Crème Brule

I am VERY behind with my GBBO challenges – so this goes back a few weeks. I still have a bag of apples in my kitchen ready to be made into a frangipane. So here goes – here’s my take on Crème Brule – the recipe is taken from the BBC Good Food website. The only thing I cheated on was I used my jazzy blow torch for the toppings, which they weren’t allowed to do in the tent (but I think that’s more to do with the fact that it would be a lot of naked flames in a giant tent rather than a culinary challenge!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cartons double cream, 1 large (284ml) plus 1 small (142ml)
  • 100ml full-fat milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 50g golden caster sugar, plus extra for the topping

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. Sit four 175ml ramekins in a deep roasting tin at least 7.5cm deep (or a large deep cake tin), one that will enable a baking tray to sit well above the ramekins when laid across the top of the tin. Pour the two cartons of cream into a medium pan with the milk. Lay the vanilla pod on a board and slice lengthways through the middle with a sharp knife to split it in two. Use the tip of the knife to scrape out all the tiny seeds into the cream mixture. Drop the vanilla pod in as well, and set aside.
  2. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk for 1 minute with an electric hand whisk until paler in colour and a bit fluffy. Put the pan with the cream on a medium heat and bring almost to the boil. As soon as you see bubbles appear round the edge, take the pan off the heat.
  3. Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so, and scraping out the seeds from the pan. Set a fine sieve over a large wide jug or bowl and pour the hot ixture through to strain it, encouraging any stray vanilla seeds through at the end. Using a big spoon, scoop off all the pale foam that is sitting on the top of the liquid (this will be several spoonfuls) and discard. Give the mixture a stir.
  4. Pour in enough hot water (from the tap is fine) into the roasting tin to come about 1.5cm up the sides of the ramekins. Pour the hot cream into the ramekins so you fill them up right to the top – it’s easier to spoon in the last little bit. Put them in the oven and lay a baking sheet over the top of the tin so it sits well above the ramekins and completely covers them, but not the whole tin, leaving a small gap at one side to allow air to circulate. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the mixture is softly set. To check, gently sway the roasting tin and if the crème brûlées are ready, they will wobble a bit like a jelly in the middle. Don’t let them get too firm.
  5. Lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set them on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes only, then put in the fridge to cool completely. This can be done overnight without affecting the texture.
  6. When ready to serve, wipe round the top edge of the dishes, sprinkle 1½ tsp of caster sugar over each ramekin and spread it out with the back of a spoon to completely cover (Anne Willan’s tip for an even layer). Spray with a little water using a fine spray (the sort you buy in a craft shop) to just dampen the sugar – then use a blow torch to caramelise it. Hold the flame just above the sugar and keep moving it round and round until caramelised. Serve when the brûlée is firm, or within an hour or two.

 

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Mini French Baguettes

Bread week challenge number 2! Mini French baguettes – Paul Hollywood style!

Ingredients:

  • 250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g salt
  • 5g instant yeast
  • 180ml cool water
  • Olive oil for kneading

Method:

  1. Add the flour to a bowl and put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Pour water in slowly and mix together using your hands.
  3. Knead dough until its elastic and can stretch to around 30cm long – this takes about 20 minutes
  4. Leave in an oiled bowl covered in cling film for around 2 hours.
  5. Tip the dough onto an floured and semolia’d surface and knock the air out of it using your knuckles.
  6. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with ha join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands.
  7. Place the baguettes on the baking tray. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about 1 hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220°C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
  8. When your baguettes are risen and light, dust them lightly with flour. Then slash each one 3 times along its length on the diagonal, using a razor blade or a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray with hot water to create steam and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.

These were surprisingly easy to make and super yummy straight from the oven! Enjoy! I’m slightly behind on my GBBO challenges so watch this space for crème brulees and even more! x

Caramelised Onion, Rosemary & Cheddar Quick Bread

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Here’s to my third Great British Bake Off inspired challenge – Quick Bread! I have made quick breads in the past and just never really knew they were called quick breads. I understood them more as a ‘lazy bread’ because when I first started baking I saw ingredients such as yeast as ‘effort’ – something I would need to go out and buy and have a stock of in my so called ‘larder’.  A few years later I have plentiful amounts of yeast in my cupboard and see myself as a fundamentally lazy baker back then. Turns out I was lazy, rather than the bread. So! This is my take on the third challenge from GBBO – I got the basic bread recipe online and added my favourtire flavours as taken from John Whaite’s caramelised onion and rosemary fougasse recipe – (click here to see my bake of this) It was utterly scrummy taken straight from the oven and slathered with butter. It’s safe to say that the entire loaf had disappeared by lunchtime the next day!

I hope you enjoy and please tag me if you make any of my bakes 🙂

Happy Baking! x

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of strong bread flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine or olive oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary (or even better – fresh if you have it! Mine died in the garden a few weeks ago)
  • Cheddar (use as much as you like – I used a size about as big as a door wedge – specific as ever!)
  • 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Method:

  1. Chop your onion into small pieces and fry off on a medium heat with some olive oil
  2. Add the brown sugar and vinegar and cook until translucent – around 10 minutes
  3. Mix together the dried ingredients
  4. Mix together the wet ingredients
  5. Add wet to dry including the herbs, onion mix and cheese
  6. Bake for 40 minutes in a 200C oven

Enjoy hot from the oven slathered in butter and in front of the telly – I would recommend something like University Challenge 🙂 x

 

Hazelnut & Chocolate Biscotti

My second GBBO recipe challenge was the beautifully scrumptious Italian Biscotti! This was surprisingly easy to make and is so yummy with a tea or coffee whilst snuggled on the sofa. I went for a hazelnut and chocolate flavoured recipe but for my next batch I think I’m going to try a coffee and walnut flavour. I didn’t have any oranges so I didn’t add the orange zest but I made up for it with a little vanilla extract to add an extra oomph. My jazzy camera is still out of action I’m afraid, so the photos aren’t as good as I would have liked, but none the less here are my biscotti! Recipe is taken from BBC Good Food.

Enjoy! xx

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest 1 orange
  • 25g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 25g chocolate chips

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, then add the orange zest, hazelnuts and chocolate chips. Fold into the egg mix to make a soft dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a 25cm sausage shape with lightly floured hands, then transfer to baking sheet. Flatten to a 3cm thickness, then bake for 30 mins until lightly browned on top.
  2. Remove and slide onto a chopping board, then reduce the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Cut the log into 1cm thick slices and return to the baking sheet, cut-sides up. Bake for 10-15 mins until crisp, then cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tin for 3 weeks.

Madeira Cake

My latest challenge in improving my cookery skills and potentially making myself ‘GBBO ready’ is to bake one or more of the GBBO challenges each week in the time constraints set for the contestants. So I decided to make a Madeira cake from the first episode of the new series.

 

I’ve been away on holiday for the last two weeks so I’ve had to buy a new tin and cook away from my home kitchen (without my jazzy camera – hence the slightly dodgy photos!) making baking slightly more tricky – but none the less I’ve given it a go! I made a chocolate and orange flavoured cake with an orange flavoured icing sugar on top. It tasted lovely although there wasn’t the infamous ‘madeira cake crack’ on top – I think this is because I baked the cake in a larger square tin rather than the traditional loaf tin. But this is what this challenge is all about – learning from baking mishaps! I hope you enjoy 🙂 x

Ingredients:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together until creamy and light
  2. Ad the eggs one by one
  3. Add the zest and chocolate
  4. Add the flour and almonds
  5. Bake in a lined and greased tin at 170C for 55 minutes
  6. Enjoy with a cup of tea! 🙂

Seeded Couronne Loaf

 

I’ve been wanting to make this bread for weeks and simply haven’t found the time to bake – time without baking is time poorly spent!

Over the next four weeks I am going to be taking you on a baking adventure -sharing recipes that tell a story – my story. As you know from my other blog posts, I work in theatre – to be more specific, I’m currently Assistant Director of Central Youth Theatre, Wolverhampton’s longest established youth theatre. I have gone from an 11 year old member to Assistant Director of this company and therefore it is an organisation that I hold dear in my heart.

Over the next 4 weeks we are running a huge crowd funding campaign called CYT Heart that I hope I might be able to gather your help with as well as sharing a few lovely bakes along the way 🙂

So, here is the start of my CYT story…

From the age of two I have wanted to be involved in theatre. I met my friend Jessica at play group and we would make up stories and plays using our dressing up boxes, wearing all manner of weird and wonderful outfits. We would create invitations and tickets for our enormous audience of four, made up of our worn out parents. This continued for many years until Jessica told me that she had been going along to a youth theatre group at the Newhampton Arts Centre and she thought I would really enjoy it. At the age of 10 I plucked up the courage and went along to their ‘James and the Giant Peach’ themed summer school programme. I absolutely loved it and was given the lead part of James (no comments here about looking like a boy please)

11 Year old me as 'James'

11 Year old me as ‘James’

At the age of two I had a little seed of theatre enthusiasm, something which grew, proved (a little baking connection here for you!) and developed into something which CYT nurtured. I knew that I had to carry on getting my drama fix with this weird and wonderful company and so my CYT journey began…

So in honour of that little seed of enthusiasm here is my first recipe for #CYTHeart – A seeded loaf. I have used the lovely John Whaite’s recipe that he uses for a plaited loaf in his book John Whaite Bakes but in this recipe I’ve halved all the quantities and added poppy and sunflower seeds on the top of the bread.

Please get baking and let me know how your loaf comes out!

and finally please head over to CYT’s indigogo page to find out more about the campaign http://igg.me/at/cytheart please donate and share the word.

Thank you!

Holly xx

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g fast action yeast (1 packet worth)
  • 10 g salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with a pinch of salt for glazing
  1. Put the ingredients (except for the egg yolk) into a bowl and bring together into a rough dough. Knead by hand for ten mins or in a mixer with bread hooks for about 6 mins until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Place into an oiled bowl and allow to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  2. Turn the dough out and divide into 6 balls and roll these out into long sausage shapes of the same length. Press all the pieces of dough together at one end and begin the plait starting on whichever side takes your fancy. Take the outermost strand and place it under the next two, over the next one and then under the final two. Take the next outermost strand (always from the same side!) and repeat. Then tuck the ends under to neaten them off. Leave the loaf to prove for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 230C or gas mark 8.
  3. When the loaf has doubled in size glaze with the egg yolk and bake for about 30 mins or until bronzed. Once cooked it should have a hollow sound when you tap the bottom.
  4. Slice, slather with butter and enjoy with a cuppa!

 

White Chocolate & Strawberry Cake

I looked in my fridge and saw a huge punnet of strawberries that was calling out to be baked in something. So I scoured through my cook books looking for the recipe that most satisfied me. Strawberry shortcake? Strawberry tart with crème patisserie? And then I found it….John Whaite’s white chocolate and raspberry cake. I already had white chocolate in the cupboard and figured that strawberries would do the same job as raspberries. The recipe was so easy to follow and the cake was so moist and moreish – I will definitely be cooking this one again (especially if the people in my office have anything to say about it!)

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, chopped into small cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 175g raspberries, fresh or frozen

For the cream filling:

  • 200g white chocolate, chopped
  • 250ml double cream
  • a little icing sugar, for dusting
  • (Although I just whipped up some cream and flavoured it with some vanilla extract)

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base of 2 x 20cm round, loose-bottomed cake tins. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the butter and chocolate have melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 1-2 mins, then beat in the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk. Fold in the flour and raspberries.
  3. Gently pour the mixture into the tins and bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (the raspberries may leave a residue on the skewer, so don’t be fooled by their juiciness). Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack.
  4. To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with 100ml of the cream, set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream and you are left with a smooth, glossy ganache. Leave the ganache to cool to room temperature, then beat in the rest of the cream.
  5. When the cakes have cooled, sandwich them together with the chocolate ganache. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Enjoy and please share if you like or bake this recipe! xx