Sweet Bread Is The Best Bread

So I wasn’t particularly inspired by this week’s bread on Bake Off. For a while now I’ve been wanting to make a second attempt at brioche. I fell in love with brioche around three years ago when my husband and I went to Switzerland on our honeymoon. There were so many lovely patisseries. A brioche bun was a perfect snack for wandering the medieval streets.

My last attempt to make brioche actually turned out pretty well, however I got in a terrible mess, the mixture was so sticky i had to get my husband to release me from a doughy finger trap. This time, I’m hoping to utilise my mixer and dough hook.

Looking at paul Hollywood’s recipe it takes 10-11 hours of prep! I just don’t have the patience. Onto Ruby Tandoh’s cookbook and a recipe for Basic Sweet Dough Buns. Apron on and Netflix at the ready .

Ruby doesn’t use a mixer for her dough, so I’m somewhat merging the two recipes i have and using Hollywood’s techniques for mixing with the basic sweet dough, brioche has a lot if butter so it requires around half an hour of mixing, I’m going for roughly fifteen minutes.

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I did not get into a doughy mess! The mixer did its work. Ruby  offers some really great tips on shaping buns (at this point I’m imaging so many puns from Mel and sue). Now for a second prove and then into the oven.

After the obligatory taste test, I decided to make them iced buns. Adding just a little vanilla extract I made the icing nice and thick. Here’s the finished result:

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Biscuits Week

Episode two  of The Great British Bake Off inspired me to make biscuits! It was my plan to recreate the technical challenge, Viennese Whirls. However, I was sadly lacking in cornflour.   So, onto iced biscuits. I’d forgotten how outrageously simple biscuits were to make.  Following a recipe from The Primrose Bakery Book ,  I created scrummy iced biscuits. If you’re following the recipe here, the ingredients call for vanilla essence but it’s omitted from the recipe.   I added it with the egg.

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It was a little tricky to tell when they were done, I used muscovado sugar instead of golden caster so they were already pretty dark.

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As there wasn’t anything particularly technical about the biscuits I tried my hand at icing. I iced a circle with a thicker consistency, waited for it to set, then filled it in with thinner icing.

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Next time I’ll ice the biscuits right to the edge, as I think it gives them a nicer finish. I need to get myself a circle cutter, a glass just doesn’t work all that well.

Looking forward to bread week tonight!

This Cake is Damn Good

My last post was about taking inspiration from Great British Bake Off.This week’s inspiration came in the form of Earl Grey and lemon drizzle loaf cake, originally it was going to be lady grey because I prefer the flavour but  it turns out I don’t have any so I went for the good old Earl instead. I essentially followed Urvashi Roe’s recipe, but used a normal loaf tin, instead of mini loaf cases. Unbeknownst to me she was in series two of GBBO.

My first stumbling block was not actually reading the recipe properly. I managed to get a nasty skin on top of the milk. After a mild anxiety attack,  I threw away the first lot, read the recipe and started again!

The mixture was exceptionally light and fluffy with  only a small amount of tea-infused milk.

A lovely cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment.

 

Baking and Birthdays

My blogging needs a bit of a kick up the bum. Depression and anxiety have stilled my fingers but I might just be coming out the other end now.

A lot of my recent posts have been about my newest hobby, dressmaking. Although I’ll still be sewing away in the background, I’m going to start concentrating on Baking again. No prizes for guessing what brought on this change…

 

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Bake Off is Back

 

There are a plethora of great recipes on the GBBO website. However, my plan is to  bake my version of a challenge each week.  I Love lemon drizzle cake! my version will be somewhat inspired by my favourite cupcake recipe from Ruby Tandoh’s cookbook Crumb:

Chamomile and Vanilla Cupcakes

I made a load for my little (not so little anymore) sister’s fourteenth birthday. What really makes these treats special is the infusion of chamomile through a melted butter and milk mixture.

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My lil’ sister and niece practically share a birthday, only two days apart. We celebrated a fourteenth birthday and a first.  It was lovely if a little overwhelming. There were babies literally everywhere.

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We managed to light the sparkler after a few false starts!

 

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And just to embarrass my little sister in true big sister form. Here she is enjoying my niece’s present!

 

My idea for drizzle cake is Lady Grey and Lemon. Recipes are normally my best friend and all things go to hell when I don’t follow them. I’ll have to try to merge recipes for this experiment. but first a google search.

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Okay, so it already exists…in abundance. That makes things easier.  I might go for the Mini Loaf Cakes recipe, using Lady Grey instead of Earl as it’s got a softer flavour. Perhaps adding poppy seeds just to make things different.

Watch this space. x

Chocolate Victoria Sponge

With another fabulous series of Bake Off well under way I have decided to get my baking up to scratch. I will make my way through Queen Mary’s  Baking Bible.

First recipe in the Classic Cakes section is Madeira Cake. I don’t like ground almonds so I’m skipping that one.  Next Victorian Sandwich, I made that not too long ago, onto the next one. Coffee Victoria Sandwich, I don’t like coffee and my husband isn’t really eating fatty foods at the moment.

I’m in luck with the next one; Chocolate Victoria Sandwich.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons of boiling water, 225g of softened butter, 225g caster sugar, 4 Large eggs. (i use the shells for slug repellent in the garden), 225 g self raising flour, 2 level teaspoons of baking powder

For the filling and topping:

50g softened butter, 175g sifted icing sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon milk, grated plain chocolate to decorate.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/ Gas 4. Grease two cake tins (mary says 20cm, I’ve no idea what mine are but they look cake sized).

Line the base with greaseproof paper, picked up some disks the other day which takes a lot of the fuss out of lining a tin.

Now mix 2 tablespoons of Cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons of boiling water in a mixing bowl (this will be used for all your ingredients so make sure it’s big enough, or use your electric mixer bowl if you have one.)

Pop the bowl aside to cool a little then add all the other ingredients to the mixing bowl and blend until your arms can’t blend any more…or use a mixer for ten minutes or so until it’s smooth and delicious looking.

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Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and level it out.  then you are ready to bake your cake.

You can make the butter cream now if you fancy, it’s sometimes a bit easier to use when it’s hardened a little.  however you’ll need to let the but your cake cool completely before it you can ice it so there’s no rush, have a cup o’ tea or tidy away the kitchen.

Mary recommends leaving it for 25 minutes or until the cake is well risen and springs back when lightly pressed. Leave the cakes in their tins for a couple of minutes then place onto a cooling rack.

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Hmm not sure why my cake is rather flat, it doesn’t seem to have dipped…

To make the butter cream for the filling and topping mix the butter, icing sugar and milk together until it’s smooth and airy.

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When the cake is completely cool use half the butter cream to sandwich the cakes together, then spread the remaining butter cream on top. decorate with grated chocolate.

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30 minute doughnut holes…and difficult choices

I was pretty sceptical about this recipe as the doughnuts I’ve made before I’ve left to prove for a good while.  Never the less I decided to give it a go.

I used Kelly Senyei’s recipe from Just a Taste  

For the doughnuts:
5 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Equipment: Deep-fry thermometer; Small ice cream scoop (I didn’t have one so I used spoons, they weren’t particularly neat but worked fine.)

Add the vegetable oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. (There should be at least 2 inches of oil in the pot and at least 2 inches between the top of the oil and the top of the pot.) Attach the deep-fry thermometer to the pot and begin heating the oil over medium heat to 350 ºF / 180ºC. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and the egg.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the milk-egg mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the melted butter, mixing until a soft dough forms.

The dough is pretty springy  and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.
The dough is pretty springy and easy to scoop. I used the whisk instead of the dough hook on my mixer.

Once the oil has reached 350ºF / 180ºC use a small ice cream scoop to drop about 1 tablespoon scoops of dough into the oil, careful not to overcrowd the pan (they will puff up). Fry the doughnut holes, flipping them in the oil, for about 2 minutes or until they’re golden brown.

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Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnut holes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. 

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Kelly uses a glaze but I just rolled them in caster sugar. I found it’s difficult to know when they are cooked all the way through. I’d probably say make the doughnut holes pretty small to avoid doughy centres.

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Lovely misshapen doughnut holes
Lovely misshapen doughnut holes

They smelled delicious, however I struggled to eat them. My last few blogs I’ve been doing a very good job of ignoring my mental illness. Avoidance is all very well until it’s comes back to bite me. It’s with more than a little trepidation i mention it now. (At the bottom of the blog where none but the most dedicated will do more than skim read). That’s enough procrastination…

My anxiety around food has risen a little recently, I’ve taken a few more scary steps, such as restarting driving lessons meeting a friend in town and ordering a toasted tea cake, and attending my sisters baby shower and nibbling at the afternoon tea (awkwardly scraping butter from my scone). Theses activities have pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged what I can and cannot do.

Although it’s been rather liberating and fun it does leave me feeling more vulnerable and anxious. Adding to this anxiety is the fact that for the last couple of months my weight has been steadily rising. I’m weighed every week so my therapist can keep track and check if I’m staying healthy. She assures I am still within the lower bracket for my BMI  but that does little to ease the worry of those rising numbers and the slow change of my body shape. She often describes it as a wack-a-mole scenario. when one thing in my life improves another issue pops it’s ugly face up.  In fact two have popped up recently the first is massive anxiety over talking on the phone and the other is to do with food.

To cut a long, and complicated, story short;  One thing I did when I was suffering severely with my eating disorder was bake for other people and not eat the results myself. This is a unhealthy coping strategy and allowed me to not eat whilst having the satisfaction of providing for others. this almost happened when I made these doughnuts. I displayed them beautifully made a cup of tea and watched them cool without the slightest desire to eat them.

I had a friend round at the time, she ate them happily. I took a deep breath and tried to let the pressure fall away. After managing to relax and reminding myself it was my choice whether I ate or not I was able to enjoy the sugary treats.

They tasted lovely but I think I prefer the traditional method of leaving the dough to prove as the texture is nicer. As a quick treat they work perfectly.

All of the cakes

After a friend and I conceded that our ‘writing sessions’  consisted of no writing, and were in fact an excuse for eating and nattering, we decided to give up the charade and have a baking day instead. The results were magnificent.

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We started off with simple lemon butterfly cakes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.  It’s the basic butterfly cake recipe but with the rind of one lemon in the batter and a splash of lemon juice in the icing.   We added a layer of lemon curd before the icing to give it a bit more zest.

After finishing the cupcakes we where left with a mountain of butter icing.  there was no alternative. we simply had to make another cake. We followed a Victoria Sponge recipe again from the Mary’s Bible. The only difference we made was to pour the rest of the lemon juice into the batter. I normally am shockingly bad at making large cakes. I can’t get the rise, it falls apart or end up making silly mistakes such as using 10 times the amount of poppy seeds in the butter icing for a carrot cake. Nobody wants crunchy icing! Happily there is no photographic evidence of this monstrosity.

However this cake, in my humble opinion, was perfection:

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Look at that rise

I can only assume it was my friends influence.  We waited very patiently for the cake to cool before spreading lemon curd on the bottom layer and then slathering it with the remaining icing. We simply added a sprinkling of icing sugar and the masterpiece was complete.

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Today I made rhubarb crumble

On a visit to my in laws I picked up some lovely lovely Rhubarb. I’ve never made anything with Rhubarb  before so I thought I’d go with a simple crumble.

Freshly picked rhubarb
Freshly picked rhubarb

Decided straight off this crumble would be for my husband. As I don’t really eat Rhubarb it didn’t feel like a ‘safe food,’ I have been challenging a fair few things  relating to my eating disorder recently and decided not to push myself too far. 

For the Filling

250g Rhubarb, 50g Golden caster sugar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Port (if you fancy)

Rhubarb chopped up
Rhubarb all chopped up

For the Crumble

70g self-raising flour, 42g chilled butter, 25g light brown muscovado sugar,

  • Pop the Rhubarb sugar and Port into a pan, cover and simmer over a very low heat for around 15 minutes or the rhubarb is soft but still holding it’s shape.
  • Place rhubarb in a small baking dish. Preheat the oven to 200 c (180 c fan)

now comes the terrifying bit….

  • Form a crumbly mixture by rubbing butter and flour together using your fingers!!!!!

My thoughts went from this isn’t so bad to If I don’t get this crap off my hands soon i’m going to cry then back to a slightly calmer I can do this for a few more seconds. 

  •  Add the sugar mixing with your hands!!

This was a tiny bit easier as it was dryer and stuck to my hands less.

  • Sprinkle the mixture on top of the Rhubarb and bake for 25-30 mins or until golden brown
    All finished
    All finished

    My Husband said it was delicious.