Easter Baking

The run up to Easter has been cold this year. Whilst the snow has (finally!) gone from our back garden, the weather is still too cold to make a start on usual Easter gardening tasks. So more baking it is.

After teacakes on Good Friday, Saturday saw the baking of a cheese and bacon bread as requested by my LSH. He was making chicken tagine for dinner so I decided to make some North African flatbreads to accompany it.

Farid Zadi’s Algerian flatbreads with their spicy flavour looked just the thing. Unfortunately the recipe was from an American site so a bit of translating was needed. The original recipe can be found here. My “briticised” and two person friendly version is below.

Algerian flatbreads

These reminded me of the parathas that we get in our local curry house so I’m tempted to change the spice base to turn them into an Indian flatbread to accompany our curry in future. I think that adding a bit more cumin with a pinch of chilli powder and omitting the paprika should do it.

Algerian Flatbreads (makes 6)

Mix 110g white bread flour and 115g sieved whole meal flour in a bowl with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Add about 140ml of water a bit at a time until you get a soft sticky dough (you may need more or less depending on your flour).

Turn out onto a lightly floured worktop and knead for about 5-10 mins until its smooth and silky. Form into a ball and put into a clean bowl covered in 1tbsp olive oil. Cover and leave for an hour or so (mine was left for nearly 2 with no ill effects).

Mix 1/2 tsp each of ground cumin, paprika and turmeric with 2tbsp olive oil. Stir well until it forms a thick oily paste.

Divide the dough into 6 ( mine weighed about 65g each) .

Lightly flour the worktop and roll out each piece into a thin rectangle about 1 or 2 mm thick. Brush the surface with a thin later of the spiced oil (use about 1tsp per piece). Then roll up tightly and form into a spiral. Repeat.

Lightly flour again and then roll out each spiral into about a 10cm round (or whatever fits your frying pan). I stacked mine separated with baking parchment which made it easier to then flip them into the frying pan.

Heat a frying pan on about a medium heat and dry fry each bread for 2min each side until its puffed and golden.

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Teacake Therapy

Teacakes

I love toasted teacakes. There’s nothing to beat them with ice cold butter as a tearoom treat (assuming you can find one in between the ever expanding Costa and Starbucks empires!). But I’ve never tried making them at home until now. After throwing the last of my hot cross buns on the floor (don’t ask) I decided that I needed some teacake therapy.

A thorough search of the Internet resulted in the Hairy Bikers recipe which seemed to have the required amount of spices. I made a couple of changes- I had no orange zest so added a tablespoon of mixed peel and soaked the dried fruit in orange juice for about 30mins. I also increased the amount of milk to 200g as I found another recipe where the proportion of milk to flour was 53%. I had a slight panic when I realised that the Bikers’ recipe had an egg in it as well which would increase the liquid content, but resulting dough was still just the right consistency so I’d definitely recommend adding extra.

Teacake dough before resting

Teacake dough before resting

Instead of rolling out I shaped into rolls and then patted out to the right height. The tops were brushed with milk and they were baked for about 15 mins ( though I had to turn down the oven for the last five min to about 150 as they were going too brown).

The finished teacake

The end result was possibly still a bit too brown on top (I won’t bother with the milk next time) but a lovely brown colour inside from all the spices. Obviously the main test is how they taste toasted and covered in butter and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Unfortunately I managed to “over toast” (I think it may be safer to let Long Suffering Husband make tea at this rate!) but they tasted very nice. Definitely one to be done again.

Carrot, Sesame Seed and Sumac Rolls

I’m a keen follower of Dan Lepard’s recipes in the Guardian. Recently he wrote an interesting piece on vitamin C and the question of whether it should be added to bread. Putting aside the wider thorny issue of using additives in home baking, his recipes using orange juice and carrots looked interesting and I was keen to see what effect they had on the finished bread.

I didn’t have any olives so I just missed them out. I also used white spelt and white sesame seeds which resulted in a much lighter looking bread.

Carrot, Sesame and Sumac Rolls

Carrot, Sesame and Sumac Rolls

It’s been a while since I made rolls and I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. I added a tray of boiling water to the bottom of the oven when baking them and they needed a few minutes longer than the recipe said to get the crust I was looking for.

Next time I think I’d increase the amount of sumac (I couldn’t really taste the citrus flavours that Dan Lepard said it would produce). Definitely one I’d make again.

Kamut Bread

Kamut Bread

My First Kamut Bread

I have had some kamut (also known as khorason) flour in the cupboard for a while. Its a grain that was supposedly originally grown in ancient Egypt and has a lovely yellow tone to it so on novelty ground alone I was keen to give it a go.

Another of my Christmas presents was Richard Bertinet’s “Crust” book which focuses more on sourdough and preferments. I made a smaller amount as didn’t fancy being left with 5 loaves if I didn’t like it- so my scaled down version made 2.

The final loaf was a lovely golden colour with a firm crumb, ideal for sandwiches (so ideal that LSH used it for his pack up during the week).

It needed cooking for longer as it felt far to soft when it came out of the oven. So I cooked it until the internal temp of the loaves was 200F.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

I love hot cross buns. Even in the days before I liked dried fruit I would eat them, carefully picking out the big squishy sultanas to leave on the side of my plate.

Now I eat every bit of them but I’m invariably disappointed by supermarket offerings which never seem to match up to the bakery bought specimens of my childhood.

So now I have the baking bug I thought that this year I’d have a go at doing my own. I decided to have a go at the Paul Hollywood recipe on the BBC Good Food site as I find that his recipes tend to be a bit more forgiving for the novice baker.

A quick trip to my local supermarket and I was ready for an evenings baking. I tweaked the recipe by adding some mixed spice as well and shortened the cooking time to 15 mins. Even then they were a tad darker than I’d have liked.

And it was a full evening baking – I started at about 5.30 and the buns were finally out of the oven at about 9.15! They were nice (despite the somewhat wonky crosses!) but next time I’d add more spice and make them slightly larger. I’d also soak the dried fruit before adding it- I needed more “squishy sultanas”!

Cheese and Bacon

For Christmas I was given a copy of Andrew Whitley’s Bread Matters book by my Long Suffering Husband. Whilst I’ve read through a lot of it, its taken me a while to get round to baking anything.

 The first bread that I tried was his Cheese Bread but being impatient I couldn’t wait by making the sponge so I used my rye starter instead. Whilst the flavour was good the texture wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So I reduced the amount of starter and increased the white flour, adding a small amount of yeast to compensate. I also had some bacon to use up so I kneaded that in with the cheese. And wow! Just what I was looking for- all the taste but with a lighter texture. Even LSH was impressed!

You can find the recipe here

Bacon and Cheese Bread

Bacon and Cheese Bread