Baking Bread 4

Time to bake bread again! The freezer is empty and Mr Meike’s Kitchen is still away for work so let’s get cracking.

Who do we turn to in desperate times? Oh yes. Mr Paul Hollywood. I think I only like baking bread from recipes in his book so much because I then have an excuse to look at those eyes… Oh yes.

This time, I made a tried and tested one and a completely new one, the recipe for which was only published the other week in The Daily Telegraph.

Let’s start with the tried and tested one. It’s the Rye, Ale and Oat Bread. I’ve started to tinker with the quantities of beer used. The first time I made it I used a local beer and it didn’t taste right at all. Then I got hold of a bottle of Spitfire and it was vastly improved but somehow too sweet. I froze what was left of the beer and today only used about 100ml, replacing the rest with water. Personally, I prefer it with less beer. It’s a good looking loaf as well. Even Master Meike’s Kitchen (he’s four and not overly keen on bread unless it’s crisp bread) said, full of admiration: “Beautiful!” There you go. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
I just find it such a waste of oats. No matter what I try, they stick on during baking but when it comes to cutting, they fall off. I’m rather pleased though that a fair few have decided to stick around this time… 🙂

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The new wholemeal bread recipe is pretty straight forward. For my taste, the crust isn’t crusty enough, it’s too soft. And tastewise, it could use a little oomph. I’m thinking some bread spices, I’m thinking coriander, fennel, aniseed, that sort of thing. Next time. I also found it a bit odd to shape the dough into a sausage and then twist it in a knot. It was awkward to cut; some pieces fell apart where the seems hadn’t stuck properly together. Maybe next time I’ll just shape it round, I can’t see any advantages of a knot.

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All in all, a good day’s baking. Four mixed bags of bread in the freezer, some out for tomorrow – not bad. Not bad at all.

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Orange Cake

It was my mum’s birthday and I was in charge of the cake. We only needed a smallish one, just for dessert really.

I got Great British Bakes by Mary-Anne Boermans for Christmas. I had read this review and thought it sounded really interesting. History and food is – for me – a marriage made in heaven… I didn’t watch the Great British Bake Off that year, in fact 2013 was the first time, so Mary-Anne was not known to me. I read the book over the Christmas period and absolutely love it. I love the little introductions to the recipes, where they’re from, how old they are, how they developed over time and how some needed to be tweaked to be suitable to modern kitchens, tastes and so on.

I decided to try the Orange Cake since it promised to be a zesty, tangy affair and not too sweet. After Christmas and all the Christmas cookies we needed something different. And it was a lovely cake indeed!
There are no pictures – for two reasons. Overall I wasn’t happy with the way it looked but firstly, it’s because my sponge rose beautifully in the oven and then collapsed on cooling. I had a rather hard time cutting it in two. This has happened to me before and it’s so annoying. I think next time, I’ll leave it in the oven for a bit longer. Would that make a difference? Secondly, my icing was too runny (and I had run out of icing sugar…) so I kept spooning it back over the cake over and over again. That was just stupid. It was also not the greatest idea not to completely incorporate the stiff egg whites. Whilst baking, it smelled of omelette… 😉
The taste, however, is fantastic. There is orange zest in the sponge, orange juice and zest and lemon juice and zest in the filling, orange juice in the icing and candied orange peel as decoration on top. I normally reduce the required amount of sugar in any recipe by a third, sometimes even a bit more, and it usually doesn’t make a difference tastewise. In this case, however, I stuck to the recipe. I reckoned that with all the orange and lemon it would need the sugar for balance. It was a good decision.

Next time I’m making this cake, I’ll try and make it look better. And then there’ll be a picture too… 🙂

Baking Bread 3

It’s baking time again. We’ve still got Kastenweißbrot in the freezer but I’m going to bake a sourdough bread and that is quite time consuming. However, I find that the bread keeps fresh for longer and has got a more intense flavour.
I made my own sourdough starter last year and I’m rather pleased with the results. At first I always added extra yeast but it’s active enough now to be used on its own.
Mr Meike’s Kitchen will be away for a week so it’s time for a more adventurous, or more normal (depending on your point of view) bread. This one, shock horror, contains rye flour. And not just normal rye flour, oh no, wholemeal too. And if that wasn’t enough, wholemeal wheat flour goes into it as well… I’ve made it before and it’s really nice. Obviously. Otherwise I wouldn’t be making it again. Doh. It’s a Rustikales Bauernbrot, I’d probably translate this into “rustic or artisan peasant bread”. The recipe can be found here.

Day 1
Or rather, evening…
I’ve taken my starter out of the fridge, discarded most of it and just kept 10g to get it going again. I’ve also weighed out the flour for Day 2 and 3.

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    From left to right: whole rye, rye, strong wheat, whole wheat.

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Day 2
About 12 hours later, I’ve only left 15g of the sourdough starter in my bowl and filled the remainder in a screw-top jar and put it in the fridge for next time. I’ve added more flour and water, stirred it together, put the shower cap back on (I saw that on The Great British Bake Off and it’s such a good idea – who says that telly isn’t educational?!) and put the bowl back into its resting space on the bookshelf (actually, it’s the corner of the bookshelf reserved for my craft bits…) Yep, that’s where I let my doughs prove and rise – if they need a higher temperature, I put them in the bathroom…

Day 3
It’s finally baking day!
The recipe requires a food processor with a dough hook which I haven’t got so I used my electric whisk even though it’s not recommended (apparently, they die after the second or third such use). I put the bowl on the floor so Miss and Master Meike’s Kitchen could get a better view. It did have the disadvantage that I had to keep stopping Miss (nearly 18 months) from putting her fingers into the bowl but we managed, with all fingers intact.

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Day 4
You’d think baking bread was quicker… After the bread had been baked, it needed to rest again so I didn’t cut it until a day later. And still I should have left it a bit longer. Dang impatience!

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Baking Bread 2

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    Kastenweißbrot on the left, rye and spelt bread on the right

I’m not sure whether this is such a good idea. In 2013 I kept a handwritten list of the books I read because I was curious to see how much I read in the course of 12 months. (64 books, not including cookery books, if you want to know.) So New Year’s Day 2014 arrives and a great idea (??) forms: keep a list of all the baking I do and do this in a blog. Why? Why? God knows. But here I am. And I’m already surprised at how often I bake.

Anyway. Today it was time to bake bread again. I had it all planned out when to do what so I could get two types baked. For Mr Meike’s Kitchen it was a Kastenweißbrot, in England that would be just ‘bread’ 😉 And for me, since I’m a bit more adventurous when it comes to bread, a rye and spelt bread.

The first time I made the Kastenweißbrot, the dough was too cold and didn’t rise properly. Tastewise, it was fine, it was just the consistency that was too dense and too squidgy. This time, I warmed the milk and put the dough into the bathroom, the warmest place here, to rise. And it worked! The recipe is great, the result is great! Mr Meike’s Kitchen is impressed!

The rye and spelt bread is a recipe out of Paul Hollywood’s Bread book. I’ve been experimenting with whole flour and normal flour for both the spelt and rye but, to be honest, it doesn’t matter which quantities of which flour I use, it always tastes good. I made it in my 20cm round springform tin today because it’s normally baked in a loaf tin but both my tins were in use for the Kastenweißbrot, that’s why it’s got a bit of an unusual shape.

So that’s us sorted for bread for a little while again! 🙂

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    Bottom and right: rye and spelt bread. Left side: Kastenweißbrot

Hefe-Schnecken (“Yeast Snails”)

I got this recipe from a neighbour in March last year. My dad had the pleasure of sampling them when visiting and he thought they were so good, he told us all about it. I got in touch with our neighbour and asked for the recipe. A few days later, it was in my letter box.

Hefe-Schnecken are more or less Chelsea buns, not necessarily with raisins but could have all sorts of fillings. They could even be savoury with ham and cheese, for example. I made one lot with cinnamon…

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… and another one with cinnamon and raisins.

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I haven’t used fresh yeast a lot but it seems to be pretty straightforward and I read somewhere that it’s actually cheaper than the dry stuff. I just think that dry yeast keeps for ages and it’s easy to always have some at home whereas fresh yeast only keeps so long. I don’t know. I used yeast that was a week or two past its best before date, it smelled alright and it worked perfectly. So maybe I’m just being lazy.

  • 500g flour
  • 42g fresh yeast
  • 2 eggs plus 1 for the egg wash
  • 250ml milk, lukewarm
  • 50g sugar
  • 80g butter, softened
  • 2 pots (= 400g) sour cream
  • cream
  • cinnamon, raisins or other things for the filling
    1. Method

    Put the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Tear up the yeast very finely and put into the well. Add a little sugar and fill the well with warm milk. Put the bowl in a warm place and leave for half an hour.

    Add 2 eggs, the remaining warm milk, butter and sugar. Knead until you’ve got a firm dough. Put the dough out onto a floured surface and keep kneading. Put it back into the bowl, cover it, put it back into the warm place and leave for 35-45 minutes.

    In the meantime, put the sour cream into a bowl and add some cream so you can mix it until smooth. Now add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Put it in the fridge until needed. Dust your work surface with flour and put baking parchment on your baking trays.

    Knock the air out of the risen dough and divide it into two. Roll out each half to a rectangle, approximately the size of a baking tray. Spread the sour cream mix on the dough, then add your filling. You might want to add some more cinnamon.

    Now roll your dough up into a sausage shape and cut it into 1.5 cm wide pieces. Put these onto the baking tray. Press them a little bit down with a table spoon. Cover the baking trays with a tea towel and put them back into the warm place for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven (200°C fan).

    Brush the snails with the beaten egg and bake them in the middle of the oven for 12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack. You might want to brush them with a mix of powdered sugar and water or with warmed up jam.

    Baking Bread 1

    I started baking our bread in June last year. I kept coming across articles about bread and how even “proper” bakers now use ready-made bread mixes, how much stuff is added to bread that isn’t necessary (enzymes, anyone?), how shaped dough is transported from one country to another … and I also find the smell from the so-called “freshly baked” in-store in discount supermarkets extremely unpleasant. Then I found a couple of blogs dedicated exclusively to bread, I watched Paul Hollywood’s Bread series on the BBC, bought the book and started to bake! I’m very pleased with my bread, I’ve dabbled with wheat, rye and spelt flour, yeast and sourdough, spices and seeds. Today I’ve baked a basic bloomer as Mr Meike’s Kitchen loves white bread and a whole spelt bread made from a bread mix that is three years out of date. My mum had that left over from something or another and gave it to me to use up. I try to bake at least two loaves on a baking day so it’s worthwhile heating the oven up. When the bread has cooled, I cut it and freeze it in portions of about six slices so we can have fresh bread every day.

    I had some trouble with the raising and proving processes today. Even the bloomer, a normally foolproof recipe, hasn’t turned out as nicely as it usually does but it’s still soft and light with a lovely crust. The whole spelt bread was a bit of a disaster. It occurred to me afterwards that I should have added a bit of extra yeast just to make sure it’ll rise. Hohum. It turned out all dense and with a bit of an odd flavour… Three years past its best-before date so why should I be surprised?

    The bloomer recipe can be found here; I’m not going to bother to write anything else about the bread-mix bread, which was a standard supermarket-own brand mix that has left me rather cross with having wasted my time.

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    Apple Cheesecake

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    I love cheesecake! And over the years I have collected quite a number of recipes with the majority still untried since I very often just fall back to the tried and tested ones. I’m a creature of habit, don’t you know. 🙂

    I first made this particular cheesecake in about 2003. We were invited for dinner at a dear friend’s. We’d only just met and it was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. She cooked us a wonderful curry (a recipe from her daughter-in-law whose family is from Pakistan) with a lovely aromatic rice. So this cheesecake was a fab dessert for this occasion. We had it in her little back garden, near a massive rosemary plant. By that time, I had the recipe for a number of years – it was a cutout from an ASDA magazine from my student days… But I digress.

    I am aware that this blog is supposed to be about baking and now the second recipe (!!!!) is a non-bake (!!!) cheesecake… Oops. It didn’t take me long to divert, did it?

    Normally I buy reduced-sugar biscuits when I buy some. This time, I went for regular supermarket own brand biscuits because I needed a fair bit for the base and I was very surprised how sweet they were. Next time the reduced sugar ones will go in the base.

    The quantities are for a 20cm round springform tin but if you double them, you can use a 24cm springform (and it’s a bit of a more substantial cake…). If you want a really big cake, you use two and a half time the amount in the 24cm tin.

    For the base:

  • 75g butter plus a little extra for greasing
  • 175g digestive biscuits
  • For the cheesecake mix:

  • 2 eating apples
  • 150ml apple juice
  • 1 sachet gelatine or the equivalent amount of leaf gelatine
  • 275g Greek yoghurt
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 150g custard
  • honey to taste
    • Method


    1. Grease the tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Put the biscuits in a freezer bag and smash them up with a rolling pin. Melt the butter and mix it into the biscuit crumbs. Fill them into the tin, press them down. Chill.

    2. Core and peel the apples, cut into chunks. Put them into a pan with the apple juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain. Let the apples and the juice cool.

    3. Make custard, or use ready-made. If you make your own, chill it.

    4. Mix 5 tablespoons of the apple juice with the gelatine. Soak for 5 minutes.

    5. Stir yoghurt, mascarpone and custard together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Sweeten with honey to taste. Stir in the apple . Taste again. Maybe add some more honey.

    6. Put the bowl of gelatine over a small pan of simmering water. Leave until dissolved. Stir into the mixture and pour into the tin.

    7. Chill until set.

    Serve with a quick caramel topping:

    Gently heat 40g soft brown sugar and 25g butter in a thick-based pan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

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    Brie Brioche

    This Brie Brioche is kicking off my New Year’s baking. It’s a recipe by Paul Hollywood which I followed pretty much to the letter. Which is a rare occasion… 😉

    I don’t know why Mr Hollywood calls it “Brie Brioche Pie” since it’s very similar to the Couronne in his Bread book. I’d say it’s a filled brioche but what do I know?!

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    Right. So I made the dough last night and it rested overnight in the fridge. It’s my Dad’s 70th birthday and the brioche will feature in our evening meal.

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    The dough was rather sticky and I had to use a fair bit of flour when I rolled it out. Filling it was straight forward. I only had 100g of bacon (bacon not pancetta, mind) and then it was Schwarzwälderschinken (>Black Forst bacon<) at that. It does give the brioche a lovely flavour though. The recipe calls for cranberry sauce, which I haven't got. So I used plain cranberries out of a jar and it works really well.

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    And then I didn’t have an egg left over to brush the top so I used milk instead. There was a small leakage on one side where I hadn’t sealed the brioche properly but hey, my first brioche!

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    It smelled fantastic and looked great with all that cheese oozing out when it was cut. (Sorry, no pictures!) As you can imagine, with so much cheese inside it is immensely rich and it was quite too much for four adults. We’ll test it cold next… Personally I thought the actual brioche was quite sweet for a savoury bread but I was overruled and it tastes fine. I’ll keep this recipe for another day, another festive occasion and will make it again.