Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ciabatta: GBBO Week #3

Bread week on The Great British Bake Off started with a request from the judges for 12 identical bread rolls made with rye flour. I really do think that getting everything to look exactly the same is basically the opposite of home baking! I've never used rye flour before and honestly when I've tried rye bread I did not like it all, but the bakers were adding some interesting flavours that made it sound a lot more appetising. Rye is a healtheir alternative to regular wheat flour, however because of this it has a low gluten content and as Paul tells us it is "extremely difficult to work with" as you have to work the dough much more than usual to build up the gluten.

Most of the bakers stuck to fairly traditional flavour combinations such as Kate's Orange & Cardamom Rolls, Martha's Date & Walnut Rolls, and Jordan's Lemon & Poppyseed Rolls. Diana and Chetna went down the savoury route with Cheese & Walnut Rolls and Onion & Pine Nut Rolls. It was Luis who really experimented with flavour with his rolls which contained two types of dough; one flavoured with Fennel & Parsnip and the other with Coffee & Chocolate.

The rye rolls needed steam in the oven to stop them from drying out. Because of the dark colour of the dough, and the egg washes added by the bakers, it was difficult to tell when they were done baking. Nancy's, Martha's and Richard's were under baked. Iain finally did well, I was pleased for him and I think it is clear that bread is his strongest area. The judges loved Luis' flavour combination and overall bake. Kate also did very well.

Of course for the technical challenge it couldn't be anything except a Paul Hollywood recipe! And this week it was Ciabatta. Crisp on the outside and filled with air holes on the inside, this Italian bread requires patience to make according to Paul. No proving time was given, and despite an instruction to prove at room temperature, some of the bakers put it in the proving drawer.

They had trouble handling the sloppy dough and turning it into something 'ciabatta shaped' without knocking all the air out of it. When Paul and Mary tried the Ciabatta's it was clear that putting them in a proving drawer and/or handling it too much was not a good idea as it made them flat and more like pitta bread. Kate, who waited the longest to prove her dough, won the challenge. Luis, Martha and Norman also did well. Jordan came last with Iain and Chetna in ninth and eighth place.

This week's showstopper was a filled bread centrepiece. It had to be spectacular both inside and outside, and taste delicious too. Paul warned against using too much moisture as this can cause large air holes in the bread. Luis, Norman and Richard all went for Meditteranian flavours such as roasted vegetables, pesto and saffron to fill their breads. Jordan was the only baker doing a sweet bread, with his Strawberry & Raspberry Cheesecake Brioche.

I really liked Martha's Sunflower Bread. The middle was filled with Epoisses cheese, and the 'petals' with fig and apricot chutney. It sounded delicious and looked great! Nancy made a Full English Stromboli which sounded amazing but sadly didn't have a very impressive apperance.

I love how matter of fact and old school Norman is, I absolutely love him! Best quote of the episode from him was "for me, this is very exotic, you know - pesto". Bless him! Iain made a fantastic Moroccan Plait which Paul called a 'success'.

Jordan left us this week. He came last in the technical and his showstopper was very underbaked. Mary said that he was a creative and flamboyant baker, and she was sad to see him go. Next week - desserts! And it looks like a rather dramatic episode!

Bread is probably one of my more weaker areas in baking so I do like to try the technical challenges in order to learn more about bread and get more experience. So I decide to try Ciabatta this week. As you will see the shape of my Ciabattas did not come out very neatly! But it tasted good and I enjoyed making them. If you'd like to give it a go, here's what I did...

I used a Paul Hollywood recipe, which I think it is the same one the baker's used. So I started with 500g strong white bread flour, 10g fast action yeast and 10g salt in my food mixer bowl. I added 40ml olive oil and 300ml tepid water.

I oiled a 5 litre square tub, then set the mixture to combine with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed for a minute or two as I poured in another 100ml tepid water slowly. I then turned the food mixer up to a medium speed and mixed it for 8 minutes.

When it was done the dough was very stretchy.

I poured it into the oiled tub, covered it with a tea towel, and left it to prove at room temperature for 2 hours.

It rose a lot! The 5 litre tub was almost full.

I covered my work top very genourously with flour and semolina before tipping the dough out onto it. The dough 'slopped' onto the work top and it was very difficult to cut it into strips as it was so sticky and light. I had to keep sprinkling flour between the cuts I was making to make sure the pieces stayed apart.

I had to use my cake lifter to get the pieces of dough onto the baking sheet. It was a very tricky operation and left me with messy looking strips of dough. I was tempted to neaten them up, but I was terrified of pushing too much air out of them! I left them to rest for 10 minutes.

I baked the ciabatta on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Obviously the shape of my ciabatta was far from perfect, but there were a decent amount of air holes when I cut into. Who knows what Paul Hollywood would think, but I was satisfied with it for a first attempt! Most importantly, it tasted good! Ciabatta is fab dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or used as a sandwich bread filled with Italian meats and cheese.

I am linking this up to Mummy Mishap's Great Bloggers Bake Off 2014.

And to Supergolden Bakes Great GBBO Bake Along.

print recipe

  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 10g Fast Action Yeast
  • 10g Salt
  • 40ml Olive Oil
  • 400ml Tepid Water
  • Flour & Semolina to dust
Put the bread flour, yeast and salt into a food mixer bowl.
Add the olive oil and 300ml of the tepid water.
Oil a 5 litre square tub.
Set the mixture to combine with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed for a minute or two.
Pour in the remaining tepid water slowly.
Turn the food mixer up to a medium speed and mix for 8 minutes.
Pour the dough into the oiled tub, cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove at room temperature for 2 hours.
Cover your work top very genourously with flour and semolina before tipping the dough out onto it.
Cut into four strips without handling the dough too much.
Put the strips onto lined baking trays.
Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Bake on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chocolate Truffles

Using up leftovers does feel like a constant struggle sometimes. I do my best to use up what I can, but unfortunately food does get wasted in my household, which often can't be helped. I live in a city centre flat so composting isn't an option. I had some egg yolks left after making my Chocolate & Lime Swiss Roll. Not because the recipe created leftover, but because I got yolk in my egg whites! Silly me. This recipe is perfect for using up 2 egg yolks, or more if you want more truffles! And who doesn't frankly...

I started by melting 250g dark chocolate in a double boiler. As it melted I slowly added 125g butter and mixed in.

When it was melted and smooth I took it off the heat and mixed in 2 egg yolks, 125g icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

I let it cool completely, then I put it in the fridge overnight to set.

The next day I set up the coatings I was going to roll the truffles in. Of course you can roll them in cocoa powder, but I wanted to mix it up a bit. So I had chocolate sprinkles, hundreds and thousands, dessicated coconut, some icing sugar mixed with a pinch of cinnamon, and some edible glitter. I put them all on some greaseproof paper for easy clean up. Except for the cinnamon sugar, which I put in a bowl.

On a tray I set out some petit four cases to hold the truffles in. These are basically miniature cupcake cases. I scooped out the mixture with a spoon, rolled it between the palms of my hands, then rolled it in the various coatings untill all of the mixture was gone. Don't worry it you can't get perfect spheres when you roll them, mine were all kinds of shapes! If you let them cool in a square tray you could cut them into squares if you're really not confident about your rolling skills.

The truffles were melt in the mouth delicious chocolate heaven! The cinnamon sugar topping was my top choice coating as it's one of my favourite spices as it goes so well with sweet things. In fact they were the only ones I ate...! The rest got gobbled up very quickly by my colleagues. They are rich and a pure hit of chocolate, which is perfect for chocolate lovers. The truffles would make a fantastic gift, and you could roll them in other things like chopped nuts, or coat them in chocolate.

This month's theme for myself and Cakeyboi's monthly baking challenge Treat Petite, is 'No Bake'. So the truffles fit perfectly as all you need is the stove top and a fridge.

I'd Much Rather Bake Than...'s monthly Biscuit Barrel challenge theme is also 'No Bake'. Although these aren't biscuits, any individual treat that fits into a biscuit tin is allowed.

Also as I used up leftovers (egg yolks to be specific) I am entering this into both Credit Crunch Munch - Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All's challenge, this month hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. And The No Waste Food Challenge - Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary's challenge, this month hosted by I'd Much Rather Bake Than....

print recipe

Chocolate Truffles
  • 250g Dark Chocolate
  • 125g Butter
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 125g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Assorted coatings
Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. As it melts, add the butter slowly and mix in.
Take it off the heat and mix in the egg yolks, icing sugar and vanilla extract.
Let it cool completely, then put in the fridge overnight to set.
The next day set up the coatings of your choice by pouring them onto greaseproof paper or into bowls.
Set out some petit four cases to hold the truffles in.
Scoop out the mixture with a spoon and roll it between the palms of yours hands, then roll it in the various coatings untill covered.
Repeat until the truffle mixture is all used.
If you let the mixture cool in a square tray you can cut it into squares if you don't want to roll them.

Recipe from Marmiton.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Cheese & Marmite Pinwheel Biscuits: GBBO Week #2


Week two on The Great British Bake Off was Biscuit Week. The bakers first challenge was to make 36 savoury biscuits, of any flavour they liked, but that could be eaten with cheese. Of course when making so many biscuits, consistency of the size, bake and colour of the biscuit is paramount. Mary wanted them to either have a nice crumble or nice snap depending on the type of biscuit.

I was impressed with all the different flavours and types of biscuits the baker's created. There were exotic sounding biscuits like Chetna's Fenugreek & Carom Crackers, and Iain's Za'tar Fig Biscuits. There were also some traditional bakes like Norman's Farthing Biscuits and Diana's Parmesan Triangles.

Martha's would definitely be the ones I would try first, and her Caramalised Onion and Goat's Cheese Sandwich biscuits went down very well with Mary and Paul. Richard did very well, as did Nancy and Norman. Jordan's Sourdough Parmesan & Chilli Biscuits were a tad overbaked, whereas Diana's and Kate's were underbaked.

This week's technical challenge was another Mary Berry recipe - Florentines. 18 were required, and according to Mary they should have a delicate, lacy appearance with even distribution of chocolate. I've never eaten or seen Florentines before and they certainly look tricky as they are so thin! It didn't sound like any of the bakers had made them before either.

The main struggle was getting exactly 18 and lots of the bakers weighed their mixture out. No baking time was provided so they all also had no idea how long to bake them for! Martha was the only Richard won the challenge, with Nancy second and Luis third. Iain was in last place, with Norman and Enwezor not far behind.

For the showstopper, the judges requested a 3D biscuit scene that must stand up. Precision was the most critical element of this challenge and the baker's were making some very exciting and ambitious biscuit creations. Chetna had a large biscuit carousel planned, Diana was making a Steam Train that was baked in a cyclinder shape, and Martha was planning a Ski Village complete with a chair lift. As much as I love Norman, his biscuits were not flavoured and although he did well in the first challenge, I think he does need to start experimenting with flavour.

Richard's pirate scene and Luis' George & the Dragon scene were the two best showstoppers in my opinion. They were both stunning. Well decorated, well structured, and from what Paul and Mary said - tasted great! I really was blown away by both of them. Iain picked himself up again after not doing well in the first two challenges, as did Diana and Kate who all got good comments.

Enwezor stacked his biscuits and used shop bought fondant which was the final blow for him and he left the competition this week. Richard was crowned a very well deserved Star Baker!

I'm not a huge biscuit fan, although I do definitely like them, they're not top of my list. So I find biscuit week the least interesting. I struggle even more with savoury bakes as I'm such a sweet lover! Cheese is one of my absolute favourite savoury foods and I adore Marmite. I've made some Cheese & Marmite Scones before, so I thought biscuits would be equally as yummy.

I started with 230g plain flour and 110g butter in a bowl. I rubbed it together with my fingers until it looked like breadcrumbs. I then split the mixture equally (I weighed it to be precise) between two bowls.

In one bowl I added 55g grated mature cheddar. I mixed it in well with a spoon and broke the grated strips of cheese up into as small pieces as I could.

I then added 1 egg yolk and mixed it in. I added some of the white to bring it together until it formed a dough.

With the other mixture I added 1 heaped tbsp Marmite and 1 egg yolk. Again I added some of the white to bring it together until it formed a dough.

I rolled out both doughs onto greaseproof paper until they were a similiar size.

Then I carefully placed the Marmite dough over the cheese dough. This is a bit of a trickey procedure!

Slowly and carefully I rolled the dough into a tube. As you can see it makes a lovely swirl! I wrapped it in cling film and chilled it in the fridge for about an hour.

Using a sharp knife I sliced up the tube of dough into pieces about 8mm thin, and placed onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.

I baked the biscuits on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes. Then didn't seem to be fully done so I turned the oven down and gave them another 5 minutes.

I often, if not always, bake for other people, but these biscuits were all about me! I love Marmite so much and I adored these biscuits so much that I ate about 7 of them... If you are a Marmite fan like me you will love them too! My colleagues did a good job of eating them up too. Some of them had never had Marmite before, or were unsure about it, but they enjoyed the biscuits. I was pleased and secretly hope they will soon become Marmite lovers like me.

Next week - the GBBO bakers, and me, get to grips with bread.

I am entering this bake into Lavendar & Lovage and Hedgecomber's Tea Time Treats challenge, where the theme this month is Picnics. I think these biscuits would be a great treat on a picnic!

print recipe

Cheese & Marmite Pinwheel Biscuits
  • 230g Plain flour
  • 110g Butter
  • 55g Grated mature cheddar
  • 2 Eggs
  • Heaped tbsp Marmite
Rub the plain flour and butter together in a bowl until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Split the mixture equally between two bowls.
In one bowl add the cheddar and mix well to break the cheese up into small pieces.
Add 1 egg yolk and mix in. Add a little egg white to bring it together to form dough.
In the other mixture add the Marmite and 1 egg yolk. Again add some of the egg white to bring it together to form a dough.
Roll out both doughs separately onto greaseproof paper until they are a similiar size.
Placed the Marmite dough over the cheese dough.
Roll the doughs into a tube.
Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for about an hour.
Using a sharp knife, slice up the tube of dough into pieces about 8mm thin.
Place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.