Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Bacon and Cheese Bread

Based on a recipe from (LINK)

I omitted the beetroot, as I didn't have any, and I am trying to be a bit more practical by not buying additional ingredients, and just using what I have.

I waited around 10 minutes for some froth to appear on my yeast, water and sugar solution. It wasn't very much foam, perhaps 4 cm in diameter, however I was impatient, and unwilling to wait for much longer.

I didn't have sage, so used a teaspoon of dried oregano.

The dough seemed dry and not all of the flour had been absorbed - most likely due to the beetroot omission, so I added another 50 ml of water to compensate, and that seemed to work.

At first, the dough seemed quite fragile when kneading - it tore easily, so instead of flouring the surface (which I felt would make it quite dry), I oiled it with extra virgin olive oil. I ended up kneading the dough by hand for around 12 minutes, and it was far more elasticated by then, so the gluten in the flour must have been activated.

I proved the dough in an oiled bowl for just over an hour in the kitchen, and it had risen nicely (and adequately).

I'm not very good at rolling doughs, but managed to roll it into a sort of oval shape - far too wide, it turns out!

I decided to use a method I learnt when making swedish kanelbullar and spread the rolled out dough with butter to make it a bit more tasty. I used ordinary salted butter for this. I sprinkled my cheese (I used 90g), and bacon (6 rashers) on top. I would want to use a stronger cheese and more bacon (8 rashers), and perhaps some fresh or dried basil, to give it more of a kick.*

The baked loaf was a giant! What I will do in the future is make sure the seam of the roll is on the bottom. I didn't turn it as I had already made my artistic 'bakers cuts' on it, and they would have been adversely affected if I had. I baked the loaf for around 25 minutes at the recommended 220°C, and learning from my experience from the Essential White Loaf, I turned the loaf over, and baked it for another 5 minutes, however I turned the temperature off, and left the oven on.

Total oven time: 30 minutes.

*I have since repeated this recipe, and upped the bacon amount considerably - I think I used 12 rashers, and 150g of stronger Swedish cheese. This did make the bread far more 'self oiling' whilst it was baking, however when it was being eaten (please note that I didn't get a look-in myself), it didn't seem to need buttering, so there is that trade off.

On the inside

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Oat and Raisin Cookies

Recipe base from Hummingbird Bakery book.

I have made this recipe several times, and only just realised with my last bake that I was meant to use dark brown sugar, rather than light brown.

I can't say that it has been hurt by the use of the light muscovado sugar.

They always seem to be a bit different when I make them, at least different to the image I have in my head! I don't think they have ever looked like they do in the picture. I would like to say that it is down to the non-use of dark muscovado sugar, however I am not convinced that this is the reason.

This time I added a little bit of cardamom, perhaps 1/5 teaspoon, however perhaps I would add a bit more next time, as I couldn't taste it at all.

They were still delicious.

I baked six to a tray at 170°C for 13 minutes, which was a minute longer than recommended. This was because despite flattening the ball shaped dough with the back of a wet fork, they didn't spread very far, and I wanted to ensure the centres were baked through.

The recipe said it would make 24 cookies; I made 35.

I would like to say that I am not making my Hummingbird Bakery cookie the 'correct' size, however the recipe also recommends just four baking trays, and to use just this, I would have to increase the cookies by approximately 50%, and I cannot see how six of that size would adequately fit on to the baking tray... unless my baking tray is small?? Nah, it's standard.

Batch made in a fan oven - 24 cookies exactly!
Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

Recipe base from The Recipe Critic (LINK).

This recipe was sent to me by a colleague who I misguidedly believed was actually going to make them himself. After two or so weeks, I realised that the expectation was for me to bake them. So with some misgivings, I did.

'Why the misgivings?', I hear you cry, or more likely not. Well, firstly, I have never even heard of a snickerdoodle*, let alone know what one is meant to taste like. Secondly, the recipe involves Cream of Tartar (not commonly available as far as I know in Sweden), as well as caramel squares (after looking at the pictures, I think this is what I as a Brit, would refer to as fudge). Thirdly it requires browned butter, and after the last recipe that required this (see Triple Chocolate Merlot Bundt Cake), I was sceptical about going through the process for what I viewed as very little reward. Do Americans habitually brown butter for their baking?? I have only used it for one recipe, in which its unique flavour is key, and therefore is worth the trouble.

There! My three reasons for not doing them. I ploughed on, as once a recipe has piqued my interest, it will keep tickling my brain until I try it.

*I have since found out that a snickerdoodle is a biscuit (US cookie) rolled in cinnamon and sugar prior to baking.

Alterations to/Notes for recipe:

I had grand ideas of making my own fudge (yeah, right), so settled on that awful 'pick 'n' mix' fudge instead. I bought around 300g, which was more than enough for two batches. Upon reflection, I would get a better quality, or at least, softer fudge that would melt more readily to get the desired effect.
I used freshly ground salt that was at home - I do not think it was sea salt, however it seemed a smidgeon better than table salt.
All purpose flour is self-raising flour (not plain as I thought it would be) - 313g*
Butter - 227g
Dark Brown Sugar - used dark brown muscovado sugar - 250g
Granulated Sugar - 100g
Greek yoghurt - replaced with filmjölk (closer to buttermilk)
Cream of Tartar - replaced with white wine vinegar, added to the egg, egg yolk, filmjölk and vanilla extract
The batter was very soft when it came together, therefore was very easy to combine - I love recipes that require the butter to be soft (melted rather than browned).

First batch:

I refrigerated the batter for around an hour, and it was still very pliable and easy to handle.
I had cut the fudge into very small pieces, so used two or three pieces within the ball of dough.
After the first tray with six biscuits, that spread more than I expected, I reduced the number of biscuits per tray to four.
I think I made 20 biscuits, baking at 170°C for 9 minutes per tray.

Second batch:

Batter was refrigerated for around 6 hours, so was a lot stiffer. I would disregard the note to chill the batter overnight, as it would be impossible to work with.
Learning from the first batch, I cut the fudge lengthways into halves or thirds so that rather than using three cube-like pieces, I would use one or two slab-like pieces.
Four to a tray again, I made 21 biscuits, baking at 170°C for 9 minutes per tray.
Consistency next day, and day after that was still pleasantly chewy.
The browned butter definitely made a positive addition to this recipe.
I felt the 'rolling' sugar and cinnamon could have been reduced to 40g and 1.5 teaspoons respectively.

I may make these again, however I found them exceedingly sweet even with the contrasting salt sprinkling, so will not be rushing to make them again.

*correction! All purpose flour is plain flour. Not sure which information led me astray before!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe base from Hummingbird Bakery book

The batter was lovely and smooth, no complaints. I added more chocolate than was recommended, and I mixed white and dark chocolate rather than just dark.

I baked the cookies for 11 minutes each, and as with the Double Chocolate Chip cookies (see earlier post), I think this would have been alright with just 10 minutes as I found the biscuits a bit hard the next day.

The thing is I don't like homemade chocolate chip cookies, they always seem to taste a bit eggy to me, and this recipe was no different. I have been told about a Nigella Lawson recipe from her Kitchen book, that I may try, but I'm not sure I can be swayed on this.

The recipe should have produced 24 cookies; I managed to make 41.

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Double Chocolate Cookies

Recipe base from Hummingbird Bakery book.

Once again, I committed the cardinal sin of melting butter and chocolate directly in the pan. I have to say, I doubt I will change this method; I'm impatient, and have no time to mess around with water-not-touching-the-bowl-above-which-will-overflow-anyway-as-I-don't-have-a-suitable-bowl faff.

I also knew that my laziness would mean that 'roughly chopped chocolate' would end up with ginormous chunks that wouldn't really work with the batter, so resorted to using chocolate chips instead. As I had about 100g of milk and dark chocolate each in chips, I used these rather than opening another bag of my precious dark chocolate chips, and convinced myself that it was alright as too much dark chocolate would be far too sweet. I also neglected to check my cupboard and didn't have enough light muscovado sugar, so topped up about 1/4 of the recommended amount with regular granulated (I wasn't going to use my hard-to-find caster sugar on this!).

The batter was very liquid, which I wasn't expecting - not sure why I didn't as the biscuits are mainly chocolate, and very little flour. Due to my aversion to sticky fingers (ironic, seeing as I love to bake), and also just the sheer impracticality of the attempt, I just used a dessert spoonful to mete out the cookies. The recipe said it should make 12, however I got 18 good sized cookies from the mixture; perhaps these were meant to be giant ones... the recipe didn't really state how large to make them, and any bigger would have resulted in more pans being used than the two that were recommended (I used three as I had 6 cookies per tray).

I found baking them for 12 minutes got them to the consistency and appearance that I thought was required, however in retrospect, 11 minutes would have probably been alright, especially to produce the chewiness that would be desirable in such a cookie.

I would definitely like to make these again.

Alongside Ginger and Oat Cookies

Available at Samara's Baked Goods

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies

Based on the recipe from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess.

The brownies came out perfectly, despite my misgivings that 125g of cream cheese was far too much.

As I regularly make blondies, with a recipe that requires self-raising flour, I found these rather flat and disappointing, although I knew that was exactly what they were meant to look like.

I commited the cardinal sin - mainly out of laziness - of melting my butter and chocolate directly in the pan over a low heat. I would never do this if I was melting chocolate alone, but I felt the fatty buffer of the butter(!) would protect the chocolate adequately.

The brownies tasted good, I managed to make 30 tiny bite sized pieces out of them, even despite surrendering what I felt would have made at least half of my bites to the baking paper. Perhaps I shouldn't also grease the baking paper.

I probably wouldn't bother making this again; to be honest, I only did them to use the cream cheese left over from the Multi-Coloured Velvet Cake debacle (see earlier post), as dear friends who know me, also know that I don't like to waste anything! 

Multi-Coloured Velvet Cake

Based on the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book.

I decided to make a multi-coloured velvet cake to represent my school's house system by doing a layer of green, red, and blue, sandwiched and covered in yellow cream cheese icing.

That was the idea. I had grand visions of a tall cake covered in smooth yellow, with the awaiting surprise of the multi-colours within when sliced.

This cake hardly measured up.

I knew it wouldn't work out as soon as I failed to find sandwich tins (20 cm or otherwise) in my local shops (in Stockholm). After asking a few Swedes, it seems that the concept of layer cake is a bit foreign to them, at least baking the layers separately. Instead on the rare occasion that they would make a layered cake, they would make a regular/large cake, and cut it into the layers they wanted, and then reassemble. This would never do for me.

I compromised by buying disposable foil tins (23 cm diameter), and resolving to make batches as advised to produce 12 cupcakes, dye them accordingly, and then make cupcakes from the rest.

Disaster. First of all, I only added half as much red dye as needed, and only clocked that I had done so when they came out. A considerable amount of the red cake stuck to the bottom of the tin (yes, I did grease and flour it!). Then the green batter developed an unpleasant brown layer on its top and sides (as did the cupcakes). The blue was alright, but looked far more teal than the navy I was after.

Then the Lack of Cooling Racks Tragedy struck. Only having one, which was actually the removable grill part of the pan covered with baking paper, meant that the cakes didn't get the opportunity to cool properly as they were coming out of the oven - my oven is not a fan one, so I baked one cake at a time, followed by the 'residual cupcakes', and so on.

At this point, I was too far gone to even consider starting again, so tried to make the best of a bad job by cutting the discolouration off the cooled yet sweaty cakes. It wasn't so bad at this point.

Let's make the cream cheese frosting. Oh no! The ridiculously expensive weighing scales I bought merely because of the proximity of the shop and my need for them decided to give me a static electric shock, and refuse to work. I decided to freestyle with the measurements, and came out with some fairly decent icing, despite the yellow not making as much of a difference as I wanted it to.


Icing the cake. Literally, this was the icing on the cake. Trying to ice this cake with its exposed and crumby sides was a nightmare; the multi-coloured specks kept 'tainting' the icing, so I was unable to get the clean finish I was after.

The end result was a small, squat, sugary mess, that looked like I'd dropped it on the floor. I couldn't even bear to take a picture, I was so ashamed.

The cupcakes (and cake) tasted good, however looked extremely unappetising.


To improve (should I ever recover enough to return to the scene of the crime), I reckon I should make this as a pound cake, perhaps with a marbled or tiger effect. Although I have a feeling it will still not be what I want. To ice the cake, I will probably use royal icing (the stiffer one used for wedding cakes, I think) despite my aversion to icing - using and eating!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Essential White Loaf

I based the recipe from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess.

The instructions were very easy to follow, especially as I have seen bread being made many times. It was a very therapeutic process.

Based on what I remember of my mother's bread-baking, I decided to make a yeast solution, by combining the fresh yeast with 200 ml of warm water. I also decided to 'free-style' and add a teaspoon each of ground cardamom, and cinnamon to the flour.

I kneaded the dough by hand for around 20 minutes, left it to prove with a shower cap and tea-towel over the bowl for just over 2 hours, and proved it in its baking shape for around 40 minutes. I scored the top to make it appear a bit more rustic, plus I've heard that this gives the loaf a direction to prove and bake into.

The loaf seemed hollow when knocked after 36 minutes in the oven, however when cut, it was just that tiny bit doughy (see the second picture), so I think it could have been improved with perhaps 5 more minutes in the oven.

Cute, isn't she?

What I would change about the recipe is to use just 1.5 teaspoons of salt, rather than the recommended tablespoon. Nigella generally gives fantastic recipes that never need altering, however I think she likes a salty loaf; I found it a bit too much. In Nigella's defence, I have looked up bread recipes from other bakers that I also hold in high esteem, and they have also recommended around the same amount. I guess I'm just used to a less salty bread.
Slightly under baked at the bottom

All in all, I am happy with my very first attempt at making bread, and would definitely like to try it again.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Spiced Pound Cake

Based on Hummingbird Bakery Book Recipe

I couldn't find any lemon extract, so used 1/4 teaspoon of lemon essence, and 1/4 teaspoon of 'citrus powder' mixed in with the flour.

I've started a not-so-revolutionary tactic of leaving my butter out permanently (must buy a butter dish) so that it is nice and soft which works for most of my recipes.

I am happy with the way the cake turned out, the batter was lovely, velvety and smooth, and despite my cake tin being slightly bigger than recommended (26cm ring tin vs the advised 25cm), the batter filled it properly, and rose to fill the tin too.

I felt the cake was getting a bit too 'done' at 50 minutes, so put some foil over the top to prevent it from burning, and returned it to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Total cooking time: 60 minutes.

I topped it with some left over cream cheese frosting and chocolate frosting (yes, I combined them!). Not sure how this will work with the cake, however I wanted to get rid of the icing, so heigh ho!

Icing Mash Up!

Update: the second picture does not do this cake justice. The texture was perfect - baked completely, fluffy, and even.

Unflattering picture... it was truly spectacular
I have made and developed this recipe several times since, and it is definitely a go-to cake for me. I love its buttery-ness, along with its complex spices. Perfect with tea! I need to develop a single serve microwave version of this...

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Coffee Cake

Base recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery book

The cake is massive! It actually require 450g apiece of sugar, butter, and flour, plus a whopping eight eggs! Once again, I misjudged my little bundt tin, and the cake was far too large. I felt it would be, and prepared a loaf tin for the excess, however still managed to overfill the bundt, and then felt it more appropriate to make 4 cupcakes with the remaining batter.

Note to self: the bundt tin should only be 2/3 full!

I used chocolate frosting (recipe from the same book), however this made far too much icing. Only half is needed. The butter wouldn't incorporate properly with the sugar, so in a desperate bid to save it, I zapped it in the microwave for 30 seconds. This made it more pliable, however I still was not happy with its consistency so I added around 15g of goats' cheese, which didn't affect the taste, but did get it closer to the desired creaminess.

The topping was meant to be finished with chocolate shavings and coffee beans - like I would bother! No; instead I sprinkled liberally with multi-coloured chocolate drops (white, milk, and dark)...before the cake had cooled properly. So they melted. I have renamed the cake 'Erupting Chocolate Coffee Cake', and put it down to artistic licence.

The centre of the cake did not bake properly, so I returned it to the oven sans tin (after its recommended 40-minute bake) for around 20 mins @ 150 deg C with foil around the outer edge and top. This helped it somewhat, but not entirely. I am hoping the icing can disguise any mishaps, however I am not convinced by my own hope!

The cupcakes are delicious, though, so the flavour is right, I just need to get the recommended 25cm ring tin. Ironically I saw it in the shop today, and decided not to buy it as I intended to bake bread tonight rather than cake.

Update: the centre was still a bit squidgy looking, and I put it down to using the bundt tin, so the entire quantity of the cake did not have an opportunity to bake properly. Edible, but I wasn't happy.

EBI: stronger coffee flavour (use 3 tablespoons of coffee for the coffee essence?)

Rating: 6/10 

Dalek on a night out?!
I'm reading this while I am updating my blog, and I am aware that I have written about this at a later point, however I am unsure whether I also mentioned that this cake is intended to be baked in a ring pan rather than a Bundt one! Well that's the case, and explains some of the issues I had with my initial attempt.