Monday, 30 September 2013

Blog back after temporary absence!

Hello everyone,

The blog is back, having disappeared from the internet for a few days. I promise that this wasn't because I just couldn't face making an apricot couronne 

I'm afraid the couronne won't be made this week due to the technical problems but I shall be watching "The Great British Bake Off" tomorrow and making something spectacular in the coming week. The recipes are getting rather difficult now so my baking skills are really going to be put to the test. To add to this, the Kenwood mixer has broken down so I might be borrowing my neighbour's mixer....or doing everything by hand.....lets hope it's the former.

See you soon! 

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Beautiful tuiles from episode 5

I've been away for a while but I'm back with a lovely blog about tuiles. Just like the start of a good history essay I'd like to define the key terms, and in this case it is 'tuile'. According to Wiki - "A tuile is a thin, crisp, sweet or savory wafer made of dough or cheese. Originally from France, 'tuile' means tile in French, and is named after the shape of French roof tiles it is supposed to resemble. " So there you have it. I made tuiles. They looked really good, although 
some were bendy rather than snappy. The snappy ones had to be really thin and they tasted great. As is becoming the norm with these bakes they took hours to make, and then half an hour later me and my mother had eaten them all. I made thirty or more tuiles and I stuck five in a bit of ice cream and then just downed the rest. They were good, but not really worth the time and effort.

You will need:

For the tuiles

  • 200g/7oz butter, softened
  • 175g/6oz icing sugar
  • 6 large free-range eggs, whites only, lightly beaten
  • 200g/7oz plain flour
  • 3 tsp cocoa powder

  • 50g/1¾oz plain chocolate, melted

    I failed in acquiring a silicon or plastic template for the tuiles, so I drew around a mug on a piece of paper instead. I then cut out the circles. It felt like I was on art attack rather than trying to bake something but nevermind.

    After the crafting, I had to mix butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a paste using an electric mixer. I whipped out grandma's old Kenwood mixer again and it was mixing away for about 30 seconds then it broke. The Kenwood mixer is no more :(. It gave off a very strong burning rubber smell which lingered for the next hour and made me feel really queasy for the rest of the bake as well. I whisked egg whites gently then poured them into the mixture whisking all the time by hand. I was trying my best to whisk at electric speed and trick the pesky mixture, but it just looked more and more curdled. Then I had to beat in the flour which made it look even worse. I was thinking at this point that the lack of an electric mixer was going to ruin this bake but after more time beating in the flour with a wooden spoon it did eventually turn in to a smooth paste. 


    Next, I took a sixth of the mixture and added cocoa in a separate bowl. I now had two bowls of the mixture, one chocolate and one plain. I then had to cover them with cling film and leave for 30 mins. Yay time for a rest!

    TUILE TIME! I pre-heated the oven to 180C and spread the plain mixture over my paper template which was on top of baking paper, then I slowly peeled the paper away. This batch were too thick but they looked amazing.

    After this I brought out the piping bag with much excitement. I'M A PROPER LITTLE BAKER. I have to say this has been the most fun bit of baking yet because I had to be artistic and it was just exciting okay? I put the chocolate mixture into the piping bag and made two circles on each tuile. 

    You cook the tuiles for 5-6 minutes. There is trend occurring with my bakes and that is multi-tasking stress. I only had one baking tray, so while it was in the oven I was spreading out more tuiles on to more baking paper, and the minute one batch were out another batch went in. Hectic. Not to mention that the tuiles came out of the oven red hot and bending them round rolling pins gave me sore fingers. The things I do for baking eh.

    Like other bakes, I had tonnes of the mixture so I just kept going - spreading out tuiles, decorating, putting them in the oven, bending them round rolling pins - until I really could not be bothered any more. 
    Cheeky smiley face crept in there

    I tried to make some cigars by bending the tuiles around the handle of a wooden spoon but they weren't great so I ate most of them straight away to hide the evidence. 

    All in all the bake was a success because the tuiles looked great! Some were bendy and some were snappy though - the tricky thing was getting the thickness correct and then not over cooking them. The ones that were more brown definitely tasted better so I would say cook more rather than less. Would I do these again? Possibly. But only because the piping was fun. I do feel I have reached my baking peak here and if these recipes get more difficult then the multi-tasking might get the better of me. Or I might have to just buy another baking tray. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

I went on holiday

Hello! I went on holiday to Portugal and therefore missed two episodes of the GBBO. Don't fret though, I have caught up now and have even made some tuiles (blog to come shortly). I needed to buy a silicon or plastic template to make the tuiles and the women in John Lewis had no idea what a  tuile was!? Major first world problem. I couldn't locate such a template so had to improvise with paper and it seemed to work just fine. Anyway, all this is to come in the next blog so stay tuned. Here is a little preview of things that are in the next blog:

Bendy tuiles
Snappy tuiles
Jessie the dog
Me eating tuiles

See you soon xxx

Monday, 9 September 2013

Floating Islands (floating egg) - episode 3

This week I made floating islands which are meringues floating on top of crème anglaise (posh custard) with a bit of spun sugar placed elegantly to finish. It was two thirds a success. The crème anglaise was divine and the spun sugar was good. The only let down were the meringues which although they looked adequate, to me they just tasted of egg. Co-incidentally they are made up of just eggs and sugar but for me the egg was definitely prominent. Oh dear lord I just read that back in my head and I cannot believe what a foody bakey snob I have become. When I started this blog I had no idea that baking would take over my life to the extent that I would scrutinise every minute detail of the taste of food.  I've come a long way.

 On to the recipe. You will need:

For the crème anglaise

For the meringues
For the spun sugar
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar

    First I made the crème anglaise in its initial form which is the form of a poaching liquid for the meringues. I gently heated the milk, cream and vanilla paste. I didn't know what vanilla paste was and there seemed to be none in the supermarket so I bought vanilla pods (SO EXPENSIVE) and scraped out the insides of one of them. This felt pretty cool because you see the proper chefs on masterchef etc using vanilla pods and scraping out the seeds. I'm such a pro now it's untrue. 

    The recipe says bring the liquid to a simmer over a low heat but the recipe then  moves on to the meringues and I was concerned the liquid would overheat. I kept checking it and it did form a bit of scum on the surface but seemed to be okay. 

    Smile and pour. Perfect.
    For the meringues I whisked the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks formed. Then I added 150g of the sugar one tablespoon at a time and it really did go glossy and lovely. Small pleasures.

    Yep doesn't fall on to my head

    ANYWAY, you then make quenelles using two tablespoons. Spell check doesn't think quenelles is a real word but I beg to differ and Mary Berry is really very angry. I was surprised how decent my quenelles looked - just as good as the bakers on the show, if not better. I then placed each quenelle in the poaching liquid, making sure the liquid didn't simmer too much, and turned them half way through. At this point they looked really unappetising and to be honest they didn't become any more appetising by the end of the process. After the poaching they sat on a wire rack draining while yellow liquid seeped out on to the work surface and they looked unusual, lets just say. 


    You are then supposed to sieve the poaching liquid into a jug but I completely missed seeing this instruction. It turned out daym fine so no worries. The next stage was whisking the egg yolks and sugar until it was pale and fluffy although mine was more like a pale paste with no fluff to be seen. You then pour in the poaching liquid, whilst whisking continuously, then transfer the whole thing into a pan over a low heat to thicken until the mixture 'covers the back of a spoon'. I managed to eat most of the mixture at this stage by continuously putting a spoon in and licking it. The creme anglaise thickened eventually and tasted amazing - really strong vanilla and very sweet. 

     Finally I had to make spun sugar. I heated sugar in a pan without stirring it which seemed a bit strange because I'm sure people on the show were stirring, and adding water too...I believe there are different ways of doing it. It took forever for all the sugar to melt so I sat down with a glass of champagne and listened to 6music - this was middle class cooking at its best. Hey, I can't help it if my mum left me a glass before she went out (pity champagne frankly). 

    This baking malarkey is tiring

    6music accompanied the simmering sugar perfectly!  So dramatic haha!

    When the sugar had finally melted I oiled a rolling pin and flicked the sugar over it with a fork to average success. I managed to create two nice balls of sugar for two desserts but the rest of the sugar fell on to the baking paper underneath. I think there is a knack to this that I don't have. 
    The washing up wasn't fun
    All in all the dessert looked good and tasted good, apart from the quenelles which tasted eggy. 

    I won't be making this again anytime soon because the multi-tasking was too much for me and I didn't like the quenelles. I will, however, be making the creme anglaise because it was quite easy to do and could be served with cake which you bought from a shop. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Episode 3 - Poor Howard

This week we saw the making of trifles, floating islands and petits fours. The petits fours were super good so I may have a go at some of them this week, and then I can truly call myself an accomplished baker...maybe...see how it goes first. 

I only have two remarks to make about this episode. 1) Poor Howard 2) I like your coloured jackets Mary Berry. Did you get them from Zara? Nice.

Howard, if you remember from last week, was unfortunate enough to have his English Muffin elbowed by one of the presenters. Mel casually leaned into the uncooked dough causing it to flatten. I said that perhaps the presenters were involved in some kind of competition in which they had to try and hinder the bakes of the contestants. This week I have changed my mind. I think everyone is in on it and the only person they are trying to hinder is Howard, the poor bloke. During this programme, Deborah took Howard's custard from the fridge and used it in her own trifle and guess what? Howard's custard was magnificent. This might be the the most dramatic thing that has ever happened on The Great British Bake Off. Ever. STEALING. I'm not sure why Howard is the helpless victim once more but I can only assume they singled him out as being too good at the start and thought 'lets target this one'. Sneaky Deborah.

Check out Mary's jackets, they are pretty cool.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Italian grissini aka fancy bread sticks from episode 2

This week I chose to make fancy bread sticks which taste strongly of garlic, and have a hint of chilli and herbs. Do not make these if you don’t like garlic. I will be tasting garlic for weeks now thanks to these bready delights. The recipe said it makes 10-15 bread sticks but I made about 40. Not sure why this was, maybe the dough proved too much and got too big. Having not predicted that the recipe made enough bread sticks for every dinner party you might have for the next year, I bought one baking tray on the morning of the bake. This ended up being used twice along with a muffin tin, a roasting dish and a victoria sponge tin I turned upside down. Just to make things a bit more exciting, I had dough going in at intervals because I would create a tray, put it in the oven, then start filling another. This made the process into a kind of epic rotation with an endless stream of bread sticks coming out of the oven for half an hour. I felt like I was running some kind of bizarre bread stick restaurant. One thing is for sure,  I will not be opening a bread stick restaurant anytime soon.

You will need:

1 X 7g/⅛oz packet dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
500g/1lb 2oz plain white bread flour, plus extra for flouring
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for oiling
1 tsp sea salt
5 tbsp grated parmesan (or similar vegetarian cheese)
1 heaped tsp blue cheese
3 tsp Italian seasoning 
3 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp chopped jalapeños, from a jar
1 free-range egg 

For the rub

50g/1¾oz grated parmesan (or similar vegetarian hard cheese)
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp jalapeño chilli powder

I could not find jalapeños in a jar so these were not in my recipe. Firstly, I added yeast and sugar to warm water and whisked in 75g of flour. I left this for ten minutes, for the yeast to ‘activate’. When the mixture develops a robotic voice and says “Yeast. Activated” then it is done.

I then added the oil and mixed. Then I gradually added the remaining flour, salt, cheeses, Italian seasons, and the garlic powder (I used granules) until it was well mixed. Although a substantial amount of cheese goes into this recipe you will find that there is no taste of cheese in the finished bread sticks. It is very odd. 

At this point you get the dough out of the bowl and knead for 5-8mins on an oiled surface. The texture of the dough was very dry at first and it wouldn’t pick up all the flour or cheese I had added, but once I started to knead on the oiled surface it became very greasy so I kept adding the flour and cheese left in the bowl. It was at this point that I knew these bread sticks were not going to be a huge success. 

Once kneaded, I left the dough in an oiled bowl for 30mins. 

And it grew....magic! Bread is literally magic.

Oven at 190C (or I did 175C for the fan oven). The recipe says oil and flour at least two baking trays and this actually means at least five. Note: using a muffin tin is a silly idea because the sticks come out looking like very wiggly walking sticks.

Combine all the rub ingredients in a bowl.

Then I rolled out the dough until it was 28cm long using my expert measuring eye. No rulers needed for me! I then rubbed egg yolk all over the top of the dough with my fingers and sprinkled the rub. I then pressed it in a bit. 

Next I got out a pizza cutter which seemed fun for about two seconds until I realised I had not oiled the surface again and the dough was completely stuck. It took me a while to prise the creepily soft dough off the surface but I managed it, oiled the surface and started cutting out strips again. Bready crisis averted.

Once you have some strips of dough you twist them into a spiral and place onto a baking tray/muffin tin/sponge tin/roasting tin. I now have bare respect for the bakers on the programme because I will never understand how they got their sticks all the same size and shape. The minute you twist the dough it gets longer and the ends get fatter. I am happy with the rustic look but here are my first few bread sticks. They look like tape worms or whichever worms look like this and live in your intestines. 

Here is the first tray I put into the oven. Pretty good I thought.

The dough never ended!! I had to find more trays and the hectic bread stick restaurant became a reality with me constantly putting bread sticks in the oven and taking them out every few minutes. I feel a little riled just writing about it. This was THE most hectic baking experience I have ever had the pleasure to carry out, not helped when my aunty phoned half way through the drama to tell me she couldn’t arrange some work experience for me. I had a tray of bread sticks in one hand and the phone in the other and I thought this must be what it is like to be a stressed parent juggling five children, except I had five trays of bread sticks and they all needed to come out of the oven at different times. I had an early life, bread related crisis. Maybe, just maybe, a career in law would be better suited to someone who can handle five trays of bread sticks. 

Bread sticks as far as the eye can see
In the end, one tray of bread sticks were perfectly cooked and the rest were a bit overdone. If your bread sticks are any darker than golden brown they will taste quite bitter. Here is the worst stick of the lot. It looks like a poisonous snake.

Here is Jessie eating the bread stick. She thought it was the best one - shows what she knows.

Here are my millions of bread sticks.

Uh oh.


To conclude, bread sticks are more hassle then they are worth. If you do make them here is a handy tip: put all your bread sticks in the oven at the same time to avoid a mental breaddown and bread related therapy for months to come.