Black Pepper Wholemeal Bread

I have been meaning to make this bread for a long time. I was prompted to do it this week after researching cracker recipes for my live online demo for my membership. One of the cracker recipes contained a healthy amount of freshly ground black pepper and they tasted great. They reminded me that I wanted to try freshly ground black pepper in a loaf.

The result is zingy and hot. You experience lots of little explosions in your mouth as you bite into the tiny lumps of fiery-hot peppercorns. It’s a great bread for those that love a spicy kick to their food. We enjoyed it with a pasta bean bake and again with marmalade for this morning’s breakfast.

You can add the peppercorns to any bread recipe that happens to be your favourite – white, wholemeal, focaccia etc. I used 10g for 500g of flour and this gives the loaf a good dose of heat. I also ground them in a pestle and mortar to get an uneven grind. That way the very finely ground pepper mixes well with the flour and you have the occasional bite of a larger piece, like the one in the photo below.

black pepper wholemeal bread

Ingredients

500g wholemeal flour
5g easy bake/ instant/ fast action yeast or 15g fresh yeast
5-10g fine sea salt
5-10g freshly ground black pepper
between 380-420g water

Method

Place the flour, yeast, pepper and salt in a bowl and mix through. Pour in 340g water and start to mix. You will need more water. As the dough starts to come together splash in small amounts of water and mix until the dough has a soft, slightly sticky consistency and there are no dry bits. Keep on squeezing the dough for another minute or so to make sure the flour is fully hydrated. 

Cover with a proving cloth or shower cap and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes, up to an hour. Uncover and do the first round of stretch and fold. Leave to rest again for at least ten minutes. Do a second round of stretch and fold. 

Cover and leave to ferment for at least an hour to get light and filled with air. You could put it in the fridge overnight at this stage. 

When airy and light, shape and leave to ferment again. You could place it in the fridge for several hours or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F, gas mark 7. When the loaf is fully proofed (see video) bake for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. Check that it is fully baked by placing an internal thermometer in the centre of the loaf. It should read at least 88C for the loaf to be fully baked. The loaf should be golden all over and feel light. 

Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.

The video below shows you how to make a wholemeal loaf.

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Flour Tortilla

If you haven’t made flour tortillas at home yet you are missing out on a treat. They taste so much better than anything you will be able to buy in the shops. Whilst we are on the subject why and how do packaged tortillas have such a long use by date? It’s scary.

These are also great if you find you could do with some bread but you haven’t got any. They are quick and easy to rustle up.

Ingredients

250 plain (all purpose) white flour
5g fine sea salt
25g oil
130g water

Method

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Knead in the bowl for 1-2 minutes. Cover and then leave to rest for at least thirty minutes. 

Divide into 6-8 pieces and roll out very thinly on a lightly floured surface until they are almost translucent. 

Heat a pan until hot. Cook the tortilla. When it starts to change colour to a golden yellow and starts to puff, hold a ruched up clean cloth on the surface of the dough to force it to fill with air. 

Flip the tortilla and cook on the other side for a few seconds. Place onto a plate and cover with a clean cloth to steam and stay soft. 

These freeze well. To reheat either wrap in foil and heat in an oven or place in a covered pan over a warm heat. 

They make the most delicious tortilla chips.

You can watch me make these in the video below. If you want to learn how to make the tortilla chips or about how to make other flatbreads scroll down to find out more about my online course.

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You can subscribe to my Bread Made Easy membership to learn how to make a variety of Flatbreads plus a whole lot more about bread.

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Or you can buy my online Flatbreads course as an individual course

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Date & Walnut Loaf

This is a favourite in our house and a recipe that I teach on my Bread Basics course at my cookery school Veg Patch Kitchen. I have been filming how to make it for my new online Sweet Dough course and want to share it with you so that it can become a favourite in your household too.

It is a simple white dough with added dates, walnuts and honey and is delicious toasted for breakfast. It stays good for toasting for several day.

date and walnut loaf
Date & walnut loaf

Ingredients

500g strong white flour or 250g white bread flour and 250g wholemeal bread flour
100g walnuts
100g dates
20g runny honey
10g salt
1 sachet of easy bake yeast or 5-10g fresh yeast
320-340g water (in total, add 100g with the dates and 220-240g later)

Equipment:

3 bowls, scales, knife, chopping board, proving cloth or shower cap, loaf tin or baking tray, cooling rack

Method: 

Finely chop 25g of the walnuts and coarsely chop the rest. Chop the dates and cover with 100g of boiling water. Leave to stand until the water is tepid. 

Place the flour, salt and yeast (keep the salt and yeast separate) in a large bowl. If using fresh yeast crumble it into the flour.  Add the walnuts and honey.  Drain the dates but reserve the soaking water. Place the soaked dates in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Measure the reserved water into the bowl and then add more water until you have 320g of water in the bowl.  

Using a clawed hand mix well, the dough should be on the sticky side. If it still feels dry add a bit more water until it feels softly sticky.  Leave to rest and use the stretch and fold method as described in this video

Once you have done all of the stretch and folds, leave to prove until light and airy. Preheat your oven to 200℃, gas mark 6, placing a solid tray on the shelf to heat up.  Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, shape and leave to rise again until ready for the oven. Place your bread onto the solid tray and bake for 30-40 minutes until a rich brown and sounds hollow when tapped or has an internal temperature of at least 88℃. Leave to cool on a wire tray.

If you like you can glaze this loaf with a simple sugar syrup as soon as it comes out of the oven. This gives it a lovely shine. Place 25g sugar and 25g water in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes. Brush this all over the top of the loaf as soon as you turn it onto the cooling rack. (You may want to place some kitchen roll or baking parchment underneath to catch the drips). 

Ready to learn more?

If you would like to learn more about making sweet breads my online course can help. I show you how to master making an enriched dough and turn it into Shropshire butter buns, Chelsea buns, babka and cinnamon knots. You will also learn how to make buttery brioche and fruity spiced teacakes.

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Christmas Recipes

I have been looking back in my recipe archives of this site to remind me of Christmases past. There are such a lot of recipes on here, some of which I make over and over, some I need to make again.

As I remind myself I thought it might be a good idea to share them with you in case you want to make them to share with your family and friends this year.

If you want to make presents then homemade candied oranges or candied peel are real treats. If I am making a hamper I also put spicy caramel nuts in a small jar and stem ginger truffles in a gift bag.

My mincemeat makes really good mince pies or for a change why not try mincemeat bars or my mincemeat wreath.

mincemeat bars

If you have guests coming then my sausage and sage pie is wonderful on the buffet table and my ham is one from Dorothy Hartley’s 1950’s recipe book and is really good. Left over ham is fantastic in a fidget pie.

If you are making biscuits with children over Christmas then these painted Christmas biscuits make for a fun activity or you could try my stained glass biscuits that look great on a tree.

For the big day, if you have an Aga or similar then my Aga turkey makes the best one you will ever taste. For the vegetarians then my mushroom wellington makes for a delicious feast. For pudding you could choose my chocolate chestnut cake, chocolate roulade or chocolate and mint arctic roll.

Whatever you choose to make this year, I hope the preparations go smoothly and that you can spend time with family and friends. We are all hoping for a better Christmas than last year.

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Tahini Biscuits

These are deliciously light and melt in the mouth. They are also easy to make. You can keep the dough in the fridge for a few days, slicing off the biscuits as you want to bake them. This makes them great if you are expecting visitors.

The tahini I use is from Butterbelle, handmade by Zoe and her team here in the Ironbridge Gorge. It’s definitely the best tahini I have ever tasted. There is no bitterness, which can be a problem with some of the tahinis I have tried before. It makes the most delicious hummus, which is what I really buy it for. I was wondering what biscuit I should serve at yesterday’s Sweet Dough course and the jar of tahini was sitting on the side beckoning to me. I hadn’t tried baking with it before but I am really glad I did. If you try these you are in for a real treat.

Ingredients

Makes about 25 biscuits

150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g soft brown sugar
100g tahini (sesame seed paste)
175g wholemeal spelt flour (you can use any wholemeal flour)

Method

Beat the soft butter and the sugar together until they are pale and fluffy. Stir in the tahini and the flour. You should have a fairly stiff dough. Wrap in clingfilm or greaseproof paper and roll into a sausage shape. The dough will now happily sit in the fridge for a few days. When you want to bake the biscuits, cut 1cm slices from the dough and place onto a non stick baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4 or use the centre of the baking oven of the 4 oven Aga and bake for 10-15 minutes ( depending on your oven) until golden brown all over. Leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray as they are very fragile when still warm. Once they have cooled a little place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Chilli and Tomato Chutney

Chilli and Tomato Chutney

We cleared the tomatoes out of the greenhouse and they needed using up. I had a mixture of ripe and green tomatoes. This Chilli and Tomato Chutney makes perfect use of them.

green and red tomatoes

I like to cook the onion in a little olive oil first to soften and sweeten it, but you can miss this step out if you prefer and just pop everything in a saucepan and simmer until thick.

Ingredients

I tbsp olive oil (optional, only needed if you want to sauté the onion first)
1 onion, chopped into small dice
4 garlic cloves
half teaspoon of salt
4 chillis (deseeded)
5cm fresh ginger (root)
1 star anise
1tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
500g tomatoes (more or less, don’t worry if you have a few more or a few less than this)
250g sugar (you can use soft brown for a darker colour and stronger taste or granulated white)
150ml vinegar (you can use whichever variety you have in the cupboard, I used distilled white vinegar)

Method

If you would like to soften the onion, add the oil to a large pan over a medium heat and sauté the chopped onion until soft, translucent and beginning to colour.

Chop the garlic, chillis, ginger and tomatoes finely. I whizzed them in the food processor using the metal blade.

When the onion is ready add the star anise, coriander seeds and mustard seeds and fry for another minute then add the chopped garlic, ginger, chillis and tomatoes. Stir in the sugar and the vinegar and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, lower the heat and simmer until it has reduced to a thick consistency which very little extra liquid. This took 40 minutes for me, it may take less or longer for you.

Sterilise some jars. This amount filled two jars for me. Once the chutney has thickened take it off the heat and leave it to cool for about twenty minutes before carefully spooning the mixture into clean jars and sealing.

The chutney is good to eat straightaway but the vinegariness will soften if it is allowed to sit for a week before eating.

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How to make bread at home

Long time readers will know that this blog is a bit of a neglected spot because I run a cookery school teaching people how to make bread.

So, if you have ever felt frustrated with your lack of success with making bread then let me help you. I can also reassure you that I was once exactly the same. When I first tried to make bread I was hopeless at it. In fact, that is recorded in one of my first blog posts that I shared on here. You can read all about my first attempts at making a reasonable loaf here. I wrote then that I thought practice helped and I can confirm that it definitely does. If you had told me back then that I would have started to teach other people to make bread in 2015 setting up my own cookery school I would have looked at you as if you were a fool. It’s funny how life turns out.

If you would like to banish your own fears about bread making then taking my online masterclass will do exactly that. It takes you through the bread making process step by step and because it is pre-recorded videos, text based lessons and a workbook you do at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home. You can refresh your memory by going back and revisiting it as often as you like.

Here are a few of my videos from YouTube to get you started.

I hope these help you to start to conquer your bread fears.

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Sourdough Discard Chocolate Brownies

sourdough chocolate brownies

I often make these brownies to serve with tea and coffee at my bread making courses in Ironbridge. This is the first time I have added sourdough discard to the recipe but it won’t be the last. The acidity of the discard boosts the rests of the flavours, making it taste sweeter and more chocolately. They are much lighter in texture than normal. They are delicious. 

If you don’t make sourdough bread and don’t have a starter then don’t worry you can still make these. I explain how below.

A Note on Sourdough Discard

My discard was about 20 hours old when I used it. I wouldn’t particularly using a discard from a starter that has been in the fridge for some time or if your starter is a bit neglected. If my starter is neglected or fresh from the fridge the best place for my discard is in my food waste bin. What I want is something that has a bit of acid but isn’t overloaded. Anything too acidic will overpower the taste of your bake.

This recipe proves that you can add discard to pretty much all your baking. I made my brownies in the normal way except for omitting the 25g flour that I normally add and just added my discard. The discard happened to weigh 150g today* but I think the recipe would have been fine with more or less. So feel free to add however much discard you happen to have. If you wanted to make these brownies without the discard then just add 25g plain flour with the cocoa powder. 

* I knew I was going to use it in a recipe today so I boosted my normal refresh a bit. My normal discard is between 50-100g.

No sourdough discard?

If you don’t have any sourdough starter then don’t worry you can still make these delicious brownies. My recipe without the discard just replaces the discard with 25g flour. You can use spelt, wholemeal or plain flour.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter
50g chocolate (I normally use plain but today I used milk)
2 eggs (preferably organic)
225g soft brown sugar
50g good quality cocoa powder
150g sourdough discard (you can use more or less) If you don’t have any then add 25g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt
50g chopped nuts of your choice (my favourite are pecans)

Method

Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4, 350F or use the baking oven of a 4 oven Aga. 

Melt the butter and the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water or the chocolate will get too hot and seize. You can also melt the in the microwave by placing in a microwaveable bowl and pinging for 10 seconds at a time until they are almost melted and then stirring to finish the melting process.

Beat the eggs a little, just enough to add some air and it gets a bit foamy on the top (this helps with the crusty top that makes these so good). Stir the sugar, cocoa powder, sourdough discard, baking powder and salt into the eggs. Add the melted butter and chocolate mixture and the nuts and stir well to combine. Pour the batter into the cake tin and even the top. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is set but the batter is still wobbly underneath. The batter will firm up as the brownie cools. It is important not to overcook it, however tempted you may be to bake it for a few minutes longer. 

This recipe first appeared on my other website for my cookery school Veg Patch Kitchen. If you would like to learn more about my bread making courses you can click on the button below.

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Shropshire Butter Buns #2

Hands down my most popular recipe is for Shropshire Butter Buns and for very good reason. A butter bun is a fine, fine thing. A sweet dough filled with buttery goodness and with a delicious sticky toffee bottom. Back in 2015 when I posted the original recipe it was one that I had cobbled together from memories and snippets on the internet and it’s a recipe that I am pretty pleased with.

I teach people how to make butter buns on my sweet dough course and either they swoon immediately or look at me with an impassive face as they have yet to experience one. Once they have experienced one though I haven’t known anyone fail to be impressed.

Last week, Edward Aston contacted me. Edward had been an apprentice baker some seventy years ago at a bakery in a local town just a few miles away from here at Tom Wedge’s bakery. Edward tells me that Tom Wedge was the son-in-law of Mr Rhodes of Rhodes Bakery in Market Drayton where the recipe for the butter bun originated. Being keen to pass the recipe on Edward has very kindly sent me the recipe that he still bakes regularly for his children and grandchildren.

So here is what Edward wrote to me:

“I have just read your piece on Shropshire butter buns and thoroughly enjoyed it. The café you refer to in Shrewsbury would be Sidolis if memory serves me well. I believe the original recipe came from Market Drayton, Rhodes bakery I believe but sadly no longer trading. Some seventy years ago I was an apprentice baker to the son in law of Mr Rhodes a brilliant baker named Tom Wedge who had his own bakery in Broseley, Shropshire. That bakery is also sadly no longer trading and none of his family is involved in the trade. In view of this I now feel that it is time to make sure his original recipe should be preserved and I can think of no one better to share it with. Your dough and method are absolutely fine but the filling and construction is not authentic. So here goes for what it is worth. For the filling use equal weights of butter and light soft brown sugar. Beat them together until light and very fluffy now add about 20% of the butter sugar mixture total weight of lemon curd and beat well again. You should now have a cream like spreadable mixture. Now to construct the buns, place the dough circle flat and spread the mixture thinly on half of the circle, fold to make a half circle and then spread half of that and fold again to make a quarter circle. To bake place the buns in groups of four to form a circle on the baking tray. This was the traditional way of selling butter buns, in rings of four. I hope this is of use to you and will help to keep this beautiful confection alive. I like you am a great fan of the butter bun.”

How wonderful is that? I was so pleased and felt very honoured to have received such an email. I have spent a very happy morning today filming myself making the buns so that you can all see how I have translated Edward’s note to me and hopefully make the authentic Shropshire Butter Bun for yourself. I agree very much with Edward that we should keep the butter bun alive.

Learn to make Shropshire butter buns and other delicious sweet treats on my online course

If you would like to watch the video of me making these beauties you can do on my YouTube channel.

Ingredients:

For the dough:
300g strong white flour (bread flour)
250g plain white flour
10g fine salt
7g easy bake yeast (instant yeast) or 10g fresh yeast (the fresh yeast can be dissolved in a little of the warm water that you will be using for the recipe)
50g caster sugar
150ml milk
150ml warm water
50g butter
1 egg

For the filling:
150g unsalted softened butter
150g light soft brown sugar
60g lemon curd

For the glaze:
50g caster or granulated sugar
50g water

Method:

Warm the milk and the butter together in a pan over a gentle heat. Yeast dies at 55C so you don’t want the water to get too hot.

Place the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Keep the salt and yeast separate as salt can kill yeast. If you are using fresh yeast dissolve in a small amount of the water that you are using for the recipe before adding it to the flour.

Add the egg, warm milk and warm water and mix well. You can now use a stand mixer to mix the dough, knead for 10 minutes or use the stretch and fold method to develop the gluten in the dough. Leave the dough to ferment until it has become light and airy and has doubled in size. This can be at room temperature and take 1-2 hours or in the fridge overnight.

Meanwhile make the filling. Beat the sugar and butter together until soft and fluffy. Add the lemon curd and mix to combine. Set aside.

Make the glaze by placing the sugar and water in a small pan over a gentle heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer for a couple of minutes.

When the dough has become light and airy turn it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 8 large pieces or 12 smaller pieces. I like the bigger bun but you might prefer the smaller size.

Roll each piece into a circle. Place a teaspoon of the filling not each circle. Fold the circle over and seal the edges. Place another teaspoon of filling onto the half moon shapes and fold in half again so that you now have a triangular shape.

Place four of the triangles onto a baking tray (you can use baking parchment on the tray to save the washing up effort) to make a circle and repeat with the remaining triangles.

Leave in a warm place to prove or place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

When the buns have risen by about half preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6, 400F or use the roasting oven of the Aga and bake for 20-25 minutes. depending on your oven.

As soon as they come out of the oven brush them with the simple syrup glaze generously and leave them on the tray for 10 minutes to soak up any excess butter and allow the treacly toffee to stick to the bun. Finish cooling on a wire rack and eat the toffee bits stuck to the tray as a cook’s bonus.

Try both this recipe and my version and let me know which one you prefer or which one brings back happy memories of enjoying butter buns.


Edit: Edward has been in touch to give additional information “Just two small points I would like to offer to make things easier. First, after making the dough balls cover them with a cloth and give them about 10 minutes bench rest. This will make them easier to roll and prevent pull back. The second is the glaze which is improved by the addition of a spoonful of golden syrup which makes the glaze more viscous and offers better coverage with less risk of the glaze being absorbed. Finally a sprinkle of caster sugar used to be added for presentation.”

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Orange & ginger marmalade

In the depths of January we all need a sliver of brightness. Marmalade delivers that. It brightens up my morning toast every day.

Every year I look forward to the seville oranges arriving in the shops. I buy two kilos. One kilo to make marmalade straight away and one kilo to put in the freezer to make more in the summer. No one should be without a jar of marmalade in the cupboard.

Frozen oranges can be used straight from frozen using the method below.

My Aga Marmalade is my go to recipe, this just has the added zing of ginger. Feel free to omit it if ginger is not your thing.

1 kg seville oranges
1 lemon, sliced in half
10cm piece of root ginger
2kg granulated sugar
1 litre water
200g stem ginger in syrup

Method
This makes 8-10 jars of marmalade. Sterilise the jars by washing them well and then pop into a low oven (100C) for about 15 minutes.

Place the oranges, lemon and piece of root ginger in a pan. Add the water. The water should just cover the oranges if it doesn’t try using a smaller pan. I then place a smaller saucepan lid that fits inside the pan on top of the oranges to keep them submerged. Bring this to the boil and then lower the temperature to simmer the oranges until they are soft. This can take a couple of hours. If you are using an Aga you can then place the pan in the simmering oven.

Once the oranges are soft leave them to cool in the water. Once cool take the oranges out of the water and cut them in half. Scrape all of the pulp back into the cooking liquid including the pulp from the lemon. The lemon and piece of root ginger can both be discarded. Place the pulpy liquid back onto a medium heat and bring to the boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Strain the liquid through a sieve, pushing through as much pulp as you can. It is this pulp that will help the marmalade to set and give the marmalade plenty of flavour.

Cut the orange peel as thick or thin as you prefer. Pop a saucer in the freezer so that you can test the marmalade for wrinkles. Cut the stem ginger into small pieces (depending on how small or large you will want to eat it).

Put the sugar in with the water and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Add the peel and stir well. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly, it should be rolling like lava from a volcano for 15 minutes. Take the cold saucer and place a spoonful of the marmalade on to it. Add the stem ginger. Leave to cool and then push your finger through to test for set. It should just wrinkle slightly. If it doesn’t boil it until it does. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes before pouring into the sterile jars and sealing.

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