Tag Archives: oil

Bread!

I love making bread.  This is kind of handy when I make it every few days.  Although I suppose that if I didn’t enjoy if I wouldn’t do it!  I started making bread back in July when I was bored out of my mind and bread was the first thing I could think of that would take hours to cook.  I haven’t looked back.  I’ve made bread loaves, cottage loaves, bread buns, pita breads, focaccia, and the usual free form round loaf to my heart’s content!  There is something so theraputic about making bread.  I enjoy the all of the kneading, rising and shaping.  It all adds up to make something so satisfying and delicious. 

I started out using an overnight rising technique with my easy overnight white bread recipe but now I’ve had practice I can make bread from start to finish in 3 hours.  It really breaks down into 4 stages, mixing, rising, second rising and baking.  I think that I can get everything together, measured out, mixed and kneaded in 30 minutes.  It then needs an hour to rise, then shaping takes anything up to 30 minutes when making rolls, then another 30 minute rise, then 25 minutes cooking.  If I start at 5pm then I have freshly cooked bread on the table for dinner at 8pm. 

I thought it was about time to post about all of the little tricks I’ve learnt to make the process go a little quicker and make my bread a little better.  I use the same basic white bread recipe I started with but it’s the techniques I’ve developed that have really made the difference to the quality of the bread that I produce. 

Plaited Bread Rolls

White Bread Recipe

Makes 1 large loaf, 12 small rolls

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

– Heat your oven up to the lowest setting it has.  Mine has Slow Cook.  This isn’t to do any cooking, it’s just to create a warm, draft free environment for yor dough to rise in.  In the summer I was leaving the dough in a basket in the conservatory as it was very warm but now that winter is approaching the oven is the best place I’ve found. 
– Put the flour, yeast and salt in a very large bowl and mix it about a bit. 
– Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and then add the oil and water.  To get warm water I use 200ml cold water and 100ml boiling mixed together. 
– Use a spoon to mix together the ingredients until it forms into a ball of dough. 
– Get in there with your hands, floured, to gather it all together and then turn it out onto a floured work surface. 
– Dust the dough with flour on top as well and start kneading.  Squish it out ahead of you, then fold it back and rotate 90*, squish, fold, rotate.  So long as you work the dough and move it all about a lot then it doesn’t really matter how you do it.  You should be picking up the lose flour and working it in to the dough as you go.  If the dough starts to get too sticky just dust a little more flour and keep working it. 
– Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  You’ll notice the difference in textures, it wants to be soft and smooth feeling, no dust or lumps. 
– I then turn off the oven and wash out the bowl I mixed the dough in (it’s the only very large bowl I have) and then put about 1 tbsp olive oil in, a small glug, I use my hands to spread the oil all over the inside of the bowl then use my oily hands to knead the dough again for another minute until my hands are no longer oily. (I think this could be the key step for excellent bread)   
– Shape the dough into a ball and then put it in the oiled bowl, turn it over thereby coating all of the dough in oil. 
– Cover the bowl with a tea towel and then place it in the oven, or other warm, draft free place, for one hour or until doubled in size. 
– Take the dough out, dust the top of your risen dough lightly with flour and then plunge your fist into the middle of the dough. 
– Gather the dought together, wiping it around the bowl to pick up the bits then turn out and knead for another minute or two to knock out all of the air and mix in the small amount of flour used.  
– Prepare a baking tray, or two, with a dusting of flour or a sheet of baking paper. 
– Now you shape your dough into whatever you are making. 
– If you’re making a free form loaf then pull the edges of the ball underneath it and sort of pinch together so you have a smooth top then place it seam down on the baking tray and just shape it into the rough shape you’re after, remembering to keep height as it will spread out. 
– If you’re making a loaf in a tin then squish the dough into a rectangle, fold one third over then the other third over than and place seam down into a large greased loaf tin.  You’re probably better off only using 2/3 of the dough in a loaf tin otherwise it’ll be a really massive loaf!
– If you’re making buns then cut off portions of the dough, keeping the dough you’re not using covered int he bowl, and either pinch the sides of the ball to the bottom to make a smooth ball, roll into a line then tie in a knot for a knotted bun (I think they look like snails!), or divide into 3, roll into lines then plait together pinching the ends together and tucking them tidily under for plaited rolls. 
– Leave to rise again in a warm, draft free place for 30 minutes.  Fortunately I have a top oven/grill above the main oven where I can place the bread and pick up some of the heat from the bottom oven.  Unfortunately you may not. 
– Meanwhile heat the oven to gas mark 7 with some boiling water in an oven proof dish in the bottom. 
– If making a free form loaf dust the top with flour and slash a few times with a very sharp knife. 
– Place the bread in the oven and bake for 25 minutes for a loaf, 12 minutes for rolls.  Once the top is golden brown and the base of the loaf  sounds hollow when tapped your bread is cooked.  Rolls cooked on the bottom shelf may need a few minutes more on the top shelf to brown.  Cool on a wire rack. 
– Leave the bread to stand for at least 15 minutes before eating to develop a good texture. 

Assorted bread rolls

1 Comment

Filed under Breads, Easy

Christmas Muffins

It may seem a little early to be starting on Christmas baking but there is a very good reason for this.  My nextdoor neighbour and I were talking and she mentionned that she needed a baking project for her class to do for the Christmas fair to raise funds but that there were a number of criteria that needed to be met, no boring fairy cakes, for example!  I thought I’d seen a recipe somewhere about that would work but it proved to be a figment of my imagination.  So I decided to invent something that would, hopefully, work.  These are the delightful result!

They have all the tastes of Christmas but not in an overwhelming way.  I have to confess I don’t usually like Christmassy flavoured things, I eat Christmas pudding after Christmas dinner because it’s traditional not because I like it.  However, I really liked these muffins.  They had all of the flavours but lacked the heavy, stodgy feeling I usually associate with Christmas foods.  All in all a great experiment and come Christmas I shall certainly be making these again. 

Christmas Muffins

Makes 6

150g mixed dried fruits
zest and juice of 1 orange
50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Holly berry and leaf decorations (I made leaves out of white icing and green colouring and berries out of glace cherry bits)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Combine the fruit and orange zest and juice in a microwavable dish and microwave for 2 minutes.  Alternately leave them to soak for an hour. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and oil.   
– Sift the flour, baking podwer, nutmeg, mixed spice and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the mixed fruits and stir in. 
– Divide the mixture evenly between the six cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely. 
– Mix together the icing sugar and the lemon juice until smooth. 
– Once the muffins have cooled spoon a little of the icing over each muffin. 
– Add the holly decorations and leave to set.

1 Comment

Filed under Christmas, Cupcakes and Muffins, Easy

Anna’s Breakfast Bites

I invented these delicious things back when I was in school for a food tech project.  Originally I designed them to be canapes and have made them with quails eggs every christmas since.  This morning I suddenly realised that I could make them with regular eggs and have a handy breakfast ready to go!  However, I decided to be economical and use the smaller oven, completely forgetting that the smaller oven is temperamental at best and burns the top of anything over 1 inch tall!  Oops!  Still, they tasted good! 

These things really are morish, when I make them as canapes I always have to make twice as many as my family just gobble them up.  They’re best eaten within a few hours of making them and I think they are actually better when cold.  If you want to save yourself some work in the morning you can do the bread part the night before and then carry on the next morning.  To make canapes simply cut rounds of bread and press into rounded bun tin, use a quail’s egg instead of a hen’s egg and use a quarter of a mushroom and a quarter of a bacon roll. 

Anna's Breakfast Bites

Makes 2 (just increase to however many servings you want)

2 slices white bread
2 eggs
1 mushroom
1 rasher of bacon

– Heat to oven to gas mark 6 and oil however many holes of a muffin tin you want to use. 
– Cut the crusts off the bread and press each slice flat. 
– Brush the bread with oil on both sides. 
– Press the bread into the hole of a muffin pan.  (It’s somewhat like origami but the opposite sides end up being the top circle and the other edges pleat in to be pressed down.)

Bread Case

– Bake in the oven for 7 minutes. 
– Carefully crack the egg into the bread case then put back in the oven for 10 minutes. 
– Roll the bacon rasher up and slice in half, slice the mushroom in half. 
– Place the bacon and mushroom pieces on top of the egg and bake for another 10 minutes. 
– Check to make sure the egg has set and that everything has cooked (my oven is temperamental so timings could be different for your oven)  then run a flat bladed knife round the hole to loosen it and either serve warm or leave to cool. 

Variations
If you’re not fond of bacon then substitute it for a mini sausage, just alter the cooking time for that stage to suit.  Or if it’s mushrooms you’d rather avoid why not use a cherry tomato instead?

4 Comments

Filed under Easy, Starters

Low Fat Chicken and Mushroom Filo Pie Recipe

As the nights draw in I’m trying to find more recipes that come from the traditional comfort food genre but that don’t pile on the stodge and calories.  Tonight’s effort was supposed to be cooked with a low fat shortcrust recipe I’d seen, however, as I was still an hour away from home when I should have started making that I whizzed into Tesco and grabbed a packet of filo pastry.  I usually use olive oil instead of butter in any event so I saved on the fat there too.  As for accompaniments I had a quick whip round the freezer and found some oven chips, again a healthier alternative.  We were going to have peas too but they have gone AWOL so no peas. 

Chicken and Mushroom Filo Pie

Serves 4

7 sheets of filo pastry
1 onion, chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
3 chicken breasts, in chunks
a good splash of olive oil
1 tbsp cornflour
1/2 pint chicken stock

– Heat the oven to Gas Mark 6. 
– Select your pie dish and brush with oil. 
– Line with 4 sheets of filo pastry, brushing lightly with oil between each layer.  The pastry should over hang the dish. 
– Heat some oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion with a pinch of salt until soft.
– Add the mushrooms and brown then add the chicken and cook until just browning.
– In a separate pan heat the oil then add the corn flour and rapidly whisk together. 
– Add the chicken stock to this mix and cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. 
– Stir together the contents of the two pans. 
– Spoon this into the pie dish on top of the pastry. 
– Fold the filo sheets over the top of the filling and brush lightly with oil. 
– Scrunch up the remaining 3 sheets and arrange on top of the pie then brush with oil. 
– Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
– Serve and enjoy!

(I also made mini pies in a muffin tin with the leftover filo and a fresh batch of filling, just follow the same process in minature!  I then froze them for later use in lunches.)

2 Comments

Filed under Easy, Mains

Tomato, Bacon and Mozzerella Focaccia Recipe

First up let’s hear it for cooking with wine.  In this case I did not put any in the food.  Tonight’s menu was pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce accompanied by a focaccia.  The wine was a lovely Montepulciano D’Abruzzo we picked up in Italy.  I apologise in advance for any typos. 

I dithered endlessly over what to cook tonight and eventually I came up with something that I wouldn’t have to go out and buy anything for.  We came home to find dad hadn’t picked any of the cherry tomatoes so we had a nice bowl full of those and the rest was all store cupboard stuff.  The tomatoes were great though, so sweet they almost tasted like plums!  I found out that I only had 200g bread flour so I just used plain flour to round out the whole 500g.  As this is a flatish bread I just made sure it was well worked but I don’t think I’d use plain in any bread that needed the height.  I noticed a definite difference when working the dough. 

I actually made two focaccia tonight, the one with bacon for the three of us and a smaller one for our neighbour without the bacon but with rosemary as she is a vegetarian.  I find that this recipe makes too much for just the three of us but my neighbour is always glad to take spares!

Tomato, Bacon and Mozzerella Focaccia

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
500g strong white flour (I used 200g bread, 300g plain)
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
325ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
12 or so cherry tomatoes
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 ball mozzerella, shredded

– Put the garlic and olive oil in a small bowl.  Put to one side. 
– Combine the flour, yeast, salt and water in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. 
– Add the oil and continue to mix.
– Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. 
– Place in an oiled bowl an leave in a draft free warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.* 
– Meanwhile quickly cook your bacon bits and leave to cool. 
– Knock down the dough and turn out onto an oiled baking tray. (For two like I did simply slice off about a third of the dough and prep two trays) 
– Press out into a rough rectangle, cover and leave to rise for another 30 minutes
– Heat the oven to Gas Mark 7. 
– Once the dough has risen again use your fingers to poke the indentations into it all over.
– Press tomato pieces and bacon bits into these holes and drizzle with the garlic and olive oil. 
– Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and poke the shredded mozzerella into the indentations too. 
– Return to the oven for 15 minutes. 
– Remove from the oven and serve straight away. 

* I heat the oven on Slow Cook while making the dough then switch it off and put my dough to rise in the oven as the house is quite cool during the day as it starts to get cooler.  I also give it an hour and a half.  When it comes to the second rise I have the main oven heating and put the trays in the top oven so the heat carries up.

1 Comment

Filed under Breads, Easy

Tomato Soup Recipe

I was walking past the market today and the piles of tomatoes inspired me to make tomato soup so I grabbed a bag full and off I went.  Only to discover as I continued walking that the stall I’d bought them from was the most expensive one, oops!!  That would explain why the other stall had a massive queue I guess.  Even so I think it was still cheaper than Tesco woud have been.  Probably better flavour too as they weren’t refrigerated to death.  Next time I’ll be cannier.  Now on to the soup!

Serves 4

8 large tomatoes on the vine, or plum tomatoes*
2 cloves garlic, sliced
olive oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, shredded
salt and pepper

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5.
– Slice the tomatoes into quarters and put in an oven proof dish or roasting pan with the garlic and drizzle with olive oil. 
– Place the dish (use two if necessary) in the oven and roast for at least 30 minutes. 
– Remove the tomatoes from the oven and tip the contents of the dish into a large pan.
– Heat on a medium heat using a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes a bit. 
– Remove from the heat and add the sugar and basil. 
– Use a hand blander to blend the tomatoes until completely smooth. 
– Put the pan back on the heat, bring just to the boil and season to taste (I added just a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper). 
– Serve warm with a swirl of sour cream,bread and butter. 

* I prefer the flavour of plum tomatoes but regular tomatoes on the vine are good enough.  You may need to add a little more sugar to bring out the full flavour though.

Leave a comment

Filed under Easy, Starters

Mozzerella and Tomato Foccacia Recipe

Serves 10

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
500g strong white flour
7g fast action yeast
2 tsp salt
325ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
6 baby plum tomatoes, halved
1 ball mozzerella, shredded
sea salt
1 stalk rosemary

– Put the garlic and olive oil in a small bowl.  Put to one side. 
– Combine the flour, yeast, salt and water in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. 
– Add the oil and continue to mix.
– Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. 
– Place in an oiled bowl an leave in a draft free warm place* for an hour or until doubled in size. 
– Knock down the dough and turn out onto an oiled baking tray. 
– Press out into a rough rectangle, cover and leave to rise for another 30 minutes
– Heat the oven to Gas Mark 7. 
– Once the dough has risen again use your fingers to poke the indentations into it all over.
– Press tomato pieces into these holes and drizzle with the garlic andolive oil. 
– Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and poke the shredded mozzerella into the indentations too.
– Scatter with a pinch of sea salt and the rosemary. 
– Return to the oven for 15 minutes. 
– Remove from the oven and serve straight away. 

* On a warm day I find that putting the bowl, covered in a teatowel, inside a basket in the conservatory is perfect. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Breads, Easy

Easy Mayonnaise Recipe

I made meringues the other day and so I had egg yolks left over.  I decided to try my hand at making mayonnaise.  Normally I’m a Hellman’s girl but I thought I’d try my hand at making my own.  It was a little fiddly but a spare pair of hands fixed that problem.  Apart from the taste of the olives coming through too strongly for my liking I loved this.  I think that on something with more flavour it wouldn’t be noticable but as I was eating it with new potatoes it affected the taste a bit. 

Makes 1/2 a pint

1 egg
2 egg yolks
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 tsp lemon juice
1/2 pint oil *

– In a tall jug place the egg and unbroken yolks, oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper in that order. 
– Using a stick blender put the blender at the bottom of the jug over the yolks and turn on, hold in this position until the oil emulsifies**, then plunge up and down a few times until everything is thoroughly mixed.  The mixture will be very thick so you may need to hold down the jug to stop it lifting with the stick blender. 
– Decant into a jar and store in the fridge. 

* I used olive oil and the flavour carried over, if you dislike olives, as I do, make it with sunflower oil. 
** This just means it will go white and look like mayonnaise. 

1 Comment

Filed under Basic, Moderately easy