Thursday, 28 March 2013

Paul Hollywood's Spitfire Sourdough

You can tell what sort of family mine is when my mum says stuff like ‘Ooh you’re coming home, I’ll get the sourdough starter out.’ Sourdough is a bit of a faff and takes some preparation, but it is completely justified by the taste of the bread. We really wanted to try an ale bread and this recipe from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake book looked lovely so I gave it a go. With only one sourdough proving basket, one of my loafs sort of looks like it should and the other looks like a very sad squished version. Queue us madly searching Amazon for a second proving basket for next time…


750g strong white bread flour

500g sourdough starter

15g salt

250ml Spitfire Ale

100-200ml tepid water

Olive oil for kneading

For beer paste

125ml Spitfire Ale

100g rye flour

Start off by measuring the flour into a large mixing bowl with the salt and the starter. (I used my mum’s KitchenAid just because I could).

Add the Spitfire Ale and half the tepid water and mix it all around using your hands. Add more of the water if you need to in order to pick up all of the flour.

Coat a work surface with a little olive oil and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. I did 5 minutes in the KitchenAid and 5 minutes by hand, because I always like to get a little feel for the dough. Keeping kneading until the dough is soft and smooth.

Pop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to prove at a warm temperature (I put it in the airing cupboard) for 5 hours.

Cover 2 baking trays with muslin cloths and dust them with flour, or prepare your proving baskets in the same way if you have them.

Tip the risen dough out onto a floured surface and knock the air out. Divide the dough into two round cob shapes and pop onto the trays or in the proving baskets. Cover with a large plastic bag and leave to prove for about 24 hours or until at least doubled in size.

Around an hour before you intend to bake the loaves make the beer paste by mixing the Spitfire and rye dough together. Leave it to stand on the side.

Heat the oven to 190⁰C. Line two baking trays with parchment.

Transfer the loaves to the baking trays. As you can see the one in my proving basket came out quite nicely, and the other one looks like a very sad, squished version of a pile of gunge. (I baked it anyway and it still tasted nice, it was just a bit flatter than the other one…)

Smear the beer paste all over the loaves. This is a litter harder than I imagined, and I think I managed to deflate my poor loaf quite a lot by being a cack-handed paster. Practise makes perfect as they say.

Slash a crosshatch pattern deeply over the top of the loaves. As usual I was a bit timid with my slashing so the pattern wasn’t especially deep but who really cares?

Bake for 40 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them underneath. Cool them on a wire rack.

This bread is amazing with soup, curry and stews, or just as a special sandwich.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Banana Cookies

I will admit I was a tad skeptical when I first came across this recipe. Surely bananas belong in cake and cake alone? (or bread…) Anyway they are pretty darn tasty and a great way to use up ripe bananas. I followed the original recipe my mum gave me, ground clove and all, but I HATE clove with a fiery passion so will definitely be leaving it out next time. Not that you can taste it particularly, but it’s a psychological thing. I just know that it’s in there. Also, because I’m clearly a complete spaz I totally forgot to put the egg in. It didn’t actually make a difference, except that they wouldn’t last as long, but that’s never really a problem around us lot.


8oz unsalted butter

8oz caster sugar

1 egg, room temp

3 medium ripe bananas

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

14oz self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

½tsp ground cinnamon

½tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves (if you’re weird)

6oz chocolate chips (or whatever you have)

Preheat the oven to 170°C.

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy in a large mixing bowl.

Add the egg and beat until well combined. (This was where I had a mind block and just decided not to put the egg in…)

Mash the bananas with the bicarbonate into a separate jug and leave for 2 minutes.

Add the banana mixture to the mixing bowl. Don’t worry if the batter starts to look like it’s separating a little.

Sift in the flour, salt and spices and mix everything until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips/chunks.

Spoon large blobs of mixture reasonably well spaced apart onto a baking tray lined with parchment.

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns

For my Galleon Easter recipe I did chocolate orange hot cross buns, so I thought I’d make some for my family over Easter. This recipe I’ve done is slightly different to the one I wrote in the article- but hey ho they’re all tasty. There was a bit of a debate about whether these should be eaten with butter, nutella, or marmalade. I have come to the conclusion that all of these spreads are advisable. Easter is the time to encourage diabetes after all.


325g strong white bread flour

100g wholemeal bread flour

25g cocoa powder

50g caster sugar

1tsp salt

2tsps ground mixed spice

½tsp ground nutmeg

1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast

50g unsalted butter, diced

75g mixed dried fruit and peel

Zest of an orange

200ml lukewarm milk

3 eggs, lightly beaten

75g milk chocolate, drops or chopped

For the cross and glaze

4tbsps strong white bread flour

2tbsps cold water

4 tbsps of fresh orange juice

2tbsps caster sugar

Add both flours, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, mixed spice, nutmeg and yeast into a large bowl and mix.

Add the diced butter and rub into the flour mixture using your fingertips to form fine crumbs.

Stir in the dried fruit and orange zest.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten eggs and lukewarm water.

Use your hands to draw all the ingredients together, making sure to pick up all of the flour.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. You might need to add a bit more flour to the surface if the dough is very wet, but be careful not to add too much.

Plop the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knead lightly to deflate. Add the chocolate (I used a mixture of whatever I found in the cupboard basically) and knead gently into the dough.

Divide the dough equally into 12 balls. Roll them into neat balls and place onto two baking trays covered in baking parchment, allowing room for them to grow.

Pop the trays into large plastic bags and leave them for another 45 minutes in a warm place, or until about doubled in size.

Near the end of the second rising time, heat the oven to 200°C. To make the crosses you need to mix the bread flour and water to create a paste. It might need more water to make it pipe-able but only add a little at a time. Pipe a cross onto each bun.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until they make a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

5 minutes before the buns are done, heat the caster sugar and orange juice in a pan to make the glaze. Mines red because we only had blood oranges in the fridge, but I don’t mind because I think it looks pretty funky.

When the buns are baked, brush them all over with the hot glaze and then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Happy Easter!