Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Focaccia ... the real thing

Making Focaccia....
'Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard."
I had been really curious about making authentic focaccia though I had heard that it was notoriously difficult. I baked "my take" on focaccia which is really normal bread made flat sprinkled with some olive oil. However, I thought it was about time I tackled the famous Paul Hollywood's focaccia.      
As I expected, the dough was terribly WET and STICKY... When I looked at Paul Hollywood's recipe and watched last year's GBBO master class, I thought to myself, the dough recipe couldn't be right.
400ml of cold water for 500g of strong flour?? The ratio of flour and water is totally unconventional... What is more, his recipe told me to add 2 sachets of yeast which was twice as much as I use for making a 500g flour loaf.  So, I compromised by trying the "wet consistency", but sticking to my instinct and adding only one sachet of yeast. .... However, I followed the rest of his instructions. The dough was an absolute nightmare to work with throughout the process, though I spread plenty of olive oil on the worktop following Mr Hollywood's technique. Perseverance was required . 
Then, the dough needed to rise. It took more than 3 hours for the dough to double in size....Phew... but I managed to get to that stage. I cut the sloppy dough in two and placed them on two baking trays and waited another hour to prove the dough. Then, finally I pressed the dough with rosemary to make some "focaccia dimples". I also sprinkled some more olive oil and salt and then my long suffering dough was finally ready to go into the oven.... And here they are. They tasted lovely. 
Was it worth such a hassle? ..... Well... probably, YES. 

Here is the video of how to make focaccia from GBBO 2011

Monday, 29 October 2012

Chelsea Buns

I have done it. Proper Chelsea buns... no cheating... I followed a recipe of the famous Paul Hollywood. It was my first time making "rich sweet dough" and it was a bit of nightmare to begin with, as the dough was really wet and sticky. Perseverance. I kept kneading though the dough seemed to be stuck to my hand forever. However, my hard work paid off as the dough gradually became pleasant to work with. Paul's recipe on BBC Food site said the the butter should be melted in a saucepan with milk. I was a bit confused because he put all the independents (flower, sugar, yeast, salt, egg) together in the bowl, then poured in the warm milk on the BBC show "The master class of GBBO." So I followed his GBBO method and put all the ingredients in the bowl then, poured in the warm milk. I used mixed dried fruit, glace cherries which really needed to be used up, and orange and lemon peel.

Proved and ready to put in the oven

Hurray... just came out of oven.

Ahhhhh. It was worth it. Very soft and beautifully bouncy dough.
Rich and sweet. I'm so happy about the result. :)

Oh, by the way,............Look, NO soggy bottom.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Ruislip woods Blackbery Muffin

Here are the muffins made with the lovely blackberries from our local woods in Ruislip.
There were absolutely loads of them in September and early October. These little gems are fantastic for muffins. The recipe for them is the same as summer forest berry muffins. I picked so many of them and wondered what to do with the last of the berries after making muffins. They wouldn't keep so long in the fridge. So, I froze them. Freezing soft berries is a bit tricky as they stick together. I used a polystyrene sheet for the first freezing.
You know the tray like sheet which comes with ready meal pizzas from the supermarket. I simply place the berries on the polystyrene pizza tray and pop it in the freezer. Make sure they are not really squashed together. When they are frozen, put them altogether in a container to keep then in the freezer. They are all individually frozen... like little precious stones. When you make muffins with these frozen berries, put them into the dry mixture first then mix with wet ingredients. This process has to be done quickly when the berries are still frozen. Do not defrost the berries. If you do, the muffins will be a purple mess.... Anyway, these frozen berries are very useful. Great addition to yoghurt, desert, trifle, etc.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Banana & Cocoa Cake

This banana cake has a very different texture compared to the one I normally bake. Very spongy and light... and yet very moist. Is it because I changed some ingredients or method? I'm not so sure. One thing I did very differently from my normal method was to use an electric hand blender which I use for making smooth soup. Blitz ..... By  mixing the wet ingredients by blender, the mixture became very fluffy and smooth.... like a banana smoothy texture. Anyway, this cake contains sunflower oil instead of butter or margarine, so it keeps the moisture longer... so I heard. 

  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 80ml sunflower oil
  • 70ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 bananas (200g ish)
For crumble topping
  • 30g Plain Flour  
  • 15g Granulated Sugar (or Demerara Sugar) 
  • 15g Butter (or low-fat margarine) 
  • walnuts  
  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, and cocoa in a large bowl.
  3. Mash the banana in a bowl and add oil, milk, lemon juice and eggs. Then mix thoroughly with the electric hand blender.
  4. Put the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix gently.
  5. Pour the mixture in the tin and sprinkle the crumble topping. (put the all ingredients for the topping in a bowl and make a breadcrumb like texture using your finger tips)
  6. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  

Friday, 5 October 2012

Apple "Cake" Tatin

Good old British Cox apples are now in season. I love the sweet but slightly tangy flavour of Cox apples. They are great just as they are and fantastic for cooking. So, to celebrate British Cox,
I wanted to bake "Tart Tatin"...'s not a tart, it's a cake. So, it's upside-down apple caramel cake. :) Enjoy the fresh flavour of apple and sticky caramel.

  • 4 oz plain flour 
  • 4 oz soft brown sugar 
  • 4 oz low-fat margarine  
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 Vanila extract 
  • 2 apples sliced
  • Caramel: 85g Caster sugar + 1 tablespoon water  


Making Caramel sauce 

  •  Warm the pan gently over a medium heat for a few moments then place white caster sugar in the pan, still over a medium heat. Leave the sugar and keep an eye on it, until it begins to melt. After about 5 minutes the sugar will start to melt and turn liquid around the edges.  Do not stir!
  •  Give the pan a good shake and leave it again until about a quarter of the sugar has melted. Using a wooden spoon, give it a gentle stir and continue to cook until the sugar has transformed from crystals to liquid and is the colour of dark runny honey – a dark amber colour.
  •  Take the pan off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of tap-hot water – the caramel will splutter and steam so protect your hands with a cloth and take care. Stir well – you may need to return the pan to a gentle heat to re-melt any lumps of caramel that have formed. The caramel is now ready to use.

  1. Preheat oven to 170 °C.  Place greaseproof paper in the cake tin.
  2. Put all the ingredients, apart from apples and sugar for caramel, in a bowl and mix with the electric whisk.
  3. Make caramel sauce ( see above for the method)  
  4. Pour the caramel sauce into the cake tin.
  5. Place the sliced apples and then pour the cake mixture on top.
  6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes. When the cake cools down turn the cake tin upside down and gently peel away the greaseproof paper.