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Shiny Disco Balls (aka Rum Truffles)

On Monday I was left with the quandary of what to do with left over cake trimmings, though to be honest left over cake in this house is a rare sight. As a child I had a fondness for Rum Truffles. The best ones being from a local bakery called Mellors. These rum truffles were huge, but that could also be due to nostalgic hindsight, just like Wagon Wheels and Monster Munch used to be bigger back then. We also used to make them at home. All I could remember was that is was cake crumbs, rum essence and not much else.

At 6am Monday morning when I was trying to remember the recipe, Google was no help. No help what so ever. A thousand and one recipes for cake pops and the like and fancy truffles with all sorts of ingredients added, but nothing like the simple recipe I could barely remember. Read the rest of this entry

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Pasta for beginners

I’ve nearly finished all the recipe testing for next week. It’s been good going over recipes to double-check they work and remind myself that ‘no’ the jelly boats we were going to make are not suitable for vegetarians (thank goodness for vege-gel).  The baked jam doughnutsI tested earlier on in the week are for the American day and the pasta is for the Italian day. It’s fair to say the children coming on the course are very much looking forward to the day as along side this pasta we’ll also be making  pizza, focaccia, lemonade and ice cream. Before today I didn’t really like fresh pasta. I’d only ever experiences the ‘fresh’ pasta you buy in the supermarket fridges. It always seemed so claggy and horrible. Today’s experiment has changed this thinking and it works out at quite a cheap way to make pasta and great for when I’ve run out of the dried variety. Read the rest of this entry

Calzone – bread making for kids

Take kids, flour, water and yeast and for some it’s epitome of hell. For me I love it, well it is my day job. I’m one of the rare breed that will take your children off your hands, let them make a mess in the kitchen and I promise to clear up afterwards. There is no getting around the fact that bread making isn’t the cleanest of cookery, but it is a fantastic way of teaching science, maths and fine motor skills. This is a recipe I’ve been teaching for the last few weeks and it has been a big hit with my pupils. It’s a good introduction to bread making because it doesn’t require the time usually needed to allow the dough to rise and double in size. Of course if you have the time, allow the dough to double in size as it does improve the flavour of the dough, but it works just as well with just a quick 10 min rise while the toppings are being prepared. This basic dough recipe can also be used for regular pizza.

The dough uses a mixture of plain and strong bread flour to make sure the dough doesn’t ping back too much when it’s being rolled out which in turn makes it easier for little hands to use. The kneading method I use with most of my pupils is the stretching method. However the best pupil of the past few weeks was a lad who had broken his arm. With a small amount of tuition he was able to knead dough like a pro using the one hand method I was taught by Aidan Chapman. I also showed the pupils that we can check dough is ready by stretching a small window in the dough. The thinner you get the window before the dough tears, the better the dough.

Making bread dough links well with science. During the class I set up a glass of warm water with sugar and yeast so the pupils could see yeast in action. I did have an interesting time explaining to some pupils that yeast is a tiny living thing, a microorganism, a fungi and not an animal. I think some thought that when we added the water to the yeast it would turn into something like sea monkeys! This recipe also links well with maths. As with most measuring jugs it can be difficult to see where 75ml is so we weighed the water on digital scales to improve accuracy as 1ml water = 1 cm³ water = 1 g. Alternatively we could have counted out 5 tablespoons (15ml) of water.

Of course the filling of the calzone is endless. In class we did simple cheese and tomato and the Ikea BONUS knives did a superb job of cutting the tomatoes with no cut fingers. Remember kids, Miss doesn’t like sliced digits. One pupil suggested a sweet filling of banana and chocolate spread, I may well have to give this a go in the future.

While uploading the photos for this post I realised the small cuts I have put in the calzone to stop them getting too soggy inside makes them look like have navels. Maybe they are animals after all…

Calzone
Makes 2 small calzones

60g plain flour

60g strong white bread flour

2 pinches of table salt

1/4 tsp fast action yeast

75ml warm water

2 dessertspoons passata (sieved uncooked tomatoes)

25g grated mozzarella

1 tomato

sprinkling of mixed herbs

1) Preheat oven to 200°c. In a bowl mix together both flours along with the yeast and salt. Stir in water until you have a dough.

2) Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the clean surface, take the dough out of the bowl and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough. Add a tiny amount of flour if the dough gets too sticky. It can take up to 10 minutes for the dough to transform into a soft dough. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave while you prepare the toppings. Depending on time leave the dough for between 10-120 minutes.

3) On a chopping board cut the tomato into small pieces.

4) Cover your baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment. This is not essential but does make sure that none of the calzone sticks. Alternatively sprinkle the tray with a small amount of polenta or semolina.

5) Tear the dough in to two equal balls then roll out until they are the size of a side plate. Place the dough on the lined baking tray. Top with the passata then sprinkle with the cheese, tomato and herbs. Fold the dough in half so it makes a pasty-like shape then crimp the edges. Cut a small hole on the top of the calzone.

6) Bake for 10-15 min or until calzone is puffed and golden.

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