Tag Archives: baking

Lindt Creation Dessert Chocolates*, Fats and Bird Caramel Eclairs

We’ve been pretty spoilt this year when it comes to sweet treats. After managing to eke out our Christmas haul all the way until the back end of February, we were ready to say “that’s enough – no treats for a while, let’s be good”. Fortunately, we were snapped out of this madness when we were given the chance to sample some lovely Lindt chocolates. We’re huge fans of Lindt, so we couldn’t turn down the chance to try something new. Fats in particular has fond recollections of Lindt – unfortunately there’s no big romantic story here, instead the memories were formed in the Lindt factory outlet store in Aachen, Germany,  down the road from some offices he used to work in… he did bring Bird back one of these beauties for Valentine’s day – the gorgeous little tin is still used! If you fancy trying these out for yourself make sure you read to the bottom for a chance to win a box!

Lindt Creation Desserts are bite-sized chocolates, each one based on a well-known dessert. This is a great concept, and made for a rather obvious post inspiration – we were to chomp our way through the chocolates with the aim of deciding which one was our favourite, and we’d make the winner into a full-sized dessert and post the recipe on our blog. In fact, we decided to go one further and rank all of the chocolates. It’s a tough job, but we were definitely ready for this particular challenge…

Lindt Chocolate Box

Chocolate Box Full

So (in the style of BuzzFeed) here is the DEFINITIVE ranking of Lindt Creation Desserts!

7. Tiramasu
Tiramasu Choc

At the centre of this chocolate was a thick layer of milk chocolate praline with a layer of white chocolate mousse. This was wrapped by lovely milk chocolate and topped with a thick layer of white chocolate dusted with cocoa powder. Although delicious in its own right, we felt it could have had a stronger coffee flavour.

6. Meringue
Meringue Choc

A hard, white chocolate shell, covering a creamy white chocolate mousse dotted with tiny little bursts of crunchy meringue giving pops of texture. Really tasty, but white chocolate will always be second to milk really…

5. Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate Fondant Choc

Chocolate chocolate chocolate! Thick milk chocolate shell with a rich, gooey centre. Really gooey, the kind of chocolate that sticks your tongue to the roof of your mouth.

4. Brownie

Brownie Choc

A squishy texture with crunchy hazelnut pieces and a nutty, dark, almost burnt flavour. This was really indulgent – perfect with a mug of tea!

3. Mille-feuille

Mille Feuille

This was a lovely milk chocolate coating a rich praline, laced with specs of wafer, giving a great texture.

2. Creme Brulée
Creme Brulee Choc

A milk chocolate cup containing a delicious white chocolate cream with a smooth milky flavour, topped with a crunchy layer of caramelised sugar that gave that lovely burnt flavour you associate with creme brulée – delicious!

1. Caramel Eclair
Eclair Choc

Our winner! Caramely and classic milk chocolate surrounding a gooey centre somewhere between caramel and fudge in texture, with a sweet but complex, coffee-like, slightly burnt taste. So good, we were inspired to make them for real!

We seriously enjoyed these desserts, and we reckon you will too – there’s definitely something for everyone in there. With two weeks to go until Mother’s Day, it would be a great gift too. Read on if you want to know how to make your very own eclairs, and to find out how to get hold of your very own box of delicious chocolates!

Salted Caramel and Coffee Eclairs

This recipe is a bit adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe that you can find on the BBC food website – we drew on some of the skills we learned at our Bordeaux Quay cookery school earlier in the year and changed the recipe a bit – we hope you like it!

For 4 eclairs (and a few profiteroles for good measure), you’ll need:

For the filling:

And for the icing:

Before you start, pre-heat an oven to 190°C. Now, make the choux pastry. This is pretty scary if it’s your first time, but take it from us that it’s nowhere near as hard as it looks! Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat along with the salt, caster sugar and water. Once the butter has melted, bring it to the boil and immediately add the flour. Keep it on the heat for a few minutes (bit different from Hollywood here!) to cook some of the flour out, while stirring fairly vigorously to bring it all together. Once everything has come together, take it off the heat.

This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in - don't panic!
This is what the choux looks like when an egg has just gone in – don’t panic!

Start adding the eggs, a little bit at a time, and stir to incorporate into the rest of the mixture. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come together immediately, you really need to put some effort in! Hollywood reckons 2 eggs for twice this mixture, but we got nearly 2 eggs in – what you’re looking for is a really shiny, silky texture that isn’t runny but will be easy to pipe.

Ahh - perfect silky choux!
Ahh – perfect silky choux!

Once the choux mixture is done, put it in a piping bag with a 1 cm nozzle (we used disposable bags and cut a 1 cm nozzle), trying to make sure there are no air bubbles. Pipe out four 12cm-long eclairs onto a pre-prepared baking sheet lined with baking paper, and as many profiteroles as you can get out of the rest of the mixture – we managed 4 fairly large ones (about 3 cm across).

Choux going in bag

Eclairs going on

Dab down any spikes of choux with a wet finger, and whack in the oven. Bake until a light golden-brown colour – this should be about 30 minutes. As soon as they come out, put a small hole in each one with the tip of a knife, to let any steam out – otherwise they’ll go a bit soggy, and no-one wants soggy choux.

Cream

Now for the cream filling. Beat the marscapone in a bowl until smooth, and then add the coffee and icing sugar and mix in. Beat the cream until it holds soft peaks and then fold into the rest of the mixture. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm nozzle, and pipe into the eclairs and profiteroles. This is another step that’s a bit scary if you haven’t done it before! Just stick the nozzle into the hole that you made and squeeze (making sure that the cream is going to come out of the right end of the piping bag!). The eclairs will hold a surprising amount of cream, inside they’re nothing but air. They’ll be pretty weighty when you’re done!

Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!
Perfect one-hand filling from bird there!

Eclair Filled

For the icing, heat the sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan. Don’t stir initially – give it the odd shake around though. When everything is melted and a bit smoother, add the milk and bring to the boil. Keep it boiling for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take it off the heat and sift in the icing sugar. You’ll need to be quick now, the icing will harden surprisingly fast! Slather over your eclairs, and dip the profiteroles in to get a little cap of icing.

For a last extra-special touch, sprinkle over a little sea salt and gently press into the top of the icing. This lovely burst of flavour and texture just puts the icing on the cake… or should that be the salt on the icing?

The sea salt is a really excellent touch!
The sea salt is a really excellent touch!

Now – eat them! We have to say thanks to Lindt for this, not only for the lovely chocolates, but for inspiring us to get in our kitchen to cook up this quite frankly incredible dessert.

Eclair Done

We also have an exciting announcement – head over to our twitter feed for a chance to win a box of your very own Lindt Creation Desserts. A perfect gift just in time for Mother’s Day (or a treat to scoff yourself!). UK only, competition closes 21/03/2014, one box available and winner is chosen at random from followers who have retweeted – retweet and follow us on Twitter for a chance to win!

*Lindt Creation Desserts were sent to us free of charge by 4Ps Marketing. You can buy them at the lindt shop

Black Onion Seed Burger Buns

This time last year the idea that we would make our own burger buns would have been laughable! We’d only just managed to make a loaf of wholemeal bread, little did we know how bread obsessed we would become. So as not to make this a super long post we’ll be posting the recipe for the burgers that we filled these with in a day or two… keep an eye out for it, it’s a good’un! We had a look at a few different recipes online for burger buns and they all seemed to be roughly the same with slightly different amounts of milk/sugar/butter etc so we went with our usual option of winging it, and they turned out beautifully. These are topped with black onion seeds as we went for a spiced burger filling but obviously feel free to go for the more traditional sesame seeds on top.

Ingredients for 2 buns

  • 125g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried, fast action yeast
  • 50ml milk
  • 25ml water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Black onion or sesame seeds

We made ours the same way we make standard loaves – just mix together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt, then rub in the butter to form breadcrumbs. Add in the milk and the water – you might not need all of it, ours needed a little more than shown but it will differ slightly for each attempt. It will be a fairly stiff dough but don’t worry, they turn out great! Knead for around 10 minutes until smooth and elastic and then leave to rise in a bowl covered with clingfilm until doubled in size – around 1 hour in a warm room. After this time knock back, divide into two and shape by rolling into a ball and then flattening with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin until they are about 10cm diameter and 2-3cm thick. Brush with the beaten egg, cover with clingfilm again and leave to rise for half an hour. Brush them again with egg after this time and sprinkle on the seeds and then put your oven to preheat at 200°C.

Black onion seed buns raw

Leave them to rise for half an hour while the oven heats up and then pop them in for about 12-15 minutes until risen and perfectly golden brown. Leave to cool completely and then serve!

Black onion seed burger buns cooked

This is obviously a little more complicated than picking a packet up at a supermarket but these are gorgeous, slightly chewy, soft burger buns and it really makes it feel more special doing it yourself.

Rosemary and Walnut Bread

We’ve been making bread for a little over a year now, and we’re getting more and more confident at trying new things… Sometimes though, all you want is a great loaf with some cracking flavour in it. That’s what we’ve got here – this is a variation on our standard bread recipe, with the added lovely, woody, comforting flavours of rosemary and walnut pimping it up – not to mention some delicious sea salt to take the crust to the next level… On top of that, Fats picked up a couple of little loaf tins over Christmas, so we’ve provided the quantities and timings for a 400g loaf, which is perfect if there’s just a couple of you. To make a whole 800g loaf, simply double the quantities provided and bake for 20-25 minutes.

We managed to make this bread in an evening, after work and before dinner, so no excuses! Couple of tips though – warm water really helps it rise fast, especially in the winter, and it has to be put somewhere pretty warm – ours was above a radiator. We know that bread tastes better the longer it has to rise, but if you’re desperate then it is possible to make this in under 2 hours!

So, for a 400g loaf, you’ll need:

  • 150g strong white flour (plus extra for flouring the surface)
  • 100g non-white flour (we used 3 malt & sunflower – oooh, posh! – but wholemeal, rye or similar would be tasty too!)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter plus extra for greasing the tin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 150ml cold water
  • 30g walnut pieces
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 tsp good quality sea salt
  • 1/2 beaten egg (not sure where you’ll find half an egg…)

Add the two types of flour, the salt and the yeast to a bowl (keep the salt and the yeast at other sides of the bowl initially) and rub in the butter, so that there are no lumps of it remaining – you may find it easiest to cut the butter into small bits before this step. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the water, then mix it together with the flour.

Once this has all combined, tip out onto a floured surface and knead vigorously for about 10 minutes – when it’s done, it should be nice and springy. Put this into a bowl and cover with a tea towel. Put it somewhere to rise – depending on how warm it is, it should take between about 1 and 2 hours to double in size.

To prepare the awesome flavour, chop up the walnut pieces so they’re about 1/8-1/4 the size of a walnut – no need to be exact – and finely chop about 3/4 of the rosemary leaves (the rest should be less finely chopped, and will be used for the topping).

Rosemary and Walnut Ingredients

Once the dough has doubled, empty it out onto a floured surface and flatten with the palms of your hands. Once it’s a reasonable size, cover in the pieces of chopped walnuts and the finely chopped rosemary. Fold the dough over on itself, and repeat the flattening-folding a couple of times to work the rosemary and walnut in. Now flatten it out one last time, so that one side is about the length of your loaf tin, and the other is about 1.5 times this. Line the tin with baking paper and butter. Roll the dough up, and place in the tin. Leave this somewhere to prove – this should take about 1 hour.

Rosemary and Walnuts Before Working In

Rosemary and Walnut in Tin

Prepare the oven by pre-heating to 230ºC. Mix together an egg wash with your half an egg and the remainder of the rosemary – you can throw in a few walnut pieces if you have any lying around. Once the dough has proved, cover with the egg, making sure there are no big lumps of egg anywhere – you’re making a loaf of bread not an omelette! Place the sea salt on the top of the egg wash, taking care not to crush any of the flakes. Put in the oven and immediately turn down to 220ºC. It should take about 18-20 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on it so that the top doesn’t burn.

Rosemary and Walnut With Topping

Once it’s baked, take it out and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cooling the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This bread is definitely better once it has cooled down, so don’t be tempted to crack into it too soon!

Rosemary and Walnut Done

We had this with a winter salad from our new Rachel Khoo recipe book – the rosemary and walnut perfectly complemented the roast carrots and parsnips! It’s also particularly good with cheese – we can recommend Taleggio, a nicely pungent washed-rind cheese that we managed to pick up in the supermarket, but Brie or Camembert, or any blue cheese would be good too – this loaf has the flavour to stand up to strong cheese!

Cranberry, Orange and White Chocolate Muffins

Just a quickie here, these mini muffins were whipped up for Bird to take into work for her belated birthday cake and they all disappeared very quickly! There is still a hint of the festive with the cranberry and orange combination, but cranberry and white chocolate is a classic that takes some beating. This recipe made 22 mini muffins (fairy cake sized cases) and would probably make 12-14 standard sized muffins.

Ingredients

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (not essence!)
  • 200ml milk, we used semi-skimmed
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped into small squares
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • zest of half an orange

White Chocolate, Orange and Cranberry

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. In a jug mix together the milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Pour this mixture into the bowl and mix together being careful not to overmix. Add the melted butter, again mix gently and then fold in the chocolate, cranberries and orange. And that’s the mix done! Easy peasy.

Muffins in Cases

Spoon the mix into cake cakes in a muffin tin (or use 2-3 cases inside each other on a baking tray if you don’t have a muffin tin) and place into the oven. Ours took around 15-18 minutes to be light golden on top and baked through but if you’re making these full size then they will take longer, around 25 minutes probably. Take them out, leave them to cool and then dive in! Or if you’re saintly like us, feed them to your colleagues while they complain about January dieting. The perfect antidote to the worst Monday of the year!

That'll be what, 2 servings?
That’ll be what, 2 servings?

Cinnamon Rolls

If you’ve been following our instagram recently you’ll have spotted this little beauty. Not completely stuffed to bursting with all of the wonderful home-made treats provided by Mama Fats over the festive period – not to mention the mountains of chocolate we received on Christmas day – we thought we’d top it all off with some extra-special cinnamon rolls, especially for Bird’s Birthday! We’ve got a lot more confident with our bread making in the last year, and couldn’t have imagined attempting something like this at the turn of 2013. This is a really easy recipe though, and as long as you give the dough time to rise you’ll end up with beautifully fluffy rolls, a real treat! Even Fats’ little brother loves these, and he “doesn’t like cinnamon” (at least one of us must be adopted…).

For 12 cinnamon rolls, you’ll need:

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150g light brown sugar (we used light muscovado sugar)
  • 1½ tsp dried yeast
  • 175g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 free-range eggs, plus one egg yolk, for glazing (in all the excitement we forgot to glaze ours!)
  • flavourless oil (e.g. sunflower, vegetable) for oiling
  • 1 orange, zest and juice (optional)
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon

Start by making the dough. Mix together the flour, 50g of the sugar, 75g of the softened butter, the salt and the yeast in a large bowl, making sure that the butter is well rubbed in. Add the milk and one of the eggs and combine with your hands – it will start off quite sticky and very messy, but should come together once the flour has been incorporated. Put the mixture onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is nice and springy. Place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise until it has doubled in size – it should take about 1 1/2 hours, but this depends on how warm it is.

Cinnamon roll dough before rising
Cinnamon roll dough before rising
Cinnamon Roll Dough After Rising
Cinnamon Roll Dough After Rising (and a bit of prodding…)

To make the filling take the rest of the butter, sugar, cinnamon and optionally the orange zest, and combine together in a bowl with a fork to form a paste.

Once the dough has risen, oil a surface and tip the dough onto it. Roll out the dough into a rectangle so that it is at least 30 cm long in one dimension, and about the thickness of a pound coin (3-4 mm). Smear over the filling, ensuring that it reaches the sides of the dough that will form the ends of the roll.

Cinnamon Roll Dough Rolled Out

Cinnamon Roll Dough Covered in Filling

Now roll it up tightly – you’ll get a good roll if you ensure that the first roll is really tight. Slice this up into 12 rolls of even width, and place into a lined and oiled baking tray, leaving a small gap between each roll. Leave to prove until most of the gaps are filled in.

Cinnamon Roll Dough Rolled Up

This is what they look like before proving - make sure there are some gaps for them to expand into
This is what they look like before proving – make sure there are some gaps for them to expand into
After proving - almost good enough to eat already!
After proving – almost good enough to eat already!

Preheat an oven to 200ºC. Brush the rolls with the yolk of an egg, to get a nice glaze – we forgot this bit, but they still worked out alright! When the oven is up to temperature, put the rolls in and cook on 200ºC for 10 minutes, before turning the temperature down to 180ºC and cooking for a further 20 minutes. When they’re nicely golden on top, take them out and leave to stand on a cooling rack for a little while, but not too long – these are absolutely delicious when they’re warm! If you forgot to glaze yours like we did – or if you just want a bit of extra orangeyness – you can glaze again with a mixture of orange juice and melted butter once they come out of the oven.

Cinnamon Rolls Done

These won’t stick around for very long, especially if you’re surrounded by a sweet-toothed and hungry family! They’re really good reheated too, so you don’t have to eat them all at once…

Moroccan-style Spiced Vegetable Stew with Maneesh

We had originally planned to make this Moroccan-style roasted vegetable traybake and serve it with cous cous but Bird found herself with a bit of time on her hands. After a flick through Paul Hollywood’s “Bread” she decided to give Maneesh a go. Maneesh is a Middle Eastern flatbread topped with sesame seeds and herbs – basically a za’atar mixture which we’ve used previously with steak. Paul’s recipe can be found here.

The dough was really stretchy and sticky – very fun to work with!  We made half the amount in Paul’s book, he said his made 3 large maneesh but we managed to get 2 pretty huge breads out of half of the mixture. The vegetables were ridiculously simple – a mixture of bite-sized pieces of Mediterranean vegetables, roasted until slightly charred then smothered in chopped tomatoes, mixed with chickpeas and roasted for a further few minutes – often the simplest things are the best. This made a beautifully hearty dinner with enough vegetables left over for 2 lunches. It was lovely on it’s own but would be great with some meat, fish or cheese or could form one of many mezze courses to be enjoyed with friends!

Ingredients for 2 large maneesh

  • 250 g strong white flour
  • 5 g salt
  • 12 g caster sugar
  • 5 g instant yeast
  • 10 ml olive oil, plus extra for kneading and another 1bsp to make the za’atar paste
  • 180 ml tepid water
  • 2 heaped tbsp za’atar

You make this like a fairly standard bread dough. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (adding the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl at first), then add in 10 ml of olive oil and most of the water – you don’t need to bother rubbing in the olive oil like a regular loaf. Mix all of this together until you have a soft, smooth dough, adding the rest of the water slowly as needed. We used pretty much all of the water but you may not need to. Once it has come together tip onto an oiled surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until really soft and elastic. Place it in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film to rise, it needs to at least double in size – ours took just over an hour near a warm radiator.

Maneesh with za'atar

Once it’s risen tip it out onto an oiled surface again and knock back, fold it on itself and make sure all of the air is out. Once done split the dough into two. Roll each piece into a ball and then roll out with a rolling pin to form a large roughly circular shape. Put onto a baking sheet lined with oiled greaseproof paper. Now mix together the za’atar with enough oil to form a thick paste and smear onto the maneesh, leaving a small border around the edge. Pre-heat the oven to 210°C (Paul says 230 but we found this a bit hot) and leave the maneesh to rest for 20-30 minutes while the oven comes to temperature. When the oven is ready pop the bread in, we did ours one at a time as they cook best on the middle shelf. They take about 10-15 minutes to cook, when they’re golden-brown they’re ready! Leave to cool, turn the oven down to 180°C and start chopping your vegetables…

Cooked Maneesh

Ingredients for vegetable stew

  • A selection of chopped vegetables, we used 1 aubergine, 2 peppers, 2 courgettes, 1 large carrot, 1 red onion, all cut into bite-sized pieces with the carrots chopped slightly smaller as they take longer to cook
  • 1 tbsp ras el hanout
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes – optional
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1-2 tsp pomegranate molasses – optional

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large roasting dish and coat with the ras el hanout, sea salt, oil and chilli flakes (if using). Place in a preheated oven at 180°C. The whole dish will take about 1 hour to make, check on the vegetables every 15-20 minutes to move them around. After around 50 minutes they should be getting slightly charred and very soft so tip in the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and the pomegranate molasses. Cook for a further 10 minutes and it’s ready!

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

We cut our maneesh in half, served the spicy vegetable stew on half and placed the other half on top for dipping. This was a real success and the maneesh made it feel a lot fancier than it was – give it a try!

Maneesh and vegetable stew

Couronne

We like a challenge, so, upon flicking through recipe books to find inspiration for last weeks menu our eyes were drawn to a beautiful work of buttery art in Paul Hollywood’s “Bread”. Before the latest season of The Great British Bake Off we (and probably most of the nation) would have never heard of a couronne. Now however we know that a couronne is a round treat made of soft, rich, buttery dough, which is usually sweet and stuffed with dried fruit or similar. The recipe we came across was for a savoury one, still rich, still buttery but filled with prosciutto, basil and oozy mozzarella – you can find the recipe here. It was lust at first sight and we put it straight on the menu for Saturday. We’ve made two enriched doughs before – challah and cinnamon buns so this is still fairly new ground for us. The dough is made entirely in a mixer with a dough hook because it’s so sticky and hard to work by hand, mainly due to the huge amounts of butter! This has a whole pack of butter in it. Hello cholesterol problems! But as an occasional treat it’s fine, and it’s so tasty that you have to think “sod it!”.

We’re not saying this is the easiest bread in the world, probably not the best choice for your first foray into yeasted bakes, but we’re by no means experts and it turned out beautifully! Bread, and especially enriched doughs, are seen as really scary by some people (i.e. us, just over a year ago!) but it’s one of the most therapeutic ways to spend an hour or two and you get something really delicious at the end of it. Anyway, enough wanging on, on with the main event!

First up: the dough. Your butter must be soft for this so we used an old Mary Berry tip (cheers Bezza!) – cube your butter and place in a jug/bowl of lukewarm water to soften it. The water shouldn’t feel particularly warm to the touch otherwise you’ll end up with a bowl of melted butter and water, just slightly warm. The strong white flour is placed in the bowl of a mixer with yeast and salt, and then milk and eggs are added. Use the dough hook to combine these and then, while it’s still running, slowly add the butter. This should take at least 5 minutes but ours took about 15 because our mixer isn’t the sturdiest! Once all of the butter has been added and there are no large streaks of it take it out and leave to rise in a large, oiled bowl for at least 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

Getting nice and stretchy.
Getting nice and stretchy.

When it has risen tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Don’t knock back, just roll out to a large rectangle (about 50cm by 30cm and about 1.5cm thick). Now’s the time to put the toppings on – we followed the recipe but because this one was a success we now can’t stop dreaming up new fillings! Anyway, for this one lay the strips of prosciutto over the dough trying to cover as much of it as possible. Then tear the mozzarella over and lastly tear the basil leaves over. Roll it up starting from a long edge so you have a large sausage of dough with the filling swirled in the middle. Now comes the slightly tricky part; slice the dough lengthways down the sausage and then grabbing the ends tightly twist it quite tightly so that you end up with a rope-like structure with most of the filling on the inside. Coil this into a circle and place on piece of lightly oiled greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Couronne With Fillings

Couronne Before Baking

This beast then needs to prove for an hour or two until roughly doubled in size again. Preheat the oven to 200°C after about an hour of rising. When you’re ready to bake brush the couronne with a beaten egg and sprinkle on some grated parmesan, and pop in the oven for around 25 minutes. After this time you should be greeted by a golden monster, complete with oozy cheese! Leave it to cool for at least 20-30 minutes, it will still be warm after this time but not boiling hot.

Phwoar!
Phwoar!

We had ours served with the salad that was suggested in the book with spinach, roasted butternut squash, goats cheese, olives and spring onions and we added our own little crunch with toasted pinenuts. This was a brilliant dinner, it would be ideal for when friends are over too and what an amazing impression it would make when it landed on the table! We also had the couronne with tomato-based soups later in the week which was lovely too.

Bread filled with cheese, covering in cheese, served with cheese... what could be better?
Bread filled with cheese, covered in cheese, served with cheese… what could be better?

So give yourself a day when you’ve got time to give this recipe a bit of love and attention and give it a go, it’s so worth it, we would say for the sense of pride alone but the cheesy delight that you end up with isn’t bad either!

 

What We’ve Been Baking

We’ve been getting our bake on a fair bit lately, but unfortunately the stuffing of baked goods into our mouths took precedence over photographing our efforts on many occasions! So here is a little roundup of our bakes, I’m sure we’ll be making them again soon and we will try to be better bloggers so we can give you proper recipes.

First up for a charity Bake Sale at Bird’s work we made Raspberry & Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies and Challah. The brownies were immense – gooey, sweet, and a little bit sharp from the berries and the cream cheese. We will definitely be baking these again! We’ve got a feeling Fats’ family will be particularly fond of these…

The beautiful swirls before baking
The beautiful swirls before baking
The finished article! (sorry about the naff Instagram quality)
The finished article! (sorry about the naff Instagram quality)

Challah is a Jewish enriched bread, it’s sort of like brioche, soft, light, slightly sweet and so moreish. Apparently it makes amazing french toast too but we’ve never had enough left over to make it, oops! We shaped ours into a simple 3 strand plait, simple but quite effective.

_MG_3484 (1000x667)

Plain Challah
Plain Challah
Slightly wonky poppyseed Challah
Slightly wonky poppyseed Challah

Lastly, and firmly on the savoury front, some little rye and poppyseed rolls made in ramekins, not only adorable but a great way of making bread stay fresh for days as you aren’t cutting into a loaf. We simply made half the usual amount (so 250g of flour) but still followed our basic bread recipe, using around 1/3 rye flour and 2/3 strong white flour. These also made very cute little pieces of toast!

The rolls before baking
The rolls before baking
They rose more than expected!
They rose more than expected!

So that’s what we’ve been baking, hopefully we can share the full recipes with you soon. What have you been baking lately?

Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Chilli Bread

Bread time again! We thought we’d try something a bit different to warm us up during the recent cold snap. This sweet potato-based bread is our first foray into vegetable breads, and although it didn’t turn out quite perfect it still tasted totally delicious and we had to share it with you.

Here’s what you’ll need for a standard (about 800 g) loaf/boule:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • A few sprigs rosemary
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • About 350 g strong white flour (enough to make it up to 500 g with the sweet potato) plus a bit more for kneading and making a crust
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 heaped tsp fast-acting yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 ml tepid water
  • 1- 2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Start by taking the skin of the sweet potato, chopping it up into fairly small chunks and roasting it, along with the rosemary, seasoning (good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper) and olive oil for about 45 minutes at around 180 °C. You want the sweet potato to be soft, not crispy – otherwise the next bit will be pretty much impossible!

Sweet potato for bread

Once the sweet potato has cooled down, roll your sleeves up, take a deep breath and force the roasted sweet potato through a metal sieve. Pushing it through with the back of a spoon seems to work pretty well, but it’s hard work! Take out any rosemary leaves and add them to the sieved potato, but discard the stalks. If anyone has any better ideas for how to smooth out the sweet potato, leave us a message in the comments.

That ordeal over and done with, add the sieved sweet potato to a measuring scales and add enough strong white flour to make up the total weight of the potato and the flour up to 500 g. Add to a mixing bowl with 1 heaped tsp yeast, the table salt, the honey and the extra virgin olive oil. You may want to use a food mixer with a dough hook to bring the mixture together, as it gets pretty sticky – we did, but it’ll work just fine with your hands. While you’re bringing it together, slowly add the tepid water, about 50 ml at a time.

Flour it up!
Flour it up!

Once the dough has all come together, by machine or hand, tip it onto a well floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes. You’ll have to flour the surface again and again as it will stay pretty sticky! Once it springs back place in a well-oiled bowl, cover with cling-film and leave to rise in a warm place. Once it has doubled in size (about 2 hours), knock back, shape (whatever you like – we did a boule but would like to try a loaf next time!) and leave to prove for another hour or so.

About 20 minutes before the bread is ready to go in the oven, preheat it to about 200 °C. Now for the chilli crust – this step is kind of optional, but we urge you to give it a go as the results are delicious! Mix together a couple of tablespoons of strong white flour, 1 tsp yeast, the dried chilli flakes, and just enough water to turn it into a spreadable paste.

SP bread with chilli

Just before the bread goes into the oven, put a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife and smear over the chilli and flour paste so that it forms a thin layer. Now put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the top is dark and golden.

We ate our bread with some roasted red pepper and butter bean soup with some flaked pecorino, but it’s delicious all on its own!

Sweet potato bread done

Tart Tuesday: Chocolate and Coffee Ganache with Roasted Hazelnuts

Guess who’s back… back again… Tart Tuesday’s back… ok so it doesn’t really work. Anyway, the point is that it was a particularly emotionally draining week on The Great British Bake Off with both Paul and Mary seeming to have woken up on the wrong side of bed that morning (separate beds hopefully) and all of the fantastic bakers took a verbal hammering. To counteract the distressing nature of this viewing we made our most indulgent mini tarts to date! These little artery-cloggers are filled with a ganache made with both dark and milk chocolate, coffee liqueur and then topped with chopped, roasted hazelnuts.

Once again we used the same pastry as featured in all of our Tart Tuesday posts but as this is a fridge set tart the pastry was rolled out to pretty thin (around 5mm) and then placed in the same loose-bottomed tart cases that we’ve used throughout (thanks Nanny Bird for those!). The base of it was then pricked with a fork and a piece of greaseproof paper placed in each, filled with baking beans and then baked blind for just under 10 minutes at 180°C, then the beans and greaseproof paper were removed and it was baked for a further 10 minutes or so until lightly golden and firm. Leave these to cool fully while you make the ganache.

Chopped Chocolate

We used a mixture of half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate to give a semi-sweet filling as no sugar is added. Finely chop 100g of your desired chocolate and place in a jug for easy filling of the tarts. Place 65ml of double cream in a small pan over the lowest heat and slowly heat until it begins to steam, at this stage tip in about 1 tbsp of liqueur. If you wanted to miss this step and make them non alcoholic just used 75-80 ml of cream instead. We used a coffee liqueur but orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut or probably many others would be delicious too.

Once you have added the liqueur to the cream watch it closely and once it starts bubbling slightly pour it over the chopped chocolate immediately. Let this mixture stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the hot cream do it’s work, and then using a whisk bring the ganache together. You will end up with a much better, glossier ganache if you try not to introduce much air at this stage so don’t whisk properly, just gently use the whisk to mix until you have a rich, glossy mixture. Pour this into the cold pastry cases and then put in the fridge to chill – ours chilled for about an hour and a half and had a beautiful truffle-y texture. You can leave it just simple like this or top with it anything you like, we used chopped roasted hazelnuts made by roasting a small handful of whole hazelnuts at 180°C for 5 minutes, chopping once cool and sprinkling on top.

Chocolate Tarts

Enjoy… Who do you hope wins Bake Off?