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.
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:
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve made a lot of things this week. I’m really rather proud of the Fifi top I made out of this lovely swallow cotton.
It’s was new in at Crafty Sew & So and will be adoring the window for a few months before a squirrelling it away for my wardrobe. I made the Fifi Pj set from Tilly and the Buttons, a few months ago. It was a bit of a trauma because I got a bit muddled about which way round the panels went, and ended up doing and undoing French seams twice!
They turned out great in the end, I’m looking forward to the warmer months so I can actually wear them for bed. This time I didn’t bother with the French seams.
I’m also really proud of the fact I finished a revised edition of the first part of my novel. It’s printed out and I’ve managed to scribble my way through the first three chapters without too many embarrassing errors.
Lovely lovely cakes, It’s been a little while since I’d baked and I really enjoyed making this lot for Crafty Sew & So.
As you can see I’ve been very busy, too busy in fact. My husband has started back writing thesis and some of my old anxieties have reared their nervous heads. I’ve been throwing myself into various activities and unable to relax when I do stop working. Isolation is one of my key warning signs of falling back into depressive behaviours. And if that wasn’t a big enough warning, on Friday morning I had a hideous migraine. I arrived at the shop and promptly threw up. After spending too much time in the comforting dark of the bathroom I called my husband to come and rescue me. When my head had recovered enough we had a chat and worked out a routine for days when he is working. I love lists and timetables, I feel way less anxious when I am organised and feel like I have a modicum of control over my life.
Because apparently I have the bug now, today I started working on another Grainline studio top, I’ve made one before and fancied one in a different pattern. It’s useful to give me a fair bit of practice on jersey materials. I actually made sure I stopped at five o’clock despite the fact I still needed to add the binding to the neck and arms. For a while I will have to stick rigidly to this routine. I can’t trust myself to know when I need to rest.
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.
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
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.
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.
To make the butter cream for the filling and topping mix the butter, icing sugar and milk together until it’s smooth and airy.
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.
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.
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.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnut holes to the paper towel-lined baking sheet.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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)
I can proudly say that for over a year now I have been on the way to recovery from an eating disorder and depression! One thing that’s helped me a lot is writing down my achievements of the day. To start with it was little more than ‘got dressed’ or ‘ate without feeling anxious’. More recently my accomplishments have been more substantial. It’s far from easy. I still struggle to balance being active with overdoing things.
I’ve posted a few pictures of things I made in the past few weeks: