Monthly Archives: December 2013

Slow Cooker Bread

When I first heard about the slow cooker method of cooking bread I was astounded.  There was no way that would work, right?  No way at all… I had to try it!

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I am rather happy to report that it does, indeed, work!  If you want a quick (slow), hands off way to get a loaf of sandwich bread on the table then this is a brilliant method!  And it is quite a versatile one too.  You can try it with breadbuns, flatbread, boules, anything really.  Just remember to line the crock pot as otherwise it will stick to the bottom (trust me, I’ve made these mistakes so you don’t have to!) and also remember to get the bread out of the slow cooker once it has finished cooking or you will get soggy bread due to condensation.  The only other issue is the anaemic look that this bread has… it’s not quite the glorious golden crust of home made bread.  A grill or a blowtorch takes care of that one though!  Just lightly toast the top of your loaf until you get the desired hue.

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This bread is the answer to my issues with crisp, crunchy homemade bread.  I am all for a cracking crust.  Really, I am… except when I’m not.  You know, when you really just want some worthless white bread for a soft sandwich, or your wisdom teeth are playing up and crunch is BAD!  I know that supermarket loaves are filled with horrible things, but prior to this loaf I had never managed to create a delicious, soft crust in my home cooked bread.  Now, I can finally get that delightfully squishy texture in the comfort of my own home!

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Makes 1 2lb loaf

500g strong bread flour
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
300ml tepid water

– In a large mixing bowl place the flour, then on one side the yeast and the other the salt.
– Mix to combine then all and make a well in the centre.
– Add the oil and the water.
– Mix until it all comes together into a dough.
– Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.
– (Alternatively, combine and knead using the dough hooks on a handheld mixer, or a stand mixer, whichever you prefer. For a truly hands off approach!)
– Shape your loaf and place in a tin (if using) or line the slow cooker.  (Check before starting that your loaf tin will actually fit in the slow cooker!)
– Place the loaf in the slow cooker, pop on the lid and turn it up to high.
– Bake for 2 hours.  This may well vary from slow cooker to slow cooker so check and if it’s not then just give it a bit longer.  When the base sounds hollow, it’s done!

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Filed under Breads, Easy

Orange Bundt Cake

Everyone inevitably buys a bundt tin… or one just magically appears in your cupboards, called forth by come magical critical mass of baking tins.  Either way a bundt tin appears and though there are many creative uses for it I thought I’d go back to basics with this lovely, moist orange bundt cake.

So easy to whip together and so easy to devour with a cup of tea, it’s now one of my go-to cakes.  Especially cute as a minature version too! If you have not yet reached that critical mass and do not yet own a bundt tin you can use this recipe to make a lovely sandwich cake, I would suggest 3 layers and a chocolate buttercream but you know, go nuts!

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Serves 12

250ml vanilla yogurt
150g butter, melted
4 eggs
zest on an orange
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
250g caster sugar
200g icing sugar
1-2 tbsp orange juice

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C.
– Grease your bundt tin well, making sure to get into any nooks and crannies.
– In a large jub combine the yogurt, butter, eggs and orange zest.
– In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, bicarb, salt and caster sugar.
– Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and mix well until combined.
– Pour the batter into the bundt tin and bake for 45minutes – 1 hour. (Dependent on your oven, my old oven took longer, the new one is faster, check it at 45minutes and see.)
– When a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean it’s done.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
– Now for the moment of truth! How thorough was your greasing?  Hopefully after a loosen with a knife your bundt cake will turn out perfectly!
– Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
– Once cool prepare your icing.  Simply mix the icing sugar and just as much orange juice as necessary to make a thick but runny icing.
– Drizzle over the top of your bundt cake artistically… or try to anyway!

*Christmas Variation*

Add 2 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp ginger to the mixture along with the flour and add a cup of dried cranberries in at the end.
Delicious, zingy Christmasy flavours and a nice, moist, lighter cake, which is so quick to whip up it’s perfect for the busy Christmas season!

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Filed under Cakes, Easy

Shotgun And Chelsea Bun Club

Time for a little bit of a non-foodie detour!  About this time last year I saw a tweet.  It was about The Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club… well, that sounded interesting, I thought! Basically, it’s a ladies only club that allows you to go along to an event, learn to shoot clay pigeons, and then have tea and cake afterwards.  I’d always been vaguely intersted in learning to shoot, my parents used to shoot when I was younger but I’d never even seen a gun before, let alone picked one up and shot one!

I signed myself up to go along to one in April at Coniston Shooting Grounds and I bloody loved it!  It was so much fun: exhilarating, instinctive and captivating! The instructor was absolutley brilliant, explaining exactly what you needed to do and talking you through it simply.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at first, by the time we’d been to a few different stands I really felt I was getting the hang of it all.  And there was tea and cake on pretty vintage china at the end of it all!

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Two weeks ago I went back to another Chelsea Bun Club at Conniston and, again, had an absolutley fantastic time.  It was just as much fun as I remembered and given it was only my second go I was absolutley gobsmacked when I won the best novice prize! It’s definitely something I’m going to keep doing, I’m waiting on tenterhooks for next year’s dates so I can see how many events I can fit in and am even looking into getting some private lessons.  It’s not often I take to something so readily and have the skills to back up my enjoyment but I’m really looking forward to developing my ‘beginner’s luck’ into some solid skills.

If any of you ladies have ever fancied having a go at shooting I cannot reccommend the Chelsea Bun Club highly enough.  It’s such a friendly, welcoming group.  No matter if you’ve been shooting for years or never even touched a gun you’ll fit right in.  It’s lovely to meet new people and chat about random things while doing something so totally different from my day to day!

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Now, as my token, “It’s relevant to the blog, honest!” have a recipe for my Orange Bundt Cake that I took along to the last event!

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Filed under Cakes, Not Food

Turkey Wellington Roulade

So, in previous years I have made a Turkey Wellington, and I have made a Turkey Roulade… this year the two have been unitied in glorious harmony, I give to you the Turkey Wellington Roulade!  You’re welcome!  This is an impressive centre piece for any Christmas celebration, it looks great bringing it out, all covered in golden pastry, and when you slice into it it is simply stunning! It also makes a fantastic sandwich if you have leftovers!

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I made this for a small Christmas Party I had at the weekend as part of a buffet, because the turkey part is thin it can happily be eaten with just a fork, which is handy! Again, this recipe may look tricky but when you break it into individual steps it really really isn’t.  Give it a go and wow your guests this year!

 

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Serves 8 comfortably

1 x ~1.6kg Turkey Breast (I get a frozen butter basted one from Tescos, defrost it and trim it so I just have the meat, no skin)
400g sausage meat (I use Lincolnshire sausages coz I like the flavour)
100g bread crumbs
75g dried cranberries
1/2 tin chopped chestnuts
1 small egg
250g smoked bacon lardons
~30 rashers pancetta
500g puff pastrya little milk for brushing (or beaten egg, either works)

– Take your Turkey Breast and trim it so all you have left is the meat.  Turn it over so the good side is downwards.
– Carefully split the breast about 1/3 through the breast, making sure to not cut all the way through.
– Repeat the split halfway through the remaining meat cutting from the fold towards the outer edge.
– The breast should unfold like a letter.

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Here is a (hopefully somewhat) illustrative diagram for you.

– If you need to flatten it more you can score cuts partly through the meat to help it lie flat.
– Now take a rolling pin and give it a bit of a bash, especially if you have any fatter sections, beat it until it is mostly uniform and as close to a rectangle as you can get it without splitting the meat.
– In a medium size bowl mix together the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, cranberries, chestnuts, lardons and egg.  Add a little bit of seasoning and give it a really good squidge together with your hands.
– Spread the stuffing mixture over the turkey, spreading it into a layer of even thickness across the turkey.  You may not need all of the stuffing, in fact it is a good idea to keep some back for evening things out later.
– Choose which edge looks the straightest and then start rolling from the oposite edge so you finish with a cleaner line.
– If you have any vastly different thicknesses you can pad it with stuffing so you get a nice smooth roll.  Gently shape the ends so they are more squared off.
– On a clean, floured worksurface roll out your puff pastry so that it is wide enough and long enought to wrap around your turkey.  It should be around the thickness of a £1 coin.  Keep rolling, it’ll get there!- Place a layer of pancetta rashers in the centre of the pastry, then place the turkey on top, with the join pointing to the top.
– Pull the pancetta rashers up the side of the turkey and place another layer over the top and round the sides so that the whole thing is encased in pancetta.
– Now gently wrap the pastry around the turkey, brushing the edges that join with milk to make them stick.
– Neatly fold the ends up and make sure that all of the joins are on the top side of the turkey.


– Now, carefully and gently pick up / roll your turkey into an oven proof tin or dish so that all of the seams are underneath and you have a nice, clean pastry top.
– Now you can add any decoarations that you wish, use spare pastry to create shapes, or simply use your fingers to pinch or crimp a pattern on top.
– Brush with milk and bake in the oven at gas mark 6/200C for 2 hours.
– When the tme is up get two spatulas/fish slices and carefully lift the Wellington out and onto your carving board/serving platter.
– There will be an amount of juice in the tray so this will have something of a soggy bottom.  If you want to avoid this then you can try pan cooking your sausage meat first before making the stuffing and draining off the excess fat.  This should cut down on the amount of liquid produced, but I like to drain it off and make a gravy out of it all.  You could also try baking it on a rack over a roasting tin but I’ve never tried it so I’m not sure how the pastry might hold up to that kind of treatment.  .
– Allow the Wellington to rest on a carving board/serving platter for 20 minutes or so before serving.

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Filed under Christmas, Mains, Moderately easy

Honey, I’m home!

So… this has been a rather long and unplanned hiatus.  I want to apologise to anyone who has missed my random ramblings.  This year has been a strange one and has been rather challenging in a lot of ways.  Life has been throwing me some curve balls and there have been a lot of ups and downs.  However, I’m back, I’m healthy, I’m happy and I am determined that 2014 is going to be a brilliant year and that I will not allow this blog to suffer any longer.  I love blogging, I love sharing all of my foodie thoughts and experiments with you guys.  I love receiving comments from people who have tried things and being able to offer and receive advice. 

In order to motivate myself I have even gone and got myself a domain name, just to pretty things up! If you want to add http://www.annainthekitchen.co.uk to your bookmarks and check back with me in the year to come then I promise not to go AWOL again and to keep the recipes coming!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, I always have so much fun trying new and exciting Christmas recipes and I hope you find some things to try yourself on this blog.  There are always some recipes I revisit every year so here’s a quick reminder of some things I’ve shared previously that I love to cook:

My Christmas Cake Recipe.  Can be made even as late as Christmas Eve (If you start first thing in the morning!)

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An excellent Christmas breakfast, my Christmas Tree Chelsea Buns are full of christmas flavours!

Anna's Breakfast Bites

Anna’s Breakfast Bites are an essential part of our Christmas.  If you prefer something savoury, or just need some brunch to keep the munchies at bay while waiting on the turkey, these are a fantastic crowd pleaser!

Christmas Muffins

If you are in need of a very quick recipe to whip up and take into the office may I suggest my Christmas Muffins

Cranberry Fool, a brilliant way to finish a Christmas meal if the traditional Christmas Pudding just isn’t for you!

And finally, Fudge! That perennial favourite for home made gifts.  You can make this in so many different flavours, it’s  perfect for that personal touch, and so much easier than you think it will be!

 

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