Monday, 27 February 2017

Sicilian Loaves















I've never met a loaf I didn't love...  Seriously.  

NOTE: Delicious for breakfast, cut into thick wedges, slathered with butter and smothered with your favourite spread (homemade raspberry jam for me) ... or made into an awesome Muffuletta (recipe coming soon).


Sicilian Loaves
slightly adapted from here
Makes 2 loaves

1 sachet (7g) of dried yeast
400ml lukewarm water
670g baker's flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing
Sea salt flakes
Sesame seeds

In the bowl if an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast and water.  Add the flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Mix on low for about 6 minutes.  The dough should be soft and silky and come together around the hook.  Remove the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Grease 2 x 20cm round cake pan with olive oil.  Set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out on to it.  Divide the dough into two equal portions.  Roll each portion into a ball and place the balls into the prepared pans. Push the dough right to the edges of the pan.  Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil on to each and use your hand to coat the tops. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for another 40 minutes, until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Sprinkle with loaves with sea salt flakes and sesame seeds and place in the centre of the oven. Immediately reduce the temperature to 190°C and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the tops are golden.  Remove from the pans and leave to cool on a wire rack. If the bottoms are pale, pop them back in the oven, without pans, for another 5 minutes.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Simple and Delicious Banana Bread







I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to banana bread.  I have quite a history with the stuff.  There was this Chocolate Chip Nutella Banana Bread with a Cream Cheese Swirl back in the day (check out the atrocious photos).  Then came this very yummy Peanut Butter Banana Bread (I must make that again soon).  I was positively giddy over this Espresso Banana Bread (giddy, in a good way.  I mean coffee with and in my banana bread, hello?)  And this Banana Bread with Cardamom and Cacao Nibs is imprinted on my brain (and my taste buds).  Then I went completely off-piste with this Date and Banana Breakfast Bread with Homemade Pecan Butter (that was off-piste, not piste-off).  Then I totally broke the mold with these Banana Bread Granola Bars (because banana bread can come in many forms, as I have already demonstrated). And I can't forget this Raspberry and Coconut Banana Bread (tropical much!)   This Bourbon-Spiked Banana Bread is everything (everything).  So yeah, I know my banana bread.  I'm your banana bread sensei.   So you can trust me when I tell you that this simple and delicious incarnation is my current favourite favourite... until I make another variation, that is. Which won't be very long if history tells us anything.

Simple and Delicious Banana Bread
slightly adapted from here

200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
220g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
100ml grape seed oil
350g mashed bananas (about 3 large bananas)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 165°C. Spray a 23 cm x 13 cm loaf pan with cooking oil spray and line it with baking paper. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a bowl and set aside.

Put the sugar and eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip them together for about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the oil.

Add the mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix on low until incorporated.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour to 1¼ hours or until it springs back when lightly pressed in the middle.

Leave to cool on a wire rack in the pan for 30 minutes before removing from the pan and leave to cool completely on the rack.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Overnight Sourdough Buttermilk Waffles









My love of waffles began on my first trip to the US many years ago... it's still going strong.


Overnight Sourdough Buttermilk Waffles
slightly adapted from here
Makes about 12

For the Overnight Sponge:
250g cups baker's flour
30g caster sugar
450ml buttermilk
250g active sourdough starter

For the Batter:
Sponge 
2 large eggs
50ml unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Make the Sponge:
Put all the sponge ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix.  Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

Make the Batter:
Preheat the waffle iron.

Put the egg in a small bowl and beat to break them up.  Add the oil and the sponge mixture.  Next, add the salt and baking soda a stir to combine.  The batter will become light and airy.

Lightly spray the waffle iron with some cooking oil and pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the middle. 

Cook according to the manufacturers instructions, or until golden-brown.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Classic Chocolate Eclairs





Head on over to BakeLife for the recipe for these Classic Chocolate Eclairs and read about why I have such an emotional attachment to these delicate little beauties.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Blackberry Jam and Custard Doughnuts










My friend Christina of Christina's Cucina fame, recently posted a photo of her Perfect Yeast Doughnuts with a link to the recipe on her blog.  It was love at first sight for me and I knew I needed these gorgeous puffs of fried dough in my life and on my breakfast table STAT... and she's right, they really are perfect.

Below, you'll find the recipes for the jam and custard. You can get the recipe for the doughnuts by clicking on the link here.  I followed Christina's instructions to the letter and if you do the same you'll end up with the most delicious breakfast going around.

My version includes the addition of homemade blackberry jam and vanilla custard which was an idea inspired by this recipe.  



For the Custard:
1 cup cream
1/2 cup full cream milk
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour

For the Blackberry Jam:
220g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water, plus extra if needed
100g fresh blackberries
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Make the Custard:
Put the cream and milk into a small saucepan over medium heat. When it reaches simmering point, remove it from the heat. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and cornflour until combined. Whisk the hot milk mixture, very gradually, into the egg mixture.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking continuously, until thickened. Remove from the heat and pour the custard into a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic has direct contact with the custard, this will stop a skin from forming, and chill in the refrigerator.

Make the Blackberry Jam:
Put the sugar into a medium size saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of water and place it over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high, stop stirring and cook for a few minutes until the mixture resembles light honey, swirling the pan from time to time. Remove from the heat and aside.

Put the berries and vanilla bean paste into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh sieve, discard the seeds. Add the berry puree to the caramel and stir. If the caramel has set a little, pop the saucepan back on a low heat and stir until it has melted again. You can add a few more tablespoons of water to thin the caramel if needed. Cool completely.

Pipe the fillings into the Doughnuts:
Spoon both the fillings into separate piping bags fitted with plain tips.  Poke a hole in the side of each doughnut with a skewer, then pipe equal amounts of custard and jam into each.