Soda Bread anyone?

Generally I’m more comfortable baking cakes and biscuits and have been learning the joys of freezing cut biscuit dough. As much as I like baking it can sometimes the preparation can be time consuming and when I’ve been at work and then have the craving to have a few biscuits, take a few out of the freezer and in about 15 minutes maybe 20 at a push I have fresh biscuits ready to go with my tea!

Enough about the cakes and frozen biscuits, the one area I dabble in and generally fail miserably is baking bread from scratch. I’ve used shop bough ready mixed bread where I just add water in the past, I’ve even tried focaccia bread from scratch with varying degrees of success and failure. So I thought I would try something a bit simple and opted for soda bread, no yeast involved, thought what could go wrong? My first attempt went wrong!

The dough was a wet, sticky mess …

Soda Bread_AllrecipesI found a recipe on Allrecipes that looked straightforward, I didn’t have any buttermilk but the recipe used the homemade version of buttermilk; milk with vinegar. I halved the recipe just in case it all went horrible wrong, which it did. The dough was a wet, sticky mess to which I kept adding flour that should have made the situation better, it didn’t. The dough became a bit tough and even though I was trying to find the silver lining in the moment and though the dough still had the chance to develop into a great looking and tasting soda bread, the oven would be the cocoon to make this all happen. Alas no this did not happen, the bread shouldn’t have taken long to bake yet the outcome was a lovely looking bread on the outside and a doughy substance on the inside. I couldn’t subject the daring foxes in the area that like to roam the streets, the only place for this lump that would offend bread bakers everywhere was the bin.

Was I beaten by this failed bake?

Soda Bread_James MartinI was for a short period of time, until I bought a pot of buttermilk then with the aid of BBC Good Food website and a recipe by James Martin (also see below) my bread baking fighting spirit was back in action. The ratios worked, the dough looked how I think it was meant to, onto the actual baking. Though there are many steps in bread making that I fall down on the actual baking and listening for the hollow sound does confuse me a bit but I went with it. The bread itself did catch a bit more colour than I would have liked, if I was comparing it to a colour chart I think it would have been the colour swatch that is just before burnt! The response from critics; brother and sister was the bread was a bit chewy, could have done with a few minutes in the oven which could explain why it tasted ok toasted and with butter, extra cooking under the grill. The main thing to take away from this attempt was it was edible.

Ignoring my limited bread making skills this bread is actually very simple and take no time to make. Give it a try and come and share your bread conquests on here or head on over to my Twitter share your thoughts.

Ingredients

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.

2. Tip the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir.

3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, mixing quickly with a large fork to form a soft dough. (Depending upon the absorbency of the flour, you may need to add a little milk if the dough seems too stiff but it should not be too wet or sticky.)

4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly.

5. Form into a round and flatten the dough slightly before placing on a lightly floured baking sheet.

6. Cut a cross on the top and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

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Thou shall not bake with eggs

My experience with eggless cake hasn’t been a rip roaring success, something always goes wrong;

  • The cake doesn’t rise
  • There is the bitter aftertaste of the bicarbonate that some of the recipes use
  • Just tastes awful, no accompaniment of icing, ice cream can save it

I’ve tried this eggless vanilla cake recipe from Sharmis Passions with some success, I remember it wasn’t very tall but looked like a sponge cake, needed a bit more sugar if you didn’t add any icing.

I’ve have tried this teen tiny eggless chocolate cake recipe from Cake Merchant before and the first time I made it the cake turned out perfect, it used to be my go to recipe.

Lately I’ve not been having much success with it.

It either comes out with the bicarbonate aftertaste or the cake is stodgy that it glues itself to your mouth. Am I using too much liquid, not mixing enough? Answers on a post card.

Why you are asking am I going to all this trouble to find a successful eggless cake recipe when I can knock up a decent cake with eggs? These days not everyone eats eggs due to allergies, religion become a vegan. Some of you know I have a regular biscuit stall at Kingswood Primary school fete, to be on the safe side I avoid baking anything that contains nuts and have a mixture of biscuits that both contain egg and are eggless. No parents have ever asked my if the biscuits contain egg but I just like to have a mixture just in case.

Back to my perfect eggless cake recipe quest

Eggless CakeI had some ripe banana’s and no eggs, found this vegan banana cake recipe from the Viveka Gardens which was adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe, I was pleasantly surprised.  Even people who don’t usually like banana cake liked this one.
This recipe gave me hope that I could produce something that not only is eggless but also edible!

 

Eggless Chocolate CakeFollowing my success with this the banana cake I had renewed faith that I was getting closer to finding a go to recipe. I have discovered this chocolate cake recipe from BBC Good Food. I forgot to add the 3 tablespoon of water to the glaze and it was a disaster. I then made a normal thin chocolate icing and that worked out fine. I made some holes in the cake so the icing drizzled through. This recipe was more like a brownie cake, and tasted nice with ice cream. My only criticism would be that it needed more sugar. With some tweaking this could become my go to eggless chocolate recipe.

Below is the recipe if you want to have a go, let me know what you thought of it.

Ingredients

  • 85g Butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 25g Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Chocolate glaze

  • 100g Dark Chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 tbsp Golden Syrup

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160C/ fan 140C/ gas 3 and grease a 20cm round cake tin
  2. Tip the butter, syrup and vanilla into a heatproof jug, add 300 ml boiling water and briefly whisk with a fork to combine
  3. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl, then in tip in the butter mixture. Stir until you have a smooth batter, then scrape into prepared tin. bake for 50 – 55 mins until the cake is well risen and springy to touch. Cool in tin for around 15 mins before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
  4. To make glaze, put chocolate and syrup into a small glass bowl with 3 tbsp of water, and microwave for 30secs on high until melted and smooth. leave to cool, then pour over the cake before serving.

Crumbs away: Shortbread Recipe

20170207_0817211I can’t remember which blog I found this recipe from, but if you recognize it then let me know so I can give you the credit you deserve.
This recipe is simple, straightforward and completely fool proof. This recipe has not ever failed me. Naturally with recipes there is always room to make adjustments but in the case if it’s not broke then don’t fix it!

The original recipe uses a mixture of plain flour and gluten free flour, I rarely have gluten free flour in my cupboards so use all plain flour.

Ingredients

300g Unsalted butter at room temperature
200g Caster sugar
360g Plain Flour
110g Gluten free flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g Chocolate chips
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C / Gas mark 3.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You could use a wooden spoon but I usually use a hand mixer.

Sift flour(s), baking powder and salt and mix well. The longer you mix it the better mixture you will get. I start of using a hand mixture then use my hands to make sure all the creamed mixture blends in with the dry ingredients.

Split the dough evenly and add the chocolate chips to one of the doughs. Again mix it well.

The mixture will start to come together. I don’t always use the dough straight away so tend to have it in the fridge until I’m ready to use it. When I want to use the dough I leave the dough out for about an hour to warm up. 

When you roll out the dough, make them approx. 1 cm thick. With the help of cookie cutters cut out your desired shapes. I usually find it easier to roll out the dough between two sheets of baking / greaseproof paper.

Put the biscuits on a parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake towards the bottom of the oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Sprinkle caster sugar on the plain shortbread biscuits,  but not on the chocolate ones.

Leave the biscuits to cool. I leave them on the tray until they have firmed up a bit before transferring to a cooling rack.

Once cut out, if you don’t want to cook the biscuits straight away you can freeze them and cook when you next feel like some freshly baked shortbread cookies.

Do you know the muffin woman?

Weekends go so quickly, one minute it’s Saturday next thing you know you’re getting ready to go to work that’s including the day off I had Friday! The day off was to go see a friend who had her first child in November, I had already sent presents for the new born but didn’t want to go empty handed so of course I baked something. I would have made a candle but my I’m not confident in my candle making skills just yet.

Crumble topped raspberry muffin

cupcakes_muffinsLooking through my cookbooks; Cupcakes & Muffins,  I found a crumble topped raspberry muffin recipe that I hadn’t made before. I thought it would be nice to try something new, the crumble topping isn’t difficult to make but I know from making apple crumbles that the topping can sometimes be a bit too sweet. These turned out better than I expected. as you can see from the picture I put a bit too much mixture in a few of the cases resulting in some of the muffins spreading and trying to escape the tray!20170120_092256

Below is the recipe if you want to make these soft delicious muffins. Experiment with different berries, I haven’t tried it myself yet but fruit flavoured yogurt could work.

Ingredients
Makes 12 Muffins

6 tbsp sunflower oil or 85g / 3 oz butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing.

280g / 10 oz plain flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

pinch of salt

115g / 4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs (I had large eggs so used them)

250 ml / 9 fl oz natural yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g / 5 1/2 oz frozen raspberries

Crumble Topping

50g / 1 1/4 oz plain flower

35 g / 1 1/4 oz butter, cut into pieces

2 tbsp. caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 C / 400 F/ Gas Mark 6. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin. (I used muffin cases)

For the crumble topping, place the flower into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and set aside.

To make the muffins, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.

Place the eggs in a large jug or bowl and beat lightly, then beat in the yogurt, oil and vanilla extract.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the beaten liquid ingredients and add the raspberries.

Stir gently until just combined, don’t over mix. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. Scatter the crumble topping over each muffin and then press down lightly.

Bake in the reheated oven for 20 minutes, or until well risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.

leave to cool in the tin for five minutes then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

20170121_160748Chocolate chip muffins

I was on a bit of a baking roll also making a few chocolate chip muffins. I have a go to fool proof chocolate chip muffin recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.co.uk that always comes out soft and perfect each time, even when a few chocolate chip get a bit burnt on top!

If you can’t be bothered to click on the link, below is the recipe.

Ingredients
Makes 12 Muffins

250g plain flour

200g caster sugar

125g chocolate chips

45g cocoa powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

235ml plain yogurt

120ml milk

120ml vegetable oil

40g chocolate chips

Method

Preheat oven to 200 C/ Gas 6. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Combine flour, caster sugar, 125g chocolate chips, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.

Whisk egg, yogurt, milk and vegetable oil in another bowl until smooth; pour into chocolate mixture and stir until mixture is just blended.

Fill paper muffin cases 3/4 full and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. (Sometimes I sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, sometimes I add them all in with the flour)

Bake in preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Cool in the tray for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Iced Buns Recipe

IMG_20141016_174835[1]

If you have a sweet tooth these are perfect, if you’re like me then reduce the sugar a little bit. There are plenty of iced bun recipes out there, but this was the one I recently tried out and turned out quite nice.

From the World’s Best Cakes book by Roger Pizey

Makes 12

Bun Dough Ingredients

30g Powdered Milk

345 ml Water

60g Fresh Yeast I divided this by 3 to use 20g Dry Yeast

2 Eggs

1.1kg Plain Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

140g Castor Sugar

140g Cubed Butter

65 ml Stock Syrup

Stock Syrup

65ml Water

65ml Castor Sugar

Stock Syrup Method

Put water and sugar into a pan and boil until liquid becomes syrupy

 Iced Buns Method

  1. Whisk the powdered milk into the water. Then dissolve the yeast into the milky water finally adding the eggs.
  2. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt and sugar. Then rub in the butter using your fingertips until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the flour mix, add the yeast mix in stages mixing in between until you have a firm but supple dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and let it prove in a warm place for about 40 minutes.
  5. After the 40 minute prove knock back the dough then let it prove for another 20 minutes.
  6. Grease and line a baking tray.
  7. Divide the dough into 12 pieces lightly roll the pieces into finger shape buns, though you can do whatever shape you want.
  8. Place each bun carefully onto the tray allowing enough room for the buns to expand.
  9. Then let the buns prove for another 40-60 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
  10. Preheat your over to gas mark 5, 190 C, I used an oven thermometer just to make sure my oven was at the right temperature.
  11. Bake the buns in the oven for about 7-9 minutes until they are golden brown. The time will vary depending on your oven, just keep an eye on them until they are a nice golden brown colour.
  12. While the buns are baking, make the stock syrup.
  13. Once the buns are cooked brush them with the stock syrup straight away, then allow them to cool on a wire rack.
  14. The recipe used fondant icing to ice the buns but I would think any icing would fine. Just make sure the icing is stiff but spreadable. Dip each bun into the icing. You can colour the icing, add hundreds and thousands, whatever you like. I took the measurements for the icing from a Paul Hollywood recipe.

For the Icing

200g Icing Sugar

5 tsp Cold Water