Bread Recipe

If you learn to make one thing in life, make it bread.  I have lost count of how many times I have made bread, due to being snowed in during winter months.  I always keep strong bread flour and yeast in my cupboard, so whilst others are panic buying sliced loaf, I am happy and content in my kitchen, which fills with the wonderful aroma of baking bread.  Baking bread is a great stress reliever too, as I find kneading somewhat therapeutic.  Sometimes I do cheat and use my Kitchenaid mixer with its dough hook, which gives great results.

 

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Ingredients

500 g strong White flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
A little olive oil for greasing
7 g easy bake yeast (I use Allinsons)
300 ml luke warm water

Add flour and sugar to a large bowl, place the salt one side of the bowl and the yeast the other side of the bowl.  The reason I do this, is that salt can kill yeast, so to place it away from each other initially helps.  Add enough water and mix to form a soft dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for up to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  If using my mixer with dough hook, I also knead for ten minutes.

Place the dough in a bowl which has been greased lightly with olive oil inside.  Place the dough inside and then cover it with cling film tightly.  This stops a skin developing on the dough.  Leave in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size which may take around an hour.  If your house is cold it can take up to three hours! Remove the dough onto a floured surface and knock back the air.  Place in a 900 g loaf tin, cover with a big loose bag and let it prove a little longer for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade.

When ready to bake, slash the top of the dough and dust with a little extra flour.  Place into the oven for around 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees centigrade and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Check that it is cooked by tipping the loaf out of the tin and tapping the bottom, it should sound hollow.

Place the bread on a wire rack, and let it cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

 

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Granola

This recipe for granola may seem slightly decadent with the addition of sugar and golden syrup, however these can always be substituted for something similar if you wish.  It does make quite a large batch, so it isn’t as if you will be eating the whole lot in one sitting.  Granola is crunchy and slightly clumped together, so if you don’t have a sticky substitute like the ingredients in the recipe, it will not be the same.  I also use this as crunchy topping for puddings, see photos below for some inspiration, and you can also check out my video for this recipe on youtube.

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Ingredients

55g Butter
60g Honey
25g Golden Syrup
85g Demerara Sugar
1tsp Vanilla Extract
30g Hazelnuts roughly chopped
80g Pecan nuts roughly chopped
35g Pistachio roughly chopped
60g Flaked almonds
70g Sunflower seeds
45g Desiccated coconut
125g Porridge Oats
Zest of 2 oranges

Preheat Oven to 150 degrees centigrade approx gas mark 2-3

In a saucepan gently melt the butter, honey, golden syrup and Demerara sugar until it is a smooth liquid and the sugar has melted.  Once off the heat, stir in the vanilla extract.

In a large bowl place all the nuts, seeds, oats and orange zest.  Mix round the dry ingredients and then add the butter syrup from the saucepan.  Mix well, this may take some time to make sure there are no dry pockets of oats and nuts around the bowl.

Pour into a roasting tin and level out.  Place in the oven for around 50 – 60 minutes.  Every 15 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the mixture in the roasting tin, then place back in the oven.  This helps the mixture get golden all over.

Once the cooking time has expired, take the roasting tin out of the oven and let it cool down.  Once cool, you will see that it crisps up and goes crunchy, you can see this in the video clip.  Once properly cool place in a sealed container.

 

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I love this crunchy granola on top of a layer of Greek yoghurt and stewed rhubarb.  Simply chop some rhubarb, add a little water, a couple of drops of vanilla extract and a little sugar  (if you want) in a saucepan.  Let it cool and then place it at the bottom, then layer the other items on top!

Rich Chocolate Cake

There are certain times when chocolate will only do.  Valentines Day or a birthday are such occasions.  However, I also use this cake as a dessert by adding, cream, ice cream and even custard.  It is one recipe you should master, so that you can use it time and again!  It gets better after a couple of days kept in a dome…. that is if you can keep people away from it that long.

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Ingredients

320 g of very soft butter
260 g self raising flour (sifted)
1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
260 g caster sugar
3 heaped tbsp of good quality cocoa powder
280 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs beaten
180 g icing sugar
3 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
2 Extra tbsp of milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.  Grease and line a 24 cm cake tin.

Beat only 260 g of the butter and sugar together until pale.  In a separate bowl sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the cocoa powder together.  In a jug mix together the milk, vanilla extract and eggs.  With the mixer running slowly (or by folding if by hand) alternate adding a couple of tablespoons of the dry flour ingredients, and then a good slug of the milk and egg ingredients.  Keep alternating until both sets of ingredients have been used up.  Run a spatula around the bowl, to check everything has been combined.

Pour into the cake tin and place into the oven for around 40-50 minutes.  After 40 minutes just check with a skewer in the middle of the cake, to make sure it is cooked.  If any mix sticks to the skewer just place the cake back into the oven, to cook for a little longer.

Once cooked, leave to cool firstly in the tin and then on a wire rack.  It is important that the cake is cool for the next stage with the buttercream topping…. Or you will end up with a mess.

To make the buttercream topping, whip up the remaining 60 g of butter, 180 g of icing sugar, cocoa powder and additional 2 tbsp of milk.  Whip it up until smooth.  Then you can either divide the cake into two, and input a small amount of the buttercream before sandwiching the two halves together, then use the remaining buttercream to coat the top and sides.  Or, you can leave the cake whole and just coat the top and sides with the buttercream.

I also like to add decorations like more flaked chocolate, sprinkles or with mini eggs at Easter time.  This cake is also great as a pudding and birthday cake.  It is so versatile and delicious.

Pancakes

I am one of those people who do not just reserve pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, but will eat them for breakfast on many times throughout the year.  You can fill them with the usual naughty items such as golden syrup, sugar, lemon etc or you could try Greek yoghurt with chopped fruit or a gorgeous warmed cherry compote.  Another lovely way is to get two tablespoons of lemon curd, add a slight splash of hot water from the kettle to loosen it, and drizzle over the pancakes.  I tend to have them like this over Easter weekend.

You can also watch a video clip of this recipe.

 

pancakes

Ingredients

110g plain flour
2 Large Eggs beaten
200ml of Milk
75ml of water
50g of butter

Makes about 6-8 depending on frying pan size.

In a bowl place the flour, make a well into the centre and add in the eggs, milk and water.  Mix together well with a hand whisk for a few minutes ensuring that you get all the flour from the edge.  It may look lumpy at first but bear with it, as it will get smooth eventually.

In a frying pan melt the butter.  Once melted add the butter to the pancake mix.  Mix well to combine.

Heat your frying pan on a medium to hot setting, then add some of the pancake mix.  Occasionally the first pancake might not turn out as well as expected, but as the pan gets good heat through it, they turn out well.

Turn over after a couple of minutes … or flip them if you want!

 

Victoria Sandwich Cake

A traditional Victoria sandwich cake is only supposed to have a layer of jam.  However, like most people, I enjoy it better with both the jam, whipped cream or a buttercream layer.  This cake is one of the most made, as it can also be a birthday cake with either a buttercream and decorated topping or with a fondant icing layer on top.

 

sponge cake copy

 

Ingredients

4 eggs in a jug beaten (After you have weighed them see recipe below)
Caster Sugar (the same weight as the eggs)
Butter (softened and the same weight as the eggs)
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
Self Raising Flour (the same weight as the eggs)
(Possibly a little milk)
A couple of tablespoons of icing sugar
Whipped cream & strawberry jam
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
Take a large spring formed, loose bottomed cake tin, grease and line it.

If you want to use buttercream you will need:-

400 g Icing Sugar
120 g of butter at room temperature
3 tbsp of luke warm water
1- 2drops of vanilla extract

Decorations and drops of food colouring and flavourings as you may require in substitution for vanilla icing or you could still use a couple of drops of vanilla extract.

Method

Weigh your 4 eggs – whatever the weight of the eggs, you need to use the same weight in flour, sugar and butter.

In a mixer or with an electric hand mixer whisk the butter and sugar.  Whisk until the mixture goes very white and creamy.  The temptation with a hand whisk is to give in when your arm aches, but trust me it needs to be going for about 4 minutes to achieve this white creamy texture, hence the reason why I use my beloved standalone mixer.

Once this is achieved you will need to add your beaten eggs bit by bit on a nice slow beat.  Go slow with this and do not rush it.  Add your vanilla extract and beat slow again for 3 seconds.

Then you need to add the flour to the mixture.  Sieve the flour over the mixture and gently fold the flour in.  I find my spatula is the best tool for this job as it ensures that no pockets of flour is left over.  If the mixture is too thick that you cannot get it reasonably easy from the bowl then add a tablespoon of milk to the mixture.  However this mix should not be at all over runny.

Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin.  Cook for about 35-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Wait for the cake to cool before turning out onto a wire rack for further cooling.

Once cooled properly, slice in half.  Its at this point once cool that you can add fresh cream or buttercream (see below) and jam.  Put both sponges together.  You can also decorate this cake for a birthday or other celebration, or simply sieve some icing sugar on top.

To make the buttercream simply whisk/beat the icing sugar, butter and water together.  To get a real good airy whip, make sure you whisk it for about 4 to 5 minutes.  If the buttercream is little stiff just add another drop or two of water a bit at a time.  You can also add a few drops of flavour, like vanilla, and any colouring to suit.