Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Smarties Cookies

Smarties cookies a.k.a festival cookies. In case you can’t guess I’m off to kick off the summer season by working at the Isle of Wight Festival tomorrow. I have a hideous feeling that it’s going to rain the whole weekend, which would be inexcusably annoying after all the decent weather we’ve had.

For anyone that’s ever been to a festival, you’ll know that the food is disproportionately overpriced; therefore the best way to make friends is to bring cookies. You see where I’m going with this…

8oz butter
15oz light brown/ light muscovado sugar
2 eggs
2tsps vanilla extract
14oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
5oz of Smarties

You could easily substitute the Smarties for any chocolate/sweet. Likewise with the sugar, I generally go with the rule that I use what I’ve got in the cupboard – so with this recipe I actually used half light and half dark muscovado.

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C. Prepare several baking trays with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and beat until combined.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt and fold into the wet ingredients.

Stir in the Smarties.

Plop large spoonfuls of mixture onto the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for spreading. (You can see how spectacularly I followed my own advice here)

Bake in the oven for about 13-15 minutes, depending if you like them soft or not. They should start to brown around the edges. Cool them on a wire rack.

Then pop them into a Tupperware box and let the festi-friends come to you. Or if you’re antisocial arseholes like us, keep them all to yourselves…

Friday, 7 June 2013

Tomato and Basil Picnic Loaf

I have no excuse for the fact that I haven’t posted anything new in ages, except that I’m trying to maintain a social life whilst working before we all leave Portsmouth. Sadly that means my baking lately has been rushed cakes after work that really don’t need photographic evidence…I promise at some point I’ll figure out that whole balance/priorities lark that all annoying features writers harp on about.

My place of work sells food but I point blank refuse to buy lunch because that completely defeats the point, right?! Instead I make tasty things and feel not-so-secretly smug about my homemade goodies. This is one of them. A couple slices of this picnic loaf with some ham, rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar is delishhhh.

400g whole-wheat bread flour
100g strong white bread flour
7g packet instant yeast
10g salt
300ml-ish warm water
Large handful of plum tomatoes, halved
Fresh basil, finely chopped
Drizzle olive oil

In a large mixing bowl measure out the flour, and put the yeast to one side and the salt to the other.

Add around 300ml of the water and use your hands to bring together the ingredients, scraping down all the flour from the sides. You might need to add a little more water to bring it all together.

Drizzle your work surface with a little olive oil and turn the dough out. Knead for a good 10 minutes.

Coat the bowl in a little oil, plop the dough back in and cover with a plastic bag. Leave in a warmish place for about an hour or until doubled in size.

When your dough has risen, punch the air out with your hands and stretch it into a large rectangle shape.

Layer up your chopped tomatoes and basil in the middle.

Fold over the edges of the dough like a parcel and knead lightly to seal all the edges. The reason this is a picnic loaf is because it’s like a normal bread but with a filling just running through the middle, instead of filtered throughout.

Cover a baking tray in some parchment and a dusting of flour. Place the loaf in the middle and cover with an inflated plastic bag, leaving for a further 45 minutes to an hour.

About 15 before the end of rising time heat the oven to 200⁰C. When the loaf is really, dust the surface of the loaf in white bread flour, and use a sharp knife to score the bread.

Bake the loaf in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped underneath.

As soon as you cut this the gorgeous basil scent hits you. It makes me feel all summery and Italian. There doesn’t look as if there’s much filling from these photos, but as you cut deeper into the loaf the tomatoes and basil run all the way along the middle, making the perfect lunch. I have yet to make any bread using my KitchenAid, but I’ll get there don’t worry. (Currently having issues remembering to feed my sourdough starter…)