Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bake along with bake off - Chilli and paprika grissini

I thought the standard on this weeks bake off was very high. No complete bread catastrophes, Lucy only went because she showed only a basic skill level as opposed to a total raw/burnt/yucky bread disaster.

From this week I decided to make bread-sticks as I have made (simple) decorated loafs and English muffins before.

I made them to go alongside a salad containing Spanish flavours so decided to make chilli and paprika grissini.

Chilli and paprika grissini 

makes ~16

155g plain white bread flour
1/2 sachet yeast (3g)
3g salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp paprika
100ml lukewarm water
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the flour, yeast salt chilli powder and paprika in a bowl. Mix the olive oil and water together and add to the dry ingredients.

Bring the mix together with your hands until a dough forms. Put a little olive oil on a work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, this takes between 5 and 10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 175C/155C FAN and line a baking sheet with baking paper

Knock the risen dough back and divide into two equal pieces (yes I did weigh mine), Lightly flour  work surface and roll out one of the dough pieces into a rectangle measuring 16cm in width and 24cm in height. 

Cut the dough into 8 even strips, using a pizza cutter or dough cutter. Fold each strip of dough in on itself and pinch, then roll into a sausage shape.
Breadstick, halfway through folding and pinching
Put on the prepared baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crispy. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

So what do I think Mary and Paul would have thought? We th dough looks beautiful. The paprika and chilli give it a lovely terracotta colour and I am very proud to say all of my grissini were evenly baked!

I waited with baited breath and eager ear but need not have worried as they were very crisp and snappy! Apart from one slightly fat one in the very centre of the centre where there was a teeny tiny bit of chew. I bet that is the one Paul would have picked up!

The flavours of chilli and paprika were present giving a nice warmth without blowing your head off. Mark picked on the flavours without being told what they were, hurrah!

All in all I was proud of my grissini and think they would have stood up to the other bakers efforts.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bake along with bake off - Victoria sponge

Apologies for the lack of posts of late, I had a couple of epic disasters (who forgets to put fat in a cake?!) then went away.

I am back now and hope that all baking disasters are firmly behind me, especially as I had the idea of baking along with The Great British Bake Off each week.I will only be doing one of the challenges each week, not the signature, technical and showstopper, I do not think my waistline would thank me for that!

The first week was cake and so I decided to do my signature victoria sponge. As Mary said she wanted no plain and boring jam sponges, I made mine a lemon and raspberry victoria sponge. It is a lemon and vanilla sponge filled with lemon curd, raspberries and vanilla chantilly cream.

Lemon and raspberry victoria sponge

3 eggs, weighed with shells, room temperature
Same weight of butter
Same weight of sugar
Same weight of self raising flour
Tsp vanilla paste
zest of lemon
Tsp baking powder

Lemon curd
Single cream
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

Grease and line the base of two 20cm loose bottomed cake tins. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the vanilla, lemon zest and eggs for a further minute. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until just combined. Do not overbeat

Divide the mixture equally between the tins and bake for. 25-30 mutes until golden and springy.

Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool sandwich them together with plenty of lemon curd, vanilla cream and fresh raspberries.

Confession time. This cake tastes absolutely beautiful, I urge you to try it but there were a couple of niggles, these would hopefully not have seen me kicked off the bake off but I certainly would not be winning star baker!

Firstly in true bake off style I dropped my cake. Not onto the floor but a couple of inches onto the worktop, while it was still in the tin. My beautiful risen cake now had a little dip in it. I simply turned it over hoping the filling would hide it...

Secondly I have a super hot oven and have accepted that the edges of my cake will brown. I know Paul and Mary are not fans of this, who was it who grated off their dark edges last year?
Dark edges!
All said this was a yummy cake and I am 100% happy with my efforts!

Bread next week, always and interesting one!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Dairy free coconut cake

Still on my two weeks of no dairy. Mind you without these two weeks I would not have discovered coconut oil. It smells like summer in a jar! It has various uses in cooking but I used it, instead of butter, as the fat component of my cake.

This cake is a simple flavoured one, it is not overly sweet, in fact not sweet at all, and has subtle coconut, almond, and honey flavours. The almond taste comes from the huge quantities of ground almonds in this cake, there is very little flour at all.

Dairy free coconut cake

60g coconut oil
2 eggs, separated
120g honey
3 tablespoons almond milk/ soy milk/ rice milk
200g ground almonds
55g plain flour
tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C FAN. Grease (with a little oil) a springform cake tin. Line the base with parchment paper.

Gently heat the coconut oil until it has just melted. Mix together the egg yolks, milk and honey, add in the coconut oil, taking care that it is not so hot that it scrambles the eggs!

To the wet ingredients add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, coconut and almonds and mix to just combine. 

Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, stir a third into the cake mix to loosen. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake in the preheated oven for ~30 minutes 

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Its really good with banana ice cream on the side! It is just as lovely with a morning or afternoon cup of tea. It keeps really well, I am on day four and it is still fantastically moist.

n.b. you could easily make this cake gluten free by using either a gluten free flour blend or coconut flour

Friday, 2 August 2013

Dairy free, gluten free 'Candy bars'

Uh oh. Stomach pains are never good, so off the the doctor I went. Everything super bad ruled out. Current thinking is IBS triggered by excess dairy or maybe even a mild lactose intolerence.

I was not impressed. I appreciate many people live with this but it would mean a HUGE change in my baking habits. Then a glimmer of hope, I only have to give lactose up for two weeks to see if my symptoms completely disappear. After that I should be allowed a small amount (phew chocolate stays!), I reckon I can still bake the way I always did with maybe a few tweaks along the way.

However that does not help me for the coming weeks, no butter, milk, yoghurt, cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, caramel, chocolate, cheese etc.

I do have cake recipes that are oil based instead of dairy so that is a good option for cake. Its a little tricky should I want any sort of luscious creamy frosting. I reckon I could make a brownie that contained no butter too. What about biscuits? I am not a fan of margarine and have never made a biscuit with oil, research and experimentation required I think.

I actually decided I wanted some sort of nutty chocolate fix and stumbled across these 'Candy Bars' from Gwyneth Paltrow's book 'Its all good'. In a quick aside this book has received some stick, and while I do not think elimination diets and detoxes are necessary, and if I ignore some of the waffle about food we are 'all' allergic to, it actually has fantastic recipes, that are healthy, packed full of goodness and more importantly all the ones I have tried are packed full of flavour and super delicious.

Sorry for the waffle, back to the 'Candy Bars', they are not a candy bar in the traditional sense, these are no snickers, but they do taste fantastic. Nuts, maple syrup, sticky dates, and intense dark chocolate are a winning combination in my book!

Candy Bars (Gwyneth Paltrow, its all good)

200g plain cashews
240g dates, weighed without stones, roughly chopped
50g desiccated coconut
170g almond butter (If you cannot find almond butter this could work with peanut butter too)
125ml maple syrup
100g dark chocolate (I used green & blacks)

Line a small traybake tin with baking paper.

Put the cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add the dates, coconut, almond butter and maple syrup. Pulse until the mixture is combined and forms a ball of sticky dough. 

Transfer this dough to your prepared tin, press into all the corners and level with your hands. Slightly damp hands will stop the mixture sticking to you.

Put in the fridge for 5-6 hours to set. Once set gently melt the chocolate, pour on top, and gently spread out with a spatula to cover the whole surface. Put back into the fridge for and hour before cutting into bars and devouring. 

update: perhaps cut them before the chocolate has completely set otherwise it cracks

Keep in the fridge, they will keep for up to two weeks.

I think these taste really really good, they have texture, are just sweet enough and the dark chocolate gives a sophisticated edge.

Gwyneth says that they can also be stored in the freezer. I like them this way best but Mark likes them from the fridge. The chocolate from the freezer and the chew from the bar reminds me a little bit of a choc ice!