Sunday, 12 November 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 10 - Chickpea Curry Bread rolls

The final of the Great British Bake Off was pretty amazing. For the signature challenge, the bakers had to make various bread rolls, some of which were shaped and others were filled. I was intrigued by kate's chickpea curry filled rolls, as I don't make savoury food often and although I have made bread a fair bit, it's not my speciality.

The bread rolls turned out pretty well, with a well flavoured and structured dough, and a nice mellow curry inside. It reminded my boyfriend of a pasty (but with bread instead of pastry). It'd be great to have on the go, as it's a whole meal in one :) I adapted the curry recipe slightly from Kate's, but was happy with the resulting flavour :).

Makes 4


For the flavoured dough:

  • 500g (4 cups) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 8g salt
  • 40ml (3 tbsp) olive oil or rapeseed oil, plus extra for working
  • About 320ml (1 & 1/3 cups) lukewarm water

For the filling:

  • Oil spray
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tsp dark soft brown sugar
  • 100g (1 cup) desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
  • 30g (2 tbsp) sultanas
  • 1 x 400g (2 cups) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 240ml (1 cup) coconut milk


1. Make the bread dough by pouring the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the curry powder and salt to the other side. Stir together briefly.

2.  Make a well in the centre of the mixture. Pour the oil into the well and start to work in the flour, using your hand. Gradually add enough lukewarm water to make a soft but not sticky dough.

3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly oiled worktop and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly with cling film then leave on the worktop to prove and rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

4. Whilst the dough is proving, make the filling. Spray a few squirts of oil in a deep frying pan and add the chopped onion. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the onions are very soft and transparent. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, garam masala, cumin and curry powder and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the brown sugar, coconut, sultanas, chickpeas and coconut milk, then cook over a low heat (stirring frequently) for about 10 minutes until sticky, thick and fairly dry. Taste and add salt and more spices as needed. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool.

5. Uncover the bowl of risen dough and punch it down with your knuckles to deflate it. Turn out the dough and divide it into 4 equal portions.

6. Take one portion of dough and flatten it to a thick 17cm disc. Spoon 75g of the cooled filling into a mound in the centre of the disc. Gather up the edges of the disc to cover the filling, and pinch them together like a purse. When thoroughly sealed, turn the dough over so the join is underneath. Gently shape into a neat, round bun with your hands, then flatten lightly. Transfer to the lined baking sheet.

7. Make the other 3 buns in the same way, setting them well apart on the baking sheet to allow for expansion. Cover the remaining filling and set aside. Cover lightly with cling film. Leave on the worktop to prove for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

8. Towards the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan)/425°F/Gas mark 7. Uncover the buns and bake in the heated oven for about 15 minutes. Rotate the trays, then bake for another 5 minutes until golden.

9. Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving. Gently reheat the remaining filling and serve in a heatproof bowl alongside the buns.

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GBBO 2017 Week 9 - Orange Custard Craquelin Choux Buns

This post is a few weeks late (sorry!) but on the Semi-final week of the Great British Bake Off, the bakers were challenged with baking two types of choux bun - one which was iced, and another which had a crackly coating on it known as a craquelin. I've made choux eclairs previously (see here), but have never had a go at this funky craquelin. Craquelin is a simple a frozen paste of butter, sugar and flour, which forms a crispy crackled crust on the buns, giving them an extra level of texture and flavour.

I decided to have a go at the craquelin buns Kate made, which were filled with an orange creme patissiere (very thick custard). The craquelin browns very quickly, much quicker than the choux pastry cooks. My craquelin was VERY brown when I took them out of the oven so my recommendation would be to keep a close eye on them after 20 minutes and take them out when they are a deep brown colour (but not black). The buns, however, ended up delicious (even with the crispy bits!), and the creme patissiere was very simple to make - I used duck eggs for extra richness, but you could use hen eggs instead :) The only other change I made was to add extra orange juice to the crème patissiere for an extra orange hit. YUM.

Makes 20


For the craquelin:
  • 60g (1/3 cup) light soft brown sugar
  • 60g (1/2 cup minus 1 tsp) plain flour
  • 55g (1/4 cup) salted butter, very soft

For the choux pastry:
  • 110g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 50g (1/4 cup minus 1 tsp) unsalted butter, diced
  • 100ml (2/5 cup) water
  • 100ml (2/5 cup) full-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 medium duck eggs (or 3 medium hen eggs), at room temperature, beaten

For the crème patissiere:
  • 425ml (1 & 4/5 cups) creamy or Jersey milk
  • Finely grated zest 2 large oranges
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 4 duck egg yolks (or 6 medium hen egg yolks), at room temperature
  • 60g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 50g (1/2 cup minus 1 tbsp) cornflour
  • 50g (1/4 cup minus 1 tsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
  • About 1 teaspoon orange blossom water, to taste OR about 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, to taste


1. First, make the craquelin. Beat the sugar, flour and soft butter together in a bowl to make a soft dough. Spread this out between two sheets of baking paper, to a thickness of about 2-3mm (about the width of a pound coin). Place on a flat shelf in the freezer while you make the choux pastry.

2. To make the choux pastry, preheat your oven to 230°C (210°C fan)/450°F/Gas mark 8. Sift the flour into a bowl and keep to hand. Place the butter, water, milk, salt and sugar into a saucepan and set over a low heat until the butter has completely melted. Once the butter has melted, turn up the heat so the mixture comes to boil then remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the sifted flour all in one go. Rapidly beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it comes together to make a smooth, glossy dough.

3. Place the saucepan back over a low heat and beat for about a minute until the dough is very thick and forms a ball that leaves the sides of the pan clean.

4. Tip the dough into a heatproof bowl and leave until barely warm. Gradually beat in the eggs, beating well after each addition, to make a very smooth, glossy dough that holds a shape when the whisk is lifted.

5. Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain nozzle and pipe 4cm-wide mounds on the lined baking sheet, setting them well apart to allow for expansion. Dip a finger in some cold water and use this to flatten any peaks on the buns.

6. Remove the craquelin from the freezer, peel off the top sheet of paper and stamp out 3cm discs of dough using the cutter. Place a disc on top of each choux mound.

7. Put the baking sheet into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 190°C (170°C fan)/375°F/Gas mark 5 and bake for about 20 minutes. Open the oven door and rotate the sheets. Bake for another 5-15 minutes, keeping a close eye for the craquelin not to burn. As soon as the buns are ready, transfer them to a wire rack and make a small hole in the side or base of each bun with the tip of a small knife or skewer. This releases the steam to dry out the buns.

8. Whilst the buns cool, make the crème patissiere. Pour the milk and orange zest into a medium-sized pan, add the grated orange zest and set over a low heat. Whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour in a heatproof bowl briefly until very smooth and light.

9. When the milk is steaming hot, pour slowly into the bowl, whisking constantly. When thoroughly combined, tip the mixture back into the pan and set over a medium heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and is very smooth.

10. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter followed by the orange juice and either the orange blossom water or liqueur to taste. Press clingfilm onto the surface to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool then chill until ready to assemble.

11. To finish, whisk the crème patissiere to make is smooth and light. Transfer the crème patissiere to a large piping bag fitted with a 7mm plain nozzle and pipe the filling into each choux bun through the steam hole. Arrange on a serving plate and serve as soon as possible.

12. Enjoy!

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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Halloween Spooky Spider Chocolate Orange Cake

This Halloween cake was an incredibly fun bake. The sponge is one of my favourites, flavoured with chocolate and orange. The sponges have whole oranges in them so are packed full of flavour. In total there are three layers of sponge (two chocolate orange sponges, one pure orange sponge), sandwiched and covered with a chocolate orange ganache and fondant.
I then went a bit crazy with the decorations. I used Wilton black food colouring to paint silhouettes of trees and spooky houses, ghosts and bats around the sides of the cake. On top of the cake, I made a white fondant web and a big black fondant spider.
This was the most elaborate fondant cake, and I was pretty happy with the result. Not perfect by any means, but it was enjoyed :)


For the chocolate sponges:

  • 1 orange
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 25g good-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g soft light brown sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 225g margarine (or softened butter)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the orange sponge:

  • 1 orange
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 110g margarine (or softened butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g dark chocolate chips

For the ganache:

  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 150g 70% dark chocolate
  • 150g double cream
  • 600ml orange juice (not from concentrate)

For the fondant decorations/to finish:

  • 500g dark purple fondant (I bought mine from Hobbycraft)
  • 100g black fondant
  • 50g white fondant
  • Black gel food colouring
  • Red gel food colouring


1. Preheat the oven to 180C(160C fan)/355F/gas 4. Grease two 20cm tins and dust with flour.

2. Place the 2 whole oranges in a small saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. 

3. For the chocolate sponge, cut one of the oranges in half and remove any pips. Process the whole orange, including the skin, until smooth. 

4. Cream the margarine with the brown and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, cocoa powder,  baking powder, spices and orange pulp and beat until smooth. 

5. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of each sponge comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

6. Make the orange sponge by cutting the remaining orange in two and blending one half. Cream the margarine with the sugar until light and fluffy, then add the remaining ingredients. Beat until smooth.

7. Pour into one 20cm cake tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Make the ganache by heating the orange juice in a saucepan until it has reduced to 100ml. This will take about 15 minutes.

9. Pour a few inches of water into a saucepan and place a glass bowl on top, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the surface of the water. Chop the chocolate roughly and pour into the bowl with the cream.

10. Heat the water in the pan, stirring the chocolate often. Once melted, take off the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Add the reduced orange juice and stir well. Leave to cool to room temperature then chill for at least one hour.

11. When ready to assemble, take the ganache out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Briefly, whisk (using an electric whisk if you have one). 

12. Level the tops of the cake. Place a small amount of ganache on a cake board/serving dish. Place the first chocolate sponge on the cake board. Add a third of the ganache to the top of the sponge, and level.

13. Add the orange sponge, and lightly press down onto the ganache. Add the second third of the ganache and top with the remaining chocolate sponge.

14. Use the remaining ganache to cover the top and sides of the cake. This acts as a crumb coat and tastes brill. Place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up.

15. Roll the purple fondant on a silicon mat (lightly dusted with icing sugar) until it is 2-3mm thick. Carefully transfer on to the cake and gently smooth over. Use fondant smoothers to make the fondant as smooth as possible.

16. To make the web, roll the white fondant out until it is around 3-4mm thick and 15cm wide. Carefully cut out the spider web design with a sharp knife and set aside to dry slightly.

17. Make the black spider by taking a large blob of the black fondant and rolling it into a ball. Stick a smaller sphere of black fondant to the body. Use a fork to ruffle the body up. Use the small ball fondant tool to hollow out some eyes. Place a small ball of white fondant in these hollowed out sections and paint with the red colouring.

18. Use the remaining black fondant to roll out eight legs, about 6cm in length and 1cm in width. Gently bend the legs and dry in this position (I used some bent corrugated card to achieve this). Stick the legs to the body with a little hot water.

19. To finish the cake, place the white web on the top of the cake and top with the spider. Paint trees and houses around the sides of the cake with the black food colouring.

20. Enjoy!

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