Sunday, 29 July 2012

Hairy Bikers Bakeation Challenge - Italy

Scanning through the Italy chapter, deciding what to cook, there were some really nice recipes, but what I really wanted to try was the Hairy Bikers Chocolate & Hazelnut Cake or Torta Gianduia.  It looked so naughty I was trying to decide how I could justify baking such a delectable delight.  Well imagine my glee when my running buddy and friend Anita announced it was her birthday today as we were tootling around on our Sunday morning run.  Hoorah, I had an excuse to get extravagant baking.  So sweaty clothing aside, off I dashed on the way home to get a jar of Nutella.

The recipe consists of ......... lots of sugar / butter / chocolate / eggs and hazelnuts!  Not a recipe for the faint-hearted :-)  But full of potential.

First off I melted a ridiculous amount of butter and chocolate and then allowed it to cool.

The egg yolks (I had large eggs in the fridge, so only used 5 eggs instead of the suggested 6) and castor sugar were creamed together until pale and then the chocolate mixture was blended with it, before adding 200g of the hazelnuts. Now I had a little trump card up my sleeve as I still had some of the ground hazelnuts left that I bought back from Germany.  Not readily available here, they make speedy work of the recipe.

The egg whites had to be whisked until they formed stiff peaks and when held over your head would not slop on top of it.  The following photos are my evidence that this was most certainly achieved.  Thank god it worked as I had just washed my hair!

The bowl starts to rise................please work.................................

Phwew - weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I must add Chicken eggs are much quicker to whisk than duck eggs, but that must be due to the more glutinous whites in a duck egg - random thought!

Add some booze and then a couple of tablespoons of the egg whites to bind .......

Before gently folding in the rest of the egg whites ( gently so as not to lose their airiness) ..................

Pop it into a lined 23cm spring-form tin - I cheat and use a Lakeland cake liner.......

Before putting into a 180c static oven (or 160c fan oven) for 40 minutes...................

Once firm and nicely risen (??  - do not expect your knife or skewer to be totally dry as the cake continues to cook in the tin and should be moist when completely cooled) allow to cool in the tin for 30 mins, before taking out off the tin and cooling completely.

Then the fun begins......smearing it in Nutella and adorning with a little iced wording.....

I then skipped round (OK, I jumped in the car!!) to Anita's to deliver said birthday cake.  Oh boy it didn't disappoint!  Very moist, rich and with a nice hazelnut crunch running through it.  I think it would also work as a warm dessert, fresh out the oven (minus the nutella topping) with some double cream or creme fraiche.

Mental note - ask Sis to send some ground hazelnuts home with my Mum.  Subtle - nope!

My last Hairy Bikers Bakeation chapter challenge will be France (already done Spain!) ....... what possibilities. 

Now I just need to work off Italy's offering :)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Hairy Bikers Bakeation Challenge - Austria

I really enjoyed watching this episode and just adored the mountain scenery.  I knew there would be a few chocolatey recipes to tempt me, but my first offering for this episode is Monica's Breakfast Bread or Godkipferl!  Now bearing in mind 'Monica' bakes for the monks in a monastery, Godkipferl is a very apt name for these little goodies as it translates as 'Gods Crescents'. 

A relatively quick bread to make as you mix the ingredients and knead for 5 minutes before leaving the dough to stand for 15 minutes.

The dough is then divided into 6 portions, which are then divided by 3 again.  Then you get plaiting!  I can't remember the last time I plaited anything, but it was fun rolling out the dough into sausage shapes and then creating a little crescent shape.  Very satisfying.

They are then placed on a floured baking sheet and left to rest for 5 minutes.

Then you brush with an egg yolk and dredge with sugar.  Can you see how yellow the egg yolk is?  These were egg yolks from my friend Cathy's chickens.  They are very happy chucks and it shows in their lovely eggs and also benefits my baking.  Lucky me!

The crescents are then popped into a preheated 160c fan oven (or 180c static oven) for 25 minutes until well-risen, golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

And boy do they rise!  Look at these babies!  Delicious with butter, jam and / or honey.  The texture is like a bread croissant if that makes sense and pulls apart in layers.

Edit to add:  I think these are best eaten on the day you make them, so unless you have a Monastery to feed, you may want to try halving the recipe.  You can, of course, reheat them in the microwave, which is perfectly adequate.

Today saw an attempt at a Hairy Bikers Austrian Chocolate Cake or Schokogugelhopf.  I mean really, how can you resist a name like that!  It was all a bit of a rush as I had a roast lamb on the go too, but it was fun to make.

Firstly the round ring tin is greased and dusted with ground almonds.  Its the first time I've had the excuse to use this tin, so it was good to retrieve it from the depths of my baking cupboard.

The chocolate is melted over a simmering pan of water, stirred, then set aside to cool for 15 minutes.

What a joy to have some sunshine, not only for my plants, but also to make the most of a warm greenhouse to soften my butter!  Perfect and speedy.  The butter and icing sugar are creamed together before adding 4 egg yolks one at a time.  For this recipe I was lucky enough to use some duck eggs that I had been given.  The recipe called for large eggs, so I felt this was a good substitute.  Duck eggs give an extra richness to baking.  This was then blended with the dry ingredients.

Add in the melted chocolate and then gently fold in the whisked egg whites, so as not to lose the air created when whisking them, but blending enough that you have no white spots left in the cake batter. 

Pop into the greased baking ring and place in a pre-heated 170c oven.  For this recipe I used a fan-oven and the cake only needed 30 minutes.  I think this was due to it being a big tin.  The cake rose well and came away from the sides nicely. 

Now being in a bit of a rush, I confess I failed to make the chocolatey topping that should have adorned the cake.  Instead we ate it warm with some cream drizzled over it.  Not a bad compromise.

Thank goodness for having my friend Raph and family back in our road - I have more people to share the baking love with!

Next time its Italy.  Gotta be some good bread recipes in that one!

Happy baking!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Imbhams Farm Granary Yeast-Free Spelt Loaf

I warned you - they'll keep coming all together like the No 37 bus! 

Tonight's baking delight came after a visit with my Mum to West Dean's Med Fest back in June.  Amongst the many drool-inducing stalls was the Imbhams Farm Granary run by a delightful couple.  As you can imagine I was quite taken in by all the flours and bread mixes on offer, as well as the German Grain Mills they had available (possible Xmas pressie request for the future??)

I chose the Yeast-Free Spelt & Sunflower Seed Bread Mix, as I was keen to give spelt a go again.

You mix the dry ingredients from the packet in one bowl (saving a few sunflower seeds for the topping) and an a egg, buttermilk and yoghurt to another bowl which is whisked together.  Looking online, it was suggested that you could just use milk instead of the buttermilk and yoghurt.  This would make a much more cost effective loaf, but I was keen to try it as per the main instructions as I've never used buttermilk and / or yoghurt in bread-making before.

The wet ingredients are added to the dry and mixed until combined.  Then its popped into a greased and floured 1lb loaf tin and........... put into a preheated 180c oven (I used a static oven) for 20 minutes.

That's right, no kneading, no proving, just mix / stir / bake, that's it.  After 20 minutes you take it out of the oven and brush / drizzle with melted butter or honey (I went for the honey option) and then pop it back in for another 20 minutes.

I was surprised by how much the loaf rose in the oven.  Before it went in, it was flush with the top of the tin, when it came out....... well you can see from the shape :-)

It was really tasty warm from the oven and smeared with honey.  After that its been toasted and marmite'd each morning.  Its a robust loaf and full of sunflower seeds.

Certainly a quick and easy loaf to make and full of flavour.  It has nudged me to go and buy some more spelt flour and play around with my own bread mixes though.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Debbie Bliss Baby Shrug

As my Knitting Mojo is returning, along with a willing body, I am able to start creating some of the little outfits for my Niece Ellie that I had previously planned.  That is, hopefully, before she is so grown up and my yarn stash for each chosen item is insufficient in yardage.  When I went to visit them in Germany back in January I bought some lovely Lana Grossa Cinque Aran weight yarn.  Typically we chose the only colour-way that had only two balls left, so my choice of pattern was somewhat limited.  On the Ravelry UKarma Group I was lucky enough to nab a copy of Debbie Bliss Simply Baby, in which is a pattern for a super cute Baby Shrug

This is my progress so far.  I'm making the 12 - 18 month size (Ellie is only 7 months!) so I figure she should get a lot of usage out of it!  If I run out of yarn, I'll just have to do the ribbing edge in a suitable colour match, but we'll save that thought til later.....

So far its a really easy pattern and all knit in one piece.  My project bag (made by andsewtoknit) is rather complementary me thinks!  Then again most of the yarn I have is purple, so it should go with most of it :)

Once I've finished the little shrug I plan to pick back up on my Pippie Ripple Socks, that have lain idle for a while.  I just love the name........

For other Work-in-Progress Wednesday blog posts, please go along to WIPW to see what everyone else is up to! 

Apologies to Non-Ravelry members.  Some of the links won't work for you :(

Monday, 16 July 2012

Hairy Bikers Bakeation Challenge - Eastern Europe

Hmmm, I have to confess, not the most successful of my baking attempts this weekend, but an attempt no less!  I feel I should share the flunks as well as the triumphs.

This weekend I finally got around to trying some more Hairy Biker Bakeation recipes and this week was Eastern Europe.  Now there are oodles of recipes to try in this chapter as it covers Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.  A couple of weeks back I started to try their Slovakian Sweet Nut Rolls recipe (Kolaches), but my Dried Active Yeast didn't seem to want to co-operate and refused to bubble up.  As I was pushed for time, I thought I had over-heated the milk and maybe killed the yeast, so was saving the recipe for another time.  This weekend I had all the ingredients ready for the Hungarian Bacon Scones (Pogasca) and Beef Goulash Soup (Gulyas leves).

So I go to warm the milk for the bacon scones and add the yeast.......... oh yes folks it failed to froth again.  Normally in my baking I use the Fast Action Yeast, but this was plain old Dried Action Yeast.  As I was all set to go I substituted the yeasts and just added the FA Yeast to the flour and followed the recipe as set. 

The above liquid ingredients had the flour and other dry ingrediants all mixed together until combined and then kneaded by my trusty Kenwood for 5 minutes.

The dough was then left for 1 1/2 hours to double in size......... or it should do.  At this point I realised they weren't going to be the best scones, but I hate wastage, so I cut them out into mini sized scones and left to rise again....... hmmm.  Not doing brilliant at this stage.

I also had the Goulash soup bubbling away nicely on the hob - at least something was going to plan!

Now I confess the scones were a little pathetic in appearance and I was too embarrassed to even photograph them.  But they did taste OK with the flavours of the bacon, parmesan and caraway seeds coming through and they have real potential.  So I will try them again.  The soup at least was delicious and very filling.

Today I emailed Allinson to explain my predicament and to see if anyone else had had problems with that batch of yeast.  To their credit they replied within 1/2 an hour and asked for my address to send a reply envelope to.  I then have to send back the yeast and they will 'investigate'!

There is a wealth of choice of recipes in the Eastern Europe chapter and I know I will be trying more of them.  But for the next challenge its Austria........ got to be a chocolate cake recipe in that chapter.

Happy baking!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Gin Fizz Shawl

Oh blimey, I have been a really bad blogger and baker recently.  Not being able to do as much of my hobbies as I would like left me a rather forlorn Scubamonkey!  But there is sunshine on the horizon........ well clearly not literally in the UK as the rain is coming down in stair-rods.  But metaphorically its sunny.

So to ease my way back into a little knitting I participated in a test knit for the very talented Pmcblonde and made the lovely Gin Fizz Shawl.  How could I resist such a name I ask you??  It took me quite a while to make as I was only knitting a few rows a night, but I'm just so happy to be making something again!  Plus I had dyed the lovely sparkle yarn I used with some Grape Koolaid, so a real homemade job! 

You can find more tips and test knits on Patricia's Ravelry group page.

Anyway, just a little blog to share my excitement and show off my pretty new shawl!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to do a little baking, so the blogs may start coming along all at once like the No 37 bus!  But for now I think I might indulge in a little knitting.........yippee!