that she a Teckel (aka Dachshund) and positively diminutive compared to the boys! 

The recipe for the ginger slab cake is very straightforward to make as it uses the ‘all in one’ principle.  Consequently this cake can be made in no time at all and is very light and moist.  The stem ginger enhances the ginger flavour so if you prefer a milder flavour then don’t add it to the cake batter.  This cake keeps nicely in an air-tight tin or wrapped up in foil.

 

Ginger Slab Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 6oz butter
  • 6oz sugar
  • 7oz plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp black treacle
  • 1tsp ground ginger (or 2tsp if you prefer a slightly spicier cake)
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp stem ginger, finely chopped (optional)

For the icing:

  • 100-150g icing sugar
  • 3-5tbsp water (or syrup that the stem ginger is stored in)
  • 1tbsp crystallised ginger pieces (for decoration)

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 170C fan.  Grease and line the bottom of a cake tin (15cm x 25cm).

2. Place all the ingredients for the cake in a bowl and beat to together for 2-3 minutes.

3.  Spoon the batter into the cake tin and carefully level out.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

4.  Place the cake onto a rack and leave to cool.

5.  Whilst the cake is cooling prepare the icing by placing the water/syrup in a bowl and gradually in the icing sugar stirring all the time so that you get a smooth slightly runny icing (add more water/syrup if needed).

6.  Once the cake is cool pour over the icing and scatter over some crystallised ginger pieces.  Serve with a cup of tea/coffee.

 

Chestnut Cupcakes

A couple of days ago I tried out another idea I had for using fresh chestnuts since we had some sitting in a fruit bowl waiting to be used.  I had been wondering for the last couple of days how they would work in a cake.  So, after preparing my chestnuts, I gave it a go.  The resultant cake was delightfully crumbly and light.  It was much sweeter than I thought it would turn out but was just what I needed after an afternoon spent painting.

The one thing I would say if you do make these cupcakes is make sure there is no husk left on any of the chestnuts before you grind them up as it can make the cupcakes have a slightly gritty texture.  If you can’t find fresh chestnuts then using tinned or vacuum packed chestnuts would be fine.

 

Chestnut Cupcakes

Ingredients: (makes 12)

For the cake:

  • 4oz chestnuts (ground finely – see chestnut preparation)
  • 5oz caster sugar
  • 5oz butter
  • 6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence

For the frosting:

  • 2oz chestnuts (finely ground)
  • 2oz butter
  • ½tsp salt
  • 6-7oz icing sugar

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 170C fan.

2.  Grease and flour a muffin tin or cupcake tin.

3.  Place all of the ingredients for the cake together in a bowl, beat together using an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes.

4.  Spoon the cake batter into the muffin tin.  Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (or until a skewer comes out of the cupcakes cleanly).


    

5.  Run a knife carefully around the sides of the cupcakes then tip them out onto a cooling rack.

6.  Whilst the cupcakes are cooling prepare the frosting.  Combine the butter, chestnuts and salt in a bowl.  Gradually add in the icing sugar stirring continuously until you have a fairly stiff frosting.

7.  Spoon a little of the frosting onto each of the cupcakes and smooth it over using the back of the spoon.  Serve with a cup of tea or coffee.  Enjoy!


A Fruit Tea Cake

I know what you are thinking, another fruit cake!?  Well I promise that this one is very different from the last fruit cake.  This cake is incredibly light, moist and isn’t overly sweet.  I personally enjoy a good fruit cake though I know they are not particularly popular but, for me, fruit cake is the perfect tea time treat on a cold autumnal afternoon.  I have found over the years that fruit cakes tend to taste better on the second and third day of eating – I am not sure exactly why this is but I guess it has something to do with the flavours maturing as the days pass.

Mumsy has been talking about wanting a fruit cake for some time.  I was fully aware that she was after Delia Smith’s recipe for tea cake. However, I was in the mood for experimenting so I decided to do my twist on a tea cake.  I started preparing the cake in the morning by soaking the dried fruit in a bowl of tea so that the fruit would be completely rehydrated and ready for adding to the cake batter.  The resultant cake was not what Delia would consider to be a traditional tea cake, but, Mumsy enjoyed it and that was the most important thing.

 

Fruit Tea Cake

Ingredients:

  • 150g mixed dried fruit
  • 50g currants
  • 50g cherries (cut in half)
  • 1 cup of strong tea (boiling hot)
  • 200g soft margarine
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 100g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tsp black treacle

Steps:

1.  Place the mixed fruit and currants in a bowl with the cup of tea, cover with cling film and allow to soak for 2-4 hours.

2. Once the fruit has had time to soak, cream together the sugar and margarine together in a bowl.

3.  Slowly add the eggs to the mix adding a little flour to prevent the mixture from curdling.

4.  Sift in the flour and beat well.

5.  Strain the fruit, then add to the mixture along with the remaining ingredients.

6.  Pour the batter into a lined square tin 25cm x 25cm.  Bake in a preheated oven at 170C fan for 35-45 minutes (or until a skewer comes cleanly out of the cake).  If you are concerned the cake is browning too quickly turn the oven down slightly or cover the cake with a piece of baking paper.

 

100 Followers and counting – thank you everyone for your support and encouragement!

Yesterday evening was a great moment as my 100th follower signed up and I would like to say a huge thank you for everyone’s support and encouragement.  I have been thinking about what recipe I would post if I did get 100 followers and it dawned on me that the perfect recipe to share is the one we use as a family when we celebrate.  It is our ‘go to’ birthday cake – Chocolate Smartie Cake.

Coincidentally, it is my youngest brother’s birthday.  He turns 25 today, so it felt quite apt when I baked the cake this morning.  There is one slight problem – the cake is in France and my brother is London.  So Little Man – Happy Birthday!  We shall be thinking of you when we eat it later this afternoon.

I don’t know anyone who has tried this cake and not enjoyed it.  Before I get a swathe of comments from my brothers – the traditional family cake normally has chocolate fudge icing in the middle and on the top, so, if you choose to do this just double the quantities for that icing.  I personally prefer it with a buttercream filling in the middle and find that a mocha icing cuts through the sweetness of the cake.

 

Chocolate Smartie Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 200g soft margarine
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3-4 drops vanilla essence
  • 2tbsp milk

Mocha buttercream for the filling:

  • 35g soft margarine
  • 35g butter
  • 1tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp boiling water
  • 1-2tbsp milk
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100-125g icing sugar

Chocolate Fudge Icing:

  • 100g plain chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 175-200g icing sugar

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 170C fan and line a 20cm deep cake tin.

2.  Cream together the butter and sugar.

3.  Slowly add in the eggs being careful that they don’t curdle (if in doubt add a little flour at this stage to stabilise your mixture).

4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa then stir well before adding the vanilla essence and milk and then beat the mixture together for a couple of minutes.

6.  Pour the cake batter into the cake tin.

7.  Place in oven and bake for about 30/45 mins (or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean).  (Note: I tend to turn the oven down to 160C fan after about 30 minutes to stop the cake browning too much on top.)

   

8.  Remove from oven, place the cake on cooling rack and leave until completely cold.

9.  Whilst the cake is cooling make your mocha filling.  Place the butter, soft margarine and coffee in a bowl and beat together.  Sift in the cocoa and icing sugar using an electric whisk, beat the icing together, adding a little milk if needed to loosen the icing.

   

10.  Once the cake is cool, cut it in half as carefully as you can.  Spoon the mocha filling on the bottom half of the cake. Using a knife evenly spread out the icing, placing the other half of the cake on top once you are happy.

11. Then make the chocolate fudge icing, by melting the chocolate and butter in a bowl above a pan of simmering water.  Once everything has melted, add the beaten egg to the chocolate mixture and stir vigorously (The mixture should start to thicken).  Leave the mix to cool a little before sieving in the icing sugar and stirring the mix until all is combined.

   

12.  Spoon the icing onto the top of the cake a little at a time and using a knife smooth the icing evenly over and down the sides of the cake.

13. Finally decorate with the smarties.

In preparation for Christmas – making and feeding the Christmas cake

This year I have actually got my act together and made my Christmas cake well in advance of Christmas.  I am trying to be very diligent and feed the cake weekly with a local alcohol called Vin de Noix (Walnut Wine) so that the cake is beautifully moist when I eventually cut into it on Christmas Day.

We in fact make the Vin de Noix each year in mid-June using a combination of green walnuts, eau de vie, red wine, sugar, orange and spices.  The resulting drink is quite delicious and smells like Christmas pudding.  I used it last year to soak the fruit in for my Christmas cake and then used it to feed the cake in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The resultant taste was superb.  However, I appreciate that Vin de Noix is not something that everyone can readily lay their hands on, so I would advise you to use whatever you have to hand for example Sherry, Madeira, Brandy or Whisky.

I have in fact made two Christmas cakes this year, one for my grandmother and one for me.  The cakes are not the same as I used what I could find in the store cupboards of each house, so, as an example my grandmother’s cake was made using white sugar which meant her cake was a golden brown colour after cooking.  By contrast I used dark brown sugar in my cake and so I have a cake that is a deep brown colour as you would expect of a rich fruit cake.  The one thing I ensured about both cakes was they were packed full of dried fruit, essential for any Christmas cake.

So for now, both the cakes are wrapped up tightly in tin foil and have been stored away in some old air-tight sweet tins, keeping them fresh between their weekly feeds.  They will remain this way until they are iced in the week before Christmas.  (See icing the Christmas cake).

 

My Christmas Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 wine glass Vin de Noix (or ½ wine glass Brandy, Madeira, Sherry or Whisky)
  • 18oz dried mixed fruit
  • 6oz raisins
  • 6oz currants
  • 6oz sultanas
  • 1½oz mixed peel
  •  4oz glacé cherries
  • 4½oz plain flour
  • 4½oz self-raising flour
  •  1tsp salt
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 6oz butter (or hard margarine)
  • 6oz dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 heaped tbsp black treacle
  • zest 1 orange
  • 2oz hazelnuts
  • 2oz chopped walnuts

Steps:

1. Place the dried fruit, raisins, sultanas, currants, glacé cherries, mixed peel and Vin de Noix in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave for as long as possible (12hrs minimum, the longer you leave it the better the cake will be).

2. When your fruit is ready make your cake batter.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl, then slowly add the eggs being careful that they don’t curdle (if in doubt add a little flour at this stage to stabilise your mixture).

4. Add the flour, spices, salt, zest and treacle to the mix and combine using a large metal spoon.

5. Finally add the nuts and the fruit to the batter and stir well making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed through the batter.

6.  Line a 20cm loose bottomed deep cake tin with baking paper.  Do this by:

  • Cutting out 4 circles the size of the tin, 2 of these will be for the bottom and the other two will be for the top of the cake.  Cut a 1” cross in the centre of the two circles to be used for the top of the cake.
  • Cut a long piece of baking paper big enough to go around the outside of the tin, fold it in half lengthways.   On one edge make a crease (roughly an 1”) then make cuts every inch up to the crease (this will allow the paper to fit far better into the tin).

  • Place the long piece of baking paper in the tin first, so that the cuts in the paper lie smoothly on the bottom of the tin.  Fill the cake tin with the batter, push it down gently, then place the two circles of the baking paper with the cross over the batter.
  • Finally, take a large piece of brown parcel paper, fold it in half lengthways and wrap it around the outside of the tin, tying it in place with a piece of string.

7.  Place the cake in the oven and cook at 150C fan for 3 -3 ½ hours (or until a skewer comes out clean).

8.  Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely, before feeding with 1tbsp of Vin de Noix, then wrap tightly in tin foil and place in an airtight container.

9.  Continue to feed the cake once a week with 1 tbsp of Vin de Noix up until it is iced.

My take on Panettone

 

This follows on from a blog that I wrote last week when I mentioned that I had asked our friends who live up on ‘the mountain’ if I could cook in their wood fired oven at the weekend after they had made their own bread.  Thankfully, their answer was positive but there was one condition – I had to help them prepare their own loaves on Sunday morning – which meant a 5.00am start.  In reality, it actually meant a 3.45am start as I had to make sure my loaves had sufficient time to rise before they went into the bread oven.  All I can say it thank goodness the clocks went back on Sunday!

I decided to make two loaves, one using my white loaf recipe and the other was my take on a Panettone (a Milanese Xmas cake).   It was interesting to see the difference between how my white loaf recipe turns out at home and how it turned out having been cooked in a wood fired oven.  The first thing I should say is normally I would have given the bread an extra 30 minutes to rise, but given the cold temperatures of the weekend I don’t think it would have risen much more.  After baking and cooling I was really interested to see what kind of texture it would have.  Compared to how it normally turns out, the texture was much denser, the crust was fairly soft, but overall it had a good flavour.

 

The Panettone is a new recipe that I have been playing around with over the last week. My first attempt produced a loaf that looked great and had the texture that I was looking for, but, the taste had a lot to be desired.  So after a bit of tweaking I have come up with a recipe with which I am really happy.  I decided that I wanted to bake my Panettone in an actual Panettone mould.  I chatted with a couple of the local bakers and they pointed me in the direction of a professional catering shop (my idea of heaven in a store).  It took A LOT of self-restraint to walk away from the shop having only bought 3 Panettone moulds…  Whilst this wasn’t strictly necessary (I have baked it previously in a loose bottomed deep cake tin and it turned out fine) it was interesting to see whether it would burn in this type of oven as a paper mould had never been tried before.  The mould worked brilliantly and withstood the very high temperature of the oven.

Between drinking copious amount of coffee, I learnt some really valuable skills on Sunday including how to knead and shape a flute and a baguette.  I learnt how to recognise when a bread oven is hot enough (the roof of the oven turns white).  I also came to appreciate how important it is to flour the bread moulds, as a correctly floured mould means the dough easier to get out and equally easier to get into the oven.

Below are some photos from my morning…  (Sadly my hands were so covered with flour I wasn’t able to take any of the kneading and shaping of the dough).

The oven being warmed with a combination of oak and popular logs

 

This photo was taken just after more wood was added to the fire to get the temperature right up.  The smoke was billowing out of the front of the fire and the heat that was being given off was impressive.

   

Once the wood had done its work the embers were scraped out of the oven and into a metal container which was then used to cook chestnuts for a breakfast treat.

   

The bread was then placed into the oven for cooking for anywhere between 35-75 minutes.  Before being taken out, brushed down, ready to be taken away for breakfast.

   

My take on Panettone

Ingredients:

  • 250g type 55 flour (plain flour)
  • 150g type 80 flour (Whole-wheat flour)
  • 50g butter (melted)
  • 200ml milk (warmed slightly)
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 3tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • seeds from ½ a vanilla pod
  • 25g mixed peel
  • 100g sultanas
  • 20ml Cointreau
  • zest of ½ an orange
  • zest of a lemon
  • beaten egg (for glazing)

Steps:

1. Place the sultanas, mixed peel and zest of the lemon and orange in bowl, add the Cointreau, stir and then set aside.

2.  Place the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl and mix together.

3.  Place the yeast in a bowl, add the milk, butter and eggs and mix together well.

4.  Add the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers.  The dough will be fairly wet.

5.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes (you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly).

6.  Place the dough into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (until it has doubled in size).

7.  Knock the air out of the dough and add the sultanas, mixed peel and zest of lemon and orange.

8.  Knead the dough until the fruit is evenly distributed. The shape the dough into a ball, place it in the Panettone mould, glaze with a beaten egg and then leave it to rise for the second time (1 ½ – 2 hours).

9.  Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.   (Note: It takes bread  longer to cook in a wood fired oven, as the temperature of the oven declines as the bread bakes.  It took my Panettone roughly 35-40 minutes to be done.)

10.  Once cooked, leave to cool completely, before serving.  (I think it is always best eaten in slices with a little bit of butter.)