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Fresh from the Oven – Chelsea Buns

I’ve been a bit lax with bread baking recently. Hubs has been working away a lot and most weekends we’ve been busy with friends and family. Also now that my job is all about food, I live and breathe it, I’m trying to find a hobby that doesn’t involve being in the kitchen. When Wendy from Quirky Cookies decided that this month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge was going to be Chelsea Buns I was secretly pleased and hoped it would kick my bread making mojo back into touch. Wendy is a cracking woman and fellow science geek. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her at a few Fabulous Places events and can highly recommend her Rocky Road. Get in quick though as it sells fast!

I got working on the dough while working from home. Straight after kneading the dough looked quite sloppy. I left it a few minutes and the dough seemed to magically firm and come together. In between costing recipes, sighing at how the price of ingredients seems to be rocketing and thinking of recipes for spring term I had this dough slowly rising. As the house was quite cold I gave the dough a quick blast in the airing cupboard to aid with the rising. What materialised was a beautiful, soft and silky enriched dough.

When adding the filling I used sultanas, candied citrus peel and glace cherries along with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon. As advised by Wendy I also drizzled a small amount of icing on the buns once they had cooled. I have it on good authority from Claire at Things We Make that these taste superb warm from the oven. While I wasn’t fortunate to eat them warm they are still absolutely delicious with my 11 o’clock cuppa.

225g (8oz) strong white bread flour
25g (1oz) caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
25g (1oz) softened butter – this is for the dough
1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast
1 medium egg, beaten
90ml (3 fl oz) warm semi-skimmed milk
25g (1 oz) butter really softened, but not melted – this is for the filling
65g (2 1/2oz) light muscovado sugar
115g (4oz) dried fruit
1) Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a mixing bowl (I used my KitchenAid as usual). Make a well in the centre and add the softened butter, egg and milk. Mix to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth. It’s at this point I remember how much I love my KitchenAid, and make myself a coffee.
2) Cover and prove until doubled in size. I find that if I’m in a hurry the airing cupboard can do this in around half an hour, and I’ve had no adverse side effects from quick proving so far. Generously butter and line a 7″ square tin. Make sure it’s not a loose bottomed one, or you’ll get problems later on and loose your filling.

3) Flour your work surface, and roll out the dough, (no need to knock it back) to a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. If you get the edges as square as you can it will help to make your buns look even, but I quite like the squiffy homemade look. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m damn well sticking to it!

4) Spread the softened butter as evenly as you can over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar and the dried fruit on top, and gently press it into the butter. Now, roll up the dough along the long edge, as though you were making a Swiss Roll (and don’t tell me you haven’t!) Seal the edge. I find that smoothing it down with the flat side of a paring knife can help here, but don’t get too ocd over this bit. Turn the roll over so that the seal is underneath and divide the roll into 9 equal buns.

5) Place the buns, cut side down, into the buttered and lined tin, and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size, and they have all joined together into one big Chelsea bun muddle. I baked mine in a 180 degree oven, for about 15 minutes, but I’ve got a particularly hot and fast cooking oven. You know your oven better than I do, and I suspect most of you will need to set the oven slightly higher, and /or cook for a little longer. Some recipes suggest covering the buns with parchment or foil, but the fan is so strong in my oven this has never worked for me. Once cooked, cool on a wire rack, and eat them as soon as you dare.

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Fresh from the Oven – Brioche

Brioche has been on my want to bake list for a while ever since discovering the glories of French Toast. If it hadn’t been chosen for this month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge I was going to go ahead and make it anyway. Thankfully Chele from Chocolate Teapot came up trumps with this recipe.

The brioche I usually buy is beautiful sweet and fluffy and I have to admit my versions didn’t live up to this, but I know exactly why. I added too much flour. At the beginning I found the dough too difficult to work with and lobbed in quite a significant amount of flour to make the dough workable. By doing this I was no longer going to get the right texture. I would like to try this again with a tad bit more sugar and no more flour to see if I could get it to work. I’m saying it wasn’t fluffy but it still made grand toast!

Brioche
400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
5g powdered dried yeast
10g fine sea salt
90ml warm milk
2 tbsp caster sugar
100g butter, softened
4 medium free range eggs, beaten
To Glaze
1 medium free range egg
2 tbsp milk

to knead by hand:  mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, and bring it all together to form a dough.  Knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.

Or, to use a food mixer:  fit the dough hook and add all the dough ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Mix on low speed until combined, and leave to knead for about 10 mins, until smooth and shiny.

Shape the dough into a round, place in a bowl and cover tightly.  Leave in the fridge overnight.

The next day, divide the dough in two and form into the shape of your choice.  Lightly flour the loaves, lay them on a wooden board or linen cloth and cover with a plastic bag.  Leave them somewhere nice and warm to prove until almost doubled in size; this could take 3 or 4 hours, as the dough is cold.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.  For the glaze, beat the egg and milk together.  Transfer the risen loaves to a baking tray and brush all over with the glaze.  Bake for about 10 mins, then lower the oven setting to 180C/gas mark 4 and bake for a further 30 mins or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2 small loaves
River Cottage Handbook No.3 – Bread

Croissants

Croissants have been on my Want To Make list for a long time, but I just hadn’t had the nerve to make them so I was glad when I saw that Corrie from Hot Potato had decided to these being April’s Fresh from the Oven challenge. To make it even better the recipe was from my bread bible – River Cottage Handbook: Bread. I think I would go as far to say this turned out to be one of my favourite Fresh from the Oven challenge so far.

I only did a half batch as the amount of butter being used in the full recipe scared me slightly, even though I knew the amount of butter per croissant would still be the same! Well I have to say I’ve now been truly spoilt. Never did I think I would be able to make such delicious croissants. These are only matched by freshly baked croissants from a bakery near a friend’s house in Bristol. I think we’ll struggle to go back to the ready-made versions we usually have on our Sunday treat breakfasts from the shops. Don’t let the long instructions put you off, they are easier than it makes out and so worth it. If the amount of butter scares you, one thing I will say is that you get a good workout rolling the dough out into the giant rectangle.

Croissants
Makes 24-28 croissants
From River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens

1 kg strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
20 g salt
330 ml warm water
330 ml warm milk
10g powdered dried yeast (instant/bread machine yeast)
140g caster sugar/white sugar
500g unsalted butter

For glaze:
2 medium egg yolks
50ml milk

1) It is best to use a food mixer for the first stage as the dough will be soft, sticky and difficult to knead by hand. So, put all the ingredients, except the butter, into the mixer bowl and fit the dough hook. Knead on low to medium speed until the dough is soft, stretchy and satiny – about 10 minutes. Put the dough in a decent sized polythene bag (it needs room to rise), suck out the air, tie a knot in the bag and put it in the fridge to rest over night.

2) First thing in the morning, get the butter out of he fridge. You need it to warm up a bit so it is workable, but not soft. The idea is that the dough and the butter have a similar degree of firmness.

3) As soon as it seems ready, lightly flour the butter, lay it between two sheets of cling film and bat it out with a rolling pin to a fairly neat square about 1cm thick. Take your time to get the thickness and shape as even as possible, then put it to one side.

4) Take your dough out of the fridge, flour it and roll out to a rectangle, a little more than twice the size of the butter (allow a couple of centimeters extra all around). Now lay the butter on one half leaving a border, fold the other half over and press down all the way round to seal the butter in.

5) Next roll the dough away from you until it is twice its original length, then fold the top and bottom edges in by one sixth. Fold them in again by another sixth, so the folds meet in the middle, then fold one on top of the other.

6) Give the dough a quarter turn and roll it out again to about the same size as before, fold the top and bottom edges in to meet at the middle, then fold one on top of the other. Roll this out slightly and seal the edges with the rolling pin.

7) Put the dough back in the plastic bag and return it to the fridge to rest for an hour or so. (You’ve given the gluten a good workout and it must relax now, otherwise it will be resistant and uncooperative later.) *I found the dough extremely resistant after a 2 hour rest and I had to use a herculean effort to roll it out. I did halve the dough and let the second half rest overnight and had a much easier time rolling it out. Unless you’re a body builder I would advise a longer rest than an hour or two.

8 ) In the meantime, you need to cut a template from a piece of cardboard (the back of a cereal box or something similar). You want an isosceles triangle, measuring 20cm across the base and 25cm tall. (The easiest way is to draw an upside down capital T and join the points, like a cartoon sail).

9) When your dough has rested, unwrap and roll it out to a neat rectangle, a little larger than 140cm x 50cm . Now trim the rectangle to these measurements leaving perfectly straight edges. Cut the rectangle in two lengthwise, to give two 25cm wide strips. Now using your template as a guide, cut 12-14 triangles from each strip.

10) Lay each triangle away from you and roll it up from the base. Wet the pointed end and seal it. Curl the tips around to form a crescent and pinch them together to hold them in place; or you can leave them straight if you prefer. (At this point you could freeze some if you like. Space them out on a tray and freeze, then pack into bags. Allow an extra hour for rising when you come to use them).

11) Lay your croissants with the sealed point underneath, on baking trays lined with greased baking parchment or (better still) silicone mats. Cover with cling film or a bin liner and leave to rise until doubled in side. As the dough is cold, this could take a couple of hours, or longer.

12) When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C/400F /Gas Mark 6. Beat the egg yolk and the milk together, then gently brush all over the croissants. Bake for about 10 minutes, then lower the setting to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for further 10-15 minutes until they look beautifully golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly, while you make coffee.

P.S. If your work surface isn’t large enough to roll the dough out to a 140 x 50cm rectangle, cut it in half. Roll out one portion at a time to a rectangle a little bigger than 70 x 50cm, then cut the strips as above and cut 6 or 7 triangles from each strip, using your template as a guide.

Fresh from the Oven – Kringel

This month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge was hosted by Jo from Jo’s Kitchen. In the UK this recipe was brought to our attention by a Hairy Bikers programme where they gathered recipes from mothers throughout the country. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make it so I was glad Jo chose this recipe.

The technique of shaping dough was simple and effective. Not a method I had thought of using before and may use again with other breads. One thing I did find about the bread although there was lots of sultanas and sugar sprinkled over the dough I would have liked the dough to have been a bit sweeter. In typical me style I made a splattered mess all over the kitchen when applying the chocolate topping. I’m tempted to try the cheese version at a later date.

Given there is only two of us living here we were struggling to eat it all before it went stale so yesterday the remnants were reincarnated into a bread & butter pudding. And a very good kringel & butter pudding it was!

Kringel
(Makes 1 Loaf)

Dough

  • 40g fresh yeast
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 250ml milk, lukewarm
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 600-700g flour

Filing

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 3 handfuls of raisins
  • 10 tsp sugar

Topping

  • 150g dark chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids)
  • 75g butter

Method

Mix the yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add the lukewarm milk and egg yolks, then mix in the flour and melted butter and knead well. Shape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°c/Gas 6. Dust your work surface with flour. Take the dough out of the bow, knock it back and roll out to a thickness of 1cm. Spread the softened butter evenly over the rolled sheet of pastry, then sprinkle with raisins and finally sugar.

Roll up the dough like a swiss roll and cut it in half with a sharp knife. Starting from the uncut end, plait the dough, lifting each half over the other in turn. Finally, shape the plaited bread into a B shape and transfer to a buttered baking tray. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.

In the meantime, prepare the chocolate topping by melting the chocolate and butter in a bowl over boiling water. Once out of the oven, let the bread cool down a bit, place on a serving plate and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Cheese Kringel

To make a savoury version, leave out the raisins and sugar and sprinkle the Kringel with grated cheddar instead. Add more grated cheese on top instead of the chocolate sauce.

Fresh from the Oven – No Knead Bread

This month’s Fresh From the Oven challenge was hosted by Claire from Things we Make and she chose No Knead Bread. I’ve always been intrigued by this bread, but until now had never given it a go. The baker in me wondered 1) how a recipe like this could work and 2) wondered if it would have a slight sour taste.

Well I have to say this bread it a revelation. It produced a light, chewy loaf similar in texture and taste to ciabatta. It is quite obvious by the photo that we enjoyed it so much so, we had eaten quite a significant part of it before I got a chance to photograph it. This is certainly a loaf I would make again. The only alteration would be to prove in my proving basket to see if I could improve the shape.

No Knead Bread

The Mix

  • 15oz Strong White bread flour – it works best with all white I think
  • ¼ tsp instant easibake yeast (out of a sachet)
  • 1 tsp table salt

Stir together well then add 10.5 fl oz of lukewarm water (a mugful)

Slosh it round into a gooey lump of dough with a fork

Leave in a big bowl and cover with cling film or put the bowl in a bin bag
Leave it in kitchen for 16-18 hours – or more if you forget.

The 16hr Sloosh

Use a dough scraper/cutter or your fingers, to scrape the wet porridgy dough away from the sides, using plenty of flour to stop it sticking, and shuffle it back into a nice round shape. Don’t be tempted to knead it.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 2 more hours.

The Bake

Preheat oven to 200-220 and put in a lightly oiled Le Creuset or other large cast iron casserole with a lid on until the oven and the pan are super hot.

Again use the scraper and a good sprinkle of flour to detach the dough from the bowl without puncturing it’s airy goodness. Then quick as you can, without losing the heat from the oven and pan, tip the dough onto one hand then flop it into the hot pan the right way up again and put the lid back on and get it back in the oven immediately.

  • Bake for 30 minutes lid-on
  • Then cook for 10-12 minutes more, lid-off until golden brown

If it’s not hollow sounding on the bottom put it back in, without its tin for an extra 5 minutes. Tip out and cool well before trying to slice

Fresh from the Oven – Chocolate Buns

This month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge was hosted by Chele. Although the recipe appeared challenging at first, it was certainly enjoyable…and delicious. As there is only 2 of us a batch of 24 wasn’t exactly practical so I halved the recipe then froze half of the buns to be baked at a later date.

This is the first time I’ve made crème patisserie (I also know it as Confectioner’s Custard). It is essentially like a thick custard and is often used for filling pastries and tarts. Although I didn’t make it perfectly due to the tiny lumps it still was the right consistency and tasted perfect though at one point looked and smelt scarily like old school chocolate custard. Though this custard you won’t be pouring over steamed suet pudding.

The dough did take a bit to rise, but once it was ready to work with it was a perfect texture. Yes, I also went a bit OTT with the chocolate chips, but if you can’t go mad with chocolate in these buns when can you? They were absolutely delicious the texture between the custard, bread and chocolate chips was perfect. I would certainly make them again and I look forward to defrosting & baking the rest of the buns.

Chocolate Buns
makes 24

250g full fat milk (Richard likes to weigh it but its 250ml)
15g fresh yeast
500g strong bread flour
60g unsalted butter at room temp
40g caster sugar
10g salt
2 large eggs
25g good quality coca powder
200g chocolate chips, milk or plain, or a mixture
2 eggs beaten with a pinch of salt for an egg wash
Creme Patissiere (recipe follows)
15g cocoa powder

Pour the milk into a pan and warm gently until it is about body temp – it should feel neither warm nor cold when you dip your finger into it.

To mix by hand, rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble. Rub in the butter, then add the sugar and salt, then the eggs, milk and cocoa powder. With the help of a plastic scraper, lift the dough onto your work surface. Even though the dough will feel quite soft and moist (and look like thick, sticky porridge) do not add any flour to the work surface.

Begin to work the dough, slide your fingers underneath it like a pair of forks, with your thumbs on top, swing it upwards and then slap it back down, away from you, onto your work surface (it will almost be too sticky to lift at this point). Stretch the front of the dough towards you, then lift it back over itself in an arc (to trap the air), still stretching it forwards and sideways and tucking it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence.

As you work the dough it will start to come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands. Keep on working until it comes cleanly away from the work surface, begins to look silky and feels smooth, firm but wobbly and responsive.

Now you can flour your work surface lightly, place the dough on top and form it into a ball by folding each edge in turn into the centre of the dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating the ball as you go. Turn the whole ball over and stretch and tuck the edges under. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 45 mins in a draught free place.

Make the creme pattissiere.

Once the 45 mins are up, use the rounded end of a scraper, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, with a rolling pin, gently flatten it into a rough rectangle. Spread the chocolate creme patissiere evenly over the dough and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Starting with one of the longer edges, roll the dough up until it resembles a Swiss roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 2cm slices and place them on their sides on a baking tray. Glaze with a little egg wash and leave to prove for 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 hours until the buns have roughly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250C.

Glaze again and put into the preheated oven, turning the heat down to 180C. Bake for 10-15 mins. As the chocolate dough is quite dark it can be difficult to tell when the buns are properly baked, and you need to take care not to under bake them – the best way to tell when they are ready is to lift one gently with a spatula and check that it is firm underneath.

If you don’t want to bake the buns all in one go, you can freeze some. When they are cut, just before proving, put them on a small tray in the freezer and when they are hard put them into a freezer bag. To use them, take them out, leave to prove overnight and bake in the same way.

Makes 24 buns
‘Dough’ Richard Bertinet

Creme Patissiere
In a bowl whisk together 6 egg yolks, 70 g caster sugar and 50g sifted flour. Put another 70g sugar into a saucepan with 500g (500ml) full fat milk, a vanilla pod split lengthwise and seeds scrapped in and the remaining cocoa powder. Place over a low heat. Leave until the first bubble appears, then remove from the heat. Whisk 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture, then add the remaining 2/3 of the milk and stir again. Pour back into the pan and put back on the heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of mins, stirring constantly to ensure that the cream does not burn on the bottom. Pour into a dish to cool. Sprinkle a little icing sugar or flakes of butter on top to prevent a skin forming.

Using A Mixer With A Dough Hook
Put the flour into your mixer bowl and rub in the yeast. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Switch the mixer onto the slowest speed, add the sugar, cocoa and salt, then the eggs and milk and mix for 2 mins, then turn up to the next slowest speed and mix for a further 6-7 mins until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured surface to mould into a ball before placing in a tea towel to prove for 45 mins. Then follow the rest of the instructions as listed above. Easy peasy – honest!

‘Dough’ Richard Bertinet

Fresh from the oven – Stollen

Stollen has been a firm festive favourite of mine for  a while. The shape of stollen is meant to represent Jesus swaddled in a blanket. I will admit to sometimes buying it as both Lidl and Aldi sell very good versions. A few years ago I made a unyeasted stollen that although looked ugly tasted good, last year’s chocolate stollen was a delicious twist on the original so this year as I was hosting Fresh from the Oven’s December I wanted to try a yeasted stollen. The non-yeasted version I make has a huge list of ingredients that some people may struggle to get hold of so I wanted a simpler yeasted version of stollen that would be just as delicious.

Didn’t have the best of luck with this bake. I was doing some serious multitasking while baking this. Along with stollen I was up to ears with Chritmas prep & baking. First I over warmed the milk and probably killed the yeast (I should know better!) then I forgot to add the butter and only remembered about it half the way through the first knead so kneaded the butter into the dough. Finally due to combination of all the preceeding mishaps the dough didn’t really rise. I persevered, filled the dough with some homemade marzipan, shaped the stollen then eventually baked. The resulting cake was a dry, but strangely light and flavoursome cake. Not the best piece of baking I’ve done in a while, due to me not paying attention, but still nice with a cuppa.

Stollen
based on a Simon Rimmer recipe

100ml/3½fl oz warm milk
6g (1 sachet) fast action yeast or 2 tsp dried yeast or 20g fresh yeast
pinch salt
1 tsp caster sugar
225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp ground mixed spice
200g/7oz mixed dried fruit (including glacé cherries)
25g/1oz flaked almonds
50g/2oz unsalted butter, melted
1 free-range egg, beaten
250g/9oz marzipan (to make your own see my recipe here)

To finish
rum
25g/1oz butter, melted
50g/2oz icing sugar
Method

1. Place the milk and yeast into a bowl and mix well. Leave to sit for 5-6 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sift the salt, sugar, flour and mixed spice into a large bowl. Add the dried fruit, almonds and butter and mix well then stir in the yeasty milk and mix well.

3. Add the egg and stir to form a dough. Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes, then cover and leave to prove for 20 minutes. Uncover the dough and turn out onto a clean, floured work surface. Knock the dough back to reduce the volume, then knead the dough for 3-4 minutes.

4. Push the dough out by hand into a flat oval shape about 23cm x 18cm/9in x 7in. Roll the marzipan into a sausage shape about 6cm/2in shorter than the dough. Place the marzipan into the centre of the dough, then fold over the sides of the dough to seal in the marzipan. Then fold in the ends of the dough to contain the marzipan and help give the dough shape. Place the stollen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place somewhere warm to prove for one hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C/365F/Gas 4. Place the stollen on the baking tray into the oven to bake for 40 minutes, or until golden-brown and cooked through.

6. To finish, remove the stollen from the oven, brush with the rum then melted butter and dust liberally with icing sugar immediately. Allow the stollen to cool, then serve in slices.

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