Monday 28 June 2010

Antipasto Tear and Share Bread - A Meal in a Loaf !

I saw Jamie Oliver on television briefly last night making something rather similar to this. It's one of those really versatile recipes where you can throw almost anything at it that you have in the fridge.

Basically, you make up a batch of bread dough. I used just a standard bread recipe - 500g flour, sachet of fast yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 1.1/2 tsp salt, good glug of olive oil and 300ml of warm water.

Make the bread dough as you would normally, and leave covered to rise for 30mins or until doubled in size.

Knock the dough back and roll it out into a rectangle about 1cm thick

Then, it's time to fill your bread. I chose to spread mine with red pesto and fill with some chopped antipasto. I'd griddled off 4 bell peppers, 1 courgette and a rather enormous onion.

There was a ball of mozarella lurking in the fridge, so I tore that up and put it along one long edge of my rectange. Then, I rolled the rectangle over the cheese and spread out the chopped antipasto over the rest of the bread dough - keeping it away from the last 2"in length of the rectangle.

Roll the bread dough until you end up with something resembling a swiss roll.

Chop off 2 > 3" chunks and stand them end up in a 10" round silicone baking pan mould. Don't worry about excess space. The bread is best left to sit for 20mins or so now and will expand into leftover space.

Pop it in the oven - 180 > 190deg C fan oven for 25 > 30 mins

When you bring it out, drizzle with olive oil and leave to cool a little before serving.

There is gooey mozarella in the centre of each section.

Too yummy for words. I'm planning on making a banana and chocolate version of this for the girls and toddlers for a picnic lunch on Friday.

Sorry for the rubbish photos - the half light outside made lighting really poor for photos indoors and we were too hungry to wait until it got really dark just for the sake of pictures !

Glancing at June - Just A Few Photos !

Just a few photos glimpsing back the last week or two of June.....

A cheeky Oliver chasing the chickens in the garden. Just as well they can move faster than him ! Actually - they come looknig for him to play and run circles round his feet to make him chase them. When they aren't in the mood they can get back to their side of the fence or come and literally stand at his feet.

Those naughty chickens SHOULD be on the other side of the fence.. :rollseyes:

Fluffy's new chick (just one) at about a week old. It's starting to get big now. Amazing how quick they grow. We have no cockrell with the chickens in the garden. As fluffy was broody, we let her sit on a couple of eggs from the field chickens that we have down the road.

This is about 3 days worth of eggs. All random shapes, sizes and colours.

This photo is cheating. It's from early May. It's a rare photo of Oliver and I together (since it's always me taknig the pictures) feeding the chickens. It's also my first appearance on my blog ! All the white chickens I'm feeding are youngsters we've been rearing for meat (not the two white ones in the foreground). They're getting big now - another month and you'll see them in a recipe !

Here's Oliver visiting work last week - with Richard teaching him how to drive the forklift truck and put the forks up and down....

Two of my ponies. Castrol on the left and Summer on the right.

And here's my other lad - Echo, showing off. There are no photos of Cocoa the miniature donkey as he's standing glued to my side whenever I'm in the field !

I tend to drive up to the top paddock through the field when Oliver is in the car - this lot are just a bit too big to have him running around their feet.

Summer likes to come and give Oliver kisses through the passengers window. I'm fed up telling her she needs to clean her teeth....

 She's a real softy and when out the field, is happy to let Oliver sit on her. I'm DESPERATE to get back out riding - oh for a babysitter !

Ok - so this one is a bit nicer :-)

Oliver and Zach (my friend Nicky's little boy) sharing Zach's car. It's a bit of a squeeze in there - the car is only meant for one !

Thursday 24 June 2010

40 cell EXTRA DEEP Mini Muffin Mould

We've been waiting so long for this ! I'm now pleased to announce the lauch of our 40 cup EXTRA DEEP silicone mini muffin mould. Originally, we had this made for use in semi commercial and commercial bakeries - but I'm also using one cut in half in my domestic cooker in my kitchen at home. That gives me two large extra large mini muffin trays which are each 450mm wide and 300mm deep and lets me bake extra deep mini muffins that LOOK just like those high rise ones you see in the stores.

Tim in Merv's Hot Bread Kitchen (Attleborough / Norfolk) has been trialing these for us for the past few weeks. I snapped these photos in his bakery yesterday afternoon. He uses our normal paper mini muffin cases in the moulds and fills the paper cases right to the top and then piles on the topping as you can see in the photos below.

The cherry muffins with the big sugar nibs are to die for :-) I'm not surprised they've instantly become very popular ! Now I've managed to get a load of sugar nibs myself - I'm dying to have a play at home.

Hanna from BB's Muffins in Nowich has been using them too. Unlike Tim, Hanna just greases hers to make sure they always release easily and doesn't bother with paper liners. For the finished mini muffins, Hanna adorns them with an icing glaze and sprinkles.

These are now available from at £19.99 each. There are discounted prices available on this item for bulk purchasers - see here

Sunday 20 June 2010

Making Bagels - My First Attempt

I fist fell in love with bagels some 10 years ago, during a stay at Kentucky Horse Shoeing School when I took some time out to learn how to shoe horses. At that point, I was seriously considering a change of career to farriery - but decided moving away for 4 years really wasn't for me.

Whilst living in the dorms and very limited cooking facilities, I fell in love with local bagels. I'm sure I remember eating a bagel for at least twice a day for four weeks..... and pining for them when I got home.

Bagels back home were a sheer disappointment. Really tough and tasteless... and likely several days after baking before available in the stores.

A recent post on Pam's Mid West Kitchen Korner rekindled my desire for bagels - and finally I got round to havin a go at making them.

I found a fantastic web page here - John Lee's Bagel Recipe . Do read all the comments - it really is worth it... and it's even easier than it sounds. I followed the recipe and method as listed, but added some poppy seeds and onions into the dough.

My first attempt came out really well ! I had a couple that almost looked spot on.... a few that were passable and a couple that would eaily break windows if thrown.

My tips would be :

Watch the little video of John joining them. It's a big help.

When boiling them - check you are boiling long enough before turning over. My initial guess was way out - and that's why the first two I made were as dense as concrete (ok - not quite - they were edible but gave you sore jaws.)

They do want to really puff up in the water.

Dry them for a minute on some grease proof paper before putting on a tray.

Lower the temperature to about 200deg for a fan assisted oven - and reduce cooking time from 20 mins to about 15.

I put 4 bagels on each baking tray - one just non stick and oiled as per intructions, one with a oiled silicone baking sheet. The ones directly on the tray got hot spot marks on the flat spots as you can see in the second picture - one back from the front on the right. The ones on the silicone baking sheets remained uniform in colour like the bagel in the foreground of picture 2.

They really are yummy if you follow John's instructions. I'll definately make these again and am looking forward to it already.

Saturday 19 June 2010

Happy Days ! Banana Cake ...

Oh Happy Days.....

We're going to be launching our new "Say It With Cake" range in the next 3 weeks. You may already know (or own) our very popular CAKE mould. It's been such a hit with our customers, that we're now introducing some new words to make a collection.

HAPPY, BIRTH and DAYS will also be shortly available to buy - and we'll also be looking for trade stockists. That will enable you to produce quite a number of different worded cakes. Actually - you can buy these ones pre-release now if you like and they'll ship immediately on arrival.

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIRTHDAY CAKES, HAPPY DAYS, CAKE DAYS will be the main ones - but you could easily cut them up into individual letters and make your own combinations.... such as RICHARD, CARRIE, CATHERINE, DAISY, HIPPY SHAKE, HAIRY BIKERS. The list goes on !

We're already making the tooling to extend the range further in 2011, so the rest of the letters of the alphabet will be able to be bought singly and numerals will be available too.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY obviously will make a rather big (as in spread out) cake - so you would need to either cover a piece of card in tinfoil, or a piece of hardboard / chipboard in wipable tablecloth. I'm in talks at the moment with a company about making custom sized acrylic cake boards in various colours. Surprisingly, they'll be pretty affordable too !

Anyway - on to the recipe and photos. The photos are fairly dire I'm afraid. The lighting just was not good enough - and there were too many people waiting to eat the cake !

This is a cake I made some time ago - it's a basic victoria sponge , filled with cream and homemade jam. It really stands out - simply dusted with icing sugar. Today's was just as effective - the photos really didn't do it justice.

When making letters from cake in these moulds, you want to use a recipe that will create quite a dense sponge. I've always been a fan of victoria sponge mix (175g caster sugar, 175g butter, 175g self raising flour, 3 eggs) in the past - but to be honest, now find it a bit boring.

I decided to try my Gran's amazing banana bread recipe. I usually make that in a 2lb loaf tin. It disappears much quicker than I can make it and is SO delicious I don't think I could ever get fed up of it. I've always known it as banana bread - but it's nothing like bread !

Gran T's Banana Bread

8oz plain flour
8oz sugar
4oz butter (actually - I now use sunflower oil !)
1.1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
good pinch of salt
2 large, ripe bananas (or 3 > 4 small ones)
2 beaten eggs
25ml milk (I sub for hazelnut liquer or Baileys)
add a good handful or chopped walnuts and or raisins if desired.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy - or use oil and don't bother ! Whisk in eggs, then add bananas and milk / liquer. Sift flour, salt, bicarb and combine with the wet ingredients, mmixing in well.

Bake at 180deg C in a 2lb loaf tin for approx 1 hour until wooden toothpick comes out clean.

If using this recipe in the silicone word moulds, the cakes will take about 18 > 20 mins.

Grease and flour the word moulds of your choice. I like to use Lurpak or Sainsbury's own brand equivalent on some kitchen roll to get in all the corners. I dust with flour and shake out the excess over the sink. I do like to both grease and flour the word moulds. You can get away with just greasing in most cases - but if you flour too, it means the cakes almost fall out the moulds and there is little chance then of breaking one during removal.

Put the mould/s on a baking tray before filling and putting in the oven. With larger letters like HAPPY and BIRTH, you may need to turn the tray upside down. Alternatively, cut between the letters.

Once filled, rap the tray once on the work surface to get rid of any air pockets in the mix

Fill each cell about 1/2 full. I don't like to over fill them and have cake mushrooming over the mould - as that all needs cut away and creates a lot of waste.

I also like to take these out of the moulds whilst they are still rather warm - when they are hot enough I can handle... I take them out for a couple of minutes, and then pop them back into the moulds to totally cool. Leaving them to cool in the moulds helps retain really good, defined edges. Taking them out seems to take away a little extra moisture from the edges and makes them more robust to handle later.

Don't worry - these cakes WON'T be dry. They're a really bouncy and moist sponge. I had some with me at the local commercial bakers a few days ago and they were VERY impressed with it. This should make a really good sponge for cakes that need to be carved into shape too.

Gimme an A ! Oh - we've got one already !

You'll see here, one of the letters turned out. Don't forget that the tops of the letters become the bottom, and the bottom will be the top. You need to cut the risen / domed bit of the cake away with a serrated edged knife. I don't cut mine to get them totally flat. To me, that's too much waste of cake. I just cut the domed bit off and make a nice big level bit so the cake can sit flat when turned over. No one will see if there is a bit of "air space" under the edges of the letters.

You could just make one lot and split each cake should you wish to fill - but I decided to double up. Once lot of cake mix filled HAPPY DAYS once, so two batches were required for the full cake.

Ok - so here is one lot of letters, turned out and trimmed down. You can see how crisp and defined the edges of the letters are.

And two layers, stacked with chocolate buttercream filling.

I finished this one off with some icing, edible gold glitter and almond slivers....with candles - for absolutely NO reason at all !

I'm very disappointed with the photos. The cake looked so much better. I'll just have to make another and take better pictures.

This cake was sparingly shared out to almost 40 people on our industrial estate. Wasn't fair to give to some and not to others. They only got a teeny weeny bit each though !

Sarah-Jane, - June 2010

Monday 14 June 2010

Strawberry & Cream Sponge Flan

Well - this has to be one of the simplest and easist of bakes I've made (and enjoyed !) in a long time.

In the last lot of new moulds, I found we had this silicone bakeware flan mould. I was actually expecting them to be pie dishes - so it was a bit of a surprise ! To be honest, I now think it was a really good surprise.

I've searched the web and the vast majority of silicone flan pans / moulds that I found were actually fluted for fluted tart cases or pies. They WERE NOT flan pans.

When you turn out a sponge flan base, it should have a little raised edge around the top - as you can see on the sponge flan base I made below.

This little raised edge is really important as it helps keep the fruit on top of the flan and stop it sliding off.

Traditionally, flans are normally filled with pastry cream or cream and topped with sliced fruits. However, there is nothing to stop you piling a load of whole strawberries on top if you really feel like it !

It looks quite heavy going to eat - but is actually quite light. The whipped cream I've put on here is only a thin layer. For a bit of extra yumminess, I drizzled poured loads of strawberry topping over the top. Strawberry topping is made by Silver Spoon under the name of Askey's. It's seriously lush stuff and used on top of most commercial bakeries strawberry tarts.

All in, this makes a truly superb treat for an alfresco Sunday lunch. The strawberries, cream and topping really do need to be done last minute as otherwise the topping and cream will all soak into the sponge flan.

For the sponge base, I just used a basic victoria sponge mix - 4 egg volume

75g caster sugar, 75g self raising flour, 75g butter and one egg. Multiply for standard sponge base as required.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Did you miss us ?

It's been a while with no blog posts... I spent a few days back "home" in Scotland with Oliver for my cousin's wedding last weekend.

Photo above is of Oliver and my brother Simon (who is SINGLE btw) in his full kilted outfit just before the ceremony. Cowboy hat wasn't eactly right - but was the nearest we had to a matching hat for his outfit.

Unfortunately, I have few photos. It's pretty impossible with a 1.1/2yo sometimes ! Oliver had a rare time. It was the hottest day of the year and asolutely baking. Straight after the ceremony, all the jackets and waistcoats were coming off ....

Oliver was melting in the heat and wasn't for sitting still - so we went and sat on our own during the ceremony under trees in the shade. I could only see from the distance, and was busy trying to occupy a toddler to prevent him from creating a fuss..... Unfortunately no photos of the gorgeous bride in her stunning Vera Wang dress to show you. I was too far away. I did get a photo of the beautiful Nicole (flowergirl) at the upstairs window before the bride came down.

I amused Oliver with bubbles and balloons. It was going well until he decided to bite and burst the balloons as the couple were taknig their vows. Oops !

Here's my mum trying to catch him whilst the couple were having their photos taken. There were so many people I couldn't get near the bride to photograph...

Halogen Oven Bread Post - For ROSIE !

This post is for Rosie, who emailed me yesterday with a question on whether or not it is possible to prove bread in a halogen oven.

For those of you that don't know, a halogen convection oven / cooker is a small table top oven that sits on your kitchen worktop. It has a fan inside and a halogen heating element bulb. They cook solid things like meat joints and potatoes much quicker than a standard fan oven (usually at least twice as fast) and use approximately 1/3 of the power of a standard fan oven. My fan oven is 4500W and the halogen oven is 1200 > 1400W.

You can see a number of things I've made in the halogen oven along with cooking times on our website under Halogen Oven Recipes.

Most oven ready meals cook in half the recommended packet time (often less) using no preheat and using approximately one third of the power which makes a massive energy saving. I do use it a lot for things like that - such as a garlic bread to go with soup / salad / pasta, fish fingers or chicken nuggets for Oliver. The things we all buy now and again when we can't be bothered cooking from scratch.

I now also cook all my roasts in it as not only is it quicker and more energy efficient, but the meat is so much more succulent. Unless you try it, you'll need to take my word on that ! Actully - it's on again doing baked potatoes now...

Many people say you cannot cook bread or pastry in a halogen oven - but this really isn't so. I've had good success with shortcrust pastry, puff pastry and home made bread and rolls.

Anyway - back to proving bread. In the winter time, when my wood burning stove is on, our house is lovely and warm and proving bread is no problem. However, it's not really warm enough indoors at the moment with no heating and it takes forever to rise. Putting it in the halogen oven ensures a warm and draught free place

I normally make bread dough by hand from scratch. However, I'm trialling food mixers at the moment with a view to selling them on next year. For quickness and ease, I used a packet of Wrights Parmesan & Sun Dried Tomato Bread mix and put it in the food mixer to mix and do the hard bit.

It's a 500g packet which makes a good sized loaf.

After removing the dough from the mixer, I kneaded by hand for a few minutes until silky and then put it on the halogen oven baking tray. I covered this loosely with oiled cling film, and put it in the halogen oven to prove. Temperature setting I used was just over half way between the off and thaw setting.

Not enough heat to cook - only enough heat to warm the bowl. The light occasionally came on for a second or two - but very very infrequently.

The dough had at least doubled in size in 30mins. If you wanted to make a more traditional shape loaf rather than free-form like this, use a 2lb loaf tin or the equivalent in a flexible silicone bakeware mould.

I then removed the cling film and turned the temperature up to 200 deg C I think it was (as on the packet for fan oven) and cooked for 20 mins before turning over and doing the base to get it nice and crispy for another 10. In retrospect, I think I would have been better using the extension ring as I did previously and cooking for 25 mins before turning over for 5 mins. Time wise, it took as long as it would have in a fan oven but without preheating and still used 1/2 of the energy. Bread loafs seem to take quite a while - almost as long as oven time though making rolls requires much less than the suggested time.

It made a nice big tasty loaf. I shoved it on a bread board and took it a 20min drive to work where it was demolished warm, in well under 10mins by 3 hungry lads.

Email to packet to tummy in 1.1/2 hours really isn't bad going !

Edited to add a picture of some bread scoffers - Rich from our office and his brother who works next door (and happened to smell the fresh bread !)

Sarah-Jane Nash - The silicone bakeware cook shop -