Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Whole-Wheat Onion Bagels

I loveee fresh bagels, especially toasted and buttered, but I’d never thought about making them before. Then The Great British Bake Off, a.k.a. socially-acceptable-porn-to-bakers, demonstrates some show stopping bagels. HAPPY DAYS! Last week I had the absolute joy of a whole day alone in the house so I had a rare jubly day of baking and listening to loud country music, as you do.

Anyway, that day I made these onion bagels. I’m a tad obsessed with onions and generally think they go with everythinggg. The only reason I made them whole-wheat was because we’d ran out of strong white bread flour, so feel free to completely ignore that aspect. You’ll see from the pictures that my bagels are misshapen, oddly proven, tiny holed balls of oniony goodness but bare with me because this was the first time I’d ever made bagels, so obviously they weren’t going to look like the amazing array on GBBO! Most importantly despite their funky appearance they still tasted amazing and I will definitely be trying them again.
450g bread flour
7g sachet instant yeast
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 large onion
In a large mixing bowl tip in the yeast and 1 tbsp of the sugar then pour over 100ml of warm water. Leave for about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy.

Pour 200ml of warm water into the mix. Stir in the salt and about half of the flour.

Continue to add the remaining flour a little at a time until a soft but not sticky dough is formed.
Knead for a good 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
Pop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to prove for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Whilst the dough is proving, prepare the onions. I had half a red onion knocking about so used that with half of a white onion, chopping it all into chunks. I like my chunks chunky but if you’re not as much of an onion nut like me you could whizz the onion in a food processor for a bit to get smaller pieces. Dry fry the onion for a few minutes until they start to turn clear- this gives the bagels a glorious savoury sweet flavour! Leave them on the side to cool.

Heat the oven to 200C. Lightly flour your work surface and knead the cooked onion into your dough. Now for this next bit I’m sorry there are no photos but my dad would kill me if I got dough all over his expensive camera…

Divide the dough into 10 equal balls. To make the bagel shape roll the dough into a small ball, then flatten it with the palm of your hand. Take a wooden spoon and pop the handle through the middle of the ball. Lift the spoon into the air, dough still on the end and twirl it around like you’re going a bit mad at a Britney concert. I’m actually quite glad there’s no photo evidence of me doing this because it was all a bit of a shambles really. Quite a few times the dough flew right off my spoon across the kitchen. Don’t let this put you off however, I think it’s just one of those practise makes perfect things.
When you have 10 perfect bagels (hah) cover them with a clean tea towel and leave them to stand for half an hour.
Now it’s time to poach the bagels! Bring a large pan of water to boil with the remaining 3 tbsp of sugar. Slip the bagels into the boiling water, about 3 at a time. Poach them for 2 minutes, turning them over after 1 minute. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and leave the dry on a cooling rack.

Line two trays with baking parchment and plop the poached bagels on. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until browned and hollow sounding when tapped.

I wanted my bagels to be a bit more poofy so I think next time I try them I’ll prove them for longer maybe? Also as you can see my holes are a bit small so that my bagels kind of resemble oddly shaped bread rolls, so I need to work on that. They’re great for breakfast…if they last that long!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Pandan Swiss Roll

Pandan are bright green leaves, mostly used in Asian cooking. In Malaysia, where I was just on holiday with my family, they have these amazing pandan swiss rolls. We sneakily stowed away some pandan coconut essence into our luggage that we’d bought from the local supermarket so we could try to recreate it. I have absolutely no idea where you’d buy it from in England, but a large Asian supermarket is probably your best bet. I didn’t have a recipe for this so I just followed a simple swiss roll one and added the essence and it seemed to work alright! Pandan has a really unusual flavour, it’s kind of hard to describe but it’s often teamed with coconut so I suppose it’s kind of…coconutty…
4 eggs
100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
100g self-raising flour
Pandan essence
For Icing
Cream Cheese
Icing sugar
Pandan essence
Line a 33 x 23 cm swiss roll tin with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 200C.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and frothy.

Add the pandan essence. I added two big blobs but it depends how pandany you want it.

Carefully sift the flour in and fold in gently using a spatula.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 10 minutes or until springy to the touch

While the cake is in the oven prepare a sheet of baking parchment slightly larger than the cake and sprinkle some caster sugar all over it. When the cake is baked turn it out quickly onto the sugared paper and remove the lining sheet from the bottom of the cake.

Trim the edges of the sponge then make a scoring mark about 3cm in from one of the edges.

Roll the cake up with the paper still inside from the scored end and leave to cool in a roll (This prevents the sponge from cracking.)
While the cake is cooling make the filling. You can fill it with anything you like really, and the proper authentic pandan cakes are usually filled with fresh cream. I didn’t have any fresh cream knocking about the fridge though so I just made a simple buttercream instead. Cream some butter and cream cheese together and sift some icing sugar until the mixture is smooth but holds its shape. Add a small blob of pandan essence to give it the flavour and colour.

When the cake is completely cool very carefully unroll it.
Spread the icing all the way along.
Roll the cake back up from the scored end, this time removing the outer paper as you go. Sprinkle a little more sugar on the outside if needed. Now, for some reason the outer browny layer of my cake peeled off with the paper. Don’t ask me why, but it doesn’t really matter because I think the cake looks better green anyway!
This is best eaten on the day and served with a cup of Chinese tea.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Fresh Tomato and Rosemary Bread

This bread has sort of been created accidentally. My mum’s tomato plant has been sprogging like mad so I thought I’d try a flavoured bread. One problem I found was that most tomato bread recipes include some kind of cheese which is verboten in our house at the moment. I started to get hungry so I just thought flap it, I’m going to make a recipe up. This bread also accidentally became a half and half loaf because I only realised as I was weighing out my flour that I didn’t have 500g of white…The end result is a sort of hovis-esque more bready than a focaccia should be but also more holey than normal bread should be loaf. I hope you’ve followed so far.
Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)
250g strong white bread flour
250g wholemeal bread flour
10g salt
10g instant yeast
Around 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
360ml cold water
Good handful of fresh rosemary
About 20 baby tomatoes
First off I apologise for the lack of photos! I’d already started when I realised the battery had died so the pictures start kind of half way through…
In a large mixing bowl weigh out the flour. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other. Pour in around 40ml of olive oil and three quarters of the water to the flour and combine using the spidey-hand motion. Keep adding the water a bit at a time until all the dry ingredients are picked up.
This is quite a wet mixture because it’s adapted from a focaccia one so don’t be put off that the mixture is very wet and DON’T be tempted to add more flour. Drizzle some olive oil on your work surface and knead the dough for a good ten minutes until it feels lovely and elastic. One of those plastic bread scrapey things that I definitely don’t own would come in handy here.
Pop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Et VoilĂ  we have the first photo!

Tip the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface, hardly handling the dough to keep the air in. Gently separate the dough into two.
Line two baking sheets with parchment. Put the dough on the sheet and gently stretch it out into a rectangular shape.
Now halve your tomatoes and gently press them all across the top of the dough. Generously cover with rosemary and end with a good drizzle of olive oil and some seasoning. Leave them both to the side to rest for 10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 210C.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. The bottom should sound hollow when you tap it.

This bread has a gorgeous sweet savoury taste because of the tomatoes and goes beautifully with some soup.

(Here are some snaps of my mum’s tomato and rosemary plants because it will make her happy.)