Wednesday 28 July 2010

Dan Lepard's Semolina 'Barbeque Buns'

Well, clearly that isn't a bun (unless you are exceptionally hungry!) but I did want to try Dan Lepard's latest bread recipe published recently in the Guardian newspaper (and discussed here on his forums) and a loaf suits my purposes better. It seems to be ages since I've tried a new bread recipe (being happy with my current loaves) and I fancied a change and since semolina was to hand this recipe looked perfect. I would like to try the shaping technique for the buns at some point in the future though. Both Joanna at Zeb Bakes and Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial have made them with fabulous looking results and being a Dan Lepard recipe I knew it would work, better than that, I knew it would work and be amazingly tasty too!!! There aren't many cookery writers/bakers out there that you can confidently expect to give you a stunning recipe each time. Dan Lepard is one such baker!

Due to freezer space issues at the moment (i.e. my freezer is absolutely choc-a-bloc) I decided to make a half recipe, so I'm giving my quantities below as a reminder to myself of how it actually worked out. I also baked for my usual lengths of time with this shape and size of loaf; steamed oven and gas 7 for 10 minutes, gas 6 for 18 minutes, turn over and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Ingredients for a half loaf:
38g fine semolina, 100ml warm water, 11g butter, 3/4tsp honey, 7g full fat Total greek yogurt, 3/4tsp salt, 1/2tsp dried instant yeast, 225g strong white flour.

Taste? This was the softest loaf I've had in ages, I don't know which of the 'additions' to the basic formula of flour, salt, yeast and water provided this effect and in reality it was probably the combination, but the bread was soft and moist yet still with the texture you only get from homemade bread that reminds you that you've eaten something. I think what I'm trying to say is that unlike commercial bread, if you squash this you don't get something resembling the dough it was made from! (If you've never tried that, do - it's informative in a scary way - Chorleywood process white sliced bread tends to form something resembling dough if you squash it - yuk!) The only thing I'd do differently next time is to use a very mild honey. I didn't quite manage to halve the honey, and I used the Tasmanian Leatherwood honey that I used in this honey cake. The flavour is quite strong and there is still a trace of it left in the baked bread. Great for morning toast, but less appealing for savoury sandwiches. This is my error though, for using a honey I knew to have a strong flavour, use a neutral one and you'll be fine! Definitely on the 'make again' list.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Blueberry banana cake

Phew, that was close. I have three notebooks on the go at the moment in which I write my 'to do' lists of various things I mustn't forget. I was pretty sure that this recipe must be written down somewhere, and luckily it was in the last notebook I looked in. Sadly the recipe is rather a skeleton, with no cooking time (oops!) but the ingredients are noted, which is obviously the most important thing!

I made this before going on holiday because I had an extremely over-ripe banana in the fruit bowl and a few blueberries in the fridge that I thought I ought to use rather than freezing (theoretically I have lots of freezer capacity, in practice, it's full to bursting and I desperately need to eat up some of the goodies stashed in there). In fact, I enjoyed a piece today from the freezer, thus free-ing up a little more space for the things I'm going to bake today....... sigh! It turned out to be a good decision and the next time I have just such a banana this could well be on the menu again.

Blueberry and banana cake
125g butter
100g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (this is a guess, but I must have put some in the cake and I think it would have been about this much. I found too late that I was out of self raising flour, my preferred flour for baking, so had to use plain and baking powder)
2 large eggs
1 very overripe banana (about 125g, so pretty big)
100g blueberries

For the icing - icing sugar and water!!!

- Preheat the oven to gas 4/180C. Grease and line a small roasting tin (mine measures 9x6.5" or 23x17cm base) with silicon parchment.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Add the banana and cream again until no lumps of banana remain. I know this is slightly lazy but it saves the washing up created by mashing the banana in a separate bowl. I think it would only work if your banana is seriously overripe, otherwise mash it separately first and then add it to the mixture.
- Add the eggs, flour and baking powder and mix again until well combined.
- Spoon into the tin and sprinkle over the blueberries. You can see this in the picture below.
- Bake for around 30-40 minutes (sorry, forgot to note the time...) until golden brown and a cake tester/wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.

When cool......for the icing - mix around 100-150g icing sugar with just enough water to make a thick icing. Spoon into a small plastic food bag and snip off the corner before drizzling over the cake.

I really enjoyed this cake. In spite of the banana being so ripe the flavour wasn't overpowering, but added moisture, sweetness and a certain chewiness and denseness (but in the best possible way!) to the cake and a subtle flavour of banana. The blueberries provided a welcome burst of juiciness (although sadly not a great amount of flavour) and the plain icing on the top was just right - a little extra sweetness in some mouthfuls but not all. I wouldn't hesistate to make this again, and it was equally well received at work, with plenty of complimentary remarks!

Friday 23 July 2010

I'm back!

I've had a lovely time in Turin and on Lake Maggiore, eaten lots and lots of pizza (and thoroughly recommend Sico Moro in Turin - Via Stampatori 6, Torino - best pizza we found in Turin!) and plenty of gelato - if you get a chance to eat gelato from Grom you won't regret it, it's amazing (thanks T, for the recommendation!).

Back to earth with a bump now, but looking forward to catching up on what everyone else has been making and eating.....

Friday 16 July 2010

Dark chocolate and dried cranberry muffins

I'm off on my hols now, so apologies for the lack of any replies to your lovely comments, I really do love reading them and will reply when I get back.
I was chatting to T recently and he asked me for a muffin recipe. It made me realise that I haven't made muffins for ages and ages, which is definitely an oversight on my part given how easy they are to make, how quick to bake and how versatile in terms of flavours and add ins. Anyway, as I was giving him the recipe I realised that I haven't really got it down in the form I make it now. I originally made a half recipe here, which is the first time I felt that I'd got muffins that actually looked and tasted how I wanted them to. I've also made a chocolate version, plus others. So to make it easier for myself when I just want a standard (non chocolate) batch of muffins, I'm going to put the recipe down here too.

My favourite (well, currently!) muffin recipe

300g self raising flour
170g caster sugar (white or golden)
170g butter, melted and cooled a little
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla
200ml milk (I usually have semi-skimmed in)
approximately 200g add-ins - this time I used 90g chopped dark chocolate and 90g dried cranberries

- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Place 12 paper liners in a muffin tin.
- Mix dry ingredients (flour and sugar) in one bowl. Ideally sift the flour but I often don't....
- Beat eggs and milk plus vanilla in a jug.
- Pour eggs and milk into dry ingredients, mix a little and then add the butter (this sounds odd, but helps to avoid the butter solidifying in little lumps which happens when you add the hot butter to the cold milk and eggs) and mix very briefly.
- Add your extras and mix again. Don't be too thorough - lumps are good, but pockets of unmixed flour less so.... strike the balance!
- Divide between the cases. They will be full almost to the top.
- Bake for around 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester inserted comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack.


These are fairly substantial and filling, but light and tasty at the same time! I enjoyed the combination of slightly tart dried cranberries and slightly bitter dark chocolate as a contrast to the sweetness of the crumb. I'm guessing colleagues enjoyed them given that they didn't last long, but no-one said anything. Humph!!! I think these are better with butter than the more traditional (and marginally healthier) oil - substitute 170ml sunflower or vegetable oil if you wish. I find that oil makes them greasy after baking.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Soft moist chocolate cupcakes with shiny chocolate glaze

Mmmm, sticky, moist, light chocolate cupcakes. These are great!

Sometimes the recipes I invent are worth recording and even marking as make again. I love it when that happens - it makes up for all the disasters..... These were delicious - really soft and light and fluffy, the texture was great and the chocolatey frosting set off the cupcake really well, so thanks to Suelle of Mainly Baking for providing the recipe here (see the comments section). It is quite warm here at the moment though, and I think the frosting could have done with a short spell in the fridge to firm up properly once it was on the cupcakes. Soft and gooey is nice, but tricky to eat!

100g softened butter
80g greek yogurt (I used Total brand full fat)
125g light muscovado sugar
2 large eggs
125g self raising flour
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsps cocoa powder (Green and Black's for preference)

For the glaze
90g chocolate (I used 70% cocoa because I love the bittersweet taste - use a sweeter chocolate if you prefer)
15g butter
2tbsp golden syrup

- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Place 12 paper cases in a muffin tin.
- Cream together yogurt, butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined and light.
- Spoon into the cases and bake for around 25minutes until springy and a wooden cocktail stick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the glaze
- Melt the butter and chocolate over a pan of hot/simmering water.
- Add the golden syrup and mix until smooth.
- Allow to cool a little if you want, although mine was still pretty runny when I used it.
- Spoon over the cupcakes and allow to set.


I'll definitely be making these again, they were a great size and the texture and taste were really lovely. I might experiment with adding other flavours like mint next time - any suggestions for flavours complementing chocolate? I don't want to add 'bits' to them, because I don't think they'd hold up very well in the mixture but any ideas welcome!

Saturday 3 July 2010

Crumbly lemon cake

This cake is based on a recipe by Dan Lepard originally published quite some time ago in June 2009. It can be found here. The idea of using oats in a cake was intruiging as I've been using oats regularly in one of my favourite breads. I had to modify the recipe a little and substituted more flour for the ground almonds specified. I used self raising flour rather than plain and omitted the baking powder and since I had lemons rather than oranges available I used the zest of two of those instead. I recall the cake taking longer than 40 minutes to bake, probably nearer 50-60 mins. I also (rather unfortunately) ran out of time to make the syrup for the cake, so all in all I didn't really follow the recipe very closely, which would probably explain why the cake was very nice but not exceptional.

As the title of the post suggests the cake was crumbly and on the dry side, due to the combined efforts of no syrup, possibly slightly overcooking it and dry flour rather than moist almonds, all of which would tend to make the cake moister had I used them. However, I did enjoy the slightly chewy texture that the oats lent to the cake, although it was crumbly it definitely didn't dissolve in the mouth. I think that Dan is quite right in saying that this would be delicious with a tumble of summer berries and a big dollop of creme fraiche or greek yogurt - yum! I think I'll make it again but definitely add the syrup as I feel sure that this would make a big difference to the flavour and texture. I'd probably also use three lemons rather than two and try to bake it for a little less time.

However, I am perhaps overly harsh, it was a delicious cake and gained plenty of compliments from my colleagues. In the end I made up a simple lemon glace icing for it, which complemented the lemon flavour of the cake nicely.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Stone fruit yogurt cake revisited

Still a stunning cake, and on a pretty regular rotation! I made this again with apricots and strawberries that I had left over. Lining the tin with foil was definitely a good idea this time given the amount of juice produced, using the strawberries less so! I used Total greek yogurt this time, which always seems to work well.

So this post is a reminder of a fantastic cake, also blogged about here and here, and original recipe here but also a note to myself that it is probably called stone fruit yogurt cake for a reason - they tend to exude less juice than other fruits. I think you could use any pretty dry fruit with a high degree of success. Raspberries also seem to work, and I imagine blackcurrants and redcurrants would too, but my advice would be to steer clear of strawberries. Although delicious the cake base/top where the fruit is was rather wet!


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