Sometimes the simple things are best. Take bread for example. It’s Sunday morning and you wake up after a slightly longer slumber than in the week. You pop down the shops for the Sunday paper, switch the kettle on and get on with with making a lazy Sunday breakfast. Toast with jam, maybe a classic bacon sandwich or even scrambled eggs on toast. Either way it all normally starts with the perfect loaf of bread, right?
So how about making your own loaf and going for a flash Sunday morning breakfast? Surprisingly it’s actually not as hard as you would think. Time consuming? ….erm, yes, but the rewards for making this simple loaf are well worth it.
What you’ll need?
560g organic white flour
10g sea salt
20ml sunflower oil
5g dried yeast
300ml tepid water
With a fork, stir the yeast and sunflower oil into the water and empty the contents into a bowl already filled with the flour and salt. Mix the ingredients together, then turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 15 minutes. You’re looking for a smooth and elastic dough. Pop the the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for an hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and gently re-shape to fit evenly into a well oiled loaf tin. Dust with flour, cover with cling film and leave for another hour. Make sure it’s a warm place so the dough rises. After you’re about 30 minutes into the final proofing crank the oven up as high as it goes. Aim for around 240° if you can. Before adding to the oven, slash the top of the loaf and give it a gentle spray of water. This will give you a lovely crispy crust.
After 10 minutes drop the oven temperature down to 210° and bake till golden all over. Let the smell fill your home and gloat in the glory that you made this awesome Sunday loaf. Simple eh!
I’ve had a bit of stick around the office recently. You see, I’ve been proud of my recent cooking achievements. Take the chocolate cake recipe for example, popular with the wife, but seen as a bit of a yellow card from the office lads. So I needed something a little more bloke focused. Something with hunks of meat running through it. Something like the perfect burger.
I’m a bit fussy when it comes to burgers, especially when it comes to the bun. More often than not you get a bap made of cheap white bread, if you’re lucky, perhaps an over sized ciabatta. All this does is hide the glorious meaty goodness inside. In my eyes you need something that’s the same size as the pattie, covered with toasted sesame seeds and finished with a lovely golden glaze. This adapted recipe by Hobbs House takes a while, but the results are spectacular.
Burger Buns – makes 4
- 250g strong white flour
- 12g demerara sugar
- 12g lard
- 5g salt
- 3g dried fast action yeast
- 50ml tepid whole fat milk & 100ml tepid water
- Beaten egg for glazing
Add all of your ingredients to a large mixing bowl and knead for 15 minutes by hand. Once you’re finished kneading add back to the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour. After an hour remove the dough, then on a floured surface divide and shape into four round buns.
Place the buns on a baking paper lined tray and glaze each of them with the beaten egg. Leave for 30 minutes and glaze them again for that deep golden finish. After a further 30 minutes, sprinkle with sesame seeds and leave for a final 30 minutes. Turn your oven up to 230 degrees/ gas mark 8 and bake the buns for around 12 – 15 minutes. Leave to cool.
The perfect burger needs the juiciest, meatiest pattie you can think of. Do you go with mince? What about the fat to meat ratio? I’ve even seen a recipe that soaks the meat in Guinness. That’s not for me. I like it with chuck steak and just a little bit of seasoning. Let the quality of the meat do the talking I say. Use 400g of chuck steak and gently pulse in a food processor until you get the right texture, as close to mince as possible. Gently mould into four patties and firm up in the fridge.
Get your griddle pan nice and hot so it’s smoking. Place the pattie on the griddle and gently push the middle down with your thumb. This stops it swelling up. Cook for two minutes on each side, or a minute longer if you don’t like it pink. The burger build is a very personal thing. I prefer mine with onion, hot relish, a slice of cheddar and crispy lettuce. That bit is up to you, but do try this recipe if you’re a burger lover.
Sourdough puzzles me. I can’t work out if it’s just over complicating plain old dried yeast baking, or breaking the hearts of baking hipsters who are mortified their baking culture of choice is going mainstream. Requiring daily attention means bringing sourdough into your home baking is a big commitment. In fact, it’s such a commitment that there is even a Sourdough Hotel for when you go on holiday. Fancy eh!
Now not one to miss out on culinary challenge, or even the opportunity to jump on the home baking bandwagon, I wanted to have a crack at making my own. Why? Who knows. Maybe I was on a sustainability crusade, but I probably just felt awkward asking if anyone had some culture lying about.
The trick is to weigh the jar before you start. It makes life much easier when you’re spooning out specific quantities later. A Kilburn jar works best. To start you add 75g of organic whole meal flour and 75g tepid water. Stir it enough to get rid if the lumps. Then leave it in a warm place until the next day. Repeat the process again, adding 75g flour and 75g water each day for about a week. When it starts to bubble away at you and omits a smell more closely related to old bread, you’ve got a basic starter ready to go.
Now the problem I had is that the Sourdough starter isn’t quite strong enough to bake with for at least a few weeks. I’ve seen recipes using grated apple to get it going quicker, but I wanted a pure organic version, so avoided this route. Empty a bit out if the jar becomes too full, but make sure you top up equal quantities of flour each time while it builds it’s strength.
You can also slow down and store your starter in the fridge. Just seal the lid and leave in the fridge for up to two weeks. To kick start it again you just add your normal 75g flour and 75g tepid water and it takes a couple of days to start up again. Stick with it as it starts to get stronger the longer you keep it. I ended up making some brilliant bread out my starter and it’s even good for giving pancakes or pizza dough a fancy twist.
Whilst Chris is definitely the Chef in this partnership, I want my forte to be Baking. So I have challenged myself to bake at least 1 new recipe a month. This is my first; Yummy Chocolate Oreo Cup Cakes. I was inspired by a recipe on goodtoknow, and put my own spin on it. I have to admit they tasted quite good!
Ingredients (makes 12)
For the chocolate cupcakes:
- 100g plain flower
- 20g cocoa powder
- 140g caster sugar
- 1.5tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 40g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 120ml whole milk
- 1 egg
- ¼tsp of vanilla extract
For the chocolate buttercream frosting:
- 600g icing sugar sifted
- 200g unsalted butter
- 80g cocoa powder
- 100ml whole milk
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) gas 3.
- Put flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder, salt and butter in a free-standing mixer with paddle attachment. Mix together until you have a sandy consistency. I don’t own a mixer, but managed to mix the ingredients with my hands, it produced the same results.
- Whisk milk, egg and vanilla in a jug. Slowly pour half into the mixture, beat to combine and then turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps. Again, if like me you don’t own a mixer you can use a wooden mixing spoon. You just need to be ready for a sore arm…
- Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and pour in the remaining mixture. Continue to mix for a couple of mins. Do not over mix.
- Spoon mixture into the 12 cases and cook for 20 mins.
- For the chocolate buttercream: Beat icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a free-standing mixer on a medium speed. Turn down to a low speed and add milk gradually, once mixed turn up to a high speed again and beat for approx 5 mins and mixture is light and fluffy. This was a bit harder to achieve by hand, but through sheer determination I ended up with some gorgeous, and am proud to say, fluffy buttercream icing.
- Use a piping bag and metal nozzle to pipe onto top of cooled cupcakes.
- Decorate with double chocolate Oreo’s or with whatever you fancy.