Category Archives: yeast cookery

Iced fingers

iced fingersIced fingers are simple fare. Enriched bread dough slathered with a plain, or if you want to push the boat out, lemon icing. But simple fare can be very good, and these are very good.

Talking of pushing the boat out, it almost came to that this week here. The girls’ school was closed due to a high risk of flooding and so these were baked as compensation. You know how terrible it is be sent home from school only an hour after you arrive. Both girls were bereft and in need of something comforting.

Of course they weren’t, they were as high as kites with the excitement of it all. Still comfort food was in order anyway and they wanted to bake.

These are very good with a cup of tea, or in your lunchbox the next day, if school is open again.

Thankfully, our home is high up from the river and only our drive is affected by the flood waters. However, many homes and businesses in the UK are under water right now and my heart goes out to them. Let’s hope the rain gives way to sunshine soon and the waters begin to subside and people can start to sort out the mess that they have been left with.

Makes 12 iced fingers

300g strong white flour
250g plain white flour
50g white sugar
5g easy bake yeast
10g fine sea salt
150ml warm milk
150ml warm water
50g softened butter
1 egg

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of water or lemon juice or a mix of both

Place the flours, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk, water, butter and egg (you may not need all the water so hold some back) and mix with your hands or with an electric dough hook until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Knead for about ten minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag. I use a bin bag. Leave to rise for about two hours. The time needed will depend on the warmth of your kitchen. When it has doubled in size, deflate it gently and divide into twelve pieces. Shape each piece into a sausage shape by folding the dough under itself so that you get a good strong structure. Place them all onto a greased baking tray and cover again with the plastic bag for about 30 minutes until they have doubled in size again. They may be touching each other on the tray now. This is fine, they tear easily away from one another when cooked.

Cook in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or on the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for 12-14 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Mix the icing sugar with the water or lemon juice. Do this carefully as a few drops of liquid can make a huge difference to the consistency. You want an icing that spreads easily but won’t run off the bun. Ice each bun. If you are feeling really indulgent you can split each bun horizontally and spread with jam and whipped cream before icing, but why gild the lily?

 

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Peshwari Naan

I made some of these last night to go with a roast chicken and spiced potatoes.  I made the recipe up so it might actually bear no relation to an authentic Peshwari Naan.

350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fast action yeast
1 tsp honey
25g softened butter
25g ground almonds
100ml water
80ml milk
50g sultanas
25g flaked almonds

Method

Place the flour, yeast, honey, salt and ground almonds in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and add this.  Heat the milk and water until hand hot and pour over the   flour mixture.  Mix well until it forms a soft dough. Place onto a lightly floured board and knead for about ten minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a plastic bin liner and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.  Knock the air out of the dough and divide into four pieces. Roll each piece into an oblong and then scatter with one quarter of the sultanas.  Roll up from the longest edge.  Seal the joins well using your fingertips and then roll into an oblong again.  Scatter with one quarter of the almonds and gently roll these in using the rolling pin.

Cover with a cloth and leave to rise for fifteen minutes.

Preheat the oven to 230°c, gas mark 8 or use the Roasting Oven of the Aga.  Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Put the naan onto the hot baking tray sprinkle with a little water and bake for 10 minutes until golden.  Serve straight from the oven.

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Croissants and pain au chocolat

I have wanted to make croissants for ages but it seemed like it might be too much mither. Well, last night I decided to take the bull by the horns and just give it a go. It was quite a bit of work, but actually not as much as I was expecting and the results are more than worth the effort.  You just need to do a bit of preparation the night before, leave the dough to rest in the fridge and then finish off in the morning.

In fact I was quite excited this morning about it all and I was really pleased when they turned out to taste just as good as I hoped. I made some croissants and some pain au chocolat – what a treat!

I used Rachel Allen’s recipe from her book Bake (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725970 0) which if I could have found a link online I would have just pointed you in that direction as I am dreading writing all this down, but here goes. (Bake is well worth seeking out, I have used it a lot since I bought it and Rachel Allen’s recipes always work).

I got some early morning help from my two girls this morning so they appear in some of the pictures.

Makes 18 croissants

275ml milk
25g sugar
1 sachet of easy bake fast acting yeast
450g Strong white bread flour
275g salted butter, softened (but not too soft)

For the egg wash:
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp milk

If you want to make pain au chocolat you will need a dessert spoonful of chopped chocolate for each pain au chocolat that you wish to make. I made 12 croissants and 6 pain au chocolat.

If you want them for breakfast then I suggest you start the night before with the following steps.

Heat the milk until warm. Rachel Allen suggests rubbing in 50g of the butter into the flour but I just put it into the warm milk so that it half melted.  Place the flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Add the milk and butter and bring the mixture into a soft dough.  I used my KitchenAid freestanding mixer with the dough hook attached and mixed it for 5 minutes.  If you haven’t got a freestanding mixer then this doughy is sticky and you will need lightly floured hands to knead it by hand for ten minutes until it is soft and elastic. Make it into a ball and place back in the bowl.  Cover with a large plastic bag or clean tea towel.  Rachel Allen suggests putting it in the fridge for two hours but I just left it in a cool place in the kitchen.

After two hours, place the remaining butter between two large sheets of clingfilm and, using a rolling pin, beat and roll it until it is about 8mm thick and measures roughly 10cm x 20cm.

Take the dough out of the bowl and place onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a rectangle measuring 20 x 40 cm. Place the butter onto one half of the pastry.

Fold the other side of the pastry over onto the butter.

Roll the dough out until it again measures about 20 x 40cm.  Fold one third over, then fold that over and then fold again. Cover the dough with the large plastic bag and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge and place it with the open ends facing towards you. Roll out the pastry again to a similar size as before, then fold in three again.  Place the dough back into the bag and put in the fridge overnight.

In the morning it will look something like this, having begun to rise:

So the next morning, take the dough and roll out again into a rectangle and then fold over three times again.

Roll out the pastry until it is about ½ cm thick and measures about 35cm x 55cm.  This takes quite a bit of effort as the dough is cold.

Now I wanted to make some pain au chocolat and some croissants, so I sliced off one third of the dough and then cut this into six pieces.  On each piece I placed a spoonful of chopped good quality chocolate and then rolled up firmly like a swiss roll.

For the croissants I cut the remaining dough in half lengthways and then into thirds widthways and then each rectangle into a triangle. This resulted in 12 triangles.  Starting from the widest edge roll the pastry tightly, then tuck the tip underneath and shape into a crescent shape.

Place on a baking sheet (you will need two) leaving space for them to rise and brush gently with egg wash.

Leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.  I put mine on top of two tea cloths on the warming plate of my Aga.

When they have risen, brush gently with egg wash again and then place in a preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7, or the roasting oven of the Aga for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4, or move them to the baking oven of the Aga for another 10 minutes until golden brown all over.  Place them on a wire rack to cool just a little.  They are best eaten warm, with lashings of butter and jam (or lemon curd, or marmalade) on the croissants.

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Breakfast rolls

We have been lucky this year and had a whole two weeks together as a family over Christmas.  It has gone really quick though and we haven’t done as much as we would have liked with our time together.  My cold knocked me out of action for the first week, so a lot of film watching tucked up on the sofa went on and then this week the weather has been fairly miserable. We have managed a few days out.  But I have tried to make a few special breakfasts, we have had pancakes, waffles, oatcakes and yesterday I filled these breakfast rolls with sausages and fried onions.  Is there a better breakfast than that?

These rolls are easy to make and beat supermarket bread hands down.

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp fine sea salt
7g fast action yeast
1 tsp sugar
150ml warm milk
150ml warm water

Method

Place flour, yeast and sugar in a large bowl mix well, then add salt.  Mix again.  Add warm milk and water (I add just boiled water to the cold milk and this makes it hand hot, which is just about right).  Using a claw action with one hand bring the dough together.  It should be slightly sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for ten minutes until soft and elastic.  Alternatively if you have a free-standing mixer with a dough hook you can put all of the ingredients in and mix on a slow speed for about seven minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a clean bowl.  Cover with a large plastic bag (I use a bin bag) and leave to rise for about 1 ½ hours.  It should double in size.  Using your fingertips gently prod the air out of the dough, turn it onto the work surface and cut into six equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a sausage shape and place onto a well floured baking tray, leaving plenty of room for it double in size again.  Sprinkle each roll lightly with flour.  Cover again with the plastic bag, making a tent shape to leave room for the rolls to rise and leave for about twenty minutes.  After this time they should have risen to just under double their size.

Place the rolls onto a preheated baking sheet into a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6, or directly onto the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga and bake for twenty minutes until golden brown (check after fifteen minutes and if necessary turn the oven down to 180°c, gas mark 4, or move them to the baking oven of the Aga to cook for the last five minutes).  The rolls will sound hollow when tapped.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

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Stollen

Well, this is the scene outside:

Poor little birds.  The last two days we have had a lot of snow (well, to clarify I am talking about the Midlands region of the UK and we don’t get that much snow normally. So when it snows all day non-stop we like to talk about it.  It’s weather and we are English!).  This has meant that the roads are a no-go area so it was deemed a baking day.  I have had a lump of marzipan (or almond paste) in the fridge since I made the youngest’s birthday cake at the beginning of December and have been meaning to make stollen ever since.

I followed Rachel Allen’s recipe for Dodo’s Stollen in her Bake book (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725972 0) pretty much word for word. That must be a first! The recipe makes two loaves, so one was donated to Mum and Dad.  Rachel Allen suggests you try keeping it for a week to mature.  We have failed in this respect so far.

It takes a while to make, and you probably do need to be having a baking day to make this, as there is a fair amount of leaving to rise.

100g sultanas
100g raisins
100g currants
100g candied peel, chopped finely
100g ground almonds
50ml rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 x 7g sachets of fast acting yeast
225ml warm milk
500g  strong white bread flour
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground finely
6 cardamom pods, husks removed and the seeds ground finely to make ½ tsp
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
150g butter cubed
100g caster sugar
225g marzipan
icing sugar to dust

Method

Place the fruit and the almonds in a bowl and pour over the rum and the vanilla extract.  Mix well and then cover the bowl with clingfilm and put to one side whilst you make the dough.

Place the flour, salt, pepper, spices, lemon zest and yeast in a bowl  and pour over the warm milk. Mix to form a dough.  I found that it made a stiff dough with some of the flour not mixed in but figured that this was ok as you will be adding butter to the dough. Leave the dough to rest for ten minutes.  If you have a mixer with a dough hook use this to beat in the butter and the sugar.  Then knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Make it into a ball shape, place back in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size.  It was a cold day when I was making mine so it took a bit longer than this to rise to double its size.

Using your fingertips, gently prod the air out of the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and prod gently into a square.  Then roll with a rolling pin until it is about 2.5cm thick.  Pour the fruit and almond mixture over the top and then knead the dough until all the fruit is evenly distributed.

Cut the dough in half. Cut the marzipan in half.

Prod one piece of the dough into a square and then use the rolling pin until it measures about 15cm x 20cm.  Roll one piece of the marzipan into a sausage that is slightly shorter than the dough and place this in the middle.  Roll the dough around the marzipan and press it well to seal the seam.  Shape into a log shape and place onto a greased baking sheet.  Repeat the same with the other dough and marzipan.  Make sure you leave plenty of room between the two loaves on the baking sheet so that they can rise without growing into one another.

Cover the baking tray with the large plastic bag, making a tent shape so that the loaves won’t stick to the plastic as they rise and leave to rise again until they have almost doubled in size.

Remove from their plastic tent and cook in a preheated oven at 200°c or gas mark 6, or the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 40-45 minutes.  If you are cooking in the Aga, check at 25 minutes and if brown, transfer to the baking oven for the rest of the cooking time.

Dust well with icing sugar. Rachel Allen recommends doing this when cool, but I did it as soon as they came out of the oven so some of it glazed a little.

Allow to cool before enjoying and if you can manage it leave it to mature, and then tell me how it tasted.

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Pikelets

We always used to have a pikelet when I was a child, it seems though from the Wikipedia entry that pikelet is a term specific to the West Midlands.  Well, this makes me very proud.

A pikelet is a flatter crumpet, or a crumpet made without a crumpet ring. Those of us from the West Midlands know not to mess about when messing about is not needed.

The important thing is not to let your pan get too hot.  You want it just on a medium heat and keep it that way, turning down the heat when necessary. That way the bottom won’t get burned whilst the middle gets cooked.  Don’t turn it until is pretty much cooked and that way you get the maximum burst air bubbles which means maximum butter absorption. I helped the bubble bursting with the tines of a fork, gently probing the top of the bubbles.

This mixture makes about 26 pikelets.  You can eat some straight from the pan, the rest can be frozen for a speedy breakfast later in the week.  Just place back on a hot pan or in the toaster until warmed through.

500g strong bread flour
5g dried fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
350ml warm milk
350ml warm water

Method

Put the flour, yeast and salt into a bowl and mix well.  Add the warm water and milk and whisk until well combined.  Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for about an hour until bubbling (it may take longer if the kitchen is cool).

Spoon ladlefuls onto a pan that is medium-hot.  Leave until the mixture is cooked all the way through.  You will see when this happens that the tops become a little drier than before.  Whilst they are cooking you can help burst the bubbles gently with a fork for maximum holes.  Turn the pikelet over and cook for a minute or so more.

Spread generously with butter and eat warm from the pan.


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Fruit loaf

This is a loaf that gets made again and again in this house.  Ingredients wise it’s not too different from the hot cross buns or the spiced fruit buns that I have posted about before.  I think, though, that this loaf is perhaps a little quicker to make as you add marmalade and so there is no need to zest and squeeze fruit. There is also something very satisfying about having a loaf that you can keep going back to and cutting a bit more off. It is lovely when it’s still vaguely warm from the oven, spread with butter, but it’s just as nice toasted the next day for breakfast ( or mid morning, or lunch, or all three).

The recipe is an adaptation of the Raisin Bread recipe in The River Cottage Family Cookbook (ISBN 0 340 82636 3).  You can use any combination of dried fruit that you like or have available as long as it totals 150g.

500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp mixed spice
7g easy action yeast
2 scant teaspoons fine salt
40g cranberries
40g currants
40g dried blueberries
30g sultanas
1 egg
125 ml warm water
125ml warm milk ( I tend to use just boiled water on top of the cold milk and that gets the temperature about right, you want it hand hot)
2 tbsp marmalade

For the glaze:
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp water
(Or you could glaze with a couple of tablespoons of warmed honey)

Method

If you have a freestanding mixer then all you do is put all of the ingredients into the bowl and using the dough hook mix on speed 2 for two minutes.  Turn it out of the bowl and manhandle into a ball.  Place back in the bowl and cover with a large plastic bag for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours until it has doubled in size.

If you are mixing by hand, then put the flour, yeast, dried fruit, mixed spice and salt into a bowl.  Measure the milk and water in a jug and beat in the egg.  Add the liquid and the marmalade to the flour and using a flat knife such as a pallette  knife, begin to mix together.  When it is all combined, tip it out onto a lightly floured worktop and begin to knead.  To do this you hold half the dough down with one fist and stretch the other half away from you with the heel of your other hand.  Fold the dough back onto itself, turn and repeat the process for about ten minutes or until your arms fall off, whichever is the soonest. Make it into a ball shape and place into a bowl and cover with a large plastic bag until doubled in size.

Grease a loaf tin with butter. Take off the plastic bag and gently press the air out of the dough using your fingertips.  Lift the dough out of the bowl and shape into a log shape by stretching and folding.  Be gentle though. Place the dough into the loaf tin and cover again for 20-30 minutes until it has risen by about half its size again.

Place in preheated oven at 220°c, gas mark 7 or the Roasting Oven of the Aga for about twenty minutes until golden and sounds hollow when turned out and tapped on its base. Take the loaf out of its tin and place on a wire rack.

Just before the end of the cooking time, put the sugar and water for the glaze in a small pan over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.  Brush the glaze over the loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven and is sitting on the wire rack.

Allow to cool a little before taking your first slice.

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