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

Monday, 21 October 2013

Focaccia from episode 8

This week I made potato and rosemary Focaccia which was made by Beca on the show. It tasted very nice but I would not put potatoes on top of it again because I don't like potatoes on my bread. Just a bit weird.  The actual recipe was quite easy but it took ages to make because of the proving. 

Here is what you need:


  • 300g/10½oz Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 380g/13oz unpeeled weight)
  • 300g/10½oz white spelt flour
  • 1 tsp dried-active yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary for the dough, plus 4-5 sprigs freshrosemary, for topping
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for kneading
  • 15-20 baby new potatoes
  • about 100-150g/3½-5½oz gorgonzola cheese
  • sea salt, to taste

    First you boil your potatoes. When they are cooked, you drain them over a bowl to reserve the cooking liquid. Next, you mix together the  flour, yeast salt, sugar and rosemary and then mash your potatoes with olive oil, and add them to the flour mix. It did seem a bit strange adding mash potato to flour and yeast but I'm kind of used to the unusual ways of baking now.

     Next you add 130ml of the reserved potato water and combine the ingredients into a ball.

    The instructions then said, put a little olive oil on the surface and knead the dough. It was going fine for a while and then it was sticking badly to the work surface so I added some flour. And then more oil. And then flour. It was still sticking a lot but I kneaded it for 10 minutes, of a fashion. You then put the dough in an oiled bowl for over an hour to prove.

    During this time you par-boil the new potatoes and keep to one side for the topping (I would not do this if I made the bread again). No-one wants potatoes in their bread and on their bread, except the Italians apparently.

    Preheat the oven to 220C. Grease a baking tray and tip the risen dough on to it. Then you have to spread the dough out with your fingers, so that it fits the tin, and do this over 30 mins. I sat on the sofa prodding at this dough for half an hour - bizarre.

    Before the prodding

    Looking bedraggled by the baking

    After lots of prodding
     After this you put more olive oil on the dough and poke sprigs of rosemary into it - oh and squish in the potatoes. Bit of salt and Gorgonzola on top then in to the oven.

    Bake for 25-30 mins.

    The focaccia turned out fine - had a good taste and was bready - but it took a long time to make as usual and I think I prefer making pretty deserts rather than ugly potato bread. Only two more bakes to go and it is the end of the Great British Bake Off! I want Kimberly to win - she has been consistently good and doesn't make a big song and dance about anything. Go Kimberley! 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Religieuse from episode 7

I made religieuse. These are pastry desserts which comprise of two choux buns sat on top of each other, filled with crème patissiere, topped with chocolate ganache, and decorated with a whipped cream collar. They were a huge success and tasted delish! Once again they were a pain to make though. Not too difficult, just very time consuming. The suggested 1-2 hours was an understatement. I started at 5pm and we ate them at 10pm. Admittedly I had dinner in between and watched Strictly Come Dancing but still, it was pretty full on. You had to wait for everything to cool before you assembled the dessert, so it took a while, and then the assembling was very fiddly. However, these desserts made me feel like a proper baker more than any other thing I have made during this blog. The most surprising thing was how well the choux buns turned out. They went into the oven looking like turds and magically reappeared looking magnificent. Here is what you need:


For the crème pâtissière filling
For the chocolate ganache icing
For the collar
  • 150ml/5fl oz double cream

    I had help with my baking for the first time! My boyfriend was visiting for a few days and he helped me to heat things and draw circles and whatnot. It was delightful to have some company in baking central for a change. 6 music on, equipment at the ready - BAKE!

     First I pre-heated the oven to 220C. Then I got some baking paper and drew circles onto it (8 that were 2 inches wide and 8 that were 1 inch wide). Now this was more like maths than baking because I was using a compass and it brought back GCSE memories. The most amazing thing was saying, "I might have a compass to do the circles" and then going to my bedroom and, having not seen or used a compass for 6 years, I located one in about 10 seconds. Good job I kept the damn thing. Never going to use it for maths again but baking yes!

    In the zone
    Next, I put butter and 150ml water in a sauce pan and melted it, then brought it to the boil. You then tip in the flour and stir a lot until it becomes like a ball of dough. Then I returned it to the heat to cook more whilst stirring constantly.

     I then let it cool a bit and added the eggs until it formed a smooth paste. I put it into a piping bag and used the biggest nozzle I owned - which was tiny. I created the first disc on the baking paper with tiny worms of dough. It looked bad. I then realised if I removed the nozzel all together it worked much better. The discs looked good in the end, if a bit turd like. 

    They went into the oven for 10 mins then stayed for another ten on 190C. I then pierced them all with a skewer to let steam out (apparently that is why) and put them back in the oven for 5 mins to dry out. Then I put them on to a wire rack to cool feeling rather proud of myself - they looked great.

    Here is my reaction to one falling on the floor and Rory treading on it.

    Now on to the crème pat. I heated milk and vanilla seeds (from a pod) until it boiled, then removed the pan from the heat for a few seconds before adding it to the egg yolks, caster sugar, corn flour and plain flour. After whisking that for a bit, I put it all back into the pan and brought to the boil again, whisking all the time. The liquid became thick very quickly and then it went into a bowl to be covered with cling film, and put into the fridge to cool. 

    Ganache! This seemed like the most easy thing to do out of the three stages yet it turned out the worst. It was a bit too thick and not overly shiny. All you had to do was bring cream to the boil and then mix in chocolate until it melted. Simple! Well, first my boyfriend cooked the cream to oblivion until it was extremely thick - into the bin. I then took over the cream heating responsibilities, tutting all the way of course, and heated the cream without stirring until it started to boil. I added the chocolate and it looked great but a bit thick. The mistake was putting it in the fridge where it got even thicker. Anyway it tasted good and I spread it on to the choux buns with a spoon which seemed to work. 

    FINALLY, I assembled the religieuse. RELIGIEUSE ASSEMBLE! I put the crème pat into a piping bag and filled each little bun. You think nothing is happening for ages, then the bun starts to suddenly burst at the seams, overflowing with crème pat. You stop piping at this point. 

    I then spread the ganache on top of all the buns and balanced the small ones on top of the large ones. Bit precarious but not too bad. I think the ganache was so thick and glue like that they were pretty stable little towers. The last step is piping a cream collar around the join between the two buns. I learnt that if you over whip cream, you can add a bit of milk to make it softer. Baking really is all about experience and I am starting to know the little tricks. Even more satisfying is that I am learning what consistency things should be or what it should look like - I'm getting the baking sixth sense. Hurrah! 

    Well after a gruelling bake I had eight religieuse that tasted good and looked even better. Success.

    Rory/religieuse interrogation: The verdict.