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.

print recipe

Pumpkin Custard Donuts
  • 112g Granulated sugar
  • 460g Plain flour
  • 25g Cornflour
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 450ml Whole milk
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 6 Egg yolks
  • 165g Pumpkin puree
  • 75g Butter
  • 150ml Semi skimmed milk
  • 2 tsp Dried yeast
  • 50g + 1 tbsp Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 litre Vegetable Oil
  • 100g Icing sugar
Start by making the custard. In a bowl weigh out the granulated sugar, 35g of the plain flour, cornflour, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spiceIn a pan warm the whole milk and vanilla extract until it steamsWhisk up the egg yolks and pumpkin pureeSieve the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture and whisk to make sure there are no lumps. Pour in half the warmed milk, whisking as you pourThen pour the mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk and heat it for about 4 minutes, continuously whisking, until it thickensOnce thick put it in a bowl and covered with cling film. Make sure the cling film is pressed right against the custard, so a 'skin' doesn't form. Put it in the fridge to cool down completelyTo make the dough warm the semi skimmed milk and butter in a pan. Leave it to cool until tepid, and add the dried yeast and the 1 tbsp caster sugar. Leave it for 10 minutes, covered with a lid. Then mix in the eggsWeigh out 425g of the plain flour and mix in the salt and 50g of the caster sugarMake a well in the flour and pour the wet mixture inForm a rough dough and knead it for 10 minutes. It will be sticky so oil your handsPlace the dough into an oiled bowl, cover it and put it in a warm place for 2 hoursAfter the first prove it will double in size. Split the dough up into equal pieces and roll them into balls. You should have 16 pieces. Cover them with loose cling film and tea towels and leave them in warm place for the second prove of 1 hour 30 minutesPour the vegetable oil into a large pan with a thermometer attached. Heat it slowly until it reaches 350F/180CGently place two of the donuts at time in the oil and fry for about 1 minute per side until dark golden brownFish them out with a slotted spoon and put them on kitchen towel to cool downUse a piping bag fitted with a nozzle to fill the donuts with the custard once they are completely cool. Punched a hole in the side with the nozzle and fill until the custard resists or starts to come outMix the icing sugar and a pinch of cinnamon with water and drizzle over the donuts

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.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Empanadas: GBBO Week #7

It's really gotten to the point with this year's Great British Bake Off where anything can happen and one wrong week could see the departure of any of the baker's. They are all so good! This week's pastry theme was sure to test them as there is a lot of potential for mishaps when it comes to that yummy flaky stuff. The signature challenge request was 12 savoury parcels, and the bakers could use any pastry they liked. As usual, Paul and Mary wanted absolute perfection!

Chetna made some Indian Lentil Kachoris using Carom Seed pastry which she deep fried. Kate was also inspired by India and made some Spinach and Paneer Samosas, she had some trouble with her deep fryer and they were not cooked fully. Luis made some Empanadas, which are commonly eaten in Spain and Latin America. He filled them with chorizo, vegetables and potatos, and wrapped them in an orange and paprika pastry.

Martha stayed local with her very British Mini Beef Wellingtons. Nancy and Richard both made pasties, Nancy filled hers with a Spicy Duck filling, and Richard used Minted Lamb. The judges loved Richard's, the pastry was flaky and they thought the flavours were great. Nancy's were unfortunately underbaked.

For the first time on the Bake Off, none of the bakers had ever heard of this week's technical challenge! It was to make 12 Kouign Amann, which are cakes made using a bread dough that is layered with butter, similar to puff pastry. Sugar is also added to one of the layers to add sweetness. They originate from the Breton region of France. It is named after the Breton words for 'cake' and 'butter'.

As usual, instructions were a minimum. The bakers didn't know how long to prove the dough for, and it wasn't very clearly stated when they should add the sugar. So all the bakers did different things! Martha and Richard were the only ones to add the sugar to the last layer, which was correct. Kate was the only one to do her second prove in the fridge. There was also no baking time stated. This really was a tough challenge! Richard came first, Nancy second and Martha third. Chetna came last, Luis fifth and Kate fourth.

24 showstopping eclairs were the final challenge, the judges wanted them to remain eclair shaped, for there to be 2 different flavours and made from choux pastry. The flavours and decoration were completely up to the bakers. Chetna and Kate both made chocolate choux, and also both made Lemon Meringue eclairs. Martha and Luis were both inspired by America. Martha made a Maple Syrup & Bacon eclair, while Luis used candied pecans to flavour his red and blue eclairs.

Nancy was the only baker who made a savoury eclair, filling it with salmon and horseradish. The judges thought they were baked well and the filling was very good. Richard used lavendar and rose flavours in his baking and was very careful not to add too much so they didn't taste like soap, Mary and Paul both were impressed that he used just enough of the flavours. He also presented his eclairs on a small homemade staircase!

Kate left this week, which I was sad about as I really liked her. I think I will be sad to see anyone go from now on! She had a close call last week and unfortunately had a few issues this week with underbaked samosas and the judges did not like her eclairs as they could not taste the basil and her chocolate ones were messy. Richard was back on form this week after a similarly close call last week, and he won star baker. Next week the bakers tackle sweet dough, and it's the quarter finals! It's all going so quickly!

I've made some eclairs before, and to be honest I didn't think the Kougin Amann sounded very nice, so I chose to make Empanadas this week. I used Paul Hollywood's Empanada pastry recipe, and I made two of my own different fillings, a vegetarian one with pepper and spring onion, and a chorizo and onion one. I put cheese in both of them!

I made the dough by adding 150g melted butter and 1 egg to 300g plain flour and a large pinch of salt. I mixed everything together until a dough formed. I kneaded it for a couple of minutes until smooth. I left it in the bowl covered with cling film while I made the fillings.

I made the fillings in seperate pans. I gently fried small pieces of chorizo and chopped onion in one, and green pepper, spring onion and onion in another, along with some Spanish seasoning. The chorizo is packed with flavour so I didn't add anything else to it.

I rolled out the dough to 3-4mm thick and cut out 12 inch circles from it until it was gone.

Into each circle I placed some filling and added cheese on top. I put as much in as I could. The dough was fairly plaible and did stretch. I gently wet the edge of the dough and pressed it down around the edges. I didn't want any leakage!

Using a fork I crimped the edges and placed them onto a lined baking tray and brushed them with beaten egg.

I baked them on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes. The recipe made 10 in total. I did have a bit of leftover filling as it was hard to estimate how much I'd need.

The chorizo one was really delicious, I loved the pastry and I never get tired of eating chorizo! I served three of them with pilau rice and broccoli which I found filling enough. I had the other two the next day.

My boyfriend enjoyed the vegetarian ones very much, he managed four of them. These are really easy and versatile little parcels and I found the pastry easy to make and work with. I might make the pastry in advance next time and keep it in the fridge before putting the empanadas together.

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

print recipe

  • 150g Butter, melted
  • 300g Plain flour
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Green pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 6 Spring onion
  • 100g Chorizo
  • 150g Mature cheddar, grated
  • Spanish seasoning mix
  • 1 Beaten egg
Make the dough by adding the melted butter and egg to the plain flour along with a large pinch of salt. Mix everything together until a dough forms. Knead it for a couple of minutes until smooth. Leave it in the bowl covered with cling film while you make the fillingsMake the fillings in seperate pans. Gently fry small pieces of chorizo and chopped onion in one, and green pepper, spring onion and onion in another, along with the Spanish seasoningRoll out the dough to 3-4mm thick and cut out 12 inch circles from it until it is all usedInto each circle of dough, place 1-2 tsp of the filling and add some of the grated cheese on top. Gently wet the edge of the dough, fold it over the filling and press it down around the edgesUsing a fork, crimp the edges and place them onto a lined baking tray and brush them with beaten eggBake them on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 20 minutes