Tag Archives: baking

Wild Garlic Bread

Wild garlic bread

Wild garlic loaf sliced

We are lucky enough to be surrounded by wild garlic as far as the eye can see at this time of year. It has been whirring round my mind about how it might taste in a loaf. So we popped our wellies on and went a walk. We could have picked it out of our very own garden borders but we have two dogs… So I wanted to find a corner which might be unadulterated.  (I still gave it a good rinse though, just in case).

Wild garlic is fairly distinctive, so get yourself a field guide and if you are unsure then the strong garlic smell gives it away. Always follow the rules of foraging. Be sure what you are picking. Ask permission of the landowner. Only pick something that is prolific and not protected. Only take what you need for your personal use. Give it a good wash before eating it.

When I was mixing and handling the uncooked dough, the garlic smell was very strong and I was worried that I had perhaps overdone it a bit. However, once cooked the garlic had mellowed and imparts a subtle and surprisingly sweet hit of garlic. It makes a delicious loaf, that is very good with soup or, in fact, anything that you happen to have for your dinner.

Makes 1 loaf

500g white bread flour
5g easy bake yeast
8-10g sea salt
320g water
20g olive oil
a couple of handfuls of wild garlic, chopped

Method
Place the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl (keeping the yeast and salt separate, as the salt will kill the yeast). Add the water and olive oil and mix with a clawed hand until well mixed. Cover with a large bag or clingfilm.  Leave to rest for twenty minutes. This allows the flour to absorb the liquid and start to make gluten before you have to get involved. The dough should be softly sticky, if it isn’t add a bit more water. Don’t be tempted to add more flour. A wetter dough is better than a dry dough.

Leave the dough in the bowl and holding the bowl with one hand, stretch some of the dough up and over the rest of the dough. Turn the bowl a quarter turn, and repeat the stretching and folding. Repeat this for about 10-12 folds.  Cover the bowl again and leave for another twenty minutes. Repeat the stretching and folding motion again.  If the dough starts to resist then stop stretching, if it starts to break then stop stretching. Leave to rest again for another twenty minutes and then fold again. It will need less folding this time and it will feel lovely and stretchy, smooth and satiny.  Cover and leave the dough to prove for at least an hour until it has risen, is domed and has plenty of aeration.

Lightly flour your work surface and turn your dough out of the bowl. Shape into a round and place on a floured tray or into a proving basket or if you prefer into a greased loaf tin. Cover with a large bag or oiled clingfilm and leave to prove again.  It might need twenty minutes, it might need an hour. It will depend on the temperature of your dough and the temperature of the room.

Preheat the oven to 230°c and place a baking tray on the oven shelf to heat up with the oven, or use the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga.

To test if your loaf is ready to bake, flour or oil your finger and press lightly onto the surface of the loaf. If it springs back slowly within 2 seconds it is ready to put in the oven.

Place the loaf on the hot baking tray, spray the oven walls with water using a plant mister (avoiding the glass door and light). This will create steam, so that the loaf has a chance to do its last rise before the crust forms. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the loaf is dark golden and sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool completely on a wire tray before slicing and enjoying.

If you would like to perfect your bread making skills you could always join me for a bread making course at Veg Patch Kitchen.

Six years of discoveries

WordPress tells me that it has been six years since I wrote my very first post on these pages. I am very grateful for this blog for lots of reasons.

I set up this food blog for lots of reasons too. It was at a time when I had to make a decision about my future and that of my children. I was working in a job which I loved and which consumed a lot of my day. It was one of those brilliant jobs that really only comes along once in a while. I worked from home most of time, thanks to this marvellous thing called the internet. I was passionate about the project that I worked for – I had spent five years writing a PhD about it. I got to travel and speak to policy makers and at conferences. I loved it. But I also loved my girls who were three and five years old at the time. I had worked through both pregnancies, taking only a couple of weeks off for each birth and getting back to it as soon as I could. I was freelance and self-employed. I needed to work and I enjoyed my job. My employer was very accommodating, understanding and kind. One memorable occasion saw me sitting in an ante-room listening to a meeting in the next room feeding my three-week old and shouting my responses to the discussion happening next door; then taking my three-week old to change her nappy and lifting her up, to have her throw up the entire feed down my blouse. Thankfully the bag I had with me was the one which we had taken to hospital and it still had one of my husband’s t-shirts in there. What was I thinking? Five years on from this messy meeting and six years ago this month there came an opportunity to reassess what I was doing. Did I continue with my career? Or did I take a break and spend more time with the girls? After much hand wringing and into the night discussions we decided I should take a career break. It has been a decision that I have wrangled with ever since.

I have loved every minute of being with the girls, taking them to and picking them up from school, being there for every holiday. But, my oh my, I have felt guilty about not being at work, not earning money and not using that PhD that I sweated over for five long years.

I set up the blog to keep my hand in, teach myself new skills and to share my love of cooking and baking. It has delivered on all of those fronts and more. It has, more than once, saved my mental health by giving me something to focus on; to work towards. It has introduced me to new friends in the UK and abroad. Our friendships may be virtual but they are no less important for that. Each positive comment sends a buzz through my brain. The thought that someone out there baking that cake or making that jam with the process and the result making them happy makes me very happy.  The blog has made me push myself with my cooking skills and knowledge.  I have become a more imaginative and skilled cook.  I have certainly acquired quite a library of non-virtual books, as my heaving shelves can testify. I have become obsessed with bread making and the science of it all; it appeals to the researcher who loves to read in me. And perhaps most importantly of all, this blog has set me on a new career path and one that I am equally, if not more passionate about than the last – teaching others to bake and cook, both through this blog and by setting up Veg Patch Kitchen. I hope that this blog pushes me as much in the next six years as it has in the first six.

A big thank you to everyone that reads or has read this blog, and to those that have commented, over the last six years, you have been my saviours.

Kath x

Norfolk Scone

Norfolk scone

One of my favourite things to do is to  look through the cookbook section of our local charity shop. I don’t know why, but this particular shop seems to receive some very good cookbook donations. I always come out with one or two new books for my ever-growing collection. One of my most recent acquisitions was Cakes, Pastries and Bread by Jennie Reekie, first published in 1977. It’s a wonderful book full of the staples that you want to cook again and again. The recipe that really caught my eye was the Norfolk Scone. This filled scone is a cross between a  scone and an eccles cake, and, quite frankly, that appeals to me on so many levels. My mother-in-law had come for lunch and I offered to make her some scones to take home with her. I remembered the Norfolk Scone and thought I would give it a whirl. It was a great success. The crumbly scone contrasts beautifully with the rich, sweet, sticky filling. Next time, I am going to make it with mincemeat as the filling, because, well you know, it’s that time of year and I want to try it.

For the scone:
400g self-raising flour
1 scant tsp salt
100g unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten lightly
200ml milk

For the filling and topping:
25g softened butter
100g currants
100g demerara sugar
½ tsp grated nutmeg or mixed spice
Milk for brushing the top of the scone

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°c, 400°f, Gas Mark 6 or use the Aga roasting oven with the grid shelf on the floor of the oven. Grease and flour a baking sheet that will fit a 20cm circle easily.

I used my food processor to whizz together the flour, salt and butter until it resembled fine breadcrumbs. Then added the egg and milk and whizzed again briefly until the dough just begins to come together. Empty the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead briefly to a soft dough.

If you don’t have a food processor you can rub the butter into the flour and salt mixture using your fingertips. Then add the egg and milk and using your hand like a claw mix to a soft dough.

 

The key to a light scone is minimal handling. Split the dough in half and roll out one half quickly to a circle of about 20cm. Spread the softened butter over the circle. Mix together the currants, all but 1 tbsp of sugar and spice and sprinkle over the scone. Roll out the other half to the same size and place on top of the currant mixture. Brush with milk and sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden on top and well risen. Leave to cool for ten minutes then serve warm with a cup of tea.

Norfolk scone

Almond cake

This is a proper almond cake!  Moist, sweet and decadently almondy.  I urge you to make one as soon as you can, allow it to cool, brew a strong coffee, pull up a chair and indulge in a slice or two.

I have adapted this from a recipe by Mary Berry.  Far be it from me to suggest that Mary Berry’s cakes can be improved upon, but when I made her almond cake from The Aga Book the other week, whilst I enjoyed it, it just wasn’t quite almondy enough for my taste. So I swapped the quantities of ground almond to flour and replaced one egg with 150ml of yoghurt and Bob’s your uncle, it turned out to be just what I was longing for.

175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
150ml natural yoghurt ( I use Greek yoghurt)
1 tsp almond extract
200g ground almonds
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

25g flaked almonds for the top of the cake

Method

Beat the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add one egg at a time, whisking well between each addition.  Add the yoghurt and the almond extract and beat well.

Add the ground almonds, flour and baking powder and fold in carefully.

Pour into a greased and lined 20cm cake tin and  sprinkle with the flaked almonds.

Bake in a preheated oven at 160°c, gas mark 3, or on the grid shelf on the floor of the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 1 hour until golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Rhubarb and ginger pie

I cannot claim any of the credit for this pie.  It is my mum’s recipe and my mum made it.  However, I couldn’t resist posting it here because it is just so delicious. The addition of the stem ginger really complements the rhubarb.  Every time my mum makes it it disappears almost as soon as it is put on the table. So if I can decipher my mother’s handwriting, this is how she makes it.

For the pastry:
200g plain flour
100g cold butter, diced
cold water

For the filling:
650g prepared rhubarb (peeled if necessary and cut into 3cm chunks)
2 heaped tbsp Demerara sugar
1 tsp stem ginger syrup from the jar
3 pieces of preserved stem ginger, chopped finely

Method

Place the flour and the cubed butter in a food processor and blitz until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.  Add about 2-3 tablespoons of cold water at first and then pulse the mixture.  You may need to add a little more water until the pastry comes together in a ball.  The important thing is to keep the mixing to a minimum otherwise the pastry will be tough.  You can of course rub the butter and flour together with your fingers until the breadcrumb stage and then stir in the water with a knife until it comes together.  Form the pastry into a flattened disc, cover with a food bag or clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Place the rhubarb, sugar, stem ginger and syrup in a bowl and leave to marinate for about ten minutes.

Split the pastry in half and roll out one half to fit a pie dish or plate.  Place the rhubarb mixture into the dish.  Brush the edges of the pastry with water.  Roll out the second disc of pastry to fit the top and seal well around the edges.

Cook in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or in the Roasting oven of the Aga for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.  Sprinkle on a little more demerara as soon as it comes out of the oven for a crunchy top.

Chocolate and Mint Arctic Roll

This is my entry for this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge.  This month’s challenge is to make a swiss roll or roulade.  Well, you have already witnessed my roulade attempt for last week’s Sunday lunch.  Well, this was this week’s Sunday dessert.  My two girls have fallen in love with mint choc chip ice cream and I keep having to buy tubs from the supermarket to sate their appetite. I have wanted to make mint ice cream for a while.  The mint in our garden is in its prime, a month earlier than usual.  It is also rampant so finding another use for it is a big bonus.

I have always wondered how you got the mint flavour in there – do you infuse the cream or infuse a sugar syrup? (Obviously, if you are a commercial ice cream seller you use mint flavouring and you don’t go in for this infusing malarkey). I googled mint ice cream and found that you can infuse the cream or you can infuse a sugar syrup.  I decided to go with the former.

My first attempt was a disaster.  I decided that to get the green colour you probably needed to chop the leaves and the stalks.  I forgot that mint turns brown when bruised and the cream turned a mucky brown colour on top – not very appetising.

So, the second time round I removed the leaves from the stalks and discarded the stalks (the chickens loved them). I kept the leaves whole and infused them for an hour in the warm cream.  This seemed to work very well but the cream wasn’t very green.  So I thought I would puree the mint leaves and push them through a sieve with the cream again, risking that this may turn the cream brown.  Well, in actual fact I nearly turned the cream red (reminder to self – stick blenders are extremely sharp and will cut your fingers!). Fortunately, all blood was contained well away from the infused cream and I had no reason to tell my guests that we were having mint and strawberry ice cream, as suggested by my helpful neighbour.  I also still have my index finger and thumb intact, just about.

Anyway, as it turns out the infused cream did have a subtle green glow about it.

Not quite commercial mint choc chip green  but lovely anyway.  I was surprised by the taste, it is nothing like commercial mint ice cream.  It had a subtle mint taste with a slight earthiness about it.  I really enjoyed it. I don’t think the kids were as impressed though because it didn’t taste like what they are used to.

I could have just served it as it is but I still wanted to enter this month’s challenge, so I thought an arctic roll might just hit the spot.

I made a traditional swiss roll rather than a roulade.  The difference for me between the two is the flour used in a swiss roll.  If I was making it again I might use the roulade recipe as it is richer and not quite so dry as a swiss roll.  But this did roll better.  I borrowed my mum’s tin – the right size for the recipe, and rolled it straight away as it came out of the oven.  Then unrolled it to fill it with ice cream. No cracks!

Next time I will make the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly and I might just take James Martin’s advice to freeze the ice cream in a plastic pipe as trying to roll it in greaseproof paper was messy and difficult.

For the Mint choc chip ice cream
600ml double cream
60g mint leaves
50g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1 dsp cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g dark chocolate, chopped into chip sized pieces

For the swiss roll
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
50g plain flour
25g cocoa powder

Method
For the ice cream:

Pour the double cream into a saucepan and add the mint leaves.  Place the pan on a medium heat and bring up to almost boiling point.  Remove the pan from the heat and  leave to infuse for 1 hour.

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract together until combined.  Sieve the cream into a jug and discard the mint leaves.  Pour the cream over the eggs and whisk well.  Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Allow to cool and then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions or pour into a plastic container and place in the freezer removing every half hour for two hours to beat the mixture and remove ice crystals.

I would then recommend sourcing a clean plastic pipe as James Martin advises and freezing the ice cream in this.  Otherwise, lay a piece of greaseproof paper on a worktop and spoon on the ice cream and roll up into a tube shape measuring 5cm x 30 cm.  I found this quite difficult because I had made my ice cream that day and it was melting as soon as I handled it.  So I would advise making the ice cream the day before to give it time to freeze properly.

For the swiss roll

Grease and line with greaseproof paper a shallow swiss roll tin measuring 33cm x 23cm.

Whisk together the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl until the whisk leaves a trail when lifted. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together and fold very carefully into the mixture.  Spread this evenly onto the tin.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or with the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for 8 minutes until the sides are shrinking away from the tin.

Whilst the swiss roll is cooking, lay a piece of greaseproof paper, which is bigger than the swiss roll tray, on the worktop and dust with cocoa powder or sugar.

As soon as the swiss roll is removed from the oven carefully invert it into the greaseproof paper.  Peel away the paper that is on the bottom and, using the paper underneath to help you, roll into a swiss roll.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

When you are ready to serve, remove the roll of ice cream from the freezer, unroll the swiss roll.  Place the ice cream in the middle and re roll the swiss roll to cover.  Serve in slices.

Summer Roulade

I made this on sunday, with the first British strawberries that I have seen this year.  The rolling didn’t work out too well. But I thought to myself, ‘well I will post it as it tastes good’.  Then just before I post it I read Chele’s latest blog about this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. This month’s challenge is not an ingredient, but a technique and you guessed it – the making and rolling of a roulade/ swiss roll.  Oh well, maybe more practice is needed before I can submit an entry into this month’s challenge.

Last time I made this roulade it rolled much better.  But last time I had run over to my parent’s house to borrow her swiss roll tin, which measures 29cm x 18cm and has shallow sides.  On Sunday I used my Aga half-sized roasting dish which measure 27cm x 16cm and so this resulted in a slightly thicker and slightly shorter cake.  This made it more difficult to roll, so I think getting the right sized tin is definitely the way to go if you want to enter any challenges.  If you just want a tasty cake then live a little on the edge and use a tin that is approximately the right size.

The recipe for the cake element is based on Delia’s Squidgy Chocolate Log from her Complete Cookery Course.

For the cake:

6 eggs
150g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder

Method

Line a swiss roll (shallow) tin that measures  29cm x 18cm with greaseproof paper or silicone sheet.

Separate the eggs.  Whisk the yolks until they start to thicken.  Add the sugar and whisk until a little thicker. Sift over the cocoa powder and fold in.

In a separate and scrupulously clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Add one third of the egg whites and fold in carefully and then add the rest of the egg whites in two further batches.  Folding carefully to retain as much air as possible.  Pour the mixture carefully into the prepare tin and bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the Baking Oven of the Aga for about 20 minutes until it is springy to the touch.

Leave in the tin to cool.

For the filling:

3 tablespoons of strawberry jam
300ml double cream
about 8 strawberries
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Place a sheet of greaseproof paper, slightly larger than the cake, onto the worktop and dust with cocoa. Softly whip the cream.   Turn the cake out of the tin onto the greaseproof paper.  Spread the jam evenly over the surface and then spread the cream on top.  Halve the strawberries and dot them on top of the cream.  Using the greaseproof paper roll the cake gently into a roll.  If it cracks, it will still taste good. Serve with extra double cream poured over.