Monthly Archives: July 2008

Cracking the tiger bread mystery


When we buy bread from the supermarket it’s more often than not tiger bread. Some searching on the internet for a recipe appeared inconclusive and one forum where the recipe of tiger bread has been in hot discussion couldn’t settle on a recipe. Because of this I decided to have a go at making my own using the little tips I had picked up. It was a bit of an experiment, but it worked really well. It did taste very like the tiger bread from the shops.

Rather than making a tin loaf I made a bloomer which spread out quite a bit leaving a loaf only a couple of inches thick. I think this was due to me making the dough a bit too wet. Saying this it still made a very good bread. The reason it is called a tiger loaf is because of the paste that is smothered on top of the bread. The paste is made from rice flour that doesn’t contain gluten, so doesn’t stretch like traditional bread dough and instead cracks producing a tiger stripe pattern. I inadvertently increased the cracked look while the bread was going through it’s second rise. While it was rising a placed a piece of oiled cling film over the bread to protect it. When the rising time was over I peeled off the cling film and it produced a mottled effect.

I’m really enjoying this bread making!

Tiger Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp of yeast (or 1 sachet of fast-action yeast)
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
300ml warm water ( 1/3 freshly boiled, 2/3 cold water)

If you are NOT using fast-action yeast prepare yeast with the warm water & sugar and leave for 15 min to froth.

Tiger topping

1 1/2 tsp yeast
65ml warm water (you may need more)
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
60g rice flour

1) Mix together flour, salt and fast-action yeast (if using).

2) Stir sesame oil into the warm water/sugar (and yeast is not using fast-action) mix. Pour the liquid slowly into the flour, stirring constantly until well combined.

3) Knead dough on a floured surface for 10 min. If using a mixer, use dough hook and knead for 2 min. Shape dough into a bowl, place in a lightly oiled bowl and leave to prove in a warm, draft-less place for 2 hours (or until dough has doubled in size).

4) Mix together tiger paste ingredients and leave for 15 min. You may need to add a bit more warm water to loosen the paste.

5) Preheat oven to 240oc. Flatten the risen dough with your hand then knead for a further 30 seconds on a floured surface. Roll out into a fat sausage shape and place onto a greased baking sheet. Coat the surface of the bread with the tiger paste and leave to prove for a further 30 min.

5) Cook bread for 10 min at 240oc then turn the oven down to 200oc. Cook bread for a further 10 min. If you tap the base of the bread and it sounds hollow the bread is cooked. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Pimms O’Clock

This weekend the summer eventually arrived and in true British style we celebrated by going to Summer Classics concert in Victoria Park Southport. The weather was perfect. Not only was my brother performing on stage we also saw performances from Natasha Marsh and The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. It was all finished with a fantastic fireworks display. Traditionally you take a picnic and I think some tables were trying to outdo each other. A few tables in front of us the men were wearing tuxedos, drinking from silver goblets and their picnic table had a candelabra. We also spotted another fancy table with a union jack cake covered in sparklers. It was great to see that people had really got into the fun of it. We’ve promised next year we’ll go all out with table cloths, candles and tuxedos.

It’s a great fun introduction to classical music and had a fab atmosphere. Lots of flag waving and during the Blue Danube Waltz, people (most of which looked like they had been drinking Pimms for a few hours!) were waltzing around the park.

Our picnic was made up of lots of different nibbles plus Pimms, wine & shloer. I also made Beth’s Raspberry & Pine nut Bars. I added a handful of coconut that needed using up. Everyone loved them and I’ll certainly be trying them again with maybe different fruits depending what is season.

If you ever get the chance to go to a Summer Proms concert I highly recommend it!

The Fizzy Drink Cupcake Experiment

The 6 week holiday boredom has truly set in. So much so that my science geek side has emerged and I decided to do some experimenting in the kitchen. Proof I have officially lost the plot. This was all inspired by Cakespy’s cake challenges and various recipes on Craftster.

After seeing Nigella’s recipe for Coca-Coca cupcakes it got me wondering… Which fizzy drink makes the best cake?. Rather than the usual cola I decided to pick some truly British fizzy drinks – Tizer, Vimto (my personal favorite), Irn-Bru and Dandelion & Burdock.

I hasten to add this blog entry should also be entitled “How to make ugly cupcakes”. The last time I made cakes looking so decidedly dodgy was when I was 8.


I used the Nigella’s coca-cola cake recipe but omitted the cocoa. To make enough for 4 sets of cakes, I doubled the recipe, then divided the cake mix by 4 before adding the various fizzy drink/butter mix. The icing was simply 110g of icing sugar for each flavour of cake mixed with 90ml of the fizzy drink.

I used paper cases as various recipes around the internet suggested that the cakes can go very sticky.

To make it a fair test all cakes were cooked for the same part of the oven for exactly the same amount of time. At the end of the 15 min all had passed the “skewer test”


Resulted in an *cough* interesting mix of cakes some of which I certainly will not replicate again! Others however, with a bit of tweaking, could make good cakes.

Dandelion & Burdock

This drink makes me reminisce my childhood. The taste is unlike any other fizzy drink out there. In terms of cake baking it produced a fluffy well risen cake and you could certainly taste the D&B in both the cake and icing. The D&B tinted the cake and icing nicely.


Irn-Bru is one of those kind of drinks that you haven’t a clue what it is meant to tastes like, but it’s delicious especially with a bag of open chips from the chippy. It is also the unofficial national drink of Scotland. I didn’t realise until I did this experiment that Irn-Bru has caffeine & quinine in it. Why you need quinine in Scotland is another question for another day.

Considering the amount of artificial flavours and colours in Irn-Bru it produced a so-so cake. Only a very slight colour change in the icing and cake. It just tasted sweet rather than Irn-Bruish. Not as fluffy as the D&B cake. It also had a slightly greasy texture.


Vimto is my favourite fizzy drink of all time, it is also great in the cordial format. Never drunk it much as a child as I was always made to believe it was expensive! It made cakes with a pleasing purple hue and noticeable Vimto taste, however was almost verging on being too sweet. Like the D&B cake with a bit of tweaking it could make a nice cake. Didn’t rise as well as D&B.


Although they look like quaint little Bakewell Tarts , they turned out to be a bitter disappointment…where do I start. They have to be one of the worst cakes I have ever tasted. Cakes shouldn’t have a chewy texture! Although they had passed the skewer test after cooking, they looked promising…until about a minute later when they just collapsed leaving a lovely crater for the icing to pool in. They also leached a load of grease while cooking. Euch. There was no change in colour of the cake or icing. Interestingly Tizer was the only drink that I experimented with that said “No artificial colours, sugars or flavourings” so I wonder if this had something to do with it.

The said cakes are now infusing the compost heap.


Dandelion & Burdock makes the best cake, as for Tizer, never again unless you want a chewy greasy mess.

Things I learnt while cooking the cakes:

* When the little old man in the Newsagents questions why you are buying so many crazy coloured fizzy drinks, don’t admit to the fact you’ve lost the plot and want to cook cakes with them.

* I have a innate ability to make as much mess as possible while cooking. Cake mix down the washing machine? KitchinAid covered in cake mix? You name it, I can get cake mix on it.

* Cupcake cases are not a universal size, I must have picked up tiny ones and ended up with double the amount of cakes I had originally intended.

* The cake mixture is incredibly watery and it is easier to pour it from a jug rather than trying to spoon it in…yes I did try spooning it.

* Hubby does have the ability to be honest when it comes to my baking. I don’t blame him as I thought the same!

Curry Monday – Thai Red Curry

I’ve always been interested in trying a Thai Red Curry. After a bit of searching on the internet I found a good recipe for curry paste. It was a great deal nicer than the bland looking photo would make out. The only change I would make next time would be to add some veg like mange tout. We’ll certainly be making this again soon.

From this week Curry Monday is going to be every two weeks as I want to return to some of the curry recipes I’ve tried so far…and I’m running out of inspiration!

Thai Red Curry
serves 2

1 red chilli, deseeded
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ginger, grated
1 stem of lemongrass
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp hot paprika

1 tbsp sunflower oil
200 ml coconut milk
splash of fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves

1) Blitz all of the paste ingredients together until you have a thick paste. You may need to add a small amount of water to help loosen up the paste.

2) Heat the sunflower oil in the pan then fry the paste for 1 min. Add the chicken, stir to ensure the paste covers the chicken and cook until chicken is browned.

3) Add the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime leaves. Simmer for 15min until chicken is cooked.

The KitchenAid Christening – Basic White Bread

The plans for having a Birthday BBQ have been shot. The weather is terrible and Hubby is stuck in London. He’s working on a project at the British Motor Show due to open in the next few days. He went down first thing Friday expecting to be there until about 3pm, well it’s now 1pm Saturday and he’s still there. The job hasn’t gone as smoothly as they had hoped. When he eventually gets home I think it’s going to be a very lazy tea of homemade pizza (what we were meant to have yesterday!) and a good bottle of wine.

After getting over the shock of being given a KitchenAid mixer by Hubby I set about trying to decide what to make with it. When they are sold in the UK, they don’t come with a recipe book so it was going to be a bit of an experiment, though I did find some good tips on the internet.

Now, I love baking bread, but never seem to make it often. When I do make it I use the Fresh White Bread recipe from River Cottage Family Cookbook. I couldn’t believe how fast and easy the KitchenAid made bread making. I left the dough inside the airing cupboard for a few hours while I popped to the shops. When I returned the dough had certainly doubled…all over the side of the bowl. Never before has my dough raised so much. I beat the dough down, shaped and left it to rest for a further 30 min, I could literally see the dough rise in front of my eyes! It produced a beautiful light and fluffy loaf albeit lopsided, but who cares. The hardest part was trying to leave it once it had cooked to allow the crust to harden. There is nothing better in the world than a slice of freshly cooked bread slathered in butter, heaven!

I’ve enjoyed the bread making experience so much I’m going to try and bake the majority of the bread we have now and can’t wait for River Cottage to release their 3rd handbook all about bread.

Basic White Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp of yeast (or 1 sachet of fast-action yeast)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
300ml warm water ( 1/3 freshly boiled, 2/3 cold water)

If you are NOT using fast-action yeast prepare yeast with the warm water & sugar and leave for 15 min to froth.

1) Mix together flour, salt and fast-action yeast (if using).

2) Stir olive oil into the warm water/sugar mix. Pour the liquid slowly into the flour, stirring constantly until well combined. It should form together to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.

3) Knead dough on a floured surface for 10 min. If using a mixer, use dough hook and knead for 2 min. Shape dough into a bowl, place in a lightly oiled bowl and leave to prove in a warm, draft-less place for 2 hours (or until dough has doubled in size).

4) Preheat oven to 240oc. Flatten the risen dough with your hand then knead for a further 30 seconds on a floured surface. Roll out into a fat sausage shape and place in a lightly greased 2lb loaf tin or onto a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with flour and leave to prove for a further 30 min.

5) Cook bread for 10 min at 240oc then turn the oven down to 200oc. Cook bread for a further 10 min. Carefully lift the loaf out of the tin, turn over and cook for another 5 min to allow the bottom of the loaf to brown. If you tap the base of the bread and it sounds hollow the bread is cooked. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Birthday Surprises

Today I’m not only 1 year closer to 30 but I’m also writing my 200th post. To celebrate my birthday Hubby surprised me, big style, with a beautiful cream KitchenAid mixer and a Global GS-3 cook’s knife. I’ve been hinting for a while that I would love a KitchenAid, but never in my wildest dreams did I think he would buy me one. It does explain why he has been doing a lot of overtime! Note, he did buy the version with the splash guard as I am renowned for the mess I make in the kitchen.

Other pressies include a lovely pestle & mortar, a Hotel Chocolat Goodie Bag, a cheque with the specific instructions “to spend on ingredients for kitchen experiments” and some vouchers so I can pamper myself in a few weeks time.

Now I decide what I’m going to make with it. I’m aiming to use it to make something that I’ve never been able to make before due to lack of posh mixer. I’ll certainly be consulting Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess for ideas.

I’m still in shock!

I wrote my 100th post on 1st January 2008 and now I’m on my 200th. Since my last blog birthday some of my favourite posts include:

Homemade Butter

Rolo Cupcakes

Simnel Cupcakes

Cashew Chicken

Cream Tea


Gin & Tonic Jelly

Raspberry & Chocolate Muffins

Ok, I promise, I will try and make sure the next post doesn’t involve raspberries! The one problem I find about picking tonnes of raspberries is that you have to use them up within a couple of days picking or they begin to go off. Which in turn makes me wonder what on earth do supermarkets put on their raspberries to make them last so long…hmmmm not worth thinking about.

This morning Hubby pointed out that we had half a punnet of raspberries left and was wondering what I was planning to do with them. I initially suggested a smoothie, but I could see the disappointment in his eyes that I had suggested something healthy. Then the idea hit me – raspberry and chocolate muffins. His faith in me had been restored. This also meant I got to try out my new star and heart cake moulds.

The smell of them baking was gorgeous. They didn’t turn out with the best texture, I’m not too sure if it was a bit too dense for my liking, but they still tasted nice and were perfect with a cup of tea. I’ve entered this to Food Blogga as part of Sugar High Friday.

Raspberry & Chocolate Muffins
Makes 16 regular or 8 large

300g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
150g golden caster sugar
225ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g butter, melted
1 egg
50g chocolate chunks (I used milk chocolate)
250g raspberries

1) Preheat oven to 200oc. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar.

2) In another bowl whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, stir until well combined.

3) Carefully stir in the chocolate and raspberries and spoon into cake cases into 2/3 full. Bake for 25-30 min until risen and golden.

Raspberry Truffles

I have a bit of a raspberry obsession. It is my favourite fruit in the world and when raspberry season comes around I go a bit mad. Well, with the local PYO farm charging just £1 per lb, what do you expect! You’ve probably noticed how raspberries have crept into most sweet things I’ve made recently – Summer Pudding and decoration on the Gin & Tonic Jelly. I also have some baking in the oven featuring, you’ve guessed it, raspberries!

A year ago I saw Nicisme’s recipe for Raspberry Truffles and knew I HAD to make them. I never got the chance to make them during the raspberry season last year so as soon as raspberry’s were avaliable this year I knew what I needed to make.

I think I may have over heated the chocolate slightly as it begun to go claggy and difficult to work with. Although I thought I had ruined the chocolates, they still turned out delicious and not too ugly looking. The dark bitterness of the chocolate & cocoa is matched perfectly with the sweetness of the Crème de Framboise. A very rich and indulgent chocolate. To add some sparkle to the chocolates I sprinkled some dark pink lustre over them at the end, though you can’t really see this in the photo. I would be interested to try the recipe with white chocolate.

As there is a fresh raspberry in the middle and they are so rich you can only eat 1 at a time, I’ve sent Hubby off to work with some of the chocolate for his workmates. I hope they enjoy them as much as I do!

Raspberry Truffles

Curry Monday – Coconut Chicken Masala

As I’m getting more experienced at cooking from scratch I’m finding it easier, especially when it comes to curries. My store cupboards are now so well stocked it only takes a quick shop for the fresh ingredients and I have a meal. Takes out a lot of the pressure when I can’t decide what to cook!

Talking of chicken, this week I went back to my usual fantastic meat supplier after visiting a dodgy farm shop a few weeks back. I’m on their [the great suppliers] mailing list and a few months back they sent me interesting letter saying where all of their chicken is sourced. Their chicken is by far the best around. Not only is it succulent and tasty, but doesn’t leach water when you cook it. Kate at a Merrier World has recently written an article all about chicken welfare, which is well worth a read.

Last year Channel 4 featured a programme called River Cottage Treatment where Hugh F-W tried to convert fast-food addicts to good wholesome home cooked food. While searching for a beer batter recipe I came across his recipe for Coconut Chicken Masala that featured in the series. “That’s Curry Monday sorted” I thought!

The recipe made a delicious and creamy curry that I would certainly make again. I halved the recipe and it made enough for the 2 of us, plus a small portion for lunch tomorrow.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Coconut Chicken Masala

Gin & Tonic Jelly

To try and get my cooking mojo back I decided to play around with an ingredient I’ve never used before, gelatine. Of course I’ve made jelly from the well known Rowntree blocks, but never from scratch. First challenge was finding leaf gelatine as the recipe I had was insistent that it had to be leaf gelatine and not the powdered form. I’m also not sure if it would work with vegegel. Most of the supermarkets near me are geared towards people who’s idea of cooking is putting a ready-meal in the microwave for 3 min, so sourcing certain ingredients can be a challenge. A good friend came to the rescue when she noticed some for sale in the supermarket she uses.

I was told about this particular Nigella recipe a few months back and have been wanting to give it a try. Gin & tonic is one of my favourite alcoholic drinks, and the fact it can be made into a dessert is even better! The original recipe serves 8. I halved the recipe or Hubby may never make it to work tomorrow due to a hangover. I don’t own any fancy jelly moulds so served it in tall glasses instead. Because of the alcohol content it takes a great deal longer to set than normal non-alcoholic jelly.

It had a lovely refreshing taste with a pleasing G&T kick. I believe a proper G&T should have lime and not lemon in it so next time may replace the 1 lemon for 3 limes. It would be a perfect BBQ dessert for adults. I’m thinking of using the same technique to make a Pimms jelly with the traditional Pimms fruit suspended in it for my Birthday get together at the weekend.

Gin & Tonic Jelly
Makes around 650ml of jelly (serves 2-4)

150ml plus 25ml water
150g caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
200ml tonic water (don’t use slimline, it won’t work)
125ml gin
4 sheets of leaf gelatine

1) Put 150ml of the water and the sugar in a saucepan. Boil for 5 min, take off the heat, add lemon zest and allow in infuse for 15 min.

2) Strain into a measuring jug. Add lemon juice, gin and tonic. It should reach the 600ml mark. If not top up with either more lemon juice, gin or tonic.

3) Soak the leaf gelatine in a bowl of cold water for 5 min. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine, then whisk gelatine into 25ml of boiling water. Add a small amount of the lemon syrup to the gelatine then pour this back into the jug of lemon syrup. Stir to ensure it is well combined.

4) Pour into glasses or lightly greased jelly mould. Put in fridge and allow to set for 6 hours.

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