Saturday, 26 May 2012

Hairy Bikers Bakeation Challenge - The Low Countries

So here's my second instalment for my Hairy Bikers Bakeation Challenge.  This week I had a choice between Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg which are combined in The Low Countries chapter.

Now not another cookie recipe I hear you cry!  Well these are Amsterdam Caramel Cookies no less. Or Koggetjes in Dutch!  Apparently these were first baked in 1935, when the creator entered them into a competition to find a true Amsterdam cookie.  They were named after the Dutch ships 'kogge'.  A little bit of history for you :)

As I have never made caramel before, I thought this was a mini challenge worth trying.  Unfortunately I can't link the recipe as this one is only available from the Hairy Bikers Big Book of Baking (well worth buying as there are many more recipes than those available online), but any basic cookie recipe with caramel added should give the same effect.

For the caramel you put the castor sugar and water in a small saucepan and warm over a low heat until dissolved, then turn up the heat to a fast simmer, cooking for 5 - 8 minutes without stirring.
It starts of quite cloudy..........................

Then goes clear quite quickly ............................................

After 5 - 8 minutes the sugar caramelises and turns a rich, golden brown.  Tip it out onto a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray and move it around until it forms a thin layer.......

Allow it to cool, then break it up with a pestle and mortar.  I managed to get some little bits on my t-shirt as I bashed it gently - a little snack for later!

Its then kneaded in to the cookie mixture and divided into 15 little balls, which are then flattened on a baking sheet........................

You're only meant to flatten them to a 1cm thickness, but I was a bit enthusiastic in my flattening, hence why they splatted a tad!  Still tasty though!

There are plenty more recipes in this chapter, so I will no doubt be blogging some more, but I do like a good cookie!

Next week Germany!

On the crafty front, I have had to put all my crafty loves on the back-burner for the while, shame really really as my toe-up socks were coming on a treat!  Patience little Scube, patience!

Happy baking!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Bruschetta to welcome in the sunshine!

There I was putting together the dough for a homemade Bruschetta and OH says "So why aren't you taking photographs for your blog?  Its a baked item isn't it?"  Hmmm I thought, he is correct and skipped off to get the camera.   Alright I shuffled really, but the thought was there.

Not wanting to upset my poorly neck more after a pounding at the physio, I had elected to make the dough in my Kenwood using the dough hook.  I have to say it worked a treat.  You do have to be a bit more careful that you don't over knead the dough, but it doesn't half save the shoulders. Keep an eye on it until its looking silky and the gluten has started stretching.

I used a basic focaccia dough recipe for my base which consisted of 500g strong white bread flour, 5g dried yeast, 10g fine salt and 325ml of warm water.  This was all popped into the Kenwood mixing bowl and put on the minimum setting until all combined and then I added 1tbsp of rapeseed oil and let it knead for 7-8 minutes.  You can of course use olive oil, but I love the colour and taste of rapeseed oil.  Our favourite at the moment is a local brand called Pratt's and is the most amazing colour.

Leave in a lightly oiled bowl, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or so until the dough has doubled in size, then tip into a shallow, oiled baking tray about 25 x 35 cm in size.  Stretch the dough out into the corners.............................

 and then leave to rise again, covered, until doubled in size.

Stick your fingers in to make some deep holes and then drizzle a little oil over the dough.  Pop into a 250c fan oven and cook for 10 minutes, turning towards the end if necessary to brown evenly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 200c and pop back in after you have covered  the dough with your topping* for a further 8 - 10 minutes.

I also added some grated parmesan to the top just in the last minute or so and voila.........

One scrumptious and rather healthy dinner................

Happy Summer Baking!

* My topping consisted of 2 chopped cloves of garlic, 1/2 a finely chopped red onion, 2 small punnets of plum cherry tomatoes chopped into quarters, a big handful of chopped basil, salt & pepper.  Yummy!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Hairy Bikers Bakeation Challenge - Norway

So I've gone and set myself a little challenge.  As mentioned before I really enjoyed watching the Hairy Bikers recent Bakeation programme around Europe.  OH must have picked up on my enthusiasm as one of my recent birthday presents was the book to accompany the series - Yippee!

My little baking challenge is to bake at least one item a week from each chapter in the book and this week its Chapter 1 - Norway!  As this was one of my favourite episodes I've chosen two recipes to have a go at.  Of course one just had to be a bread recipe and I've gone for the Scandinavian Rye Bread or Rugbrod!

The yeast was added to warm water and milk and sugar and left to bubble for 10 minutes before being added to the flour, salt and caraway seeds.

I'm rather pleased with my new little mixing bowl which says "God Save The Cream" on the side (another pressie!) and the perfect size for the bubbling yeast mixture.

Once the ingredients are combined you pop the dough out onto a well floured surface and then knead for 10 minutes.  Its a very sticky dough, but does become more elastic with kneading.  It will still look like this after 10 minutes though, so don't expect a lovely puffed up ball of dough.

Popped into a bowl for an 1 1/2 hour or so and left to rise, you then tip it out, knead for a further minute (by this stage it is much less sticky and more elastic), shaped and placed on a baking tray to rise again for 40 - 50 minutes.

After rising it looked like this..........

Then it was baked in a static 180c oven for 40 minutes and came out looking like this........

I'm afraid I couldn't wait for it to cool before I sliced into it, hence the jagged cut, but its a really tasty loaf with a nice crust, moist centre and packing a great caraway seed taste.  Perfect with a board of cold meats and cheeses I think.  Definitely one to do again.

My second recipe was for the Cardamon and Lemon Stamped Cookies.  I mixed mine together using the K beater attachment in my Kenwood mixer until the ingredients all came together to form a stiff dough.  I popped the dough onto the baking sheet and divided it in half, then half again and then into 3's.  This way, rather than guess 24 portions straight out of the bowl, made it much easier to divide up.

Each portion was rolled into a ball.  If you have a cookie stamp, you use this to squash the dough down into a cookie shape and leaves a little impression on the top of the cookie.  As I didn't have one (add that to the list of baking wants!) I used the base of a little glass, which seemed to be just as effective.

They were then popped into a static 190c oven and baked for 11 - 12 minutes until a pale golden brown colour.  A nice quick recipe to make, with the ground almonds adding a nice crispness to the cookie and the cardamon coming through very faintly, adding more warmth rather than an over-powering flavour.  Perfect to enjoy with a nice cup of coffee in the garden along with some rare sunshine!

There's that phantom photographer again and a sneaky Aquilegia poking up through our table :)

Next week - The Low Countries - Belgium, Netherlands & Luxembourg.  I best get looking at recipes whilst munching on a cookie or two .................yummy!

Happy baking!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

James Martin's Pistachio & Coffee cake

A few weeks ago I was browsing 'You' magazine that our neighbour drops off for me to peruse the cooking section and I came across a rather yummy looking offering by the chef James Martin.  Its for a Pistachio and Coffee Cake.  Rather handy that was, as I had a packet of pistachio's in the cupboard looking for a purpose, plus I wanted to try something new for OH's birthday cake.

Why is it sometimes that the same recipe can work brilliantly for you one time and then the next time you try.............a great big flop.  Thankfully on the occasion of his birthday, when I was rushing to make and finish it in a short time frame it worked.  Try it again for my birthday and I didn't cook it through in the middle. The outer parts were still very edible though!

The third attempt saw an improvement but not as great as the first.  I don't want to put you off, any which way its a lovely unusual cake.  I tend to always bake cakes in a static oven, but have a sneaky feeling that based on the timings for the first cake, I may have popped it on fan oven instead for that one.

I found its a good idea to whisk all the eggs before adding and then add gradually.

It;s quite a moist batter as you may be able to see.  Rather than grease and line cake tins, I like to cheat and use Lakeland's cake liners.  This way you don't waste loads of greaseproof paper when cutting it to size.

I popped it in a 190c static oven for 35 minutes (recipe says 30 minutes) and it was still quite wet in the centre.  You do leave it to stand in the tin for 30 minutes to continue cooking but it still needed a bit longer so popped it back for another 5-6 minutes.

The centre filling is a very simple mix of cream, a little icing sugar and more pistachios!

So here's my third attempt!  The photo makes it look darker than it is, but due to the extra cooking time its certainly got a crisper exterior.

Quite a nice slice and rather moist!

The next attempt will certainly see a go at the fan oven me thinks and perhaps a smidge more coffee.

On a totally different note I've finally got around to finishing my Katherine's, for the UK Sock Knitters February KAL.  The photo does them no justice as they are a much richer red.

Better late than never!

Now what to make next??
Happy baking

Monday, 7 May 2012

Hairy Bikers Spanish Pan Rustico - Spain

I've really enjoyed the Hairy Bikers Bakeation TV series for not only the recipes, but the stunning scenery as well.  I have to admit my favourites were the Norway episode and the final one from Spain.  In Norway I just wanted to get straight on a plane and immerse myself in the amazing countryside as well as diving into the drool-inducing breads.  In Spain it bought back fond memories of our brilliant trip to Northern Spain last year and I could still taste some of the Pintxos we got to sample in the town Lekeitio.  You just amble from bar to bar trying the specialities of each place along with a wee glass of wine and then attempt to propel yourself back up the hill to the campsite in the pitch black.......happy days!

Always on the lookout for new bread recipes, I just had to give their Pan Rustico , or Rustic Bread to us, a go!

Its a really slow but simple recipe, a bit like a sourdough in that you make a starter, but has a totally different texture.

You start by making the starter of yeast, flour, sugar and water and leaving it to ferment for 24 hours.  "Midday" is to remind me when to start the second process just in case you were wondering :)

Then the bread ingredients of more water, flour, yeast, sugar and oil get all mixed together with the starter and then kneaded for 10 minutes.

It is a very wet dough, though bizarrely not overly sticky.  This may be due to the oil.  As you knead the texture does change and you feel it becoming more airy and stretchy.  But its still very wet.  The above picture was taken one-handed as I was so gooey!

Then it gets popped into an oiled bowl, covered and left for an hour or so to double in size from this...

to this.....................................

Then its put onto a floured baking sheet and stretched into shape, slashing the top and leaving for another hour or so to rise again

Not the most attractive of loaves, as its quite difficult to shape due to its stickiness.  But it wouldn't be rustic otherwise would it?

Then the loaf is popped into a 240c static oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.

I think next time I will prove it in a basket to hold its shape better and make it a higher rather than flatter loaf, but the outcome is a lovely soft loaf with a very airy texture.  Not like sourdough, which is more chewy, but floofy and great as bread or toast.  I'll definitely be doing this one again!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Malinky's Swedish Chocolate Cake

Well, as you may have noticed I got a bit carried away last week blogging along with many others in the 3rd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week.  I've come across a fun new group on Ravelry called The Blog hub, funnily enough for all those bloggers / knitters amongst us.  So having now taken a suitably long breath between posts its about time I gave you some luscious cake to oggle at!

Whilst up in Yorkshire I just had to make my Sis a belated birthday cake (Like I needed an excuse!) as I'd been wanting to try Malinky's gorgeous looking chocolate cake.  Having been suitably chastised when I suggested substituting the treacle for Golden Syrup (I had a tin needing finishing you know), I collected all the ingredients together, carefully weighting out the dry ingredients to avoid taking big bags of flour, etc and popped in the box for the car journey.  Being a bit odd, I also took up a batch of Sleepless White Dough, so it could prove on the journey from South to North and be ready to bake in the morning.  Time efficient me! 

I had to make up for the previous batch of bread I'd made which had over-proved.  Arghhhhhhhh!  I didn't believe it was possible to over-prove a loaf, but just a few minutes (OK, half and hour or more) too long and the gluten structure just collapsed around the edges.  I still baked the loaves, as I hate wastage and got some great splats.  Still they tasted OK toasted!

I digress!  Back to the cake.  Its based on a traditional Swedish family recipe and I used duck eggs for my cake as I like their richness for baking.  As cooking in a unknown kitchen which didn't have measuring spoons I guessed the treacle amounts, so may have been a bit generous.  Added to the moistness.  I totally forgot to snap a picture before I popped it into a lined 23cm tin and cooked it in a static 170c oven for 40 minutes.  Can you spot the 'phantom photographer'?

Once cooked its allowed to cool completely.....................................................

Then covered in lashings of Nutella and adorned as desired!

And then dive in!  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Whilst doing an Amazon shop I just happened to acquire a copy of this old baking book, Jim Fobel's Old Fashioned Baking Book.  Now this should give me good recipes for Pie!  If anybody has tried some of the recipes I'd love to hear from you :)

Happy baking!

Malinky's Swedish Chocolate cake
6 oz (170 gm) self raising flour or Plain flour + 2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
5 oz (140 gm) sugar
2 tbsp treacle
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (180ml) sunflower oil
3/4 cup (180ml) full fat milk NOT skimmed Milk

1x medium size jar of Nutella - must be this not any other kind of chocolate spread as this is made with hazelnuts.
You could make your own chocolate ganache - but it is a bother and Nutella is great quality.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Then add the treacle, eggs, sunflower oil and milk onto dry mixture and stir for about 3 minutes or until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.

Pour into a greased and floured baking tin.

Bake in 170C (325 F) oven for 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Leave it in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out to cool.

Ice the cake with the Nutella when it is completely cool.

Store in an airtight container. This cake is nice eaten right way, but gets even more moist if left overnight and eaten the next day, if there is any left!!