Gooey Chocolate Brownies

I love chocolate brownies. They are some of the most amazing things to have been created in the kitchen however they still cause dispute between people who make them. Should they be cakey? Should they be fudgy? Personally, I fall very strongly on the fudgy side of the argument. If I wanted something chocolatey with a cake like texture, I would make a chocolate cake, not a chocolate brownie! These brownies are about as fudgy as you can get. You need to watch out though as with such a high butter and chocolate content, they are liable to soften up in the heat if you make them in summer and whilst not an issue if you are at home, this can cause problems if you are taking them on a picnic! Try adding an extra minute or two to the cooking time if you know they brownies will be in the heat for an extended time before you eat them as they will stay fudgy but won’t melt everywhere which from experience, is incredibly messy (but really, really yummy)!

The fudgy chocolate brownie is generally accepted to be a descendent of the Bangor Brownie. This came about after the creation of brownies in the late 1890s and in the 1900s, the Bangor Brownie with its fudgy, dense texture was created. It differed from the original brownies by adding extra chocolate and eggs to the mixture. The recipe I am using today is a take on the Nigella Lawson recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess – a book I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys baking. Unlike Nigella, I do not put walnuts into the brownies and have been known to add chocolate chips to them.

They are very simple to make too requiring minimal experience and always go down well. Not only that but you don’t have to eat them just as brownies. If you are hosting a dinner party or having friends over, chocolate brownies make a wonderful base for a dessert or can be warmed up and served with ice cream. Baking times really do vary dramatically by oven so making something like brownies a couple of times is a good way to get to know your oven and also leaves some rather nice leftovers.

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Mocha dessert featuring: mocha mousse, coffee macaron, coffee caramel, chocolate brownie and tempered chocolate garnish

If you are feeling adventurous, why not try adding a swirl of caramel or peanut butter (thinned down with a little milk and sugar to make it smooth) into your batter in the tins to make the brownies a little more exciting? You could also add small pieces of fudge, candied orange peel, chopped nuts or a tiny amount of coffee to add to the flavour and texture.

 

 

 

Chocolate Brownies

Prep time 25 minutes, cook time 25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

375g dark chocolate

375g unsalted butter

500g sugar

6 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

225g plain flour

 

Optional:

100g white chocolate roughly chopped (or chips)

100g dark chocolate roughly chopped (or chips)

 

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 (180oC)

Line two eight inch square pans with baking parchment

Place the butter and dark chocolate into a large, thick based pan together and heat on a low light until it has all melted and combined. Keep stirring to prevent the chocolate from burning. I have also found that putting the butter into the pan first helps prevent the chocolate from catching.

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Line the pan with butter to prevent the chocolate burning

Measure out the sugar and the eggs into a jug

Add the vanilla to them and beat until they have all come together

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Once the butter and chocolate have melted together, remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for a minute if it feels hot to prevent the egg from curdling when it is added.

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When the chocolate mixture is slightly warm, slowly pour in the eggs and sugar whilst stirring to combine it all together – depending on the temperature of the chocolate at this point, the combined mixture may thicken slightly as the egg is added

Once all the other ingredients are combined, slowly stir through the flour in two or three batches making sure that there are no clumps left over. I tend to do this with the balloon whisk that I use for beating the eggs and sugar earlier

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Add in the chocolate chips and stir through and immediately divide the mixture between the baking pans to make sure the chips don’t melt into the rest of the batter

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Bake for about 23/24 minutes or until the surface looks cracked and there is a slight wobble. The brownies will still cook a little after they are removed from the oven but make sure they are not raw in the middle!

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Once the brownies are cool place them in the fridge to firm up before cutting as they can be really fudgy if they aren’t quite cooked enough for the flour to set.

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Let me know how these went for you in the comments – I love seeing what you guys have been making at home! See here for last week’s Cooking from Basics recipe for Chicken and Mushroom Pasta Bake and here for the last recipe in the Baking section, Artisan Loaves.

Have a fab week and see you all next monday!

H

Artisan Loaves

Hey guys, I’m back with another instalment in my baking series. Last week I talked about the traditional Coffee and Walnut Cake and this week we are looking into at beautiful artisan loaves.

I love baking bread. It is an incredibly therapeutic activity especially as I am a student and I stress bake and few things make me feel better than having beaten a slab of bread dough into submission for ten minutes or so. Bread isn’t very difficult to make but a lot of people end up eating the same breads over and over and sometimes it can be exciting to jazz it up a bit.

I came across the idea for this recipe when my friend send me a video compilation of various breads being scored and baked. It was a very satisfying video to watch but the main thing that caught my eye was this one bright pink loaf with an amazing floral design scored into the dough. It set me thinking about how I could recreate this myself. I wanted to avoid using artificial dyes which I was successful in doing and thus the beetroot bread was born. I did forget to put salt in the first time but luckily, it didn’t taste too wrong – the second attempt (this time with salt) was a definite improvement.

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I was disheartened to discover that although there are many recipes for beetroot bread on the internet, they were not the most useful and they were all very different, no prevailing theme to make it easier to adapt at home so I decided to just go for it and throw in a blended beetroot to my standard bread mix and lo and behold, it worked! This got me thinking about other vegetables that could be used to make jazzy and colourful loaves and after a very fruitless search online, I chose to go ahead and see what would happen if I put spinach in instead. Thankfully it worked and the result, while not as striking as the beetroot bread on the outside, was a definite winner.

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These recipes could be easily adapted to make colourful pizzas for a party, small rolls for burgers or even to make hollowed out rolls for serving soups in at a fancy dinner party. Their versatility makes the breads very useable in pretty much any culinary situation (that you would want bread in) and especially exciting if you are trying to make something brightly coloured without using food colourings.

I will be experimenting further with these ideas to see what other breads can be made with vegetables and it seems to be a rather uncharted territory at the moment.

I hope you enjoy making these yourselves. As always let me know what you think of them as I like knowing your opinions on these recipes. If you have any vegetables you think would work and want someone to try them, I am always up for a good challenge!

 

 

 

Ingredients

500g plain white flour

10g salt

1 or 2 tbsp sugar (1 for beetroot, 2 for spinach)

1 sachet instant yeast (7g)

1 large beetroot OR 300g fresh spinach

 

The first thing to do is to make up the liquid part of the recipe.

If you are using beetroot, peel and roughly chop the beetroot and place into a food processor with a quarter of a cup of water and blend until you have a paste (it will still be a little lumpy as the beetroot is so hard).

For the spinach bread place the spinach and a quarter of a cup of water into the food processor and blend to a paste.

Make the vegetable paste up to just over 400ml with cold water.

 

 

Place the flour into a bowl and pour the yeast, salt and sugar around the edge of the bowl.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the liquid.

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Beetroot Bread
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Spinach Bread

Use a spoon to start mixing the dough together.

Once it starts coming together, pour the mix onto a surface and knead for about ten minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

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Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until the dough has over doubled in size – about two hours.

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Once the dough has risen, pour it onto a surface and knock it back (knead it again for about 30 seconds).

If you don’t have large banneton you can make one by placing a dishcloth into a large bowl and liberally sprinkle with flour.

Pull the dough tight into a ball and place into the bowl and cover with a cloth and leave to rise for another 45 minutes or so.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 (210oC) and place a large dish filled with water at the bottom of the oven to create a steamy environment

 

Flip the dough out onto a lined tray and remove the bowl and cloth.

Score the dough to control how it rises. How you do this is an entirely personal choice! Traditional scoring is diamonds across the top but I like to go a bit fancier with these breads. I would advise going with a symmetric design as it will cause the bread to rise symmetrically in the oven but this is a purely ascetic choice.

Traditionally, scoring is done with a sharp blade called a lame. It is effectively a small razor on the end of a stick and can be dither curved or straight. I was lucky enough to discover my local cooking shop sold them for about £3 but up until this point, I had just used a standard kitchen knife which would work just fine. A lame may make the curved shapes easier to obtain though.

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Symmetrical scoring on the beetroot bread to ensure that it rises properly in the oven
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Floral scoring on the spinach bread

Place the bread into the oven and reduce the temperature down to gas mark 6 (2000C)

 

Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the bread and bake for another 20 minutes to ensure an even crust. The bread is done once it sounds hollow when the base is tapped. If in doubt, give it a few more minutes!

The spinach bread will gain a dark brown crust while the beetroot will be similar but the areas where the scoring was will be a deep purple colour! The beetroot bread will change colour inside during the baking too so the final result is a dark red as opposed to the aggressive pink of the dough!

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These breads are great for taking a gift or eating with a cheeseboard as they are a little more exciting than a standard loaf. The addition of the vegetables does not significantly change the taste of the bread which means they can be used for savoury or sweet toppings so the loaves are also very versatile in their uses.

 

If you have a go making either of these, let me know how it goes in the comments especially if you manage to snap a photo. I love seeing what you guys have been making and it makes me really happy to know that you are enjoying my recipes – for more baking ideas see my instagram thatcookingthing.

Join me next week for another instalment of my Cooking from Basics series, see here for last week’s bolognaise recipe and I look forward to chatting with you guys soon!

H

 

Coffee and Walnut Cake

The coffee and walnut cake was the first coffee flavoured food that I liked. I always found that the taste was far too bitter for me despite loving the taste. Since then, it has (much as it pains me to say this) become my “signature dish”. I love the taste and the walnuts give it a far more exciting texture than a plain sponge cake. I have been making this cake for just under 10 years now and it is my go to cake for events. It has been used for birthdays, stone settings, afternoon teas and as a general all-purpose cake for when I want a sweet treat.

Being a take on the standard sponge cake, the coffee and walnut cake follows the standard ratio of 2oz (56g) butter, sugar and flour to each egg. As it has three layers instead of two, I use five times the empirical recipe. This does of course assume you are using self-raising flour! If, like me, you only have plain flour, use a teaspoon of baking powder for each 2oz of flour that you use. The size of the walnuts chunks is entirely up to you. Personally, I like the chunks to be relatively large so they add an extra texture but you can chop them up incredibly small (or add them with the first set of flour so they get broken up during the mixing.

This cake is perfect almost any event and isn’t as sweet as a standard Victoria sponge or chocolate cake so is incredibly popular with adults.

I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as I do!

For the Cake:

280g (10oz) Sugar

280g (10oz) Unsalted Butter

5 eggs

280g (10oz) Plain Flour

5 tsp Baking Powder

2tbsp Instant Coffee

100g Walnuts roughly chopped

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Ingredients for the cake with premade coffee

For the Icing:

250g Unsalted Butter

375g Icing Sugar (Sieved)

2tbsp Instant Coffee

Preheat your oven to 180 oC (Gas Mark 4) and line three 8” baking tins with baking parchment, butter and flour

Mix the coffee with one tablespoon of boiling water

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy

Add the coffee to the sugar and butter and mix until combined

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Stir together the flour and baking powder

Add the eggs one at a time adding tablespoon of the flour mix after each egg

Once all the eggs are added, mix in the remainder of the flour

Once that is all beaten together, add the walnuts and mix on a low speed to prevent the walnuts being broken up too much

Split the mixture evenly between the three tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean

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Three layers of batter ready to go!

To make the icing, add a tablespoon of boiling water to the coffee

Beat the butter until it is soft

Add about a quarter of the icing sugar along with the coffee to the butter and beat to combine

Add the rest of the icing sugar in a couple of batches and beat until it is soft and spreadable

If the icing is too stiff, add a small amount of milk to slacken it up

To assemble the cake, add the first layer of cake to the serving plate or cake board using a small amount of icing to keep it in place.

Add a layer of icing to the cake and add the next layer

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The first layer iced and ready to go. I piped the icing round the edge so give an attractive finish between the layers

Repeat this with the final layer and add a final layer of icing on the top

Decorate the cake using either chopped walnuts or walnut halves

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The finished cake

Let me know how the cake turns out for you in the comments! Photos are always appreciated so give me a tag on instagram (@thatcookingthing)!

Have a good week and see you next Monday for the first recipe in my Cooking from Basics series!

H x