First bread making attempt!

SAM_7045The other day I was in the living room pretending to study whilst watching the latest episode of Outlander, when a tractor stopped outside the house and a few moments later I heard hubbie come in the kitchen door. I looked up in time to see him smile, wave and head out the door again. I found this quite curious, but didn’t think anything off it until he finished work and he asked if I liked the present he dropped off.

Present? What present?

When I entered the kitchen I saw 2 bags of Organic Strong bread flour and 1 bag of organic self raising flour from one of the local farms. Now to most people, this wouldn’t be a present, but I was delighted. I’m sure other bakers will understand this too, as anything related to baking whether ingredients or utensils or gadgets are very much welcome.

Hubbie had been at the farm that mills and sells the flour and had been given 3 bags to take away with him. Lucky me!

As you will know from previous posts ( Pizza and Cinnamon buns) I have had mixed success with using yeast and making bread items. However, since the Cinnamon buns turned out well and since I now had a lot of strong bread flour I thought I’d try my hand at making bread.

This recipe comes from a cookbook I got from my mum and I remember her cooking from it when I was younger. Its the Diary Book of Home Cookery and the copy I have was published in 1978. This book came with me when I went to University and has been my bible ever since. Its the book I go to first when looking for a recipe  and it was from this book I learned how to make various sauces, Victoria sponge, pancakes, fruit loafs, macaroni and even how to line cake tins! Oh, of  course there are recipes I would never make such as tripe, kidneys espagnole, creamed liver, tongue with mustard sauce…… belugh…lets not dwell too much on those recipes.

The Ingredients for making White Bread are…..

450 grams of strong bread flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 15 grams of butter, 2 level teaspoons of yeast, 1/2 pint of warm water.

Sift the flour and salt together in a bowl.

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The yeast actually has an unpleasant smell to it!

 

Add the yeast to a separate bowl and add a small amount of water and mix to form a creamy paste then add the remaining water and mix well.

Place the flour/ salt mix into the bowl of your stand mixer. However, if you are smart, unlike me, you will have sifted the flour and salt into this bowl in the first place! What can I say, I had a D’uh moment.

Attach the dough hook to your mixer and place your mixer on low and drizzle the yeast/ water mix into the flour. When it all comes together, take out the mixer and knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface or you can leave in your mixer and knead for 5 minutes. I kneaded by hand as I had never done that before and wanted to try the technique.

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Then place the dough in a bowl and leave to double in size. I turned on my top oven, left the door open and placed the bowl on a seat in front of it. It rose very quickly.

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Take out the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface and knead until firm. Then shape the dough so that it fits inside a 1lb loaf tin. Melt some butter and brush the inside of the loaf tin then place the loaf inside.

Leave the dough to rise again, until it reaches the top of the tin. Again, my dough rose really well and quickly too. I had placed it back in front of the oven door!

Preheat oven to 230°C. Before placing in the oven, brush the top with milk or beaten egg or a mix of both. I just used milk. Then put in the oven for about 30 mins or until golden brown. After 30 mins my loaf had risen to well beyond the top of the tin and on one side was very very brown, probably too much for a loaf. Therefore next time I make this recipe I would check on it earlier.  I would probably also put the mixture in a 2lb loaf ti too.

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Remove from the tin and cool on wire rack and salivate over the wonderful smell. Bread has got to be my favourite smell in the kitchen.

You could give into the tempting smell and cut off a piece and cover with butter………given that it was 10:30pm in our house with a 6:00am start the next day we refrained and went to bed with thoughts of fresh bread for breakfast.

 

 

Currantly…….

It’s nearly Easter Weekend and this means the Easter Bunny is gonna leave me some eggs which I am allowed to gorge on until I am physically sick and no one will judge me, the clocks with go forward and I’ll lose an hour of valuable sleep, Family will come round for an Easter Sunday dinner, daffodils are in abundance and the shops are full of, not only chocolate eggs, but Hot Cross Buns in all their currant-ey, cinnamon-ey, sticky goodness.

Hot cross buns were usually eaten for breakfast on Good Friday, which sounds like an awesome breakfast to me and the only day you’d ever get away with this! The cross on them is supposed to ward off evil spirits who would make the bread go stale and if a hot cross bun is hung in the kitchen it will protect the home from evil spirits as well as ensuring all bread baked for the next year will turn out perfectly. If you’ve read my post about my Pizza dough escapades then you’ll know I need all the luck I can get!

These is also a legend of a widow in London who baked hot cross buns for her only son who was due to return from sea. However, he never returned and she hung a bun from her ceiling and every year she baked and continued to hang a new bun. A pub was then built on the site of the house and named ” The Widows Son” and every year on Good Friday a Royal Navy sailor hangs a bun ( that has the year on it) from the roof as well as singing a few songs and drinking to the lost sailor.

How sad is that?

Also giving hot cross buns to friends on Good Friday will cement your friendship for the rest of the year which I think is a lovely idea. I can see why giving hot cross buns would help with this because so if you have a friend who makes awesome baked goods and gives them to you, you’ll do anything to keep them as a friend to ensure a steady supply of goodies!

To make the Hot Cross Buns I used the Pioneer Woman Recipe, but I halved the recipe to give me 12 buns instead of 24. This is not a recipe to make if you need the buns quickly as it does take a few hours, but it’s well worth it! Also a lot of the ingredients I found were store cupboard staples, so no need to buy lots of new ingredients that you may never use again!

Ingredients

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Dough: 2 cups of Organic Scottish whole milk ( or whatever you prefer to use) , 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/2 cup of Sugar, 4 1/2 cups of strong bread flour ( or all purpose flour) , 1 1/8 teaspoons of fast action dried Yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 tablespoon of salt.

Filling: 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground nutmeg, a pinch of ground allspice, 1/4 cup of raisins. The recipe stated to use Cardamom, but I didn’t have any so I didn’t use any!

Glaze: 1 egg white, 1/8 cup of Organic Scottish Whole Milk

Icing: 1 egg white, 1/8 cup of Organic Scottish Whole Milk, 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar.

In a big pan and on low heat add the milk, olive oil and sugar and stir.  Then heat the mixture until almost to a boil. Take off the heat and leave to cool for a wee bit, but so that it’s luke warm.

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Add 3 1/2 cups of flour to the milk mixture and the yeast and stir to combine into a sticky icky mess. Cover with the pan lid and leave to rise for 1 hour. I warmed the lid in the oven for a wee bit before covering the pan and left the pan on top of the oven, but not on any hot rings.

Da da, it’s magic,  it rose.

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Risen, but still sticky mixture. Looks like rice pudding!

 

Add the remaining 1 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, stir together all the filling ingredients.

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Tiny tiny pinch spoon or maybe I have giant hands!

 

Roll out the dough into a kinda rectangle shape and then sprinkle on about tablespoon of the sugar/spice mix, then cover with some of the raisins. I just guessed the amount based on what looked right! Very scientific. Then fold the sides of the dough in on itself ( fold sides into the centre to enclose the sugar/ raisin goodness) and then roll the dough into another rectangle and sprinkle with remaining sugar/ spice mix and raisins. Fold the dough again.

Make sure you have your baking trays prepped before hand i.e covered with baking paper. Then pull off bits of dough and roll into a ball. Now I was unable to get the surface completely smooth using the method described by Pioneer woman but I found rolling the ball of dough on top of the work surface using my palm kinda helped. Place the balls of dough onto the baking tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place.

Given my previous dilemmas with finding a warm enough place and getting the dough to rise, I decided to turn on my bottom oven and as well as my top oven, but leaving the door of the top oven open ( so really it was the grill that came on) and I placed the baking trays on top of two stools placed into front of the oven. One tray went on top of the oven, but I rotated the trays round to ensure all got a blast of heat. I ended up leaving them for 1 hour and 30 minutes as this was how long I was on the phone to my parents!

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It was a kinda crude set up, but it actually worked and the dough rose really well!! Whoop Whoop victory dance!

Preheat oven to 200°C ( well mine was already on and preheated due to the above) then  mix the ingredients for the glaze together and brush the glaze on the tops of the buns before placing them in the oven for 20 minutes. They will be a really golden brown colour. Remove from oven and tray and place on a cooling rack placed over another baking tray. This tray is to capture the icing that drips off when you ice them.

Add the ingredients for the icing in a stand mixer and mix together until smooth. Watch that the icing is not too runny , it needs to be a bit thick so that it sticks to the buns and doesn’t run all over the place but not too thick that you are unable to pipe it. Place the icing in a piping bag, then ice a cross onto the top of each bun. Leave the icing to dry for a bit, then eat or give to friends or hang in your kitchen.

 

Enjoy and Happy Easter!!

Sunday Snacks

Sunday morning was busy busy busy. It was a gorgeous sunny morning, so hubby took the opportunity to clean the gutters and do the garden ……..all before 11am!

Since he had been so busy, for his mid morning snack I decided to make him some marmalade muffins. I think this is a Pioneer Woman recipe, I say think because the recipe was hastily scribbled on a used piece of scrap paper, lengthways, sideways, upside down and “filed” in my recipe book, but had no name for reference.

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I hope the original notes weren’t important. Whatever they are they don’t ring any bell to me!

 

I halved the recipe as, as much as we love muffins eating 24 by ourselves is a bit much. Actually we would probably have seen this as a challenge and scoffed the lot, which would make me sick. Not hubby though as he has a stomach of steel!

Half the mixture gives 12 muffins.

Ingredients

2 cups of plain flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of Baking Powder, 1/4 stick of butter ( about 30 grams)  1/8 stick of Trex Shortening (15 grams),  1 cup of Marmalade. I used thick cut to get lovely big chunks in the muffins, but you can use any kind you prefer.  1/2 cup of Orange Juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 beaten eggs ( I used 1 large and 1 medium cos I’m crazy like that!).

Topping- 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/8 cup of brown sugar ( I just measured half of my 1/4 cup as I don’t have an 1/8 of a cup measure handy, in fact I’m not sure you get them!?), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 tablespoon melted butter and a pinch of salt.

Preheat oven to 190 °C.  Spray muffins tins with cooking spray.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and mix. Add the butter and Trex and use a pastry cutter to combine.

In a separate bowl, add the marmalade, orange juice and vanilla and whisk. Add these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, barely combine. Drizzle in the beaten eggs. Fill the muffin tins with this mixture, fill them about 3/4 full. Before placing in the oven, make up the topping.

Mix the 1/4 cup sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and mix. Drizzle in the melted butter and again mix.. Add the topping to the top of the unbaked mixture in the tins. I covered most of the top surface of each muffin. Pop in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a cocktail stick comes out clean.  Leave for a few minutes until they are cool enough to take out the  tins and place on cooling racks.

 

These are delicious warm with a cuppa tea. I spread mine with some Lemon Curd. Yummy. They certainly set us up for the next spring task of planting seeds and plants. We planted some corn, mint, rosemary, lavender, coriander and sunflowers.