Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Treat Petite October

Welcome to Treat Petite October!

Thank you to everyone who entered last month's 'Anything Goes' theme hosted by Cakeyboi. There were some seriously yummy entries!

This month's theme is:

This is one of my favourite times of year as I love all the autumn baking themes and flavours that it provokes. Anything spooky you make for Halloween, or any Autumn treat is permitted this month!

Here are those all important rules:

1. Add your petite treat to the Linky Tool at the bottom of the current month's post by the 25th of the month, midnight at the latest

2. Post your bake onto your blog and link back to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, stating who is hosting this month

3. Follow Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer blogs on Google+ (see sidebar links), if you haven't already.

4. If you tweet use #treatpetite and mention @MrCakeyboi and @BakingExplorer - we will retweet

5. Add the challenge logo to the post and 'Treat Petite' as a label to the post

6. Use any recipe as long as the source is noted

7. If you like, add your photo to the 'Treat Petite' Pinterest board (request access from Cakeyboi)

Feel free to enter old posts as long as you update the post and meet all the requirements above!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Pumpkin Custard Donuts: GBBO Week #8

We're at the quarter finals now and the challenges are getting more difficult to really test the bakers. This week's theme was advanced dough and for the first challenge the bakers had to make a sweet fruit loaf with an enriched dough. They could use any filling or flavour they wanted, the only rule was that no tins were allowed. The loaves had to be free form. Paul told us that enriched dough benefits from a slow prove as the butter, eggs and sugar that are added to the dough slows the yeast down.

Nancy hurried up here proving time by microwaving her dough. Paul was concerned about her doing this, but she had practised it at home with success. The dough certainly rose and her loaf was absolutely massive! It turned out ok, but was slightly underbaked. Luis added a cherry brandy soaked sugar cube to the middle of each of his fruit buns, which he used to make a tree shaped loaf.The judges thought it looked spectacular and it was also baked very well.

Paul Hollywood was on form and stalked the bakers as they decorated their loaves, provoking many shaky hands no doubt! Martha's Spiced Plum loaf was a little underbaked, but the judges liked the flavour. Chetna made a Date & Walnut loaf which Paul thought had too much cinnamon in, but looked good and was baked well. Richard did very well and the judges had nothing bad to say!

The technical bake this week was Povitica, a Croatian swirled bread. Exactly what Chetna made in the first challenge, except shaped slightly differently. She was certainly pleased! It is an Eastern European cross between a bread and a pastry. All the other bakers immediately started wracking their brains trying to remember what Chetna did in the morning! Nancy was back to the microwave again to make the filling more pliable for spreading onto the dough, and Richard was right behind her copying the technique! Or as he called it 'learning by looking'!

Chetna knew how long to prove and bake the dough for which was key to the recipe. Of course that information was not included in the recipe provided so she certainly had an advantage. I'm surprised they kept the challenge the same to be honest, as they obviously know what the bakers are going to make for the signature in advance. She came first, of course, Luis came second and Nancy third. Martha was fifth and Richard fourth.

One of my favourite showstoppers ever was this week - donuts! Who doesn't like these delicious, deep fried, jam filled treats?! I've never wished so hard to be the chief taste tester in the tent. The bakers had to make two different types of donuts. I was so impressed with Luis' Raspberry Mojito and Mudslide Donuts. Baileys is one of my favourite liquors and I would've taken care of most of these! Chetna made a South African inspired braided donut called a Koeksister which has potato in the dough.

Richard went for heart shaped Rhubarb & Custard Donuts and Toffee Apple Donuts, which the judges loved and Paul called 'professional'. Nancy made half her donuts for adults by flavouring them with Limoncello, and the other half for children by decorating them with a familiar face. They were slightly irregular in terms of colour and a little dry, but had great flavour. Martha accidentally overproved her Passionfruit Curd Donuts which meant the were quite flat instead of puffed up.

Martha left the competition this week after coming last in the technical and overproving her showstopper. The level of baking talent and knowledge she has for a young girl is very impressive, and I think she will do well after the programme. Richard broke a record by becoming star baker for the fourth time!

This week I decided to make these golden deep fried Pumpkin Custard Donuts. I've made baked donuts before, but never the fried kind so I had to give it a go. They are a lot more involved and do take more time to make, but belive me the results are worth it!

I started with the pumpkin custard first. In a bowl I weighed out 112g granulated sugar, 35g plain flour, 25g cornflour, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 pinches nutmeg and 2 pinches ground all spice.

In a pan I warmed 450ml whole milk and 2 tsp vanilla extract until it steamed.

Whilst it was heating I whisked up 6 egg yolks and 165g pumpkin puree.

I sieved the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and whisked to make sure there were no lumps. I poured in half the warmed milk, whisking as I poured

I then poured the mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk and heated it for about 4 minutes, continuously whisking, until it thickened.

Once thick I put it in a bowl and covered with cling film. I made sure the cling film was pressed right against the custard, so a 'skin' didn't form. I put it in the fridge to cool down completely.

To make the dough I started by melting 150ml milk and 75g butter. I left it to cool until tepid, and added 2 tsp dried yeast and 1 tbsp caster sugar. I left it for 10 minutes, covered with a lid. Then I mixed in 2 beaten eggs.

I weighed out 425g plain flour and mixed in 1/2 tsp salt and 50g caster sugar.

I made a well in the flour and poured the wet mixture in.

 I formed a rough dough and kneaded it for 10 minutes. It was pretty sticky so I oiled my hands.

 I placed the dough into an oiled bowl, covered it and put it in a warm place for 2 hours.

 After the first prove it had doubled in size nicely, this is always the testing part with enriched dough!

I split the dough up into equal pieces and rolled them into balls. I got 16 pieces. I covered them with loose cling film and tea towels and left them in warm place for the second prove. This took 1 hour 30 minutes.

 They rose again nicely, but I did have some problems with them sticking to the baking paper.

I set up the oil in my big jam making pan with a thermometer attached. I used about 1 litre vegetable oil. I heated it slowly until it reached 350F/180C.

I tested a small amount of dough first to check the heat was ready, then I gently placed two of the donuts at time in the oil and fried for about 1 minute per side until dark golden brown.

I fished them out with a slotted spoon and put them on kitchen towel to cool down.

I used a piping bag to fill the donuts with the custard once they were completely cool. I punched a hole in the side and filled until the custard resisted or started to come out. I then iced the top with regular icing sugar mixed with a pinch of cinnamon.

One of my most popular bakes yet, these went down extremely well and my colleagues gobbled them up, I was breaking people's diets left right and centre! Very tasty, the cinnamon really came through and the dough was lovely and soft. You could fill them with anything you want, jam of course is the classic choice. It is a lot of effort to make these, so I don't know if it's something I'll do again soon, but they are definitely worth it for a special occassion or an indulgent treat!

I am linking up again to Supergolden Bakes GBBO Bake Along.

Pumpkin pastry cream recipe from About.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Book Review: What To Bake & How To Bake It by Jane Hornby

Despite being a frequent baker and recipe lover, I don't actually buy too many recipe books. Sure I have more than your average person, but most of them were gifts. So when I recently got sent 'What To Bake & How To Bake It' by Jane Hornby to review I was excited to see what it was like. My first impressions were that the cover illustration was really eye catching, and once I saw the photos inside that the illustrator was portraying, I also thought it was very impressive art work!

This is the third book from author Jane Hornby. She is a UK based food writer, editor and food stylist who trained at Leith's Cookery School in London. Jane says that her "whole ethos is to inspire and help people to simply cook more, with well-explained and thoroughly tested recipes that look as good as they taste."

One of my main requirements for a recipe book it that there is a photo for every bake in it. I like to see what it should look like at the end! This book has clear aerial photos for every step of the recipe, so you can see the ingredients clearly laid out, and what it's supposed to look like along the way. Every recipe has a photo of the end result - which made me very happy!

I made two recipes from the book, Golden Citrus Drizzle Cake and a Flourless Chocolate Torte. It was hard to pick a recipe to make because I genuinely liked the sound of almost every recipe in the book. There was only one I wouldn't make and that is purely because I don't like coffee. I have a lot more on the list to try out soon! The Golden Citrus Drizzle Cake was so light and delicious, I really enjoyed it and ate a few pieces. Chocolate Torte is something I've been wanting to try making for a while, and it was rich and fudgey just how I hoped.

Although I (mostly) know what I'm doing when it comes to baking, I enjoyed the clear instructions and suggestions. Jane adds tips, ingredient substitutions and  recipe adjustments to each recipe so you can make it your own. I had to use some adjustments such as just using orange and lemon in the drizzle cake as I didn't have any limes, and almond flour instead of ground almonds in the torte, and they both still came out great!

I think this book is suitable for experienced and new bakers, and I'd be really pleased to receive it as a gift. It's almost like an instruction manual and it makes you feel at ease when following the recipes. I'm going to continue baking from it and both me, my boyfriend and my colleagues are looking forward to eating the results!

NB. I was sent the book free to review, but was not required to write a positive review.