Monday, 25 January 2016

Coconut and Cranberry Loaf




This is a twist on the classic white loaf. Not too sweet, the coconut and sweetened cranberries make the bread perfect for toasting and buttering. I used it for the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich I've ever had - making my own peanut butter and cherry jam to put inside two slices of this beautiful loaf...For now here's the recipe for my coconut and cranberry loaf :) 

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 10g fast action yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 15g coconut oil, melted
  • 15g butter, melted
  • 320ml warm water
  • 100g dried cranberries (or other dried fruit e.g. raisins, dried cherries)
  • 100g unsweetened dessicated coconut

Method:

       1. Make the bread dough. In a large mixing bowl pour in the flour, then add the yeast and salt to opposite ends of the bowl. Stir in briefly.

       2. Pour in the oil, butter and 240ml of the water and use your hands to bring the dough together. Gradually add  the rest of the water until all of the flour has been incorporated, but is not sticky – if it does get sticky add  a little flour. You may not need all of the water.

      3. Knead the dough on a lightly oiled surface for 5-10 minutes until smooth. Place in a large lightly oiled bowl and cover.

   4. Leave to prove for at least one hour until it has doubled in size.

   5. Tip the dough out of the bowl and add the cranberries and coconut. Knead until fully incorporated.

   6. Line and grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin and place the dough in the tin.

      7. Cover and leave to prove for another hour.

   8. Preheat your oven to 230c/210c fan/gas mark 8? Place  a roasting tin in the oven to heat up.

       9. Once doubled in size, pour some water into the roasting tin in the oven then place in the dough.

   10. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the crust is nice and brown, and if you tip it out of the tin the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Leave to cool completely.

       11. Enjoy!

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Made-from-scratch Nutella-filled Digestives


Here is a recipe I made a few weeks before Christmas - I adore digestive biscuits, but wanted to bake something to give them an extra boost.
I've never made my own chocolate-nut spread (Nutella) before, and thought this was the perfect opportunity to try it out.
The spread is amazingly simple to make and tastes divine. I found that using mixed chopped nuts worked very well, and was as delicious (in my mind) as using hazelnuts. Better yet, mixed nuts are the much cheaper alternative. 

Digestive biscuits carry a nice savoury flavour (from the wholemeal flour), which balances very well with the sweet and nutty spread. 

These are also excellent dipped in tea. Use any leftover spread for toast, crumpets or just as a morning snack :D

Makes 10 biscuits

Ingredients:

For the  chocolate-nut spread:

  • 100g mixed nuts (or use the more classical hazelnuts)
  • 340g milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the digestive biscuits:

  • 170g wholemeal flour
  • 170g porridge oats, ground finely in a nutribullet (or use oatmeal if you can find it)
  • 150g cold butter
  • 55g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp milk

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 170c/150c fan/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

2. Make the chocolate-nut spread. Pour the nuts evenly onto a baking tray and place in the oven for a few minutes until slightly toasted (keep an eye on them so that they don't burn). Set aside to cool.

3. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (don't let it touch the water), and add the chocolate to the bowl. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted.

4. In a food processor (I used a Nutribullet), grind the cooled nuts. Add the vanilla, cocoa, icing sugar and melted chocolate and process until smooth.



5. Make the digestive biscuits. In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour and ground porridge oats/oatmeal.

6. Cut the butter into small chunks and rub into the flour mixture.  Rubbing means to use your fingertips the press the butter into the flour mixture (squeezing it between your fingers). Rub in the butter until the mixture is of breadcrumb consistency.

7. Add the bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar and salt, followed by 2 tbsp of the milk.

8. Bring together with your hands - if it seems too dry add another tablespoon of milk. Form into a disc, cover in cling film/food wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

9. Once chilled, roll out between two sheets of cling film to about 4mm thick. Use a round cutter approximately 6cm in diameter (I used the rim of a glass) to cut out circles. 

10. Grease and line the base of a 20 x 30cm baking tray. Place the circles of biscuit dough onto the tray, and then lightly prick all over with a fork.

11. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges. Leave to cool.



12. To assemble, place a teaspoon of nutella on one biscuit, smooth out, then top with another biscuit. Dust with icing sugar.

13. Enjoy!



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Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Scrummy Coconut Ice



This is a nostalgic sweet from my past. Every Christmas my dad used to make this for us all. You need to be a big coconut fan, but if you are, you have to give this a go! It’s my easiest recipe yet - it only requires  four ingredients (with one optional extra ingredient). I’ve updated the recipe a little, adding some raspberry extract to half of the mixture, giving a fruity twist to a classic.

Makes 16 big squares of deliciousness (this recipe easily halves - use a smaller tin/only use half of a 20cm tray)

Ingredients:
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 400g condensed milk
  • 400g dessicated coconut
  • Pink food colouring (preferably not a liquid one, I used a gel concentrate)
  • ¼ tsp raspberry extract (optional)

Method:

1. Line a 20 x 20cm baking tin with cling film.

2. Into a large bowl sift in the icing sugar (this may cause a little dust "explosion" onto you/the surface…). Add the condensed milk, and beat until a thick paste is reached.

3. Add half of the coconut and beat until the coconut has all been mixed in. Add the other half of the coconut.

4. Pour onto a work surface and knead the remaining coconut into the mixture. This may take a little bit of elbow grease!

5. Once all of the coconut has been incorporated, split the mixture into two. To one half add the pink food colouring – if you are using the gel concentrate, dip the end of a cocktail stick/spoon into the gel and use this to colour the mixture. Add the raspberry extract (optional) to this half also. Knead in until an even pink colour is achieved.

6. Press the white mixture into the base of the baking tray evenly to form the bottom layer.

7. Carefully press the pink mixture on top – this is easiest to do by making small blobs of the pink mixture, and placing them all over the white layer.  Press the pink balls together to form an even pink top layer.

8. Leave to set overnight, then cut into squares.

9. Enjoy!




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Monday, 4 January 2016

"Pesto" and Feta Swirl Bread





Here’s my latest bread creation. A simple white loaf swirled with my version of pesto. It isn’t your classic pesto – I used a mixture of wilted leaves – spinach, rocket and watercress - mixed nuts (you could use pine nuts but I went for the cheaper bags of mixed nuts instead) and a little honey. This swirled with crushed feta inside the bread is super yum. 
You can make this healthier using a low-fat feta. I’m also thinking of baking a wholemeal version with lots of seeds. 
For now, try out this pesto-swirl bread.

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients:

For the bread:
  • 500g white bread flour
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 30g softened butter
  • 320ml water

For the “pesto”:
  • 200g bag of spinach, watercress and rocket
  • 100g feta, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 100g mixed nuts

Method:

1. Make the bread dough. Tip the bread flour into a large mixing bowl. To one side of the bowl add the yeast, and the other side add salt.

2. Add the softened butter and ¾ of the water. Use your hands to rub in the butter and combine the flour with the water. Gradually add the rest of the water until all of the flour has been incorporated.

3. Cover a surface with a little oil and plop the dough onto the surface. Knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will start looking very uneven and lumpy, but will eventually become smooth.

4. Once smooth return to the large bowl. Cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. I have a particularly cold kitchen so what I do is half fill a tub with hot water,  then place the bowl on the tub (the bowl must not touch the water). The steam helps the dough prove. You can check the dough has proved by gently pressing it with a finger. The dough will spring back immediately when it has proved enough.

5. Whilst the dough is proving make the pesto. Place the leaves in a bowl and pour over boiling hot water. Once wilted (this only takes a few minutes), drain well then process to a fine pulp. Place in a sieve to allow excess water to drip out, and leave to cool.

6. Into the cooled leaves, stir in the mixed nuts, honey and feta. Set aside.

7. Grease and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

8. When the dough has proved, place on a lightly oiled surface. Roll the dough out to a rectangle roughly 20 x 30 cm (about 1cm thick). Spread over the pesto.

9. Like a swiss roll, roll up the bread (with the longest side towards you). Once you get to the end of the roll, turn the bread so that the seam is underneath and place the dough on a greased and lined baking sheet. You can round the dough into a circle (and press the ends together) like I have, or keep it straight. If not in a circle, press down the sides of the dough to make sure the filling cannot escape.

10. Cover the baking sheet with clingfilm or a plastic bag (try not to touch the dough), and leave again to prove for 1 hour.

11. Preheat the oven to 230c/210c fan/gas mark 9. Place a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven.

12. After the second proving, dust the dough with flour and make slashes across the top of the dough.

13. Add hot water to the roasting tray in the oven, and immediately put your bread in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes – check it is cooked by peeling from the baking paper and tapping the bottom – it should sound hollow.
Leave to cool.

14. Enjoy!

The bread will last 2-3 days, and makes excellent toast even when it is starting to stale!




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