Welcome to thatcookingthing. This blog was started in the summer of 2017 as I was about to enter my fourth and final year of university and was designed for students and those less comfortable in the kitchen. The posts were linked to the British academic year of September through to July and consist of weekly updates of recipes. The content will be split into two halves, there will be “Cooking From Basics” as well as a Baking section.
Cooking From Basics will follow the academic year and aims to teach skills in the kitchen. It will start off with simple meals requiring little effort and will progress to teaching new techniques as the year goes on. As it is aimed at students, I will be providing a cost estimate per portion (based on my local shop’s prices) and also, where possible, I will explain how to make the recipe both vegetarian and possibly vegan! For the simpler recipes, it is easiest to head to the Cooking From Basics tab and scroll down to the earlier recipes. They are provided in chronological order but if you are looking for a specific recipe, check out the master list where I will provide an index of all my recipes.
Baking has been a passion of mine for a long time now. I love the creativity and freedom that comes with it and I always spend far too much time baking than I really should. The baking section of this blog will follow the things that I have been making and will provide recipes and if possible, troubleshooting for them.
I aim to alternate between the Cooking From Basics and Baking posts but obviously some recipes may just fall into both!
I hope you enjoy the blog and I will see you every Monday!
Pfeffernüsse and gingerbread are very similar biscuits. Both are sweetened with a mixture of sugar and honey/syrup, flavoured with warm spices and often use the same technique to make the dough. The difference, as you may have guessed from the name, is the primary flavour. Whilst pure gingerbread uses only ground ginger, pfeffernüsse use a full quintet of spices. This selection of warming spices gives the pfeffernüsse a most incredible depth of flavour that is hard to find anywhere else in baking.
As you may have guessed from the name, the predominant flavour of pfeffernüsse is black pepper. Unlike chilli peppers, the spicy flavour that comes from peppercorns is caused by piperine (not capsaicin). This is why the ‘burn’ caused by eating peppery food feels different. Where capsaicin is aggressive, painful and can be felt through the entire digestive tract, piperine is far milder. A measure of piperine has only 1% of the ‘burn’ that would be experienced with an equal weight of capsaicin and causes a less aggressive, more warming, reaction. Black pepper is the spiciest of all the peppers and comes from the unripe fruit of the plant; green pepper is also unripe but picked at a different stage in the growing process; white pepper is created from the ripened berries of the plant; and pink peppercorns are from an entirely different plant altogether. Pink peppercorns are actually from the same family as cashews and can cause allergic reactions in people with a nut allergy!
The lack of much leavening agent in pfeffernüsse results in a harder texture than standard biscuits (although not nearly as hard as amaretti or biscotti). The butter and syrup soften in the oven and the small amount of bicarbonate of soda expands causing the pfeffernüsse to spread a little, resulting in their domed hemispherical appearance. Before they can spread too much the flour cooks, setting the biscuits in their final shape. The cracks on the surface occur as the outside sets but the inside is still flowing, causing the cooked outside of the biscuit to split open. These cracks are never anything to be worried about. With a sprinkle of icing sugar, they can look artistic or with a thick glaze, they are completely covered up. I often find that if I make my glaze too thin, it can sink into the crevasses of the biscuit so do not be afraid if a second coat is required to get a fully smooth, shiny appearance.
I first came across these in Germany but you don’t need to wait to visit to enjoy these delicious treats. They are easy to make and addictive to eat so have a go and let me know what you think.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Glaze time: 15 minutes
270g plain flour
60ml golden syrup
150g light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground pepper (the fresher, the better – I use a mortar and pestle to pulverize a mixture or black and pink peppercorns for this but fresh black pepper works fine by itself)
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp grated nutmeg (like the pepper, fresher nutmeg works better)
450g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to gas mark 3.5 (175°C).
Line two or three baking trays with baking parchment.
Gently stir together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and spices.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Beat in the golden syrup.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until fully combined.
With the mixer beating slowly, add the flour and spices and mix until just combined.
Once the mixture has come together, take a heaped teaspoon and roll it into a tight ball between your palms.
Place the balls about 3cm apart on the baking trays.
Bake for around 15 minutes until the pfeffernüsse are golden, firm(ish) to the touch and have begun to crack on top.
Leave to cool.
To glaze the biscuits, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
Add 60ml of milk and slowly mix together to create a smooth, thick icing. If not all of the icing sugar will mix in, slowly add extra milk until everything has combined.
Dunk the top of each biscuit into the icing leaving the base clean. Place the biscuits onto a wire rack to allow the excess icing to drip off.
If you want, you can sprinkle some coarsely ground pink peppercorns over the top to give the biscuits some colour but they look just as beautiful without.
These keep for a good week or so and actually taste better the day after they are made once the flavours have been allowed to mature!
If you like spiced biscuits, you should definitely check out my gingerbread recipe or if you are looking for a dessert that will suit your Veganuary needs, why not check out my vegan apple pie?
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a hearty winter dinner.
I was introduced to dumplings a few years ago by one of my best friends and housemate, Yan. I would recommend checking out her blog as she is a phenomenal cook. One time after visiting home for the weekend, she returned with a huge bag of homemade, frozen dumplings. Being the naïve person I am I assumed they were just like a Chinese version of ravioli – most cultures have some sort of meat wrapped in dough in their cuisines. My gosh was I wrong. Her mum’s dumplings were an experience that I have never forgotten.
It didn’t take long for Yan to suggest that we had a dumpling dinner day when we came together as a house and she taught us how to fold dumplings. I feel like I did very well out of this as the standard filling (and the one which Yan made) is pork based. As a result, I ended up making my own filling which was turkey based and there was a lot. Since then, I have experimented with different meat fillings and one tofu one – I primarily use beef and turkey. Coming up with an actual recipe for this post presented something of a problem as I usually eyeball the ingredients depending on how much ginger, garlic or chilli I am feeling like at the time.
The history of Chinese dumplings doesn’t specify the year when they first appeared but they seem to crop up sometime around 2000 years ago. They are traditionally boiled or steamed, however pan-fried ones have become very popular recently. These fried potstickers are crispy on the base and tender at the top. My favourite story of their origin is about a chef who was boiling his dumplings and took his eye off the pot. It boiled dry. Instead of starting again, he served up the dumplings and pretended that they were meant to be crispy on the base. The charade was so good that the eaters believed him and they enjoyed the contrasting textures so much that they requested the meal again. Since then potstickers have spread and nowadays are enjoyed all over the world.
Dumplings are great fun to make and are fantastic to do with friends – it not only speeds up the crimping process but gives you a chance to relax and have a nice chat or a catch up. I do not make them very often as I normally fold all the dumplings alone and I rarely have time for that, however when I can I love to make a batch and freeze them for a later date. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I first tried these dumplings.
Makes around 40 dumplings
Cost per portion: about £2.00
Time: 1.5 hours (wrapping 40 dumplings alone takes time but can be fun with a friend or even if you just put a film on in the background)
2-inch piece of ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 medium heat chilli (optional)
500g minced beef
One bunch spring onions/salad onions
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
One pack dumpling skins
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chilli oil
Peel the ginger and garlic. Finely chop both and place them into a large bowl.
Finely chop the spring onions, including the green part, and add them to the ginger and garlic.
If you want to add some spice, chop the chilli and add it to the bowl.
For curry dumplings or extra spicy dumplings, add the curry powder/chilli oil at this point.
Add the beef, soy, sesame oil, salt and pepper before mixing everything until it is fully combined. I tend to do this using my hands as I can feel when everything is mixed together.
To make the dumplings, place a circle of pastry on a board.
Add a heaped teaspoon of filling to the centre.
Wet the edge of the wrapper and pinch to seal – this will make a very basic, uncrimped dumpling.
To crimp – I would recommend finding video tutorials as words and pictures will probably not do this justice but here goes (there are pictures of the steps below:
If you are right handed:
Make the filling paste into an oval
Pinch the wrapper at the edge of the oval using your left hand
Use your right thumb inside the dumpling to stabilise it and use your right and left index fingers to pinch together a second fold next to the first.
Fold this down and pinch it onto the uncrimped edge of the skin.
Repeat the crimping steps along the edge of the wrapper until you get all the way along.
As you crimp, the dumpling will start to curve around giving a crescent or half moon shape at the end.
Once you have finished crimping, go back over the edge and pinch together again to fully seal.
If you are left handed, just reverse the instructions above.
After you have mastered the basic crimping technique, you can start to play around with it and make different shapes for different flavours.
To cook, you can either steam, boil or pan fry the dumplings for around five minutes. I would not recommend trying to make these into potstickers as ultra-thin, shop bought skins do not stand up well to the different cooking techniques required to make good potstickers.
These are best served with a dipping sauce made from soy, sesame oil and rice vinegar. I also like to add sriracha for some extra heat. I would give a recipe for the dipping sauce but it is very personal so I would recommend experimenting until you reach a satisfactory taste. Another thing I would recommend is making lots of dumplings. You can eat far more than you think!
If you love dumplings, why not try my turkey filling? Any leftovers can be made into burgers for a separate meal. If you love Asian flavours but would prefer something a little less labour intensive, why not try my sticky salmon or my ginger tofu?
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a layered biscuit recipe.
Puff pastry has achieved a reputation as one of the hardest baked goods to master. I would argue that this is unfair: what puff pastry needs is not skill but patience (and a fridge…. and time). If you follow the instructions and let the pastry cool properly between each fold you can achieve a perfect result every time.
One of the most interesting things about puff pastry is the question of why it puffs up. Why does this pastry puff but others, such as shortcrust pastry, do not? The answer is the same as it is for choux pastry, the only other pastry designed to expand dramatically in the oven: steam. The water added at the beginning evaporates in the heat of the oven. This creates tiny pockets of steam inside the pastry. The butter introduced to the pastry during the folding process creates a miniscule barrier between each layer of dough and this allows the steam produced to lift the layers above it ever so slightly. The effect of the rise is small but when you have over 100 layers, it adds up to a rise that can triple or even quadruple the height of the pastry.
Puff pastry should be cut with the sharpest knife possible or, if you are using biscuit cutters, you must push them down directly. The reason for this is that, if you don’t cut the edge of the shape evenly, the steam can escape from some areas before it raises the pastry whilst other places will puff up as usual leading to an uneven rise. This is also why the edges of the pastry, where the butter is sealed in before the rolling and folding begins, should be incorporated into the dough as soon as possible. They have no butter layer so if they are baked in the oven, these edges will not rise.
While making puff pastry, it is imperative that you allow adequate time for the pastry to rest in the fridge between folds. This gives the butter time to cool down. When you roll out the pastry both the ambient heat of the room and the increase in pressure from the rolling pin heat the butter and, as it warms up, it starts to be absorbed by the flour. If the butter isn’t cooled regularly, it will melt into the pastry and you will lose all the layers you have spent hours trying to create. Not only that but pastry cannot cope with a 1:1 ratio of butter to flour and the butter will melt in the oven, the pastry will collapse/slide off/ liquify resulting in both a mess and a lot of wasted time.
The most basic things you can make with puff pastry are, in my opinion, cheese straws and palmiers. For cheese straws, you grate a large quantity of cheese over the rolled-out pastry, fold it in half (once), roll it out again, and cut into straws which can then be baked. For palmiers, replace the cheese with granulated sugar and, after you have rolled out the pastry with the sugar layer, roll it up from opposite ends into two spirals which come together to make a heart. Slicing with a sharp knife results in lots of identical, sugary hearts which are delicious to eat and beautiful to behold as you can see the layers of the pastry properly.
I hope you will discover how easy puff pastry really is to make and once you have made it for the first time, you can go and buy it from the shops because no one has time to make this stuff regularly. It is very much a special occasion type of food.
Work time: 30 mins
Rest time: around 5 hours
250g plain flour
225g unsalted butter (fridge cold)
Pinch of salt
Sift the flour into a bowl.
Sprinkle in the salt, stir through and make a well in the centre of the flour.
Pour the water into the well and mix with a spoon until the basic dough begins to come together.
Tip out onto a table and knead for about five minutes until a smooth dough has formed.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest for 20-30 minutes so the gluten can relax.
While the dough is resting, place the butter between two sheets of baking parchment and bash/roll it out to a rectangle 20x15cm (8”x6”). Wrap it up and place it back into the fridge to firm up while you deal with the dough.
Once the dough has relaxed, roll it out into a rectangle about 25x35cm (10”x14”).
Remove the slab of butter from the fridge, unwrap it. You now have two choices: you can place the butter at the edge of the dough (as in the picture below) or you can shift it up to the centre of the dough. The former will give you three seams where the dough is sealed around the butter whereas the latter will only give two (as the third seam will be in the middle and hidden by the butter). Seal the edges of the dough well to prevent the butter escaping.
Roll out the dough lengthwise until it has doubled in size (around half a metre long) and then fold the dough into three layers. This will incorporate one of the original seams into the pastry. This is important to do early as sections with less butter will rise less than the rest of the pastry folding the seams in early will help give an even rise. If you see butter start to burst out of the edges, let the pastry cool more in the fridge and try to fold the burst section into the centre of the pastry to prevent it leaking more later on.
Rewrap the dough and leave it to rest for another 20-30 minutes in the fridge. Try not to let the dough rest in the freezer unless completely necessary as the shock cold can cause the butter to seize and shatter which will ruin the pastry.
Once the dough has rested, roll it out again in the opposite direction to the last fold (so the edges with the three layers from before will be folded back into the pastry. Fold the pastry into three again, rewrap and chill for another half hour.
Repeat the previous step another two to four times for proper puff. The full six sets of folds will give your pastry 729 layers which should result in super flaky pastry with a beautiful, even rise.
Keep the pastry wrapped up in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Make sure the oven is hot when the pastry goes in otherwise the butter will melt and leak out leading your baked goods to fry on the bottom and be soggy on top.
You can use this pastry to make tart cases, mille feuille, vol-au-vents and a myriad of other delicious and crispy foods. For basic mushroom vol-au-vents, roll out the pastry and cut small circles out of it. Use a smaller cutter to cut an even smaller circle in the centre of each vol-au-vent BUT ONLY CUT HALFWAY DOWN. Bake these at gas mark 6 until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool. The half cut in the centre will allow you to partially hollow out the vol-au-vents without removing the base. Spoon in a generous helping of mushroom duxelle (the recipe for this can be found with my beef wellington recipe)
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are interested in recipes using puff pastry, check out my takes on beef wellington and salmon en-croute.
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a recipe for some delicious Chinese potstickers.
I have mentioned several times on this blog about how pasta is my ultimate comfort food however I had clearly overlooked one thing – hummus. Don’t get me wrong, I adore pasta and when I am feeling down it is just what I want but there is something about hummus which makes it a perfect accompaniment to almost every meal. I am not kidding with that last sentence – last time I was in Israel I ate chicken dipped in hummus and one of my housemates at university would put sweet chilli hummus on pasta whenever she was feeling down.
Another thing about hummus is that it is packed full of protein. It is great for vegans or people who cannot digest meat properly. Not only that but the protein content of the chickpea cooking water is so high that you can actually whip it up like egg white and use it in meringues. Each medium egg white should be replaced with two tablespoons of aquafaba, as the liquid is called, when baking. Whilst you can extract aquafaba from all dried beans and legumes, chickpeas seem to produce the most effective one to use as an egg replacement.
The name ‘hummus’ means ‘chickpea’ in Arabic. The full name ‘ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna’ means ‘chickpeas with tahini’. The tahini is a very important part of hummus. It is created from blended sesame seeds and the ultra high fat content enables the hummus to be deliciously smooth and creamy. A lot of supermarkets save on costs when producing hummus by using less, or lower quality, tahini and you can taste this in the final product. Ethiopian tahini is generally viewed as the best among hummus connoisseurs with people all around the Middle East using it to make their hummus. Of course, it is not the most readily available in shops but if you have time to order it online, and the patience to wait for it (or you just want to make the best hummus of your life) then I would definitely recommend ordering some and seeing what you think of the result.
Although it takes a little bit of planning, hummus is a super simple food to make. It also makes a great starter (either for one or at a diner party) as it is served cold so can be prepared in advance. I hope you like it.
Work time: 15 minutes
Waiting time: 12-36 hours
Cook time: 1.5 – 2 hours
250g dried chickpeas
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml tahini (t’hina)
4 garlic cloves
Juice of 3 lemons
1/8 tsp dried cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda with a little water to form a paste.
Add another litre of water whisking to ensure all the lumps are removed.
Place the chickpeas in this and add more water to cover if necessary.
Leave overnight (or up to 36 hours) for the chickpeas to rehydrate. They will increase in volume a lot.
Drain the chickpeas and rinse well to remove all the flour mix.
Place them into a pan with 1.6 litres of water.
Bring the water to a boil and then simmer for one and a half to two hours until the chickpeas are soft and can be gently squished between your thumb and index finger.
Leave the chickpeas to cool for an hour in this water.
Drain the chickpeas (reserving some of the liquid for later use in this recipe. The rest can be discarded or used as an egg replacement in meringues and mousses – this is aquafaba).
Mince the garlic and let it rest in two tablespoons of the lemon juice for a few minutes. This helps to remove the aggressive rawness of the garlic before it is eaten.
In the bowl of a blender, place the chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice mix, cumin and olive oil. Blend to a thick paste.
Taste the hummus and soften the consistency with the aquafaba. Season with salt and the reserved lemon juice.
Scrape the hummus into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ground paprika.
You do not have to keep the hummus in the fridge but make sure it is covered! Ideally you want to serve this within 36 hours of making it but it is still perfectly edible after this time.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are still in the Christmas spirit (we are still in the 12 days of Christmas after all) why not try making yourself a delicious Christmas cake or if you are more of a fan of savoury things, treat yourself to an amazing tricolour loaf of woven vegetable bread.
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with a recipe for the infamous puff pastry.
Fruitcake is a bit of a ’marmite-y’ food. You either love it or hate it. Clearly it’s the dried fruit that causes the issue as the recipe for a basic fruitcake is a standard sponge cake but uses brown sugar instead of white and often has no raising agent. The thing about fruitcake that really sets it apart is that it can last for years. Properly stored, you can keep a fruitcake for up to 25 years and still eat it without having to worry about food poisoning. This is probably because of the copious amounts of brandy in which this cake is soaked. A good fruitcake will be regularly ‘fed’ brandy for a month or so before it is stored and left to mature until it is needed.
Christmas cake is distinguished from normal fruitcake by the time of year at which it is eaten. The recipe is the same…. it’s just eaten in late December rather than at any other time. Whilst the darkness of the cake can come from using light and dark brown sugar, a properly deep brown colour is achieved by adding black treacle. Treacle is the bitumen (tar) of the sugar world. It is what is left over at the end of the refining process when the corn syrup, standard sugar and other lightly coloured products have been removed. It is full of ‘impurities’ which would ruin normal sugar syrup but are really only the minerals in the sugar beet or sugarcane, things like iron, magnesium, calcium etc. These minerals are so concentrated in black treacle that some brands have even been used as a health supplement.
The alcohol added to the fruitcake gives it a very moist crumb and an intense flavour without making it too boozy. This is because while the cake is maturing, all the liquid diffuses evenly throughout it whilst the alcohol evaporates leaving only its flavour behind. The hardiness of fruitcakes is what makes them so perfect for weddings. Cakes can be cut and pieces posted out to friends and family without the worry that all that will arrive will be a mushy mess.
The cake is very rich so you will get a lot of servings out of it – you cannot eat much at any one time. I hope you enjoy the recipe (and the cake in about two months time).
200g glace cherries, rinsed and roughly chopped
100g mixed peel
10oz brown sugar
1 tbsp black treacle
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¾ tsp mixed spice
Zest of 1 orange
Tip the sultanas, currants, raisins, peel and cherries into a large bowl.
Pour over the brandy, stir, cover tightly and leave to stand for 24 hours.
Turn the oven to gas mark 1.
Line an eight-inch square tin or a nine inch round tin with a double thickness of baking parchment.
Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Do not skimp on this stage. It should take at least five minutes.
Beat in the treacle.
Beat the eggs lightly to combine.
Add the egg a tablespoon at a time beating after each addition to prevent curdling. If the mixture looks like it is beginning to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour.
Once the egg has all been incorporated, add the flour and spices and lightly beat until just combined.
Drain the dried fruit and reserve the brandy for later (it will be used to feed the fruitcake).
Add the fruit to the cake mix and use a wooden spoon to combine by hand. This prevents the fruit from being pulverised.
Tip into the tin and spread out evenly.
If you are using metal tins, tie a strip of baking parchment around the outside of the cake so that it comes up to at least double the height of the tin. Also cut out a circle/square of parchment which will fit over the top of the cake – this will stop it from browning.
Bake for four hours.
Remove the parchment covering the top and bake for another 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (it may be a little wet but not mushy). If the cake begins to brown too much, place the parchment back over the top.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool.
Once it is cold, prick it all over and spoon two tablespoons of the brandy over the cake. Leave for an hour to absorb and then wrap the cake tightly in baking parchment and then foil.
Leave the cake to mature for at least two weeks (although preferably a month) feeding the cake brandy twice each week.
After the cake has matured, you can serve it as it is or decorate it with marzipan and royal icing to make a proper Christmas/wedding/decorative cake.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you love cake, be sure to check out the recipe for my beautiful chocolate raspberry layer cake.
Have a good one and I’ll be back next week with a winter warmer to keep you going strong into the new year.
A few years ago, I came across a method of plaiting challah which created a circular braid. It was incredibly exciting as this was not a plait that I had ever seen before and the final shape is really something to behold. It’s stunning. Somehow, it looks even better than the bread you can buy in a shop as it is clearly handmade but is precise and beautiful. Fast forward three years and a vegan friend requested that, instead of a birthday cake, I make her a loaf of bread. At the time I was creating my artisan vegetable loaves recipe, which I suggest you try before this one as this recipe is a little fiddly. (That being said, if you want to just go for it- why not? Even if the braid doesn’t work, you’ll still have a really cool loaf of bread.) This recipe is what I came up with for her birthday as I didn’t want to just do a bog-standard loaf of bread.
Challah is an enriched bread eaten by Jews as part of the Shabbat meal. There are many theories about why it is plaited. Traditionally, two loaves are served and each one has six stands. This brings us to the number twelve (the total number of stands) and this is often taken to represent the twelve loaves of bread which would be offered at the Holy Temple. This theory holds water as the number twelve comes up in lots of different shabbat bread traditions. Some families will actually have twelve mini loaves of bread whereas others will have a tear ‘n’ share style loaf with twelve separate sections. I will make an instructional post about how to braid a six-strand loaf of bread at some point in the future.
Another suggestion for the braiding is to make the challah instantly recognisable. As it is often baked in the oven with a meat meal, the challah is not kosher to eat with any dairy products; to prevent anyone inadvertently doing so, the challah was given a unique shape. This reasoning is less necessary now as people who buy challah need not worry if the bread is kosher to eat with meat or milk, it is parve (classed as neither milk nor meat and thus allowed to be eaten with both). If you make your own challah, you will have most likely considered the ‘meatiness’ of the bread already if it is something which concerns you.
As you will see in the recipe, different amount of sugar are added to the different vegetable doughs. The spinach dough has one teaspoon added and the carrot, half a teaspoon. This is because the vegetables all have different sugar contents which will affect the rise of the dough. By adjusting the levels manually, we can ensure an even rise when the dough is proving which is important if we want the final loaf to keep its shape.
I hope you find the recipe as fun to bake as I found to create. You can swap the vegetables for any of your choice or even just try out the six braid on normal bread. This loaf is also good to egg wash but be careful not to let the egg pool in the divots as no one wants scrambled egg baked into their bread.
Tricolour Vegetable Bread
Prep: 1 hour
Shaping: 30 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
Ingredients – makes two loaves
1 small beetroot
1 medium carrot
3 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
Peel and roughly chop the beetroot.
Blend it with a few tablespoons of water until a mostly smooth paste is formed – it will still be a little gritty as the beetroot is raw so will not puree as well as a cooked one would. This is fine as the beetroot will cook in the oven and blend into the bread.
Set this paste aside and repeat with the carrot and then the spinach so you have your three colours of vegetable paste.
In a bowl, place 300g flour, 1 teaspoon yeast and ½ teaspoon salt.
Make a well in the middle.
Add water to the beetroot mix until you have 200ml and pour it into the well.
Mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. If you need to, add more water.
Once the dough has mostly come together, tip it out onto a surface and knead it for five minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remember, the beetroot will ensure that it is never fully smooth on top.
Cover and place to one side to rise.
Repeat the above steps with the spinach paste (adding one teaspoon of sugar to this) and the carrot paste (adding half a teaspoon of sugar).
Leave the doughs until they have at least doubled in size – this can take several hours if it is a cold day.
To shape: split each dough into four even pieces and place two of each colour off to one side for later.
Roll out the dough into long stands – I normally go for around twelve inches.
Follow the diagram below to set up your basket weave.
Once you reach step five where all of the stands are in place, number them starting with the top left one and go clockwise around the loaf.
Place strand 1 over 2, 3 over 4, 5 over 6 etc. until all of them have had their first weave and the loaf looks more like the final image (albeit a little neater).
Renumber the strands.
Place 3 over 2, 5 over 4, 7 over 6 etc. until you get all the way around.
Renumber and repeat from the first weaving step until all the dough has been used up.
Once there are no bits of dough left on the outside, tuck any remaining edges under the loaf to neaten it up and move the loaf onto a baking tray to rise again.
Repeat with the other loaf
Cover the loaves and leave it until they have doubled in size again – I like to cover them with a tea towel as there are no issues with it sticking which can sometimes arise if you use plastic.
Once the loaves have doubled in size, turn the oven to gas mark 6 (200°C).
When the oven is up to temperature, uncover the loaves and bake for 20 minutes. Turn them and bake for another 20 minutes.
If the bread is still not quite done after the full 40 minutes, give it another five but otherwise, remove it from the oven and leave on a cooling rack until completely cold. If you want to cut into it as soon as possible, leave it for at least two hours to ensure the interior won’t be doughy.
If your oven is small, you may have to bake the two loaves separately – this is fine.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. This bread is wonderfully savoury and goes very well with soups or even toasted and smeared with a little bit of pesto. If you enjoy baking bread, why not try making bagels? They look amazing and taste delicious!
Have a good one an I will be back next week with a recipe for a rich Christmas cake – just in time for Christmas eve (although I hope you are planned and ready by then.
Glazing is a great way to get a beautiful result with minimal effort. When made correctly, all that needs to be done is to drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and suddenly this glorious, shiny dessert appears. Of course, this assumes that the dessert is chilled, the glaze is not too hot and that everything is the correct consistency – if any one of these is not right, the glaze will slip straight off the cake. You don’t want this, it is messy and upsetting (and may or may not have reduced me to tears before). As long as you plan carefully and do everything in the correct order, it is not that hard to make sure that the glaze will stick.
I have two main memories of glazes. One is the first time I made a mirror glaze – it looked incredible although I messed up the proportions of ingredients and ended up with a shiny layer with the consistency of rubber. It was not great. The other memory is of playing Scrabble. This is a popular game in my family and we had started a round with my grandma who, as one does, tried to get the z (worth 10 points) onto a triple word score. There was a significant amount of confusion when she laid the word “EZALG” down on the board happily grabbing herself a large number of points and moving comfortably into the lead. You aren’t allowed to play words back to front in Scrabble but it is always worth a try.
The most famous of the dessert glazes is the Mirror Glaze. Made famous a few years ago by a Russian baker whose photos and videos went viral the mirror glaze gives a shiny, colourful finish to any dessert it is applied to. The shine comes from the mixture of condensed milk with glucose or corn syrup before gelatine is added to help the mixture set on the cake. This is classically used for entremets or other such mousse-based desserts as these can be frozen before the glaze is applied to help it stick. Before this glaze can be used on a cake, the naked cake must first be surrounded by a smooth layer of buttercream which is then set in the fridge, preventing it from melting when the warm glaze is applied.
For those of you who do not eat gelatine, chocolate ganache can also be used to glaze a cake which is what is done in this recipe. The chocolate ganache is drizzled over the cooled cake to give a marbled effect, making every cake decorated like this unique. I hope you enjoy!
Chocolate Raspberry Cake
150g brown sugar
1 ½ cups (375ml) boiling water
180g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
340g plain flour
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla extract
150g jam sugar
250ml double cream
110g unsalted butter (softened)
150g sifted icing sugar
175g dark chocolate
175g milk chocolate
350ml double cream
2 tbsp glucose syrup
Start by making the jam
Place the raspberries and sugar into a saucepan. Heat and stir until the raspberries have broken down and the sugar has dissolved.
Boil for two minutes, stirring regularly to prevent any burning.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 4.
Grease and line three eight-inch tins with butter, cocoa and baking parchment.
Place the brown sugar and cocoa into a bowl and pour the hot water over them. Stir until combined.
Cream the butter and caster sugar together in a separate bowl.
Add one egg and a spoon of flour and beat to combine.
Repeat with the other eggs to mix them in.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and baking powder along with half of the remaining flour.
Turn the mixer onto slow to avoid covering the kitchen in a cloud of flour.
Once this flour is almost fully mixed in, add the rest of the flour and beat again to combine.
Finally, pour in the liquid chocolate from earlier and slowly mix together until you have a smooth, glossy, chocolatey batter.
Divide this batter between the tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cakes have risen and a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.
Turn the cakes out onto a wire cooling rack and leave until they are cold.
When the cakes have cooled, make the butter icing to crumb coat the cake with:
Using a whisk attachment, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy.
Add the icing sugar in three batches whisking until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Sift in the cocoa and mix again.
Whisk the cream until it just reaches stiff peaks. Make sure not to over whisk it!
Lightly crush 100g of the raspberries with a fork to break up the shape and fold them through the cream.
Place a layer of cake on a cake board.
Add half of the jam to the cake and spread it out until it is an inch from the outer edge.
Add half the cream and spread it out leaving a quarter inch around the edge.
Place the next layer of cake on top and repeat.
Top with the final layer of cake.
Cover the entire cake in a crumb coat* with the icing. This will be covered with ganache so it doesn’t matter if it isn’t pretty as long as it is smooth. You have to ensure that everything is covered by the icing as any exposed areas are visible on the finished cake.
Let the cake cool in the fridge for several hours before glazing.
*a crumb coat is a thin layer of icing applied directly to the cake’s surface. It is then set in the fridge to hold all of the crumbs in place so any following layers of icing are smooth and clean.
Half an hour before you glaze, place the cake in the freezer so the icing can firm up as much as possible without the cake actually freezing.
Chop the milk chocolate put in a bowl. Do the same with the dark chocolate.
Gently heat the cream with the glucose until just before it starts to boil. You should be able to see steam rising and it will feel hot to the touch. If the cream boils, the ganache can split.
Pour half the cream into each bowl and leave for 90 seconds.
Stir each bowl until a smooth ganache is formed.
Remove the cake from the freezer and place it on a raised surface so the glaze can run off the edges.
Tip half the milk ganache into a jug followed by half the dark ganache.
Add the rest of the milk chocolate ganache followed by the rest of the dark ganache. DO NOT STIR – this is what will create the marbled effect.
Pour the ganache from the jug over the cake drizzling it over the edges if it doesn’t flow over everything evenly.
Lift the cake from the base and gently shake/vibrate it with your hands which will smooth out the ganache.
Let the cake stand for five minutes before using a sharp knife to remove drips from the base of the cake.
Decorate with raspberries and chocolate.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. This cake is beautiful and sure to wow anyone who sees it. If you love chocolate cake (and also love spiders) be sure to check out my chocolate spider cake with marshmallow webbing or if you are looking for something a little bit more classy, why not try a white chocolate and raspberry tart?
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a stunning circular woven vegetable bread.