This week on the Great British Bake Off it was all about bread. My boyfriend adores baking bread since watching the last series of Bake Off, so we were both very excited about this week's episode.
The first challenge were quick breads – breads made without yeast, and instead rise because of the addition of bicarbonate of soda and/or baking powder. They also usually contain buttermilk – the traditional quick breads are known as soda bread, but this seemed too plain for the bakers. The savoury offerings were very interesting – Nadiya and Mat both did Mexican themed quick breads, and Alvin’s manchego cheese, prosciutto and balsamic onion quick bread looked fab. However, given my sweet tooth, I was more inclined towards Ugne’s chocolate and pecan quick bread with a salted caramel sauce, and I decided to try out this recipe, with a few adjustments.
The bread was one step away from a cake in my opinion, the only difference being that it was not quite as sweet, and how it is baked (free-form as opposed to a tin). Whether it is bread or cake however, the taste was cocoa-y, and the caramelized pecans really made a big difference, as did the amazing salted caramel sauce.
The second challenge were baguettes.This looked fiendishly difficult, but I couldn't find the couche linen required for the proving stage to attempt these :(
The third challenge was all about 3D bread sculptures, but most of these seemed too epic for us to get a good result on a first attempt. Instead we plumped for making our own bread basket :D
The basket was a little tricky to make, but the end result looked good, and the bread had a really tasty crunch on the outside and fluffy center.
The recipe makes one large chocolate bread, and one basket to hold it.
For the basket:
- 200g white bread flour
- 4g fast-action yeast (usually half a sachet)
- 20g granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 100ml water
- 1 egg, beaten
- 20g butter, melted
For the chocolate quick bread:
- 450g plain flour
- 80g cocoa powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
- 115g butter, melted
- 200g caster sugar
- 200ml buttermilk
- 2 eggs
For the salted caramel sauce:
- 50g caster sugar
- 10g butter
- 120ml whipping cream
- ½ tsp salt
For the caramelized pecans:
- 20 pecan nuts
- 200g caster sugar
1. First make the dough for the bread basket. In a mixing bowl combine the bread flour and sugar. On one side of the bowl add the yeast, and the other the salt. Mix briefly.
2. Add the water and half of the beaten egg. After the flour has been incorporated, add the melted butter. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes, until it is smooth in texture, and elastic.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, and cover with cling film. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.
4. Whilst the dough is rising, make the chocolate quick bread. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
5. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar. Mix in the chopped pecan nuts.
6. In a jug, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Pour onto the dry ingredients, and use your hands to bring together the dough. Once all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, form into a ball, and place onto lined baking tray.
7. Score the top of the dough (like a cross). Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the base sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
8. Whilst the chocolate bread is baking, the dough for the bread basket should have risen (about 2-3 times the size of the initial bread dough). At this point, knock the dough back (by punching down on it), and then make a round ball. Cover the dough again and leave it to rise for a further 10 minutes.
9. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thickness, into a rough square. After trial and error, we found it best to roll it between two pieces of cling film.
10. Cut the dough into 11 strips. Lightly grease an oven proof metal bowl, and place the strips onto the bowl, criss-crossing them like a lattice. We wanted to do a more intricate weaving pattern, but found the dough far too sticky for this. If there is any remaining dough, place it around the base of the bowl.
11. Leave to rise for 35 minutes, before brushing with the remaining egg, and baking for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool. Then very carefully tease the bowl away from the basket (this can be a bit fiddly but have patience!).
12. For the salted caramel sauce, heat the sugar in a saucepan, swirling the pan occasionally (do not stir). Once a medium caramel colour is reached, add the butter, and whisk in. Then slowly pour in the whipping cream, whisking constantly. The sauce will bubble up a lot, so be careful of spitting. Once all the cream has been added, simmer for 5 minutes.
|Heat the sugar until a medium caramel colour is acheived|
|The caramel bubbles up a lot when the cream is being added|
13. For the caramelized pecans, line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Heat the sugar in a medium pan (like for the caramel sauce), until a dark caramel colour is achieved (this takes 5-10 minutes). Swirl the pan occasionally as before.
13. Once the caramel colour has been reached, pour in the whole pecan nuts, and take off the heat. Stir to fully immerse the pecans in the caramel, then pour onto the prepared baking tray. Leave to cool before breaking into shards.
14. Top the bread with the caramelized pecans. Serve in slices, in the bread basket. Enjoy alongside the salted caramel sauce.