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GBBO Week 3 - Breads

Bread Week
I was never a massive bread baker before practising for Bake Off. Only since have I really enjoyed it. 

When the boys were younger I was more of a bung it in the bread machine type of girl. It's funny that years later, one of my eldest son Billy's school friends met Dylan ( my youngest) and said 'I remember your mum, she always made the best sandwiches!'.

So as you can imagine the thought of creating not only 24 perfectly formed rolls (2 flavours) but also something that could hold them made me nervous. Oh my I went into worry wort overdrive. 

A friend of a friend is a baker. He showed me the basics and I practised until I had an acceptable vessel to carry my rolls. Then onto the rolls, I made 12 pumpkin rolls in little terracotta plant pots and 12 pecan and orange sweet rolls. 

Everybody who came into our house that week went home with a bread basket overflowing with rolls. I swear I could've given mothers pride a run for their money!
Spiced orange rolls 
1oz of fresh yeast

2oz sugar
7 floz lukewarm milk
3 floz fresh orange juice 
1oz unsalted butter 
1 egg beaten
1lb 4oz strong white flour 
Grated zests of 2 oranges
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground mixed spice 
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1oz melted butter

Mix the above filling ingredients together. Mix yeast with 2 tablespoons of milk & 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Sift flour into large bowl, add rest of sugar, orange zest and salt. Turn into an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.
Pumpkin Seed Rolls
170g strong white flour
170g strong wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon of salt
15g of fresh yeast
10floz buttermilk
1 tablespoon of clear honey
45g softened butter
100g pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 200c.

3oz demerara sugar
3oz chopped pecans
Zest of 1 oranges

Mix the rest of milk with melted butter, orange juice and egg.
Make a well in the centre add the 2 liquids. Warm buttermilk in a small pan to lukewarm then whisk in yeast. Pour buttermilk yeast and honey into the well. Knead on bread hook for 6-8 mins, or by hand for 10 mins.

Leave to rise for 40-60 mins until doubled in size.

Turn out and roll into 2 oblongs, spread with sugar, pecan & spice mix, roll up tightly and cut each into 6 rolls discarding the ends.

Put into a buttered muffin tins zest clementine zest over tops rubbing in. Cover with clingfilm leave for 15-20 mins. Bake in a medium hot oven 200 for 20 - 25 mins.

Remove from tray immediately.

Make up some icing sugar and freshly squeezed orange juice and drizzle over the top. Sift flours and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub in butter then make a well in the centre. Stir together, knead for 6 mins on a bread hook, or 10 mins by hand.

Add pumpkins seeds (reserving 2 tablespoons) mix a little more to combine. Divide mixture between 12 greased muffin tins/terracotta pots, sprinkle with remaining seeds. Cover with oiled cling leave for an hour until well risen. Brush with a little egg wash. Bake for 15-20 mins remove from tins and cool on wire racks.
Click here for my Stromboli

The Great British Bake Off. Week 2 - Pastry

My Tarts from week 2 of my time on The Great British Bake Off. 

Raspberry and Almond Tarts
200g of nice fresh raspberries 
200g tub of mascarpone
225ml of double cream 
1 large lemon
Some fresh mint
2 tbsp of icing sugar

Lemon & almond pastry
85g of softened butter
Seeds of a vanilla pod 
Finely grated lemon zest
2 eggs lightly beaten
150g of plain flour
Pinch of salt 
30g ground almonds

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in a bowl, mix till well combined. Add eggs one at a time, add flour, salt and almonds until dough just comes together.

Turn out shape into a round pat,wrap in clingfilm and chill. 

Once chilled roll in between 2 pieces of parchment, cut out and line 12 mini oval tart tins.
Prick bottoms with a fork scrunch up 12 balls of foil and put into tart cases bake blind for 10 mins at 190.

Brush with egg wash then put back in for 10 -15 mins more. Meanwhile mix mascarpone, cream ,lemon zest & icing sugar spoon into a piping bag.

Once cases are cooled pipe cream into cases, top with raspberries and snipped mint leaves.

Honey & Almond Tarts:

Sweetcrust pastry                                                             
200g plain flour                                                      
100g cold cubed butter                                                                  
2 egg yolks                                                               
2 tbsp icing sugar                                               

Pinch of salt                                                                             
1-4 tbsp of cream                                        
Honey & Almond filling

50g butter
10g granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of clear honey
150g flaked almonds
1 tbsp double cream
Blitz plain flour and butter in food processor,mix salt and eggs together, dribble slowly into flour mix when comes together make into a patty shape and chill. Then roll out & divide between 24 patty tins.

Honey & almond tart fillings,put butter and sugar into a heavy bottomed pan,heat gently until butter melts, bring to the boil,remove from heat ,stir in cream and almonds,leave to cool, then divide between cases. 

Bake @ 200c for 20mins
Tarte au citron 
175 g plain flour
100 g cold cubed butter
25 g icing sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp icy water

5 large eggs
125 ml double cream
225 g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 4 lemons 150 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

Rub plain flour, icing sugar and butter together in a food processor, add egg yolk and water, process until ingredients clump together.

Chill pastry.

Line pastry tin, chill for 30 mins. 

Blind bake with parchment and baking beans for 10-12 mins @ 200

Remove beans and parchment bake for a further 10-12 mins.

Cool pastry case,on a wire rack, turn oven down to 160

Mix whisked eggs and all other ingredients together in a large jug.

Pour into tart case back for 30-35 mins, so the filling is just setting with a little wobble in the middle still. 

Leave to cool until pastry is firm enough to transfer to a serving plate,dust with icing sugar.

I love this with a few raspberries. Delicious xx

The Great British Bake Off Show 1 (Rocky Road Birthday Cake & Chocolate Orange Cuppies)

Today has been quite nerve racking. When I woke this morning I was really quite calm, my 1st thoughts were with my eldest son as today is his birthday. I'd been up late making him a Rocky Road Birthday Cake so I didn't get to sleep until 2am. To be fair I'm not a great sleeper at the best of times, if there was an Olympic sport at solitaire I think I could seriously win.

Anyhow I got up about 6:30am, let El out, cup of and waited for Billy to surface. It reminded me of when my boys were small. Why is it on school days,you almost have to drag them out of bed, there they lay quite as a mouse! Yet holidays and weekends they would be jumping on our bed whacking me with the coco pops box at 6am.

Billy came in, I wished him a happy birthday and off he went to work. This left me pondering on the day and evening before me. As Billy didn't wish to celebrate his birthday at home this evening, a couple of my lovely friends are coming over to watch my TV debut with us. I can't seem to think straight and I am really nervous of how I will look, sound and obviously BATTENBURG GATE!!

That damn cake, I shudder whenever I walk past one in the supermarket, i'm not a lover of marzipan or coffee and walnut cake but in all fairness that isn't it. My mind just went totally to jelly and I couldn't pull myself together and work out the simple logistics of wrapping a piece of almond paste round a blimin cake!

Now you'd have thought simple and to be fair you'd be right but with me when I do something for the 1st time it doesn't come naturally especially when i'm under pressure!

I was really happy with my cupcakes so at this point I was thinking i'd peaked far too early. Day 2 of the challenge for program 1 was the 2 tiered celebration cake. I'd made a one tier version at home 2 or 3 times before used the white buttons, same method, I even thought "yep easy", I can do it, no problem, left nothing to chance, oh but I did, I left my nerve to chance.

The chocolate mud cake all went swimmingly, the white buttons all stuck perfectly, but oh my, when I tried to adhere the collar to the cake it just buckled. Now I know, I have no room for error, what with the dreaded BB the day before, luckily we had to take a break, which gave me some breathing space, and time to think. And thankfully this in turn gave me the idea, that I could make a really fine layer of chocolate to cover the crumbling collar, it worked. Hooray, I actually felt like I didn't breath the whole time I was making it.
 Chocolate Orange Cuppies
100 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
20 g cocoa
zest of an orange
140 g caster sugar
 20 g melted plain chocolate (cooled)
40 g marg
1 egg
120 ml f/f milk

Mix four, baking powder, cocoa, sugar,half the orange zest & butter in a food processor until you have a sandy consistency, add half the milk & blend, mix egg, melted chocolate and rest of the milk together, add to the batter, give another good whiz, spoon into 12 cupcake cases, bake for 20 mins, @ 170, leave in pan.

Orange Drizzle
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
juice of the orange
Mix together, spoon over warm cakes, teaspoon on each.
500g icing sugar
125 g unsalted softened butter
2 tbsp double cream
Mix softened butter and icing sugar, the other half of the orange zest, then beat in double cream, beat in freestanding mixer for 10 mins ( this gives a lovely fluffy finish), pipe onto cupcakes and top with shavings of plain chocolate.

Double Chocolate Rocky Road Cake
For the sponge I just use the same ingredients as for the cuppies but doubled and without the zest, then the same method, but instead of cases split between 2 sandwich tins, bake @ 170 for 25 mins, cool on wire racks.

500 g icing sugar
125 softened unsalted butter
30 g cocoa
2 tablespoons of cream/milk
mix butter & icing sugar until combined, add cocoa and cream,
Beat for 10 mins.
Sandwich 2 cakes together  with the buttercream, then spread the rest on the top, now for the fun stuff.........

I used 2 mars bars chopped, 1 snickers chopped, 2 pkts malteasers, handful of popcorn, marshmallows, white chocolate stars, then I just piled them all on top and drizzled with a 100 g of melted milk chocolate. But you could do any combo that you like.

Chateaubriand (Les Trois Garçon)

Last night I went to the most wonderful place for dinner. The ambience, service, food, wine list, were all fantastic. I felt as
though I'd stepped into a magical land,where handbags are suspended from the ceilings, stuffed animal heads keeping an eye over you, as you eat. Stunning art works too vast to take in, to be fair one visit and I feel the need to go back, to take the amazingness of the place in.

The Garçon who attended our every need was fabulous, not once did he appear when not needed, but if your drink was dry it was instantly replenished. There were 12 of us and we chatted for ages before ordering, but no feeling of being rushed or that we were an inconvenience, just a calm attendance and an informative service.

The wine list was good, i'm not a big drinker, a glass with dinner for me is sufficient, the sauvignon Blanc was well chilled and served in beautiful clean glassware.

For my food I had chateaubriand, 6 of us had this, all to different requirements, all cooked to perfection, served with gorgeous roasted new potatoes, wilted spinach and a spluttering of shaved truffles. AMAZING.

For Chateaubriand, always buy a decent piece of fillet (I feel mine making sure its tender all over).

Flash fry in a frying pan with a little olive oil. Rest for 5 mins on a board.

Brush all over with Dijon mustard, roll in chopped fresh thyme.

Season. Put back into the pan. I add 2 whole bulbs of garlic.

Put into either a really hot oven 210 or the top of your AGA for about 25 - 35 mins depending on the size, and how you like your meat cooked.

Always leave to stand for at least half the cooking time.

I serve with a jus made with some red wine, half a bottle splashed into the pan, reduced down to at least half, with a teaspoon or two of redcurrant jelly mixed through, and the garlic on the board if people would like to squeeze some onto their plates.

Serve with wilted spinach and potatoes of your choice.

Danish Pastry

Until recently I'd never even thought about making a Danish Pastry but then was forced to practise these little gems, which took me totally out of my comfort zone. It's funny, for years i've baked but mainly only stuff I felt comfy with so to be made to experiment was a really positive experience for me.
The sense of pride when you produce something to a decent standard is fabulous isn't it! I'm one of those people who rarely gets it right 1st time and I have to practice to make (well nearly) perfect. And I love the fact that I can now make recipes up myself. I really enjoy jiggling and coming up with new flavour combinations.

The thing about Danish Pastries is you can experiment 'till your hearts content as it's all about personal taste. Normally with me I start with a recipe, make that, feel confident, then think how can I improve on it. Think about the flavours and the textures that you love and away you go.          

500 g strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
7 g fast action yeast
25 g caster sugar
300-320 ml lukewarm water
400 g cold unsalted butter

With Danish you need to start the day before. It isn't a hard process, just really lengthy. Weigh out all the ingredients into a bowl, except for the butter. Give a good mix until the dough comes together, turn out and knead for 5 minutes.

I love to knead by hand as I find it really relaxing almost therapeutic. Once kneaded put back into a bowl, leave for an hour to double in size.Place the butter on a piece of parchment paper on the work surface, cover with another piece and flatten with a rolling pin, 20x40. Store in fridge. 

Once dough has doubled in size turn out and knock back, roll out into a 20x60 rectangle, place butter on top 2 thirds, fold the remaining 3rd up (see picture). Then fold down the top 3rd, place in fridge to rest for an hour, repeat this process 4 times. Leave in the fridge over night. I also make my creme patisserie the night before, cover and chill.

Creme Patisserie
20 g corn flour
20 g plain flour

60 g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
300 ml milk

Mix egg yolks and caster sugar together, heat milk.

Add a tablespoon into egg and sugar, mix, add flours slowly, stir, then add rest of milk, put back on heat, stir until thickens, continue stirring for 1 minute. 

Add flavour (vanilla, zest, alcohol,chocolate,actually anything that takes your fancy) cover and chill.

Today I made:
Chocolate and pistachio croissants
Pain au raisin
Pain au chocolat

Method for Pistachio and Chocolate
I used a 3rd of the dough rolled out into an oblong covered with creme Patisserie (vanilla)

Then chopped nuts and some milk chocolate chips (this is what I had in the cupboard), chucks of chocolate, milk dark or even white would work well. 

Rolled it over long ways, cut into 1 inch lengths, squished down on a baking tray, left to prove for 40 mins, cooked at 200 or top of AGA for 20 mins. Brush with some melted apricot jam whilst still hot. ENJOY!!!!
Roll a 3rd of the dough into a circle, divide into 8 triangles,roll out a little, wrap into croissants, start from wider end, roll down, tuck pointy end under. Leave to prove for 40 mins, brush with egg wash, bake in top of AGA or @ 200 for 20-25 mins. Glaze with melted apricot jam. ENJOY!

Pain au Chocolat
In my eyes these are the most simple to make almost fail safe.

Roll out a 3rd of dough into a rectangle, cut into 6 equal rectangles width ways from dough
add some chocolate to one roll, put seem on the bottom onto baking tray to prove for 40 mins,brush with an egg wash, bake for 20-25 mins @ 200 or in top oven of AGA.Brush with melted apricot jam. ENJOY!

I think food should make your mouth water, this is why i'm never going to be slim. These really do xx