Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

Focaccia is one of my favourite breads. It’s so versatile, you can top it with a variety of flavours, and best of all it’s the perfect bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It is one of those breads that you can just sit and work your way through the whole loaf with a group of friends, chatting, dipping and enjoying every bite. Add some olives and a few glasses of wine and it’s a perfect night! This Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia is inspired by my love of fresh aromatic rosemary and juicy sweet cherry tomatoes. I go through two punnets of little tomatoes every week – I eat them with everything! Focaccia bread is also vegan friendly as it’s not made with any animal products, so everyone can enjoy this delicious bread!

Jump straight to the recipe!

I put the strong white bread flour, yeast, salt and fresh rosemary into a bowl.

After stirring it together, I added the water and olive oil to bring the mixture together into a dough.

Using my food mixer with the dough hook attachment, I left it to knead for 10 minutes. You can also do this by hand if you prefer.

I placed the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl covered with cling film and put it in a warm place to prove for 1 hour.

After the hour was up, I knocked the dough back and pressed it out onto a baking tray with a lip. I pressed the cherry tomatoes into the dough.

I covered it loosely with cling film and a tea towel and left it to prove for 1 hour.

Once the hour was up I sprinkled more fresh rosemary, and some coarse sea salt over it before putting it in the oven to bake until golden.

Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

This Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia is salty, soft and full of fresh tomato and rosemary flavour.

Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

It’s perfect for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar!

    

I’m linking this recipe up with Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too, Cook Blog Share hosted by Recipes Made Easy, Free From Fridays hosted by Free From Farm House, and Fiesta Fridays hosted by The Not So Creative Cook and The Frugal Hausfrau.


4.8 from 5 votes
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Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

Servings 36 pieces depending on size

Ingredients

  • 500 g Strong white bread flour
  • 7 g Sachet fast action yeast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Fresh rosemary Finely chopped, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 325 ml Lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp Coarse sea salt For sprinkling
  • 19 Cherry tomatoes Cut in half

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add the bread flour, yeast, salt and rosemary. Make sure to add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl, then stir together

  2. Add the water and olive oil to the flour mixture and bring it together into a dough

  3. Knead by hand, or use a food mixer with the dough hook attachment, for 10 minutes

  4. Put the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl covered with cling film, leave it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour

  5. Knock the air out of the risen dough, then press it out onto a lipped baking tray (I used a Wilton Non-Stick Cookie Pan 15.25 x 10.25 Inches)

  6. Press the cherry tomatoes into the dough, spacing them evenly apart

  7. Cover with loose oiled cling film and a tea towel and leave to rise again for 1 hour

  8. Pre-heat your oven to 200C Fan/220C/425F/Gas Mark 7

  9. Before baking, sprinkled more fresh rosemary, and some coarse sea salt over the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden

  10. Allow to cool, slice and serve, or serve warm. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. It also freezes well

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!

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Bake With A Legend Review

Bake With A Legend Review

If you’ve visited my blog before you will know that I am a massive fan of The Great British Bake Off. It is the baking show that inspired me to start both this blog and my journey of delicious baking adventures. So when I heard that there were baking classes being hosted by some of the most talented and well known GBBO stars, well there wasn’t much that was going to stop me from getting involved! The classes are called Bake With A Legend, and at first they started off in London (as most things do unfortunately for us Northerners). Thankfully, because they’ve been so brilliant and successful, they’ve started doing classes in Manchester this year.

I attended two Bake With A Legend classes in Manchester. The first was baking bread with Paul Jagger. Paul was a quarter finalist in series six and is most well known for his lion bread sculpture. Because the classes are in small groups, they feel very intimate. You can chat away to the hosts and asking them questions throughout is welcomed. At the start we all sat down with Paul and we were offered a hot drink. He talked to us about what we would be baking. He was a very warm, friendly and open guy. Paul was full of anecdotes and stories about his time on GBBO. I found it absolutely fascinating to hear what went on behind the scenes!

Then it was time to bake! Paul demonstrated each step first and explained what we needed to do. There were two large work stations at the Food Sorcery location in East Didsbury for us all to use. They provided plenty of baking equipment to go around and the main ingredients were all weighed out and ready. As there were bakers on either side of the worktops it was ideal for chatting with others in the group and helping each other to remember which ingredients to add!

At the bread making class we made grissini (aka breadsticks) flavoured with parmesan and rosemary. Paul brought rosemary from his garden at home for us to use which was a lovely touch. We also made an asian inspired twist on garlic bread which was stuffed with chickpeas, pepper, cumin, chilli and coriander. I have made bread several times in the past, but I’d never made these recipes before. So it was a learning experience for me. Paul made his way around the group whilst we baked to guide us, answer our questions, and most importantly reassure us that we were following the recipe correctly!

The Bake With A Legend staff were also on hand to clean up after us, help us work the fancy ovens, and keep an eye on our bread as it baked. When everything was ready the whole room smelt amazing! We got another chance to sit round the table with Paul at the end of the session. He chatted with us some more, and we got to ask any further questions we had. We were provided with everything we needed to package up our bread and take it home with us. We also got the chance to get a photo with Paul! It was such a fun day and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

The second class I attended was cake making with Howard Middleton. He featured in series four of GBBO and is probably best known for having his custard accidentally ‘stolen’ by a fellow contestant. He’s also known for his love of gluten free baking and using unusual flours in his bakes. On one week of the show he used hemp flour, which gave Mel & Sue plenty to joke about! Howard has since released a book full of gluten free recipes (I’ve linked to it at the bottom of this post if you are interested).

We were making a recipe from Howard’s book called a Cacaoccino cake. It’s a sponge containing cacao, hazelnuts and coffee, surrounded by hazelnut wafers and filled with whipped cream. Howard was very funny and self deprecating throughout the class. We were all laughing at regular intervals and he made the atmosphere light and comfortable. As in the previous class, Howard demonstrated the steps of the recipe before we went over to the baking stations and had a go ourselves.

I baked in a pair with a lovely lady called Bev who had been bought the class as a Christmas gift from her husband. It was really nice to bake with someone else, to have a chat and bake together. Howard was pottering around the group to help us when we got stuck. So we felt reassured that the cakes would turn out well. He even brought his own stencils from home so we could finish off the cake with either a Bake With A Legend logo, or a coffee cup. I went for the logo and Howard applied the stencil and dusted the cocoa on everyone’s cake for them which was a fantastic personal touch!

Bake With A Legend

At the end of the class we sat down to relax with a glass of prosecco or orange juice. Howard served us a slice of the cake he had made during the demonstration. It was absolutely delicious! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even like coffee! We also got to chat more with Howard and ask him questions. He told us all about his GBBO experience and what he’d been up since the show ended. He also signed copies of his book and happily posed for photos with the group.

I had a brilliant time at the cake making class, and I loved every moment of getting to meet and bake with these two fabulous GBBO stars. Even as an experienced baker, I learnt new things and feel inspired to try out new recipes. I think the Bake With A Legend classes are suitable for bakers of any level of experience as you are guided every step of the way. There’s always have help at hand to steer you in the right direction. The atmosphere of each class is so comfortable and welcoming that you don’t feel like any question is a stupid one. Essentially, if you love baking and you love The Great British Bake Off, you’re going to love Bake With A Legend!

If you want to find out more and see what classes are coming up in your area, visit the Bake With A Legend website.

NB. I attended the classes free of charge, I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup with Wholemeal Bread Rolls

Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup with Wholemeal Bread Rolls

When it’s cold outside, snowing or raining, there is nothing better than a warm bowl of delicious and filling soup to comfort you from the inside out. I’m not overly adventurous with my soup choices, I tend to opt for tomato based soups most of the time, or butternut squash is also a regular choice. However, this Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup is definitely my favourite soup! It’s creamy, filling and full of cheese flavour. It is everything I’m looking for in a soup! I like it chunky, with the pieces of potato and leek intact, but you could also blitz this Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup into a puree. It’s a great vegetarian soup choice, and I’ve made it successfully with both cow’s milk and almond milk – as well as a half and half mix. I have also included a recipe for wholemeal rolls which go perfectly with soup and are great for dipping!

Jump straight to the recipe!

To start, I made the bread rolls as they take longer than the soup. In a large bowl I stirred both flours, the yeast and salt together.

I added the luke warm water and oil and mixed to form a dough.

Then I put it in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and let it knead for 8 minutes.

Once it was done I placed it into an oiled bowl, covered it with cling film and put it in a warm place for 1 hour to rise.

After it was risen I knocked the air out of it on a floured mat, then using scales I divided the dough into 12 equal pieces. They weighed about 77g each.

I rolled each piece into a ball and place them onto lined baking trays. Then I covered them loosely with cling film and a tea towel, and again left them for 1 hour to rise. Before baking I sprinkled some oats over the top.

They baked for 20 minutes in a hot oven and came out lovely and golden.

Meanwhile, while waiting for the bread to prove, I had been making the Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup. I sauteed the leeks and onion in a large pan using the oil and butter.

I added the flour and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Then I added the milk slowly, stirring to make sure no lumps of flour remained. Then followed the water, stock cubes and potato.

I let the Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potato pieces were soft. Making sure to stir it often so it didn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. When it was done I turned the heat off and stirred in the cheese. I then added salt to taste. My preference is to add 3 tsp, but you may like less depending on your preference.

Potato & Leek Soup

You can serve the Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup straight away, or once it is cooled down fully you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge and heat up either on the hob or in the microwave. Apart from the cheese, if you use a low fat or plant based milk, this Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup is also pretty healthy without compromising on flavour.

Potato & Leek Soup

We absolutely love this Cheesy Potato & Leek Soup in my house, and it never lasts more than a couple of days. I’ve even eaten it for breakfast in the past! Whenever I have the time to make it it’s a real treat and it really is perfectly paired with the wholemeal bread rolls. They are so easy to make too, and I even snuck some seeds in there too without my partner noticing!

  

I’m linking this recipe up with Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too, Cook Blog Share hosted by Everyday Healthy Recipes, Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching For Spice, and Fiesta Friday hosted by Indfused.

 

5 from 5 votes
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Cheesy Leek & Potato Soup

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • Knob of butter
  • 3 Leeks sliced
  • 1 Medium onion diced
  • 75 g Plain flour
  • 4 Large jacket size potatoes (about 700g) peeled and diced
  • 1.2 litres Cow's milk or dairy free milk warmed in a pan
  • 1.2 litres Boiling water
  • 2 Vegetable stock cubes
  • 200 g Mature cheddar grated
  • 2-3 tsp Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Add the oil and butter to a large pan (I use a jam making pan) and warm on a medium heat for a few minutes

  2. Add the sliced leeks and diced onion to the pan, and cook them for approx 8 minutes until soft

  3. Add the flour, stir it in and cook for 2 minutes

  4. Add the milk slowly, and stir between each addition to make sure no lumps of flour remain

  5. Add the boiling water, stock cubes and diced potato. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it bubble for 15-20 minutes, until the potato pieces are soft. Make sure to stir it often so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan

  6. When it is done, turn the heat off and stir in the cheese. It will melt into the soup

  7. Then added salt to taste. I like to add 3 tsp, but you may like less depending on your preference

  8. Serve immediately, or allow to cool fully and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days

5 from 5 votes
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Wholemeal Bread Rolls

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 250 g Strong white bread flour
  • 250 g Plain wholemeal flour
  • 7 g Sachet of fast action yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 50 ml Olive oil
  • 320 ml Luke warm water
  • 20 g Sunflower seeds optional
  • 15 g Linseeds optional
  • 10 g Oats optional

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir the strong white bread flour, wholemeal flour, yeast and salt together. Make sure not to pour the salt directly over the yeast, add them on separate sides of the bowl

  2. Mix the oil with the luke warm water in a jug and pour into the flour mixture. Stir together until a dough forms

  3. Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes on a floured surface, or put in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and leave it to knead for 8 minutes on a medium speed

  4. Place the kneaded dough into a large bowl that has been brushed all over on the inside with a light coating of olive oil. Cover the bowl tightly with cling film and put it in a warm place for 1 hour for the dough to rise

  5. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knead very briefly, just to knock the air out of it

  6. Using scales, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. They should weigh approx 77g each

  7. Roll each piece into a ball and place them onto lined baking trays. Cover them loosely with cling film and a tea towel and leave them for 1 hour to prove

  8. Pre-heat your oven to 200C Fan/220C/425F/Gas Mark 7

  9. Sprinkle some oats over the top of each roll, then bake for 20 minutes until golden. You know they are done when you tap them on the bottom and they sound hollow

  10. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days

You can find more of my Savoury recipes by clicking here!

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Traditional Czech Kolaces

Traditional Czech Kolaces

I absolutely love traditional recipes that have been passed from one generation to the next. They truely survive the test of time and you can guarantee they will be absolutely delicious! Czech Kolaces are one such recipe. The base is an enriched dough and they can be filled with a variety of sweet things such as fruit or jam. They can also be small or large, which is another thing about traditional recipes, every family has a different version. So why not find your favourite! As Czech Kolaces originated as desserts at Czech weddings, their perfect pairing is with a drink of course. Budweiser Budvar lager is brewed in the Czech Republic using 700 year old traditional methods and local ingredients. If you want to steep yourself in Czech tradition, then crack open a Budvar and learn how to make these delicious treats – you won’t regret it!

Jump straight to the recipe!

To learn more about the kolaces watch this beautiful video that Budvar have made! Or you can read the story by clicking here.

To make the dough I started by warming up the milk in a pan until it was luke warm. I added the yeast and caster sugar, then covered it with cling film and left it for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes I uncovered it and added the egg yolks and melted butter and whisked it all together.

In a bowl I stirred the flour together with the salt. I poured the milk mixture into the flour and mixed until a dough formed. I covered it with cling film and left it in a warm place to prove for 1 hour.

Whilst it was doing that I made the cheesecake filling by whisking the cream cheese, caster sugar, lemon zest and egg yolk together. I whisked it until it was thick then I folded in the whipped egg white.

Once the dough was proved, I cut the dough in half. With one half I made little kolaces by rolling it out then cutting out rounds with a cookie cutter.

I used the bottom of a glass to make indentations in the dough.

I filled them with the cheesecake mixture, then added a few blueberries too. And I glazed them around the edges with beaten egg.

They baked on 180C Fan for 20 minutes. I kept re-rolling the dough until it was all gone.

I also made some with blackcurrant jam in the middle instead and a sprinkling of the crumble on top.

With the other half of the dough, I rolled it into a rectangle and spread it out on a lined baking tray.

I sprinkled breadcrumbs on top, followed by blueberries and rum soaked cherries, then finally sprinkled the crumble all over. I also glazed the edge with beaten egg.

It baked it for between 20-25 minutes on 180C Fan until it was golden brown.

Czech Kolaces

I made the Czech Kolaces whilst I was round at my friend’s house and they went down an absolute treat. It was so relaxing to chat and bake with a few Budvars, then enjoy the Czech Kolaces warm from the oven! I shared the beer out with my boyfriend and friends too. They really enjoyed drinking it with the Czech Kolaces, and I heard several poorly pronounced shouts of “Na zdraví!” – which is cheers in Czech!

Czech Kolaces

The Czech Kolaces filled with jam were my favourite and they’re also the easiest to make. I really liked the big traybake version too as it’s less time consuming than cutting out rounds. However, the little rounds would be perfect for a party! The bread was soft and light, and the fillings sweet and fruity

      

I’m linking this recipe up with Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too, Cook Blog Share hosted by Everyday Healthy Recipes, Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching For Spice, and Fiesta Fridays hosted by Food For The Soul and The Not So Creative Cook.

 

5 from 3 votes
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Small Czech Kolaces with Blueberries & Cheesecake or Jam

Servings 20

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 500 g Plain flour
  • 75 g Caster sugar
  • 75 g Butter melted
  • 250 ml Whole or semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 7 g Sachet of fast action yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Lemon zest only

For the cheesecake filling

  • 250 g Full fat cream cheese
  • 60 g Caster sugar
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 Egg white whipped
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Lemon zest only

Other toppings

  • 50 g Blueberries
  • Jam

For glazing

  • 1 Egg beaten

Instructions

  1. To make the dough warm up the milk in a pan until it is luke warm

  2. Add the yeast and caster sugar, then cover it with cling film and leave it for 10 minutes

  3. After the 10 minutes uncover it and add the egg yolks and melted butter, and whisk it all together

  4. In a bowl stir the flour together with the salt. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and mix until a dough forms. Cover it with cling film and leave it in a warm place to prove for 1 hour

  5. While it's proving, make the cheesecake filling,

  6. Pre-heat your oven to 180C Fan/200C/400F/Gas Mark 6

  7. Once the dough is proved, flour your work surface and roll it out to 4-5mm thick. Cut out rounds using a cookie cutter

  8. Use the bottom of a glass to make indentations in the dough

  9. Fill the indentations with the cheesecake mixture (or jam if using), then add a few blueberries too. Glaze them around the edges with the beaten egg

  10. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown

  11. Allow to cool, then serve with a cold Budvar!

5 from 3 votes
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Large Czech Kolac with Blueberries & Cherries

Servings 12

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 500 g Plain flour
  • 7 g Sachet of fast action yeast
  • 75 g Caster sugar
  • 75 g Butter melted
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 250 ml Whole or semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Lemon zest only

For the kolace crumble

  • 40 g Butter
  • 40 g Caster sugar
  • 70 g Plain flour

For the topping

  • 25 g Breadcrumbs
  • 300 g Blueberries
  • 12 Kirsch soaked cherries

For glazing

  • 1 egg beaten

Instructions

  1. To make the dough warm up the milk in a pan until it is luke warm

  2. Add the yeast and caster sugar, then cover it with cling film and leave it for 10 minutes

  3. After the 10 minutes uncover it and add the egg yolks and melted butter, and whisk it all together

  4. In a bowl stir the flour together with the salt. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and mix until a dough forms. Cover it with cling film and leave it in a warm place to prove for 1 hour

  5. While it's proving, make the kolace crumble. Put the butter, caster sugar and plain flour in a bowl and rub it all together until it resembles breadcrumbs

  6. Pre-heat your oven to 180C Fan/200C/400F/Gas Mark 6

  7. Once the dough is proved, flour your work surface and roll it into a rectangle, then spread it out on a lined baking tray

  8. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top, then the blueberries and the kirsch soaked cherries, then finally sprinkled the crumble all over. Brush the edges with the beaten egg

  9. Bake it for between 20-25 minutes until it is golden brown

  10. Allow to cool, then slice and serve with a cold Budvar!

NB. This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!

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Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread

Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread

I am a cheese addict, I probably eat it every day in one form or another. One of my favourite ways to enjoy cheese is in a sandwich with pickle; the creamy cheese against the sour pickle creates an explosion of flavour that I just can’t resist! A friend of mine gifted me some homemade onion chutney at Christmas and I’ve had the idea to combine it with cheese in a bread for ages, and I finally found the time to make this Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread. Of course you can use shop bought chutney, but if you would like to make your own the recipe she used is this red onion chutney.

Jump straight to the recipe!

To make the dough I stirred together the flour, yeast and salt. Then I added the water and oil and brought it together into a dough, then I kneaded it for 5 minutes in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.

I left it to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

I rolled the dough out onto a floured surface into a rectangle shape.

Then I spread the whole jar of onion chutney out all over the dough.

Then I sprinkled over the cheese – I used mature cheddar.

I rolled the doll up into a sausage shape, then sliced it into rolls and arranged them in a lined traybake tin.

I left them to rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Then I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled over the remaining cheese.

I baked them for 25 minutes until golden all over. As the chutney has sugar in it, it did darken quite a lot, but it didn’t affect the taste at all.

Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread

This Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread was so delicious! The tangyness of the onion chutney comes out strongly and every bite is packed with flavour. The bread baked beautifully and was really soft and springy.

Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread

We really enjoyed eating this Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread with soup, and also as a cheeky snack!

      

I’m linking this recipe up with Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too, Cook Blog Share hosted by Easy Peasy Foodie, Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Searching For Spice, and Fiesta Fridays hosted by Cooking With Aunt Juju and Herbs, Spices & Traditions.

 


 

5 from 3 votes
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Onion Chutney & Cheese Swirl Bread

Ingredients

  • 500 g Strong white flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 7 g Sachet fast action yeast
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil plus more for glazing
  • 300 ml Luke warm water
  • 200 g Jar of onion chutney
  • 100 g Mature cheddar grated

Instructions

  1. To make the dough put the flour, yeast and salt into a mixing bowl - make sure to put the salt and yeast on seperate sides of the bowl

  2. Add the water and oil and bring it together into a dough, then knead it for 5 minutes in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, or for 10 minutes by hand

  3. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave it to rise for 1 hour in a warm place

  4. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface into a rectangle shape approx 40cm long by 30cm wide

  5. Spread the whole jar of onion chutney out all over the dough

  6. Sprinkled over the cheese - leave about a quarter in the bowl for later

  7. Roll the doll up into a sausage shape, then sliced it into rolls and arrange them in a lined 12" x 9" traybake tin

  8. Leave them to rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes, meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 200C Fan/220C/425F/Gas Mark 7

  9. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle over the remaining cheese

  10. Bake them for 25 minutes until golden all over. As the chutney has sugar in it, it will darken, but don't worry it's not burnt!

  11. Enjoy warm from the oven, or leave to cool. Serve with salad or soup

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!

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Vegan Mincemeat Plait

Vegan Mincemeat Plait

I really love mince pies and finding new ways to eat mincemeat is definitely high on my list of priorities in December! This Vegan Mincemeat Plait certainly fits the bill. My favourite kind of mincemeat is the luxury versions that are laced with brandy and/or port, as they give it that intense richness. I’ve never made my own mincemeat as I really think you can buy such good quality tasting versions in the shops. If you love mincemeat as much as I do, you’ll also love my Mince Pie Cupcakes With Brandy Buttercream and my Mince Pie Bakewell Squares.

Jump straight to the recipe!

I’ve been kindly given a subscription to Vegetarian Living Magazine by PocketMags and I found this recipe for a Vegan Mincemeat Plait inside. I was immediately drawn to it, plus I had some fast action yeast to use up. Bread isn’t something I make often as it can be time consuming, but this recipe is quick enough to make in an evening.

I started by putting strong white bread flour, salt and fast action yeast into a bowl, making sure to keep the salt and yeast separate, then mixed everything together.

Then I warmed up almond milk in a pan with light brown sugar and vanilla extract. I only let it get hot enough so I could still hold my finger in it, then I whisked in olive oil.

I mixed the flour and milk mixture together to make a dough, then kneaded it for 6 minutes in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Then I put the dough into an oiled bowl, covered it and left it to rise for 30 minutes.

I floured my Joseph Joseph Roll Up Non-Slip Silicone Pastry Mat and rolled the dough out in a rectangular shape.

I melted dairy free margarine and brushed most of it all over the dough, then I sprinkled a mixture of cinnamon and dark brown sugar all over it.

Then I used a luxury jar of mincemeat (make sure it’s vegetarian as mincemeat can contain suet) and spread it over the dough.

I rolled the dough into a sausage shape, cut it in half, attached it at the top then twisted the two halves together. I placed it on a lined baking tray and baked it on 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7 for 15 minutes.

Then I made a glaze from icing sugar, vanilla extract and almond milk. It smelt so good!

As soon as the Vegan Mincemeat Plait came out of the oven, I covered it in the glaze then left it to cool.

This Vegan Mincemeat Plait was so yummy, the glaze on top sounds so simple but it’s incredibly delicious! I’m not a vegan, but it’s great to learn an easy vegan friendly recipe for the festive season that tastes amazing and will cater for friends who follow a vegan diet. Also it feels like a much healthier recipe as it doesn’t use any butter or other high fat dairy products.

      

I’m linking this up with The Food Calendar hosted by Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, with Free From Fridays hosted by the Free From Farmhouse, with The No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary as I used up some fast action yeast and some bread flour that were nearly out of date in this recipe, and to Healthy Vegan Fridays hosted by Rock My Vegan Socks.



Mincemeat Plait (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 200 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • A Pinch of Salt
  • 7 g sachet Fast action dried yeast
  • 200 ml + 1/2 tbsp Almond milk
  • 1/2 tbsp Light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dairy free margarine
  • 2 tbsp Dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Ground cinnamon
  • 50 g Icing sugar
  • 200 g Mincemeat

Instructions

  1. Put the strong white bread flour, salt and fast action yeast into a bowl, making sure to keep the salt and yeast on separate sides of the bowl, then mix it all together

  2. Warm the 200ml of almond milk in a pan with the light brown sugar and 1/2 tsp of the vanilla extract. Only let it get hot enough so you can still hold your finger in it. Then whisk in the olive oil

  3. In a food mixer fitted with a dough hook mix the flour and milk mixtures together for 6 minutes. Then put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover it and leave it to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes

  4. Flour your work surface and roll the dough out in a rectangular shape. In a bowl mix together the ground cinnamon and dark brown sugar

  5. Melt the margarine and brush most of it (reserve a little) all over the dough, then sprinkle the cinnamon mixture all over it

  6. Spread the mincemeat over the doughRoll the dough into a sausage shape, cut it in half, attach it at the top then twist the two halves together. Place it on a lined baking tray and bake it on 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7 for 15 minutes

  7. While it's baking make a glaze from the icing sugar, 1 tsp of the vanilla extract and 1/2 tbsp of the almond milk

  8. As soon as the plait comes out of the oven, cover it in the glaze then leave it to cool. Slice to serve

NB. I have received the subscription to Vegetarian Living Magazine and the Joseph Joseph product free of charge, all opinions are my own.

You can find more of my Vegan recipes by clicking here!

Eight Strand Plaited Loaf: GBBO Week #3

Eight Strand Plaited Loaf: GBBO Week #3
It was bread week on The Great British Bake Off and there were bread puns aplenty as Mel and Sue opened the show on a (bread) roll and wearing loafers – you can’t help but giggle! Paul’s bread prodding finger was primed and ready to go. This week I made an Eight Strand Plaited Loaf and you can find the recipe at the end of this post.

Jump straight to the recipe!

The signature challenge was to make a chocolate bread, which could be cocoa powder, chocolate chips or molten chocolate. Mary was excited as it was a new challenge. Paul said the time was very tight but he didn’t want to see any raw dough. Everyone chose to make an enriched dough which was quite brave as they only had 2 and a half hours to make them. I don’t know how they did it to be honest as enriched doughs take me at least a day!

There were some great flavour combinations from the bakers – Rav made a chocolate, cardamom and hazlenut bread. Tom made a chocolate, orange and chilli swirl bread. And Benjamina made a chocolate, tahini and almond bread. Andrew was the only baker to prove his dough once, Paul was judgemental of this at first but when he tasted the bread he loved it and said Andrew had done the right thing by only proving it once.

Benjamina’s chocolate bread was not cooked all the way through and neither was Val’s, Kate’s or Michael’s. Candice’s bread was practically raw and she got quite upset as the judges couldn’t even taste it. Tom and Rav both did very well on both flavour and their breads were full baked.

This week’s technical challenge was rather unusual and very much unheard of (unless you’re German!) It was a steamed dumpling called a Dampfnudel served with custard and a plum sauce. The dumplings are steamed instead of baked and Paul explained that the bakers should be careful not to lift the lid off the pan during the steaming process.

None of the bakers had heard of dampfnudel before, and they had not been given any timings for proving or steaming. So it was all guess work and they had to use their baking experience to figure out what to do. The main problem most of them had was the dough being burnt on the bottom, or being undercooked. Rav came last, followed by Jane and then Kate, Michael, Benjamina, Selasi and Tom. Candice came third, Andrew second and Val first.

A savoury plaited centerpiece, any shape or size, 3 flours within it. Mary said it had to be spectacular. Paul said the strands of the plaits have to be the shape width. He also mentioned that the star baker of bread week always goes onto be in the final, who knew! Michael made a Cypriot inspired bread with olives, coriander and sundried tomatoes.

Andrew made a braided basket flavoured with pesto and a giant handle for it flavoured with orange and cardamom. Tom went all norse on us with his Jormungandr and Mjolnir bread (or a serpent and Thor’s hammer to you and me), and he flavoured it with seaweed. Selasi basically made up a story to go with his centerpiece which was absolutely hilarious! And the judges knew he was fibbing too!

The bakers chose a variety of plait levels with Michael sticking to 3 strands and Tom going for 6. When it was judging time, Jane did very well, as did Tom, Kate and Benjamina. Val’s Noah’s Ark centerpice was undercooked, and the judges didn’t like the texture of some of Selasi’s bread. Paul also didn’t like anything about Candice’s top loaf of plaited bread.

Michael left us this week. Paul and Mary didn’t like the presentation or plaits of his bread centrepiece. He didn’t do as badly as others on the first challenge and he was mid-range in the technical so I was very surprised by the decision. Tom won star baker this week. I think it was quite a tough choice this week for both the star baker and leaver as there were so many ups and downs for all of the bakers. Next week is a new category on Bake Off – batter week!

I decided to try a plaited loaf this week. I’ve never made one before so I wanted to start with the basics. I used a Paul Hollywood recipe to give me the best chance possible! I have made bread and different doughs in the past, but I rarely have time to make it so it’s not something I do very often.

To start, I put strong white bread flour in a bowl. I added salt and fast action dried yeast, making sure to keep them on separate sides of the bowl.

Then I added olive oil and water and mixed it together to form a dough.

I used some of the new products from the Joseph Joseph baking range that were sent to me recently to try out.

The Fin Silicone Bowl Scraper helped me mix the liquid into the flour for the dough. And I used the Roll Up Non-Slip Silicone Pastry Mat to knead the dough on and when rolling it out.

I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, then placed it into an oiled bowl and left it to rise for 1 hour.

The dough didn’t rise as much as I was expecting, but I persevered. I knocked it back then divided it out into eight pieces.

I rolled each piece into a long strand approximately 40cm/16″ long.

Then I laid all of the strands out and attached them at the top. Then I followed the plaiting sequence:

Step 1: place 8 under 7 and over 1
Step 2: place 8 over 5
Step 3: place 2 under 3 and over 8
Step 4: place 1 over 4
Step 5: place 7 under 6 and over 1
Repeats step 2-5, until all the dough is plaited
It wasn’t tricky to follow the plaiting sequence, the thing I found the most difficult was making the plait look neat. I chopped off any strands that were too long once the plaiting was done and tucked the end under to neaten it up as much as I could. Once I was finished I put it onto a lined baking tray, covered it loosely with cling film and left it to prove again for 1 hour.
I used the Joseph Joseph Glaze Refillable Silicone Pastry Brush to glaze the bread with beaten egg.

 

It baked it on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes until it was golden and sounded hollow when I tapped the bottom.
Eight Strand Plaited Loaf

 

I thought the Eight Strand Plaited Loaf looked really impressive, I loved the golden crispy crust and soft middle. I am aware my Eight Strand Plaited Loaf ended up with some technical faults, but I was very pleased with it for a first effort!
Eight Strand Plaited Loaf

 

The Eight Strand Plaited Loaf has a fantastic appearance and it was fun to make a plaited loaf and try the technique out. I enjoyed slices with butter and my boyfriend relished it dipping chunks of it in some soup.

 

      

I’m linking up with the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016 hosted by Mummy Mishaps, with Bake Off Bake Along hosted by Rhyme & Ribbons and This Particular, with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka’s Blog and Marathons & Motivation, and to Tea Time Treats hosted by Travels For Taste with a savoury treats theme this month.

 


Eight Strand Plaited Loaf

Ingredients

  • 500 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 340 ml Water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 7 g sachet Fast action dried yeast
  • 10 g Salt
  • 1 Egg

Instructions

  1. Put the strong white bread flour in a bowl. Add the salt and yeast on separate sides of the bowl. Mix together
  2. Add 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 340ml water and mix in
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, then place it into an oiled bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour
  4. Knock it back then divide it into eight equal pieces
  5. Roll each piece into a long strand approximately 40cm/16" long
  6. Lay all of the strands out and attach them at the top. Then follow the plaiting sequence:

    Step 1: place 8 under 7 and over 1

    Step 2: place 8 over 5

    Step 3: place 2 under 3 and over 8

    Step 4: place 1 over 4

    Step 5: place 7 under 6 and over 1

    Repeats step 2-5, until all the dough is plaited

  7. Chop off any strands that are too long and tuck the end under to neaten it up. Put it onto a lined baking tray, cover it loosely with cling film and leave it to prove again for 1 hour
  8. Glaze the bread with 1 beaten egg
  9. Bake it on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes until it is golden and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom

NB. I was sent the Joseph Joseph products for free, all opinions are my own.

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!

Cranberry & Apricot Cinnamon Rolls

Cranberry & Apricot Cinnamon Rolls
I realised when clearing out my cupboards for the food bank before Christmas that the packet of fast action yeast I owned was very out of date. It had been a lot longer than I realised since I last made any bread! It’s quite a time consuming thing to make, and unfortunately I don’t often have the time for it. So I decided to make time this weekend and I made myself get up early to get started on the dough. I was happy I did as when these Cranberry & Apricot Cinnamon Rolls were baked I had a big smile on my face and eating one felt all the more satisfying!

Jump straight to the recipe!

I started by warming 125ml water, 125ml milk and 100g butter in a pan until the butter melted. I removed it from the heat and added one packet of fast action yeast and 1 tbsp sugar and covered it with a pan lid. I left it for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl I measured out 550g strong bread flour, 40g sugar and 1 tsp salt and stirred them together.

I poured the butter and milk mixture into the flour, followed by 2 beaten eggs. I mixed it all together to form a dough.

I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface, then put it in an oiled bowl, covered it with cling film and left it to prove for 2 hours.

After 2 hours it had doubled in size.

I knocked the air back out of the dough and rolled it out into a rectangle approximately 40cm long by 30cm wide.

I melted 25g butter and brushed it all over the dough.

I got sent some dried fruit from Whitworths recently and I thought cranberry and apricot would go perfectly together in the rolls. They come in convenient resealable packs too which made storing the leftovers so much easier for me.

In a bowl I mixed together 100g of the dried apricot, 100g of the cranberries, 75g light brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and the zest of 1 orange.

I spread the fruit and sugar mixture out evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1cm strip empty at one end.

I rolled the dough up like a swiss roll, and then sliced it into 1cm wide pieces. I got 13 pieces from the dough. I arranged them in lined baking trays (not very neatly!) and covered them with cling film. I left them in a warm place for their second prove for 1 hour.

I baked the buns on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. I forgot to take a photo when they came out of the oven, but as soon as they were cool enough I pulled one apart and I was thrilled to see beautifully baked soft dough. This was a really great moment as I had put so much time into making the rolls!

I made icing using 200g icing sugar and about 2/3 juice of the orange I zested earlier for the filling. I wanted to drizzle the icing, but for it not to be too runny, so I added a little bit of the orange juice at a time. I then drizzled it over the buns using a piping bag.

Eating these buns felt so good! When I sat down to eat one and all the waiting was over it felt so satisfying to dig in! The dough was lovely and soft, and the fruity filling gave them real flavour and character. I definitely won’t leave it so long again before I make more bread!


Cranberry & Apricot Cinnamon Rolls

Servings 13

Ingredients

  • 125 ml Water
  • 125 ml Milk
  • 100 g Butter
  • 1 sachet Fast action yeast
  • 1 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 550 g Strong bread flour
  • 40 g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs large
  • 25 g Butter melted
  • 100 g Dried cranberries
  • 100 g Dried apricot, chopped
  • 1 Orange
  • 75 g Light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 200 g Icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Warm the water, milk and butter in a pan on a low heat until the butter melts
  2. Remove it from the heat and add the fast action yeast and tbsp of sugar, cover it with a pan lid and leave for 10 minutes
  3. In a large bowl stir the strong bread flour, remaining sugar and salt together. Pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour, followed by the eggs. Mix together to form a dough
  4. Knead the dough for 10 minutes on a floured surface, then put it in an oiled bowl covered with cling film and leave it to prove in a warm place for 2 hours
  5. Knock the air back out of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle approximately 40cm long by 30cm wide
  6. Brush the melted butter all over the dough
  7. In a bowl mix together the dried apricot, the cranberries, light brown sugar, cinnamon and the orange zest. Spread the mixture evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1cm strip empty at one end
  8. Roll the dough up starting at the opposite end from the 1cm gap, then slice into 1cm wide pieces. Arrange them in lined baking trays and cover with cling film. Leave them in a warm place for their second prove for 1 hour
  9. Bake the buns on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack
  10. Once they are completely cool, make the icing by mixing the icing sugar and about 2/3 juice of the orange, add a little bit of the orange juice at a time until you have a thick but spreadable consistency. Drizzle it over the buns using a piping bag or a spoon

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!

Prosciutto, Manchego and Balsamic Onion Soda Bread: GBBO Week #3

Prosciutto, Manchego and Balsamic Onion Soda Bread: GBBO Week #3

I have to say, bread week on The Great British Bake Off was absolutely phenomenal! The contestants started by making a quick bread, also called soda bread. This is a bread that is made without yeast, therefore requires no kneading or proving. Instead the rising agents used are baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. Mary and Paul warned against using too much raising agent as this would affect the taste of the bread.

Jump straight to the recipe!

There were a mixture of sweet and savoury flavours from the bakers. Both Mat and Nadiya made a Mexican style bread, Ian picked wild garlic from some nearby woods for his bread, and Sandy used a family recipe containing bacon that she often makes on trips to Ireland. Ugne went for the sweetest flavour with a chocolate quick bread topped with salted caramel sauce, and Paul made a cranberry and orange quick bread – which he got a Paul Hollywood handshake for!

Cheese featured in both Tamal, Alvin and Dorret’s breads. Tamal used goats cheese, Dorret went for Stilton and Alvin chose Manchego. Paul called Alvin’s bread a ‘thing of beauty’. They loved Tamal’s bread too, but weren’t overly positive about Dorret’s. Overall, everyone did fairly well, with only a few disparaging comments.

This week’s technical challenge was to make 4 identical crusty baguettes. Of course Paul left out major parts of the recipe, for example how long to prove the dough, and to put water in the oven to create steam when baking. A few of the bakers figured this out and added water, but the rest did not. They all left the dough to prove for an hour, whenever I watch them waiting for things to prove I always wonder why they are not allowed to take a book with them!

The bakers weren’t sure where to put the dough during proving, or how to score the top of the bread before baking. I love how such a simple thing, like a baguette, can lead to so much over thinking and confusion! Paul was very brutal during judging and Mary really had to push him to say something nice. Paul, Mat and Nadiya were the bottom three, Tamal came third, Flora came second and Ian came first. Although Paul still wasn’t 100% happy even with the better baguettes!

The showstopper challenge was to make a 3D bread sculpture using up to three types of dough, and one of the type had to be a filled bread. A very tricky challenge! Paul Hollywood noted that as dough grows it can loose definition so this was a particularly difficult remit for the bakers. This however, did not affect most of the bakers as they produced some fabulous results! Paul stood out with his brilliant bread sculpture of a lion. I was blown away by how good it was! Paul Hollywood said it was exceptional and the best thing he had seen made in bread ever.

I also loved Ian’s flower pot sculpture, it was so clever. He brought another home made baking tin with him to make it, such a talented guy! Alvin also made an absolute ton of bread, and he made it all beautifully for his cornucopia sculpture. Paul Hollywood said his bread baking skills were perfect.

 

Tamal made a very impressive bicycle sculpture, which was even more amazing because it stood up. Paul Hollywood called it spectacular and loved his range of techniques. And Nadiya made a fabulous snake coming out of a woven basket. The level of creativity and skill was stunning.

Dorret and Sandy didn’t do too well. Dorret’s unmade bed sculpture was not baked through, and Paul Hollywood did not think it looked like 5 hours worth of work. Sandy’s bread sculpture looked messy and was told her pitta bread poppies tasted like cardboard.

Dorret left us this week, to be honest I have thought she was lagging behind everyone else since the first episode, but she had managed to stay under the radar. With this week’s amazing bakes, hers just could not compete. Ian was awarded star baker for a second week running, deservedly so! Paul also got a special mention for his lion sculpture as even Paul Hollywood said he would never have attempted something like that. Next episode: desserts!

I absolutely loved the sound of Alvin’s quick bread and I found the recipe for it on the BBC website, so I decided to give it a go myself. As it includes meat, I made two of them, one without any prosciutto for my vegetarian boyfriend. I’ll detail the ingredients for just one loaf below, so if you want to make two, double the ingredients. Or if you want to make a vegetarian version, just omit the prosciutto.

I started by cooking red onion in olive oil. When it was soft I added balsamic vinegar and soft light brown sugar. I let them simmer for around 15 minutes. The recipe suggested more balsamic vinegar, but when I added half it looked more than enough.

I diced up manchego cheese. I’ve never tried manchego before, it’s pretty expensive! But it is very tasty so for a one off recipe I felt it was ok. I also cut up prosciutto.

In a bowl I sieved out plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. I rubbed cold diced butter into the flour until it resembled breadcrumbs.

I mixed the cheese, prosciutto and onion into the flour along with a squeeze of basil puree, I reserved a small amount of the fillings for topping the bread.

In a jug I mixed buttermilk with water.

I added the buttermilk to the flour and brought it together to make a dough. I worked it as little as needed. I shaped it on a lined baking tray, dusted with flour and scored it with a cross down the middle.

I topped it with the reserved cheese, onion and prosciutto.

I baked the loaf for an hour. It took a bit longer than the recipe suggested. I covered it with foil after the first 40 minutes as it was browning enough. I waited until it sounded hollow when tapped on the bottom to take it out. The kitchen certainly smelled good! I brushed it with melted butter and left it to cool.

Well my bread certainly didn’t look as good as Alvin’s! But for a first attempt I was pleased, it was cooked all the way through and it tasted really delicious. My boyfriend loved his vegetarian version too and we both gobbled up a chunk of the bread with some soup.


Prosciutto, Manchego and Balsamic Onion Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 Red onion finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Light brown sugar
  • 200 g Manchego cheese
  • 80 g Prosciutto omit for a vegetarian version
  • 450 g Plain flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 30 g Butter cold and diced
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 300 ml Buttermilk
  • 25 ml Water
  • 1 tsp Basil puree

Instructions

  1. Cook the red onion in the olive oil. When it is soft add the balsamic vinegar and light brown sugar. Let it simmer for around 15 minutes
  2. Dice up the manchego cheese and cut up the prosciutto
  3. Sieve the plain flour into a bowl and add the bicarbonate of soda and salt. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
  4. Mix the cheese, prosciutto and onion into the flour along with a squeeze of the basil puree, reserve a small amount of the fillings for topping the bread
  5. In a jug mix the buttermilk with the water
  6. Add the buttermilk to the flour and bring it together to make a dough. Work it as little as needed. Shape it onto a lined baking tray, dust it with flour and score it with a cross down the middle and top it with the reserved cheese, onion and prosciutto
  7. Bake the loaf on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for an hour. Cover it with foil if it gets too dark. When it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom it's done. Brush with melted butter and leave it to cool

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!

Ciabatta: GBBO Week #3

Ciabatta: GBBO Week #3

Bread week on The Great British Bake Off started with a request from the judges for 12 identical bread rolls made with rye flour. I really do think that getting everything to look exactly the same is basically the opposite of home baking! I’ve never used rye flour before and honestly when I’ve tried rye bread I did not like it all, but the bakers were adding some interesting flavours that made it sound a lot more appetising. Rye is a healtheir alternative to regular wheat flour, however because of this it has a low gluten content and as Paul tells us it is “extremely difficult to work with” as you have to work the dough much more than usual to build up the gluten.

Jump straight to the Ciabatta recipe!

Most of the bakers stuck to fairly traditional flavour combinations such as Kate’s Orange & Cardamom Rolls, Martha’s Date & Walnut Rolls, and Jordan’s Lemon & Poppyseed Rolls. Diana and Chetna went down the savoury route with Cheese & Walnut Rolls and Onion & Pine Nut Rolls. It was Luis who really experimented with flavour with his rolls which contained two types of dough; one flavoured with Fennel & Parsnip and the other with Coffee & Chocolate.

The rye rolls needed steam in the oven to stop them from drying out. Because of the dark colour of the dough, and the egg washes added by the bakers, it was difficult to tell when they were done baking. Nancy’s, Martha’s and Richard’s were under baked. Iain finally did well, I was pleased for him and I think it is clear that bread is his strongest area. The judges loved Luis’ flavour combination and overall bake. Kate also did very well.

Of course for the technical challenge it couldn’t be anything except a Paul Hollywood recipe! And this week it was Ciabatta. Crisp on the outside and filled with air holes on the inside, this Italian bread requires patience to make according to Paul. No proving time was given, and despite an instruction to prove at room temperature, some of the bakers put it in the proving drawer.

They had trouble handling the sloppy dough and turning it into something ‘ciabatta shaped’ without knocking all the air out of it. When Paul and Mary tried the Ciabatta’s it was clear that putting them in a proving drawer and/or handling it too much was not a good idea as it made them flat and more like pitta bread. Kate, who waited the longest to prove her dough, won the challenge. Luis, Martha and Norman also did well. Jordan came last with Iain and Chetna in ninth and eighth place.

This week’s showstopper was a filled bread centrepiece. It had to be spectacular both inside and outside, and taste delicious too. Paul warned against using too much moisture as this can cause large air holes in the bread. Luis, Norman and Richard all went for Meditteranian flavours such as roasted vegetables, pesto and saffron to fill their breads. Jordan was the only baker doing a sweet bread, with his Strawberry & Raspberry Cheesecake Brioche.

I really liked Martha’s Sunflower Bread. The middle was filled with Epoisses cheese, and the ‘petals’ with fig and apricot chutney. It sounded delicious and looked great! Nancy made a Full English Stromboli which sounded amazing but sadly didn’t have a very impressive apperance.

I love how matter of fact and old school Norman is, I absolutely love him! Best quote of the episode from him was “for me, this is very exotic, you know – pesto”. Bless him! Iain made a fantastic Moroccan Plait which Paul called a ‘success’.

Jordan left us this week. He came last in the technical and his showstopper was very underbaked. Mary said that he was a creative and flamboyant baker, and she was sad to see him go. Next week – desserts! And it looks like a rather dramatic episode!

Bread is probably one of my more weaker areas in baking so I do like to try the technical challenges in order to learn more about bread and get more experience. So I decide to try Ciabatta this week. As you will see the shape of my Ciabattas did not come out very neatly! But it tasted good and I enjoyed making them. If you’d like to give it a go, here’s what I did…

I used a Paul Hollywood recipe, which I think it is the same one the baker’s used. So I started with strong white bread flour, yeast and salt in my food mixer bowl. Then I added olive oil and tepid water.

I oiled a 5 litre square tub, then set the mixture to combine with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed for a minute or two as I poured in tepid water slowly. I then turned the food mixer up to a medium speed and mixed it for 8 minutes.

When it was done the dough was very stretchy.

I poured it into the oiled tub, covered it with a tea towel, and left it to prove at room temperature for 2 hours.

It rose a lot! The 5 litre tub was almost full.

I covered my work top very generously with flour and semolina before tipping the dough out onto it. The dough ‘slopped’ onto the work top and it was very difficult to cut it into strips as it was so sticky and light. I had to keep sprinkling flour between the cuts I was making to make sure the pieces stayed apart.

I had to use my cake lifter to get the pieces of dough onto the baking sheet. It was a very tricky operation and left me with messy looking strips of dough. I was tempted to neaten them up, but I was terrified of pushing too much air out of them! I left them to rest for 10 minutes.

They baked for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Obviously the shape of my ciabatta was far from perfect, but there were a decent amount of air holes when I cut into. Who knows what Paul Hollywood would think, but I was satisfied with it for a first attempt! Most importantly, it tasted good! Ciabatta is fab dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or used as a sandwich bread filled with Italian meats and cheese.

Ciabatta

Ingredients

  • 500 g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 10 g Fast Action Yeast
  • 10 g Salt
  • 40 ml Olive Oil
  • 400 ml Tepid Water
  • Flour & Semolina to dust

Instructions

  1. Put the bread flour, yeast and salt into a food mixer bowl
  2. Add the olive oil and 300ml of the tepid water
  3. Oil a 5 litre square tub
  4. Set the mixture to combine with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed for a minute or two
  5. Pour in the remaining tepid water slowly
  6. Turn the food mixer up to a medium speed and mix for 8 minutes
  7. Pour the dough into the oiled tub, cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove at room temperature for 2 hours
  8. Cover your work top very generously with flour and semolina before tipping the dough out onto it
  9. Cut into four strips without handling the dough too much
  10. Put the strips onto lined baking trays
  11. Leave to rest for 10 minutes
  12. Bake on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes, until golden brown

You can find more of my Bread recipes by clicking here!