Easter 2017

I haven’t been posting for long time on here or my FB page, but I just had a busy baking week and I thought I would sit down and record what was going on.

We moved the house last July to an old bungalow which belonged to my father-in-law from our house in Belfast which we lived about 7 years.  The house is in the country, about 30 minutes drive from Belfast. This is where my husband grown up and where our boys’ Grandad had lived.

Every Easter, ever since my boys are big enough to run around and developed the love for chocolate, we came to this ‘Grandad’s house’ for Easter. Our garden in Belfast was small and Grandad’s garden was bigger (and likely to have more rabbits living nearby), so we would bring a basket each for boys to collect eggs, hot cross buns and a simnel cake to share. Grandad would come out to the garden even if it was bit chilly and stand at the corner of his house to watch boys run around his garden looking for chocolate eggs.

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This year, we are living here. No Grandad now but we did the same as before, with same cake and same buns.

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Simnel cake is a strange one. It is apparently a traditional cake for Easter, but I think it actually became known about 5 years ago or so. I don’t know if this cake was once popular and forgotten OR it was only baked in certain part of UK and became known widely recently. But we like rich fruit cake and burnt marzipan, so it became our Easter tradition.

For this cake, I don’t actually follow certain recipe. I make a Christmas cake dough (any rich fruit cake recipe will do), just add marzipan in the middle (put a half of cake mix in the tin, add a layer of thin marzipan, topped with rest of cake dough), bake as you’ll do for Christmas cake and decorate the top with more marzipan and toast the top. (I just put the whole cake under a grill, but if you have a burner, it will work well. )

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Our favourite for Easter time is this hot cross buns. It’s a sweet raisin bread, with bit of cinamon. You can see the recipe of this bun at my old post. Hot cross bun

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A blue egg in the picture was a wee present from my husband. It had a few champagne truffles inside of a hand-pained wooden egg. A real treat for me. x

A few more days of Easter holiday left. Boys are running around in the Grandad’s garden. I wonder if I should make another batch of hot cross bun before the school starts.

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Hot Cross Bun (Easter 2015)

It’s Easter weekend! My boys are counting down to ‘the bunny day’. They are excited about egg hunt, and my little one is also hoping to eat more of Easter treats, mainly hot cross buns.

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I nearly forgot that my wee son loved those so much last year. (My big boy isn’t keen on dry fruits.)

Hot cross bun is lovely sweet yeast bread, with dry fruits and smell of cinnamon.

You can see my last year’s post about hot cross bun. The recipe of this bun is there.

Those buns appear in the shop just after Christmas and disappear after Easter, so you must eat them now! But really, it is a tasty bun, I don’t know why we don’t eat them all year around.

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Happy Easter!!

and I am a bit late but happy Fiesta Friday 62!  Thank you, Angie, and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport! And Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs for this week’s FF.

Strawberry Iced Fingers

Iced fingers are sweet oval shape bread, coated with white icing sugar paste. Sometime, it is also topped with desiccate coconuts. It is quite simple bun, plain but scrumptious.

My 4 years old son love anything ‘iced’. One day after seeing me making lemon icing for biscuits, he came up with interesting idea for icing.
He wanted to make strawberry icing. While I was wondering if I can make strawberry icing without strawberry flavoring, perhaps using strawberry jam, he told me to ‘squish strawberry and use strawberry juice to make icing’.

Why did I not ever thought of that? I do lemon icing with lemon juice and icing sugar, but never ever thought of making strawberry icing with fresh strawberry.

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So, as he requested, I made strawberry puree by just putting fresh strawberries in blender, and added some icing sugar to right consistency. The icing smelled so lovely and the colour was nice pink without adding any colouring.

P1100440-2You can use any sweet enriched bread recipe, and add icing of your choice on top. But if you are not familiar with iced fingers, BBC Food’s Paul Hollywood’s one will be good one to try.

(But I would reduce the yeast to half, just 6 or 7g, instead of 2x7g, and take longer bulk fermentation. )

P1100445-2It will be much more decadent if you split them in half and fill with whipped cream. But make sure you only fill the ones you going to eat straight away. Because if any left, cream needs to be in fridge but bread shouldn’t be chilled.

Strawberry iced fingers were nice as it is, or just with butter anyway.

The creator of this icing enjoyed his bun very much. yum!

Galette des Rois

It is already half way past January, and I realised that I haven’t posted this year’s Galette des Rois (French Epiphany cake/pie) yet.  I like eating Galette des Rois on 6th January, marking the end of Christmas period, and tidying up the all the Christmas decoration. It is not common to bake anything for Epiphany here, but I love the taste and fun of the galette and I love making food relating to certain dates and celebration.

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Traditionally, this is a puff pastry pie with almond paste (frangipane) or apple in the middle with a small charm (fève) hidden inside. Some put custard with frangipane, but I added thin layer of margipan and apricot jam with frangipane. It’s just I had left over margipan in cupboard, and I liked apricot jam with frangipane. It works very well, it make the galette more almond-y and sweet. (Sorry, if this addition offends any French) I used a dry white bean as a fève.

Last year, I added left over mince meat to frangipane, that was also tasty. Last year’s Galette des Rois here. I guess if you don’t mind about altering tradition, you can add many tasty combination.

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I made rough puff, instead of real puff pastry. It is slightly quicker to make, and layers comes out well.

New technique I used this year, after seeing it done in French baker’s book; Instead of cutting out circles out of rectangle puff sheets, you can hold back four corners of square block of puff pastry, making it flat ball shape then roll it into circles leaving no off cuts. You might worry that it might destroy layers of puff pastry, but as long as you fold in (not kneading) the corners, layers are there when you eat it.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t really organised for Epiphany, so my Galette wasn’t ready for the morning of 6th. I made it on 6th and we ate it on 7th. I was too busy tidying baubles as well as making the galette on the day. Hopefully I will be more organised to do this properly.

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I couldn’t decide if I wanted to have French Galette des Rois or Spanish version Roscón de Reyes, so I made both in the end. Roscón de Reyes is sweet ring shaped soft bread, flavored with orange blossom water and topped with candied fruits like jewels.  My friend who lived in Spain for 7 years told me about it, and she said they eat it with whipped cream in the middle. (Nigel Slater’s take on Roscon here Guardian article, although he doesn’t use orange blossom water in his recipe)
I didn’t add whipped cream this year, as I realised once you add fresh cream you need to eat whole thing in one go. My family is small and we also had a galette to eat as well, so I kept it as a bread and enjoyed it over a few days.

Buttermilk Tin Loaf

I bake tin loafs quite often, because my kids love soft white bread for breakfast. (post about White Tin Loaf updated with recipe, and also here Square Tin Loaf-plain milk white)

When Sabine from Mamangerie wrote about a lovely bread she made using buttermilk, I was very excited.
I use buttermilk for Irish soda bread and wheaten, but those breads raise with baking soda+baking powder. I had never thought about using buttermilk for yeast bread. So I decided to try using buttermilk in my tin loaf to see how it work out.

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The result was fantastic. The bread raised well, and it was moist and tasty. It has slightly tangy flavour but it is the charm of buttermilk.

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Since I stop buying bread for Lent, I didn’t really stop the Lent after Easter. I bought one pack of loaf on Easter Sunday and a couple of snack bread for kids after that. I kept baking most of the breads we eat at home, and tin loaf is vital part of our everyday breakfast. It is great to have these variations in my tin loaf recipe, so that this basic bread never get boring.

Another variation I liked was raisin bread.
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I put some large raisins to the buttermilk bread dough, and baked this loaf in a silicon loaf tin which is slightly bigger than my usual bread tin.

White Tin Loaf with Buttermilk

  • Servings: 1.5 lb bread tin OR slightly larger tin if you are adding raisin
  • Difficulty: easy/intermediate
  • Print

strong flour…….350g (for open top, mountain shape loaf.  If you like to put raisin in, reduce to 300g and adjust quantity of ingredients below accordingly OR use slightly bigger tin as I did for the picture above)

yeast………………3g
sugar……………..15g
salt………………….3g
buttermilk (just slightly warm or room temperature) …….240-250cc
butter…………….20g

raisin if using…….70g or so, as much as you like

1. Knead dough, without butter for 5 min using a mixer. Or knead by hand for bit longer.
2. Add butter, and knead further 5 min. This bread really needs good kneading. Dough will be silky smooth. (If you want to add raisin, add now, and knead more to mix raisin in)
3. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and leave in warm place for 90min to 2 hours, until the dough is double in size. It will get nice and big.
4. Gently take the dough out in lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 or 3. Gently form the dough into a ball, take bench time for 20 min, covered with plastic or tea towel.
5. Shape the dough: take each ball, flatten them gently, take top 1/3 and fold down. lift bottom 1/3 and fold up. pinch the joint gently to stick. Dough is now fat sausage shape. Flat them a little, then roll. Do same for the rest, and place them in oiled tin.
6. Leave to rise for second time, covered, in warm place for 45 min to 1 hour or so, till it’s head come out the tin. (or up to 80% of the tin, if you are going to use a lid)
7. Bake in the preheated oven 220C for about 30min.
(when I am using a lid, I bake it for 22min, turn off oven and leave it in for 15 min.)
8. As soon as it comes out of oven, take it out of the tin, leave it to cool in wired lack. Once cooled, keep in plastic bag or air tight container to keep soft.

I like those bread with butter and jam for breakfast. It is such a treat to have freshly baked warm bread, but I tend to bake them in the evening, as I don’t have time to bake before weekday breakfast. Those bread are nice and soft at breakfast next morning, and it is lovely toasted a day after that.

Happy Fiesta Friday!!
Have a nice weekend.

Sourdough Fougasse with Rosemary and Thyme

It’s nearly end of May. It is lovely time of the year. I am busy in our small garden when it is dry, as plants in the garden is growing quickly now and we always have lots to do.
I am baking a lot as usual, and I like that herbs are growing the tender new leaf now and I can use them for my baking and cooking straight from my garden.

P1070249 (640x481)Sourdough fougasse with rosemary and thyme.

I planted this thyme last year, from a herb pot you can buy at supermarket. It looked so sad and weak in the rain of Belfast through winter months, but it came back and flowered!
Rosemary I have in my garden came from cuttings I took at the last house we lived in about 5 years ago. My gardening skill is basic and I am not good at taking cutting, but this rosemary was strong and it survived and shriving.
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(Rosemary flower is on middle right, thyme flower is on left)
I realised that it is only a short period of time when you can put rosemary flower and thyme flower together, so I made the most of it by decorating this bread.

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I put finely chopped fresh rosemary and thyme in the dough, and sprinkled some flower on top after baking.
The dough is basic lean white dough with sourdough starter, but I added a little olive oil.

I enjoyed this bread with a bowl of soup. It’s nice bread to tear and share.

***

Just before May is done, I thought I finally managed to write about the challenge Fiesta Friday Challenge No.1. The challenge for May was ‘yeast’ and ‘herb’.
BUT I was forgetting about cut off date, it was all done and dusted already!!
Check the great looking winner’s post here: Fiesta Friday Challenge results .
Oh well, next time…

(may 2014)

Croissant aux amandes – almond croissant

During this week, I celebrated my thirty something birthday.
I was given ‘surprise’ presents from my boys. My boys were so excited that they could hardly keep the surprises, but it was lovely.
One present was a pot of flower, as we visited a garden show on Saturday. It was my wee one’s idea; and as soon as I said ‘Oh I like this flower’ at one of nursery stalls, he said ‘close your eye, mummy!’ and went to get money from his dad and bought me the plant. Then he went, ‘Open your eyes! SURPRISE!!!’
My big boy also gave me a gift of ‘Happy Birthday, Mummy!’ and sang me happy birthday song over and over. He is 6 and half now, but he has special need and it is the first time he said those so clearly. (Not perfect, but his best ever!)
These are the moments that I’ll treasure.

Another surprise present was a cake.
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Full of icing and decoration!

My husband and boys made me this cake while I was out. My husband used old recipe book/file I made while I was in Norway long time ago. We were in a mountain hotel far from a city, and I use to bake without any cookbook or internet or any scale, just my own memory and feeling. To be honest, this recipe book wasn’t good, as I made so many mistakes in measurement and in English, but it was such a lovely surprise that my husband  made a cake for me with little helpers using this book.

I was also given some baking/kitchen related presents from my good friends and husband which I am sure that it will show up in this blog at some stage.  Thank you!

That’s enough for a birthday, isn’t it?

Ahhh, not for greedy me.
I made something for myself as well.

I made almond croissants for me.
I love croissant for my breakfast or snack. But it is a special occasion treat. I was allowed as much croissant as I liked, because it was my birthday.
And croissant making is time consuming, it is a luxury baking when you are suppose to be looking after kids and cleaning the house. But it was my birthday, so I spend my day making them.

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croissant aux amandes

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: intermediate, time consuming
  • Print

The recipe below is adopted from a recipe book of a French baker living in Japan ( ‘Philippe Bigo no pan’ – L’ Amour du Pain by Philippe Bigot).
If you haven’t made croissants before, I recommend to look for website/book with step by step photo before starting.

croissant dough
plain flour…………100g
strong flour……….100g
milk…………………110g
egg…………………….15g
sugar…………………20g
salt……………………..3g
easy dry yeast……….2g

butter for folding in……….100g

1. Knead the dough, just as usual bread.
2. cover and leave to rise for 1 hours in warm place. Then further 3 hours in fridge.
3. roll the butter into flat square, between cling films, about 16cm square.
4. Take bread dough from fridge, cut cross on top. Open this cross to make rough square shape. Then roll till you get large enough square to cover the butter. (about 23cm square)
5. Placing the butter in the middle (butter’s corners pointing top and bottom, left and right) of the dough (dough’s corners pointing top right, top left, bottom right and bottom left). Take corners of dough into the middle and cover the butter completely.
6.Roll to 5mm thickness, long rectangle.  Hold 1/3 to the middle. Then fold another 1/3 to the middle. Cover and rest in fridge for 6-12 hours.
7.Turn the dough 90 degree, and roll again. Hold into 1/3 again.
8. Turn the dough 90 degree again, and roll. hold into 1/3. Cover and rest in fridge for 30min.
9. Roll again to large rectangle, about 14 cm high, 5mm thick. Rest in the fridge for another 30 min.
10. Cut the all the side of the dough with pizza cutter or sharp knife. Then cut dough into 13cm high 11cm wide triangles. Rest for 30 min.

Almond cream
egg…………………….1 egg
butter…………………50g
sugar………………….50g
ground almond…….50g
plain flour……………1 tbs
almond essence…….a few drop

11. Cream butter and sugar, then add others to make almond cream.

for finish
egg…………………..little bit for egg wash
sliced almond…….some
icing sugar…………little for dusting

12. Take the triangle croissant dough, place it pointy bit toward you, pull the top corners slightly to stretch. Then place some almond cream on top.
13. Start rolling. Pull the pointy bit slightly while rolling. Place it on baking mat.
14. Leave in warm place for 60-90 min. (not too warm. butter shouldn’t melt at this point)
15. egg wash the top and put some almond, and bake in the preheated oven 190C for 12 min-15 min till golden.
16. dust with icing sugar before eating. Yum.

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Enjoy with a cup of hot coffee. Well worth the effort.

Happy Fiesta Friday!! 

(May 2014)