Friday, 22 May 2015

Little Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaves


I love it when you get to eat a whole loaf to yourself.

Little Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaves
adapted from here
Makes 8

1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or a teaspoon of instant espresso coffee granules dissolved in 1 teaspoon boiling water and cooled)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 egg whites
140g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons roughly chopped hazelnuts, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Spray a mini loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside.

Put the ground hazelnuts, icing sugar, flour, cocoa powder, coffee and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Add the egg whites and stir until they are fully incorporated.

Add the butter and stir until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.

Transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Roast Pork Loin with Brown Sugar Chipotle Sauce


Crispy, crunchy, juicy, salty, smoky, sweet...  Let me go on... like I blister in the sun.

Roast Pork Loin with Brown Sugar Chipotle Sauce
adapted from here
Serves 4

1kg pork loin, skin on
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup treacle
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons onion salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3/4 cup malt vinegar
2 or 3 dried chipotle chillies (depending on taste), chopped
Sea salt flakes
olive oil

Pat the pork loin dry with kitchen paper. Score deep cuts into the skin 5mm apart. Make sure you don't go all the way down into the flesh. I use a stanley knife for this. Rub a tablespoon of sea salt flakes over the skin and into the cuts.

Put the sugar, treacle, garlic, onion salt, cumin, coriander, vinegar and chillies into a deep roasting pan and mix to combine. Place the pork, skin-side up, into the roasting pan and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Take the pork out of the marinade and pat the skin dry, removing the salt and any moisture. Rub some olive oil over the skin and sprinkle with some more sea salt flakes. Place the pork, skin-side up, back into the marinade and roast  for about 40 minutes, or until done to your liking.

Heat the grill (broiler) to high.

Put a layer of foil onto a shallow baking tray and place the pork, skin-side up, onto it. Grill until the skin is blistered and crispy.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade and cooking juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 - 3 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly. Don't boil for too long or you'll end up with toffee.

Rest the pork for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the brown sugar chipotle sauce drizzled over.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Brioche Buns





The only thing that stopped my family from eating the entire batch of these buttery buns as they came out of the oven, was the promise of burgers for dinner.

Brioche Buns
adapted from here
Makes 12

550g plain flour (I used "00" flour)
1/3 cup caster sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons (2 sachets) dry yeast
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup full cream milk, at room temperature
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm pieces
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt)

Put the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, and beat on low briefly to mix.

Add the eggs and milk and beat on low until the mixture starts to clump together. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and hook down and beat for a further 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl and hook again.

Keep the mixer at low speed while you add half of the butter, one piece at a time making sure each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and hook, and continue adding the butter piece by piece, until it is all incorporated. Once all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 4 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and hook and beat for a further 4 minutes. The dough should become smooth and shiny and should slap against the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it briefly. The dough will be very soft. Flatten the dough slightly into a disc, then fold the top and bottom edges in towards the centre and both sides in towards the centre. Turn the dough over so that it is smooth-side up. Tuck the edges in underneath to form a tight ball and put it, top-side facing up, into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot to double in size for about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead again briefly. Form into a ball again, using the same method as before (folding and tucking), until you have a smooth, taught ball.

At this point you have two options. Option 1: You can leave it to double in size at room temperature for an hour. Option 2: You can leave the dough to slowly proof in the refrigerator overnight.  Overnight proofing will give you a better flavour. I proofed mine overnight.

If you refrigerated your dough, take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature (at least 2 hours). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Once the dough is at room temperature, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball using the method above of folding and tucking. Cut the dough into 12 x 90g portions and roll each portion into a tight ball, tucking the edges underneath and making the top as smooth as possible. Put them on the prepared trays, evenly spaced apart to give them room to spread during rising and baking. Spray a tiny little bit of oil on some plastic wrap and cover the buns, oiled side down, loosely to double in size, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Once puffy, lightly brush the tops of the buns with egg wash, making sure the egg wash doesn't drip down the sides (which can inhibit rising during baking) and bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the tops are a deep golden brown. Leave to cool on the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to your mouth a wire rack to cool until just warm. EAT.


Monday, 18 May 2015

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Peanut Butter Glaze



To be honest, my idea of a "real" doughnut is deep fried and yeasted. Anything other than that, is a cupcake dressed up as a doughnut. Don't get me wrong, these little doughnut-shaped cakes are delicious in their own right. On days when frying dough is out of the question, they are just the thing to trick your doughnut-loving brain into being satisfied with the mere suggestion of a doughnut ... and on days like that, I'll take whatever I can get.

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes 12 small doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
30g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg

For the Glaze:
1/2 icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the Doughnuts:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Spray a 12-hole doughnut pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, caster sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, nutmeg and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the butter, buttermilk, vanilla and egg together until combined.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir, gradually incorporating the flour mixture.

Spoon the batter into a disposable piping bag, snip a 1 cm hole in the tip and squeeze the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 6 - 8 minutes, or until the doughnuts are baked through. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before glazing.

Make the Glaze:
Put all the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add more or less buttermilk to give you a dipping consistency. Dip the tops of each doughnut into the glaze, allowing it to drip down the sides. Place them back on the wire rack to set.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Moroccan Spiced Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup


Today is all about this soup... because yesterday, this happened.

Moroccan Spiced Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup
adapted from here
Serves 4

For the Soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
800g sweet potato, chopped (I don't peel mine, but you can if you want to)
100g red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons Harissa
1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the toppings:
Nigella seeds
Lemon halves

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and a good, fat pinch of salt. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until wilted. Add the garlic and sweet potato chunks and cook until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Give them a stir every now and again to stop them of catching on the pan.

Add the rest of the ingredient (except the toppings), bring to boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until everything is tender.

Take about half of the mixture out of the pan, put it in a blender and blitz until smooth. Add the puree back to the pan. You should have a thick soup with some texture. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with nigella seeds, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of buttermilk.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Milk Chocolate Tart with Almond Praline and Whipped Coffee Cream



It's been a while since I posted a chocolate recipe, which I realise is totally unlike me. I don't know what's gotten into me. I don't recognise myself. I'm scarrrred. But I'm here to remedy the situation with chocolate in a tart plus some other additions... Chocolate, plus caramel, plus nuts, plus coffee, plus cream. That's my kind of math.

Milk Chocolate Tart with Almond Praline and Whipped Coffee Cream
adapted from here:

For the Pastry:
90g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
40g icing sugar
70g unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1 - 2 tablespoons iced water

For the Filling:
300g milk chocolate, finely chopped
120ml thickened cream
60ml amaretto

For the Praline:
100g whole blanched almonds
125g caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt

For the Cream:
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 teaspoons boiling water, cooled
1 tablespoon Tia Maria
100ml thickened cream
25g caster sugar

1 tablespoon whole coffee beans

Make the Pastry:
Put the flour, cocoa powder and icing sugar into a food processor and blitz to mix and get rid of any lumps. Add the butter and blitz until the mixture resembled fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and whiz it all up, adding enough iced water down the funnel to create a dough ball around the blade.

Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C. Slip a baking tray into the oven to heat up.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll the pastry out to about 3mm thick and big enough to line the base and sides of a 35 cm x 13 cm loose-bottomed rectangular tart pan. Line the pan and trim the edges.

Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Place on the hot baking tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking paper and beans and continue to cook the pastry case in the pan, on the tray for a further 10 - 15 minutes, or until cooked through and dry to the touch. Allow the pastry to cool completely in the pan.

Make the Filling:
Put the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Put the cream and amaretto into a small saucepan and bring it to simmering point. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Set aside for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate filling into the cooled tart base and leave to cool and set at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make the Praline:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Spread the almonds onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 8 - 10 minutes. Put them into a bowl and let them cool slightly. Line the same baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the caster sugar and 25ml of water into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar starts to caramelise. Swirl the pan to achieve even cooking. Once the mixture is golden, add the almonds and salt and swirl to coat. Pour the hot mixture onto the prepared baking tray and leave to cool. Once completely cool, chop into small chunks. Set aside.

Make the Cream:
Put all the ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip until firm peaks form. Set aside.

Top the tart with chunks of praline, sprinkle with coffee beans and spoon dollops of whipped coffee cream here and there.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Sourdough Bagels




When the weather is revolting, think driving rain and mad winds, I want to stay in my jammies and bake bagels. Then I want to toast those babies and slather them with butter and sit at the window thumbing my nose at the sky and stuffing hot buttered bagels into my bagel hole. I really don't care if I'm meant to be at the gym, attending meetings, mopping floors or grocery shopping... I really don't.

NOTE: I used Celia's recipe from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial without altering it very much at all. She is my sourdough guru.

Sourdough Bagels
slightly adapted from here
Makes 16 - 18

For the Dough:
450g active starter *See below
500g cold filtered water, a little more if needed
1100g baker's flour
20g fine sea salt
50g malt extract

For the Water Bath:
3 - 4 litres water
1 tablespoon malt extract
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

For Egg Wash:
1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water

For the Toppings:
Poppy seeds
Black sesame seeds
White sesame seeds
Everything topping: (1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, 1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes,  1/2 tablespoon sea salt flakes)

Prepare your Starter:
At 10am the day before you want to bake your bagels, put 1/2 cup of dormant starter into a bowl. Feed it with 1/2 cup baker's flour and 1/2 cup cold filtered water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. At 1pm, feed it with 1/2 cup baker's flour and 1/2 cup cold filtered water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. At 4pm, feed it with 1 cup baker's flour and 1 cup cold filtered water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature. By 8pm it should be bubbling like crazy and fluffy. Do a drop test by taking a small spoonful of starter and drop it into a cup of room temperature water. If it floats on the surface it's ready to use, if it sinks to the bottom of the cup it needs another feed. If it needs another feed, give it 1/4 cup baker's flour and 1/4 cup filtered water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for another couple of hours. Perform another drop test. Don't attempt to make bagels with a sluggish starter, they will turn out like hockey pucks.

Make the Dough:
Measure out 450g of active starter and put it into a large mixing bowl. Add 500g water and the malt extract. Stir to combine. Add the flour and salt and get your hands into the bowl and mix until it forms a dough. You may need to add a little more water, but be aware that this dough should be a little stiffer than regular bread dough. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Give the dough a quick knead in the bowl, a minute or so will do. Cover with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature overnight.

The next morning, turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 120g portions (I got 18 out of this batch). Roll each portion into a ball. Poke a hole into the centre of the balls with your finger then twirl the dough around both index fingers to create a doughnut shape.

Line three large baking trays with baking paper and sprinkle the paper with flour. Place the bagels on them, leaving enough room for them to spread during rising and baking. Cover with clean cloths and set them aside to rise and get puffy for about 1hr - 1 1/2 hrs.

Preheat the oven to 200C (fan-forced).

Boil the Bagels:
Put the the 3 - 4 litre of water into a large, wide pan (I use a wok). Bring to boil and then add the malt extract and salt. Once the extract and salt have dissolved, add the bagels in batches and boil them for 1 1/2 minutes, flip them using a slotted spoon, and boil on the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.

Pat them dry with a clean tea towel and lay them back on the trays.

Top the Bagels:
Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with desired toppings (or you can leave them plain).

Bake the Bagels:
Bake in batches for about 15 minutes, then turn the pans around and continue baking for a further 10 - 15 minutes, until bronze and beautiful. Leave to cool on wire racks while you bake the rest.