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
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
Well it’s official – we’re obsessed with Bake Off! It has its detractors (masonry my arse – did you see that peacock?? Magnificent!) but we love it and we can’t wait to see what they bake up next. We’re celebrating bread week with something that’s definitely not one of our recipes – Paul Hollywood’s Bacon and Stilton bread, taken from his book Bread.
We love our own recipe for bread, and make it all the time – we rarely buy bread any more – but sometimes it’s nice to try something new. Bird received Paul Hollywood’s book as a present earlier this year (if anyone’s reading – more recipe books please!) and it’s great! We’ve been working our way through it and the recipes usually work a treat (although some of them are more challenging than others) and the meal ideas that accompany the breads are all delicious. We’re working up to trying some of the enriched doughs with our new food mixer – thanks nanny Bird! – and broadening our doughy horizons.
Paul’s recipe for Bacon and Stilton bread is super easy. It’s pretty similar to our recipe done with pure strong white flour, butter rather than oil, 2 or 3 rashers of bacon, and a lump of Stilton – we used about 40 grams. The only things to remember are that because of the salty bacon and Stilton, we used a bit less salt than we usually would, and because of the fatty cheese and butter (Mmm fatty – Fats) you should use flour to cover the surface where you’ll be working it instead of oil, since oil is a bit fatty itself.
We made half the amount suggested (by halving all the ingredients) and found that it made a really stiff dough, but this was easily remedied by adding a bit more water than suggested. The dough came together really nicely in the end – I think we’re really getting to know our breads!
You’ll see from the pictures that we have a lot to learn when it comes to shaping bread! Not to worry though, it tasted absolutely delicious, and I think the man himself would be proud of our “regular crumb structure” and a complete absence of soggy bottoms! We ate it with the celery soup as suggested in the book, which was another winner. Although I think Paul’s food processor must be a bit better than ours as we struggled to put it through a sieve afterwards to achieve the silky texture – I think next time we’ll be going straight for the hand blender.
You can find some of Paul Hollywood’s actual recipes on his BBC page, and in our experience they’re pretty good. We’ll keep your posted on our adventures into enriched dough land… In the mean time, we’re looking forward to next week’s floating islands and wizard hats!
We love pizza! It’s definitely one of our favourite treats, and there are some great places in Bristol to get amazing pizza (see our review of The Stable for one example). Sometimes though it’s fun to have a go at making it at home – it’s a great one for when friends come round to dinner as everyone can have a go at making their own. We’ve got a foolproof recipe for pizza dough and some great toppings to share with you.
This recipe for pizza dough makes one medium-sized pizza base – we find that it feeds two people, you can double this up if you’re making 2 pizzas and it still works well. You’ll need:
175 g strong white flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon easy bake/fast action yeast
½ teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
First, measure out the ingredients into a mixing bowl, being careful to keep the salt and the yeast separate. Make sure the oil is mixed in by rubbing it through the flour with your fingertips – the mixture should be breadcrumb-y. Now make a small well in the mixture and add 120 ml water, and prepare to get messy!
Mix the water into the flour to form a wet dough. Once everything has come together, knead it/smack it about a bit on a floured surface. The dough is ready when you can press your thumb into it and it springs back. Now put it aside in an oiled bowl (so that it doesn’t stick to the sides), cover it with cling film and leave it to rise. You want it to roughly double or triple in size, and depending on how warm it is this could take anything from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. If you want it to rise a bit slower you can put it in the fridge.
That’s your base done! I’m afraid we didn’t manage any pizza base acrobatics due to height restrictions in our kitchen (we didn’t want to end up with a dough-splattered ceiling), and instead just stretched out the bases to roughly cover our baking trays.
Now for the tomato sauce topping. This makes enough for 2 medium sized pizzas. Chop up half a white onion and some garlic and fry in a saucepan over a medium-low heat with some dried herbs (basil, rosemary and thyme work well) for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Then add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Blend this up a bit so that there aren’t any chunks of onion and tomato left.
We’ve used this recipe a couple of times now and it works a treat! Here’s some of the toppings we’ve used, but half the fun is making up your own!
Tomato and Parmesan on a pesto base
Tomato, green peppers and Parmesan on a tomato base
Serrano ham, goats cheese, mozzarella, figs, pine nuts, caramelised onion relish and wilted spinach on a tomato base
Artichokes, green pepper, pesto and mozzarella on a tomato base
Chorizo, spring onions and Parmesan on a tomato and chipotle chili base (to make this base, just add a heaped teaspoon of chipotle chili paste into some of the tomato sauce)
Once you’ve loaded up your pizza, heat up your baking trays in the oven (at about 220°C) – putting the pizzas on a hot base means they go much crispier – and then put the pizzas in for about 12 minutes, or until they start to go nice and golden.
We loved all of these, but we had our favourites! Fats reckons you can’t beat the chorizo with the chipotle chili base for sheer spicy-smoky awesomeness, but Bird thought the Serrano ham and figs were about the most indulgently delicious thing that’s ever been on a plate.
Bread is a fairly recent obsession of ours, we were a bit scared to try it, it seemed overly complicated – what type of yeast? How many times does it have to rise!?
Then, encouraged by Mr Hollywood’s baby blues, we gave it a bash and guess what? It’s. So. Easy! We very rarely buy bread now, we can knock a loaf up in an evening and it is just so much nicer than shop bought.
As part of a gift we got “Paul Hollywood’s Bread” so are going to be baking our way through that and will share any successes, failures and lessons learnt with you. I can’t wait for this as we tend to stick to either white loaves, wholemeal loaves or occasionally something slightly fancier like rye or spelt but we’re excited to branch out into breads from different countries and cultures.
Starting simple this is our (hopefully foolproof) method for making a basic white or wholemeal loaf:
Measure out 500g of flour. You want to use either strong white bread flour, or a mixture of strong white and a wholemeal/seeded bread flour. We tend to use Allinsons but that’s a personal preference. If you bake a whole loaf with wholemeal it can be a bit heavy which is fine for some things but for a good standard loaf that makes amazing toast you’ll want it to be a bit lighter and fluffier. A good mix we’ve found is 200g of wholemeal to 300g of white, or half and half.
To one side of your flour add 1 tsp of Easy Bake Yeast and to the other side of the bowl add 1 tsp of table salt. The reason for doing this is the salt will kill the yeast if it’s too concentrated so you’ll end up with a pancake, not a loaf.
Mix the salt and the yeast into the flour, and then rub in 1 tbsp of fat. This can be either butter or oil, we like to use butter for a wholemeal loaf and oil for a white loaf but again, try different combinations out and see what works for you!
Once you have a breadcrumb like texture and all of the fat is rubbed in make a well in the centre of the flour ready to add in the water. There is a lot of debate over warm water vs cold water – cold water works absolutely fine for us, if you are in a very cold environment (like our old flat….brrr!) then you might want to add the water warm just to encourage the yeast to start working their magic.
Measure out 300ml of water, and add most of this to your flour. Bring the mixture together either with a spoon, or if you’re anything like us and love to get mucky, with your hand. You’re looking for a smooth dough which comes together nicely and is as non-sticky as possible, 300ml usually is perfect for us but you might have to use a bit more/less.
Now comes the really good bit – the kneading. If you’ve used oil in your dough then lightly oil some of your kitchen surface, or if you’ve used butter then lightly flour it and bash that dough around! I believe it’s scientifically proven that the calories burnt during this upper body workout completely negate any from consuming the bread.
It needs kneading for about 10 minutes, technique isn’t too important, just bash it around and stretch it out to really get that gluten working. Once it is beautifully soft and elastic and springs back most of the way if you prod it with a finger it’s ready to rise.
Place it in a clean bowl which has been lightly oiled or floured and then cover with cling film and leave it until it’s doubled in size which should take about an hour.
Once this has happened we knock it back, so just a light punch or two to get rid of the big air bubbles and then back in the bowl to recover from it’s abuse for twenty minutes or so.
Now you get to shape it, you can either bake it in something (like a loaf tin for a traditional shape), or just shape into a round or whatever other shape you would like with your hands.
For a loaf tin grease and line a loaf tin and then flatten the dough out to a rectangle where the short side is the length of the loaf tin, fold in the sides like a book, flatten again and then roll up tightly and pop it in the tin.
For a round just shape it into a ball with your hands, tucking the sides under as you go to get a nice, tight shape. Then place this on a greased and lined baking sheet to rise.
For what we are using the bread for 2 flat-ish loaves were best so we cut the dough in half and then rolled it with both hands.
This then needs to rise again for another hour. I know this recipe sounds really time consuming, and to an extent it is, but it’s a lovely thing to have going on in the background and it is so worth it!
Once it’s nearly had it’s hour to rise whack the oven on to 220°C and, if you like a good crust on the bread, put an empty tray in the bottom of the oven to heat up. We slashed our bread and put a milk glaze on – olive oil also works nicely but you don’t have to put one on at all. Once the oven is hot and the bread is ready throw a glass of water in the hot tray in the bottom so it creates lots of steam and then put your bread in.
Leave it alone to bake for 30 minutes, don’t open the oven door for the first 20 minutes but you can have a peek quickly after this if the smell is just overwhelmingly sexy (it will be).
Take it out of the oven, leave to cool for a few minutes and then turn it out of the tin/slide off of the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack (please feel free to tap the bottom of it like they do on tv and grin like an idiot when it sounds hollow).
p.s. we are making this bread into bruschetta to have with baked camembert… hopefully we won’t dive in too quickly and forget to take photos!