Monday, 4 November 2013

Petzels from the Final episode

What a disaster. My final bake was a complete and utter flop: I had pretzels which looked like text book pretzels, but were in fact inedible. Here is how you make horrible horrible pretzels:


For the dough
To finish
  • 20g/¾oz rock salt
  • 50g/1¾oz sesame seeds
  • oranges, juice of 3, zest of 1 cut into thin slithers
  • 125g/4½oz sugar

    First you add the flour, salt, yeast and butter to a bowl.

     Uh oh we've reached the stage where it all went wrong already - measure out your milk and add malt extract. Stir to dissolve, then add the milk mixture gradually to the flour mixture to from a dough. 

    I didn't have malt extract in the house and the supermarket failed me. After considering Marmite (yeast extract) and Bovril (beef extract), I googled what to use if you didn't have malt extract. The answer seemed to be molasses or treacle. Luckily I had some ancient treacle which was out of date in 2011 - I think everyone has one of these tins lurking in the back of a cupboard. On further inspection the treacle was made of molasses so it seemed perfect! It also smelt like malt, or what I imagine malt smells like.

    I put the required tbsp of treacle into the milk and after mixing it made a very strong smelling mixture. The smell is haunting me even now because unfortunately the pretzels tasted and smelt like treacle/molasses/malt. 

    Moving on - you turn the dough out onto a table and knead for 10-15 mins. Apparently the dough should be smooth and glossy. Mine was somewhat smooth, but I wouldn't say glossy. I was exhausted by the time I had kneaded for 15 mins. Try not to get sweat into the mixture - little tip there. 

    Before the kneading

    After the kneading
    Next you cut the dough in half and add the zest of two oranges to one half (and poppy seeds if you have them), and leave the other half plain. Place each half in to separate oiled bowls and cover. Leave to prove for 45 mins or so.

    Now the recipe says they should double in size. Mine didn't grow at all; perhaps because of all the treacle weighing it down.

    Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

    Once proved, divide each half in to six equal pieces and roll each sixth into a long sausage. The dough tries to spring back so you need to roll, then leave a bit, then roll again. Now time for the pretzel bit! It is easier than it looks actually - not 100% sure I was doing it right but they looked like pretzels to me. You can either hold each sausage in the air like a big U, then in one swift movement flick the centre of the U around to form a double twist. You then attach the ends you are holding to either side of the central bulge. Or, manually twist the two end around each other to form the double twist. Much less suave but does the trick. 
    Having a little break

    The sausages ended up much longer than this

    Next, bring 7 litres of water to the boil and add bicarbonate of soda. I forgot to add the bicarb the first time and had to dip the pretzels in twice as a result! Drop each pretzel into the water for five seconds and place onto a baking tray. The plain pretzels can be sprinkled with rock salt and sesame seeds. 

    Arh forgot the bicarbonate of soda!

    They looked like real pretzels which was excellent. With a sharp knife, make a slash in the thickest part of each pretzel, before baking for 20-25 minutes.     

    While they are cooking you should make the glaze for the sweet pretzels by heating orange juice and sugar and the zest of one orange. What you shouldn't do is walk the neighbour's miniature dachshund and then over cook them a bit. I tried to make sugared zest but taking the zest from the water after a minute and rolling it in caster sugar. It did work but didn't look as neat as the contestants on the show. After the syrup has reduced in volume you should pass it through a sieve but to be honest, life is too short to pass anything through a sieve unless it is pasta water. 

    Put the glaze and the sugared zest on to the sweet pretzels and ta da! You now have inedible pretzels which taste malt.

    On the first bite they were nice. On the second I couldn't swallow it and I felt ill all evening. 

    Jessie loved the bit I gave her and then asked to go outside where she started eating grass ie to make her sick. Not a good sign I'd say. The plain bagels were super salty because I had dipped them in the water twice and salted them twice. The sweet ones just tasted of malt - either treacle was not the correct substitute for malt extract, or there is a typo in the recipe and it should have been a tsp not a tbsp. If you know which it is then let me know!

    This is my final blog on the Great British Bake Off. I may create a new bog on a completely different subject matter and if so, I will direct you from here to there. I'd like to finish by saying thank you GBBO, thank you Jessie the dog, thank you mum for putting up with the messy kitchen week in and week out, and thank you everyone for reading. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Canapés from episode 9

I made canapés with choux buns, caramelised red onions, walnuts and soft cheese. I used garlic and herb soft cheese because the supermarket didn't have soft goats cheese. I think goats cheese would have made them more tasty so use this if you can find some. They turned out really well - perfect for a dinner party. I ate them all for lunch instead in a "I don't have a dinner party so I'm going to sit here and eat them all" kind of way. 

Here is what you will need:


For the choux buns
For the caramelised red onions
For the filling
  • 120ml/4fl oz double cream
  • 200g/7oz soft goats’ cheese (soft-textured rather than waxy)
To finish
  • 100g/3½oz shelled walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 50g/1¾oz rocket

    Pre-heat the oven to 220C and grease and line a baking tray. Then heat 150ml of water in a saucepan and add the butter in small pieces - bring to the boil.

    Then add all the flour and beat with a spoon until smooth and the dough comes away from the pan. So far so good.

    You then need to let the dough cool in a bowl for a bit. When cool, add beaten eggs gradually. Put the mixture in a piping bag and pipe circles into the baking tray.

    Bake for 10-15 mins, then reduce heat to 190C and cook for 20-25mins more. They looked great! Choux buns are really easy and fun to make - out of all the bakes, I think these might become a thing that I do from time to time. 

    Onions - put all the ingredients into a pan and cool over a low heat for 20mins then leave to cool. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

    Filling - Stir the cream into the cheese and put into a piping bag.

    Canapés - Cut each choux bun in half and pipe on the cheese, then add a teaspoon of onion, and top with a walnut and some rocket. 

    Done. With the left over choux buns, I made ganache and ate them with a dollop of cream. These were nicer than the actual canapés I thought. 

    I have one more bake to do then that's more bake off so no more bakes. Francis won the Great British Bake Off and I'm glad she did. Her bakes always looked amazing and by the end they tasted amazing too (according to MB and PH). Her wedding cake in the last episode was by far the best, and that probably did it for her. Well done Francis and bring on next year's bake off! 

    Stay tuned for pretzels! x