Bread

Bread and ice cream

bread

We’ve had a really tough week. Ben’s dad died. We knew it was coming (he had cancer) but this didn’t make it any easier.

My first instinct is to turn to food for comfort (I think it’s the only way I know). And for our family ‘happy’ foods would be ice cream or perhaps a home baked loaf.

So on Sunday we had a sugar-crazed ice cream ‘mash up’. I made vanilla ice cream and presented it with a selection of sauces, with sweets to garnish, in true ‘Pizza Hut Ice Cream Factory’ style. This was reminiscent of sleepovers when I was 14 where we would eat pizza and ice cream until we felt sick and then watch naff horror films like Nightmare on Elm Street or Child’s Play.

The ice cream ‘mash up’ was fun and temporarily took our mind off things. Only just like my teenage self we got over excited and ate so much that we felt ill and had to lie down and listen to audio books (in lieu of television) for the rest of the day.

In the end it was the next morning’s freshly baked bread that won through. Slathered with real butter this was the stuff of true, wholesome, everyday happiness.

With Ben away watching over his ailing father, it has fallen on me to make the daily bread. I had to ask for his current recipe which has been updated since the one I posted back in September 2013 (the main change being the larger size since our children now eat more than we do).

So please find below four recipes for ice cream sauces and one for a good loaf of bread.

Peace be with you David Shelton (1950-2017).

Ice Cream Mash up

icecreammashup

For my homemade vanilla ice cream recipe click here. Or just buy some ready made.

Each of the sauce recipes below makes a jam jar full. More than you’ll need for one session but they will keep well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or you could freeze any leftovers.

Milk chocolate peanut sauce

  • 175ml of double cream
  • 100g of milk chocolate
  • 100g of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy it’s up to you)
  • 3 tablespoons of golden syrup

Heat all the ingredients slowly in a saucepan until everything is melted and amalgamated. Best served warm.

Hot chocolate fudge sauce

  • 80ml of double cream
  • 60ml of golden syrup
  • 40g of dark brown sugar
  • 30g of cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 85g of good quality dark chocolate
  • 15g of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Heat all the ingredients slowly in a saucepan until everything is melted and amalgamated.

This creates a thick sauce. Add a little more full milk or double cream if you want it thinner.

Salted caramel sauce

  • 175g light soft brown sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 50g butter
  • ½ tsp salt (I prefer a bit more but start with ½ tsp and see what you think)

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan set over a low heat, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and bubble the sauce for 2-3 mins until golden and syrupy. Leave to cool for 10 mins before serving. Can be made up to 3 days in advance and chilled – gently reheat to serve.

The other option is to open a tin of caramel condensed milk and add a good pinch of Maldon sea salt.

Raspberry sauce

  • 350g bag of frozen raspberries
  • 50g of icing sugar

Heat the raspberries (straight from frozen) with the icing sugar over a low heat in a saucepan on the hob. Let it simmer for a few minutes (3-5). I like a smooth texture with no pips so I sieve the mixture before serving but this is a total pain and does take ages (plus nightmare washing up to get the pips out of the sieve). If you don’t mind pips then just skip this step.

Or, alternatively, whizz up a tin of raspberries in syrup and sieve (or not).

Best served chilled.

sauce

Sumptuous sauces (clockwise from top left, raspberry, milk chocolate peanut, salted caramel and dark chocolate).

sweets

Sprinkles

 

Ben’s bread (current version)

  • 900g of strong bread flour (mainly white with 200-300g of spelt or wholemeal if you like)
  • 12g of salt
  • 6g of easy bake yeast
  • 550ml of water
  • (Optional) A small handful of seeds of your choice e.g. sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy

Add all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Bring together with your hands and knead for at least 10 minutes.

Leave in the bowl covered with cling film until it has at least doubled in size – usually 2 hours but this may take a bit longer if it’s a cold day.

Knock back the dough with your hands and knead gently for another minute. Grease a large bread tin (mine is 28.5cm long, 13.5cm wide and 7cm deep) and  press the dough into the tin. Leave to rise in the tin for another 30-60 minutes. The dough needs to reach just above the top of the tin and this for me usually takes around 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220oC or 230oC if, like me, you like a really golden crust and put a tin of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this also helps with the crust formation).

Bake for 18 minutes at 220oC/230oC.

Then remove from the tin and bake for 17 minutes at 180oC.

Leave to cool before slicing.

Panettone ‘bread-and-butter’ pudding

panettonepudding

I’m not a huge fan of panettone but there is often one knocking around after Christmas and it does make a delicious cheat’s bread-and-butter pudding. This one came from the bottom box of a ‘Tower of Treats’ and was re-gifted to me in January. I was thrilled because I new exactly what to do with it.

Since there is fruit, mixed peel, butter and sugar already in the panettone you don’t need to add any extra – which is why I use the word ‘cheat’. If you have a particularly sweet tooth you can add some extra sugar to the custard if you like and I do add a light smear of extra butter to the top of each slice of panettone for a nice crispy crust.

It’s the perfect comfort food but very indulgent. Carbs, sugar, fat – it’s all in there. Sorry if you’re trying to be good. I’ll aim for a healthier recipe next time.

Panettone ‘bread-and-butter’ pudding

  • 1 panettone (mine was 500g and 20cm diametre), cut into slices about 2 cm thick
  • 30g of butter
  • 300ml of double cream
  • 600ml of milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
  • Nutmeg
  • Optional – 50g of caster sugar

Lightly butter a ceramic baking dish approximately 20 cm x 30 cm (or one with a similar area).

Spread the rest of the butter thinly over the top surface of each slice of panettone and arrange in a single layer in the dish but with each slice overlapping the next (as above). If you want it to look prettier then you can cut the panettone slices into smaller pieces but I don’t bother.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and, if you have a sweet tooth, the caster sugar.

Pour this over the top of the panettone slices, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour for the bread to soak up the custard mixture.

When you are ready to cook, remove the cling film and sprinkle over some demerara sugar and a good grating of nutmeg.

Place in an oven preheated to 180oC for 45 minutes – one hour (or until the custard is set – you can test this with a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean then it’s done – and the top is a deep golden brown). Mine took 55 minutes.

Let it stand for 10 minutes (if you can wait that long) before serving. Serve with pouring cream if you like but I think it is perfect just for itself.

panettonepudding2

It tastes so much better than it looks.

Spelt bread and tomato soup

spelt bread 1

If you regularly read this blog then you will know that it’s usually my husband Ben who bakes the bread.

We believe that division of labour in the kitchen is healthy for a relationship – well in any case it seems to work for us. Generally speaking I do cakes, biscuits, steak, pasta, pizza, most puddings and scrap cooking. Ben does bread, risotto, pies and fish.

But this is not set in stone and occasionally I like to muscle in on Ben’s area of expertise – just to keep him on his toes. Recently I’ve been experimenting with spelt bread because I like it but Ben doesn’t and so if I want it I have to make it myself.

I’ve made ‘Roman style’ spelt bread a few times using the recipe on the back of the Dove’s flour packet but it’s a bit heavy and always sticks to the tin. But watching Ben make other breads gave me the idea of making a ‘poolish’ with a bit of strong white flour to try and get a lighter texture. This worked an absolute treat and even Ben admitted it was nice.

Spelt bread is good to make if you’re a little bit lazy (like me) because it only involves a quick knead (more of a stir really) and one proofing session. The ‘poolish’ bit sounds posh and is a technique used by artisan bread makers but it is really very simple as you will see.

Spelt Bread

For the poolish

  • 100g strong white bread flour
  • 100ml water
  • 6g quick yeast

Wet ingredients

  • 300ml water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Dry ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 400g wholegrain spelt flour (I used Doves Farm)
  • ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds, crushed

Mix all the ingredients for the poolish together in a small bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 30 minutes for the mixture to bubble up.

In a large mixing bowl measure out the dry ingredients but only half of the fennel and caraway and add the poolish.

In a separate bowl measure out the wet ingredients and stir to dissolve the honey.

Add the wet and dry ingredients together and work for a few minutes until smooth. Use either your hands or a wooden spoon if you don’t like mess as the mix will be very sticky and wet.

Grease a small loaf tin with olive oil (mine is 11cm wide, 22cm long and 6cm high) and tip in the dough. Place the tin inside a sealed plastic bag with plenty of air trapped inside and room for the dough to expand without touching the plastic. Leave in a warm place until the dough has risen to about 1 and a half times the size (this should take between 1 ½ and 2 hours).

Heat the oven to 220oC.

Put a tin of boiling water in the oven to create steam. Sprinkle over the remaining fennel and caraway and bake the loaf for 20 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 200oC and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Finally, take the loaf out of the tin, put back in the oven and cook for a final 5 minutes.

This bread tastes great with a quick tomato soup (see below)

tomatosoup

Quick and easy store cupboard tomato soup

This soup (inspired by a Mary Berry recipe) has the homely, comforting flavour of a tin of Heinz. It’s very easy to make – although the cynical among you may argue that it’s easier to open a tin. My 7 year old daughter enjoyed making it and really, really enjoyed eating it – declaring that it was the best soup she’d ever tasted – bless her.

Serves 2

  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, plus 1 teaspoon of the oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 50ml milk
  • 50ml double cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a saucepan over a medium heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds until it begins to colour.

Add the sun-dried and tinned tomatoes, stock and sugar and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blend until smooth.

Stir in the milk and cream and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper before heating through on the hob.

Elizabeth with soup

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and homemade baguettes

chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

In my small collection of recipe books there are at least four versions of ‘chicken with 40 cloves of garlic’ and I’ve always promised myself that if I ever have a bumper crop of garlic this would be the first thing I would cook.

Finally this year (after over 10 years of having an allotment) I have struck gold with my garlic and I feel as though I can spare 40 cloves for just one dish.

lovely garlic

My beautiful garlic.

But which recipe should I use? In the end I opted for the most straight forward sounding one – Alistair Little’s in Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’. When I found the original programme from 1998 where they cook this recipe and saw them serve it with nothing more than bread and wine, I knew I was onto a winner.

This dish is certainly delicious, but despite all the fuss (i.e. chefs falling over themselves to bring you ‘their’ version) it is basically roast chicken with garlicky gravy and some roasted garlic on the side. I do love this simplicity but the best bit for me was the bread accompaniment (see recipe below) and the smell filling our kitchen as the garlic and chicken were roasting.

Chicken with forty cloves of garlic

(based on Alistair Little’s in Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’ with some alterations)

Serves a family of four with leftovers for sandwiches and stock

  • A good quality free range chicken weighing about 2kg
  • A lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Some olive oil
  • 40 large cloves of young garlic (this is about 4 bulbs)
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • A couple of bay leaves
  • 250g chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 240oC. Cut the lemon in half and put into the cavity of the chicken. Drizzle some olive oil over the outside of the chicken, season well with salt and pepper, and rub in with your hands. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the garlic. Break up the bulbs into cloves, you don’t need to peel but remove any really dry skin that comes off easily with your fingers. Take the chicken out of the oven, scatter the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves around it, lower the heat to 200oC and return to the oven for another hour.

chicken and garlic

When the chicken is cooked, tip out the lemon and remove it from the roasting tin onto a serving plate. Then use a slotted spoon to remove nearly all the garlic cloves and put those on the serving plate as well (save 3 or 4 in the tin to mash into the gravy).

Give everything left in the roasting tin a good mash with a fork (including the lemons). Then add the chicken stock and put over the hob stirring well with a wooden spoon to get all the bits off the bottom of the tin. Let it bubble away for a couple  of minutes until you have a light gravy. Strain into a serving jug and serve with the chicken.

NOTE: In my books very little is said about how exactly you go about serving/eating this dish. This is what we did and whilst it wasn’t very elegant it was a lot of fun. Carve big chunks of chicken, pour over the gravy, eat with roughly cut baguettes (see recipe below) spreading the garlic onto the bread and dipping it into the gravy. Get stuck in, use your fingers and don’t forget the wine.

chicken with 40 cloves of garlic the table

Ben’s baguettes

baguettes

This is a simplified version of the recipe handed out to my husband Ben when he attended the French Baking course at the School of Artisan Food. Ben has made these many times and in our view the simplifications don’t affect the finished product at all.

I bought the course as a present for his birthday and without meaning to be selfish it has turned out to be a present for the whole family. Food-wise there are few things better than fresh baguettes for breakfast – especially when they are made by someone else.

Makes 6 small baguettes (about 30cm length), or 4 larger ones (the same length but fatter)

  • 640g of strong bread flour
  • 415ml of water
  • 10g of salt
  • 6g of yeast

Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the water and mix with your hands until it comes together.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and place in a bowl covered with cling film for at least a couple of hours to rise but you can leave it for up to 4. It should come nearly to the top of a large mixing bowl.

bread rising

Knock back the dough with your hands, bring into a ball and divide into 4 or 6 equal portions, depending on the size you want.

Shape each portion into a sausage pulling out length-ways at first and then rolling to even out. Don’t worry if they look a bit rough.

Now you’ll need a tea towel which is impregnated with flour (Ben has one of these set aside for this purpose). Lay the tea towel over a high sided baking tray letting it hang over the sides. Put one baguette along one edge of the tray and then make a fold in the tea towel next to the baguette so that it comes up the side. Then lay the next baguette on the other side of the fold. Repeat this for the third and fourth baguettes. The purpose of this is to stop the baguettes touching each other and to avoid having to buy a special baguette tray. It’s a bit tricky to explain so here is a photo.

baguettes in the tin

Use the same technique for the others using another tray. Allow to prove for about an hour.

Transfer the baguettes to some thin baking trays scattered with a little flour or semolina to stop them sticking. I used two with three on each. This is quite a tricky process as the dough is quite floppy. Try not to knock out the air that has been created but don’t worry too much if the shape isn’t perfect.

Slash the tops diagonally across with a very sharp knife and bake at 250oC for 12-15 minutes (for the 6 smaller ones), or 20 mins (for 4).

Allow to cool a little (if you can wait that long) and serve.

NOTE: To reheat cook in the oven at 250oC for 3-5 minutes until crispy.

Soup and a roll

soup and a roll

If you’ve been reading the papers this week, you’ll probably have seen the story that Miriam Gonzalez Durantez (the wife of Nick Clegg) has a secret food blog (http://www.mumandsons.com/).

Surprisingly the blog is an amateurish affair (just like mine) and not at all slick (unlike the politicians vying for power in next week’s election). But it’s rather sweet and the recipes do seem genuine – like she really does cook them, in her very own kitchen, with her very own children.

And Miriam’s milk bun recipe (below), which I tried this week, is very good and pretty straight forward. It won’t persuade me to vote Lib Dem but then I don’t think it’s meant to.

Politically I sit very much on the fence and I had thought about asking Samantha and Justine for their favourite recipe and then voting according to which of the three was best. But then that’s just a bit silly. Instead I’ll most probably abstain or vote for ‘Justice for Men and Boys’ (even sillier).

And to go with the buns, here’s one of my favourite soup recipes, which uses possibly my most hated vegetable. Sounds twisted and it is – horrid swede, turned into nectar in soup form. The recipe is based on one in Lindsey Bareham’s ‘A Celebration of Soup’.

Miriam’s milk buns

Makes 10

  • 500g plain flour (I used strong bread flour)
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 9g fast action yeast
  • 90g butter (room temperature)
  • A good pinch of salt

Warm 100ml of milk. Mix the yeast, 100g of flour and the warmed milk and let it rest for half an hour until it gets frothy.

Then mix this with all the other ingredients. The easiest way to do this is in a food processor with the kneading hook for around 8-10 minutes. (I don’t have a food processor and the mixture is quite sloppy so I attempted to use the dough hook on my hand mixer but then ended up kneading by hand).

Once kneaded, put it all into a glass bowl (greased with a tiny bit of sunflower oil) and let it rest for 2 hours until it has doubled in size.

Punch the dough to get rid of the air. Then divide the dough into 10 parts. Shape each one like a ball, or give them an oval shape.

Put them on a tray lined with baking paper (I needed two trays, with 5 on each). Cover the buns with cling film (I used a tea towel) and wait for another 35-45 minutes until they rise again.

Preheat the oven at 220 degrees. Cut the buns (if you like that shape) and ‘paint them’ with beaten egg (I didn’t bother with the egg glaze (a waste of a valuable egg) but sprinkled with poppy seeds instead).

Put them into the oven, lower the temperature to 200 degrees and bake for 15 minutes (mine needed an extra 5 minutes).

Lindsey’s swede soup

  • One swede weighing about 450g, peeled and chopped into dice about 1cm square
  • 2 or 3 shallots, or half a regular onion, chopped
  • A small bunch of parsley, leaves and stalks
  • 75g of butter (although I can never bring myself to use this much and generally use half this amount)
  • 1 litre of good stock (homemade would be best but I generally use a Knorr beef stock pot)
  • Salt and pepper

Take a large sauce pan and melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the onion, swede and parsley stalks to the pan and stir well so that the vegetables are nicely covered with butter. Put a lid on and allow everything to sweat in the pan for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After this time, pour on the stock, bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.

Put the mixture into a blender, along with the parsley leaves and puree until really smooth.

Return to the pan and check the seasoning before serving.

Lamb flatbreads (Lahmacun)

Lahmacun

Lamb flatbreads (or Turkish pizza as they are sometimes called) are my new obsession. They are aromatic but not too spicy and great if you love pizza but can’t eat diary like my two sisters Gemma and Laura.

So this recipe, my lovely sisters, is for you. PS. That means that you’ve got to try it (said in a bossy older sister voice).

A little lamb mince goes a very long way in this recipe ,which is good because it’s very expensive these days (said in my best old lady’s voice).

Lamb flatbreads

Makes 4 flatbreads, roughly 28 cm square, to feed 2-6 adults (depending on appetite)

Base

  • 350g strong white bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Water to mix (200 – 250ml)
  • A sprinkling of semolina

Topping

  • 300g of lean minced lamb (buy the best quality you can)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 2 tinned plum tomatoes, drained and finely chopped, or use two fresh ones
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 4 small green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • lemon wedges to serve

To prepare the topping simply add all the topping ingredients into a bowl and mush up with your hands until everything is incorporated. I like to leave the mixture for a few hours to allow the flavours to mingle but you don’t have to do this.

For the pizza base put the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil in a mixing bowl and add the water gradually mixing with your fingers. You want to bring the mixture together into a fairly wet dough – you may not need the whole 250ml. If you add too much, and the dough is too sticky to work with just sprinkle on a little more flour.

Tip the dough on to the work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Ideally you should knead for 10 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with cling film, and rest for 2 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the flatbreads first set your oven to its highest temperature (mine goes up to 270oC) and place a flat, square tray into the oven to heat up.

Take your dough and give it a good punch to knock out the air. Transfer to the work surface, knead lightly for a few seconds and divide into four.
Roll the first portion of dough out as thinly as you can without getting holes (this will be somewhere between 25 and 30 cm square).

Take the hot tray out of the oven and sprinkle with semolina. Transfer your rolled out dough to the baking sheet and spread a couple of handfuls of the lamb mixture thinly over the base with your hands as evenly as you can.

Bake the flatbreads for 6-8 minutes until the edges are brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven sprinkle over some sea salt and serve with wedges of lemon to be squeezed over the top just before eating.

Repeat the process with the other 3 portions (this is where you feel a bit like a pizza slave but I assure you it’s worth it).

NOTE: An Iraqi friend of mine made me something similar using ready-made tortillas so this is an option if you don’t have the time or the inclination to make pizza dough from scratch.

You will probably find that you have a handful of topping left over. It’s not really worth scaling down the quantities so you can make it into little meat balls or fry up with some left over rice and an egg which is especially delicious and a winner with my children.

my sisters copy

My sisters.

Ben’s experimentations with bread

Kneading.

When I first started this blog my husband Ben poked fun at me photographing all my cooking (in between moaning about the food going cold). It’s funny though because a couple of months on he now urges me to take photos of his food every time he makes something pretty.

So here’s a rather epic blog post dedicated to Ben’s recent experimentations with yeast based recipes that I have been badgered into photographing. As I’ve said before, he’s so much better at these than I am. I put it down to a more vigorous kneading technique, being generally more precise, and being able to follow a complicated recipe without getting impatient/ flustered.

The three recipes below are rather laborious and involve quite a bit of effort, but if you can be bothered they do produce delicious results. They start easy(ish) and get progressively more complicated.

Lorraine Pascale’s big, fat salt and pepper breadsticks

bread sticks

Actually these are pretty simple as they only involve one lot of proving. My daughter Elizabeth (age 5) loves helping to make these especially the bit where they get twisted up.

Makes 12

  • 450g/1lb strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 x 7g/⅛oz sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 250–275ml/9-10fl oz warm water
  • vegetable oil or spray oil, for oiling
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Dust two large baking trays with flour.

Put the flour, yeast and the salt into a large bowl and add enough of the water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead well for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface.

Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, each weighing about 60g. Roll the portions into balls, then place each ball on a floured surface and roll into a long sausage shape about 25 cm x 2 cm. Shape into twists by running a knife down the centre to split the dough, leaving a bit at one end uncut. Braid or plait the two halves over each other to give a twisted effect.

Place the breadsticks on the prepared baking trays, spacing them 4 cm apart. Cover the breadsticks loosely with oiled cling film, making sure it is airtight. Leave in warm place for 30 minutes or until the breadsticks have almost doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200oC fan.

Remove the cling film and brush each breadstick with the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle half of the breadsticks with the sea salt and the remainder with freshly ground black pepper. Bake on the top third of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the breadsticks are lightly golden-brown and feel firm to the touch.

Remove the breadsticks from the oven and leave to cool on the baking trays.

The next two recipes from Peyton and Byrne’s British Baking cookbook start with making a sweet bun dough.

Peyton and Byrne’s sweet bun dough

Makes 800g dough

  • 50ml whole milk
  • 150ml very warm water
  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 20g unsalted butter, softened, plus 50g
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 1 large egg

Mix the milk and very warm water in a measuring jug so that the mixture is not too hot or cold. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve, then set aside.

Measure the flour into a large bowl, add the 20g of softened butter, rubbing the mixture into a coarse meal with your fingers. Stir in the sugar and salt and then mix in the egg. Finally, add the yeast mixture, the mix all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.

Once the ingredients are mixed together well turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and start to knead it for about a minute. Then let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Now work the dough by stretching and slapping it down and kneading with the palm of your hands for about 5 minutes until it becomes silky. Cover and leave for an hour until the dough has doubled.

After this time, roll it out into a rectangle about 2cm thick. Break up the remaining 50g softened butter into small pieces and place in the centre of the rolled out dough. Fold the dough into thirds by folding each end in over the butter, as if folding a letter, then pinch the seams to seal in the butter. Roll the dough out into a rectangle again and then fold into thirds again. Let the dough rest and rise again for 1 hour.

Now repeat the folding and rolling and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Now follow either the Honey buns or Chelsea buns recipes below.

Peyton and Byrne’s Honey Buns

honey buns

honeybuns

2016 – renamed ‘buttery sweet dough buns’ in our house. No honey on top but served warm with jam, honey, or just butter (if you’re Edgar).

Makes 12

  • 800g of sweet bun dough (as above)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 100g runny honey

Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Flatten the sweet bun dough with your hands and then cut the dough into 12 equal-sized squares or rectangles. Take one portion and fold the edges into the centre pinching them together to form a round. Then turn the bun over seam side down and press it down a bit. Repeat this with all 12 portions.

Place the buns on the prepared baking tray, cover them loosely with cling film and leave for 30 minutes to rise until they have doubled. Alternatively leave in the fridge overnight.

If they have been refrigerated remove them from the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 200oC fan.

Brush the buns with beaten egg and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and brush immediately with honey. Serve warm.

I don’t think you need any more butter with these but they taste good with more honey, jam or chocolate spread.

Peyton and Byrne’s Chelsea Buns

chelsea buns

Makes 12

  • 800g of sweet bun dough (as above)
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

Filling

  • 125g currants
  • 100g candied peel, chopped small
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • OR you can use pastry cream and broken up bits of dark chocolate (as in the photo above)

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • Bun wash
  • 70ml water
  • 60g granulated sugar

Butter a 33cm by 23cm baking tray.

Take the sweet bun dough made as above and roll out into a rectangle measuring about 40cm by 25cm and brush with two-thirds of the melted butter.

To make the filling, combine the currants, candied peel, brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl making sure to break up any little clusters of fruit or sugar with your fingers. Sprinkle this mixture over the melted butter on the dough leaving a border of 2cm.

Roll up the dough lengthways into a tight roll, like a Swiss roll. Pinch the dough along the seam to seal in the filling, then roll it over so that the seam side is facing down. Use your hands to gently shape it into a perfectly proportioned log, then brush with the remaining melted butter.

Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 12 equal sized slices. Place each slice cut-side down in the prepared baking tin so that the slices are touching. Cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise for an hour until doubled. Alternatively you can leave in the fridge overnight.

If they have been refrigerated remove them from the fridge and leave to come up to room temperature (about 20 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 220oC fan.

Whisk together the egg and milk for the egg wash and brush over the tops of the buns and then bake them for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

While the buns are baking prepare the bun wash by heating the water and sugar in a saucepan.

As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush then with the bun wash and sprinkle with caster sugar if you wish.

These are best eaten while still fresh but they can be reheated the next day.

Notes

The revelation with the two sweet bun dough recipes is that if you start the process in the evening, you can stop at the rising stage and keep the dough in the fridge overnight. You then just take it out in the morning and leave to come to room temperature before baking. This means lovely fresh buns for breakfast (if you have a slave/husband to kindly make them for you).

Just a quick note on an experiment that didn’t work. This baguette recipe by Paul Holywood came out more like a bad ciabatta. Ben tried the recipe twice with the same results. I wouldn’t recommend it.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/baguettes_11543

chelsea buns 2 chelsea buns with Elizabeth

Ben’s Bread

kneading

Bread seems to be the new BBQ when it comes to men and cooking, perhaps spurred on by that blue eyed philanderer Mr Paul Hollywood, although I personally put it down to the slight aggression that’s needed for an effective knead. My husband just loves making bread and this is his very own recipe, refined after years of practice.

I feel very, very lucky when bread is home baked for me (although this happens a lot less often now our lives are busy with children). I’m sure that we all wake up with an extra spring in our step when we know that there is going to be fresh bread for breakfast. In theory you can fit this recipe into an evening starting at 6 and ending before 10. The only time consuming stage is the first knead and after that it’s mainly about waiting but you do have to be on the ball. We’ve often dozed off on the sofa watching television and forgotten about the bread.

Ben’s bread

Makes a large family size loaf using a bread tin 23.5 x 13.3 x 6.99 cm

  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 100g wholemeal or rye flour
  • Handful of nuts and seeds (one or a mixture of the following; sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, poppy seeds)
  • 6g dried instant action yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 350g tepid water

Measure all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the water gradually mixing with your hands until it comes together in a soft dough.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead vigorously for at least 10 minutes.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove for at least 2 hours (although you can leave for up to 3) by which time the dough should have doubled in size.

Take the dough out of the bowl and whack it down onto the work surface a few times to remove all the air. Then knead for a further 2 minutes before putting into a lightly oiled bread tin.

Cover the tin lightly with a tea towel and leave to prove again for about 45 minutes. The dough needs to rise up above the line of the tin into a dome like shape, but don’t leave it for too long otherwise it runs out of energy and collapses in the oven.

bread rising

This is how the bread should look just before it goes into the oven.

Preheat your oven to 220oC fan. When the bread has proved bake as follows:

  • 220oC for 15 minutes
  • 180oC for 10 minutes
  • Remove bread from the tin and then return to the oven for a further 8 minutes at 180oC
The finished loaf.

The finished loaf.