Every year on Christmas Eve ( well every year for about the last decade) we have made a gingerbread house, watched a cheesy xmas movie and eaten yummy treats. This year we want to change it up a little. My son’s girlfriend suggested that we make a TARDIS. “OK”, can do that methinks, it is after all a box and as long as she doesn’t want it bigger on the inside I think we will be fine.
What I would like to do though is something a bit more adventurous in gingerbread architecture. I was thinking that a hobbit type house might be cool or perhaps go for it and maybe do a gingerbread Guggenheim Museum. We could do our house in gingerbread, actually really like that idea. Decisions, decisions. Will add to this post once I have settled on an idea 🙂
Meanwhile, here are the pictures from last years effort 🙂
Firstly I should acknowledge Paul Hollywood. This recipe was gleaned from his book, How to Bake. When I was leafing through his book I saw the picture of these breads and thought immediately how much my pizza loving brood would enjoy these. I also felt they were a tad healthier than pizzas. When I made these we had them with salads, cold meats and cheeses. They are a great tear and share bread. The bread is best served fresh and warm from the oven but I did keep one for the next day and it refreshed beautifully in the oven. I sprinkled a little water on it and blasted it in a hot oven (200 c) for around 5-7 minutes. Generally though if you have a family of teens and young adults as I do the 4 loaves that this recipe makes will be eaten in one sitting, no problem :). You will need around 2 hours to have these breads ready for dinner.
- 500g Strong White flour
- 10g Salt
- 10g Instant Yeast
- 400ml tepid water
- 2tbsp olive oil
- Fine semolina for dusting if you have it, optional.
- 2 balls of Mozzarella
- 20 Cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
- Dried oregano for sprinkling
- Oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container.That is what Paul say’s however I do not own a square plastic container so used the large plastic mixing bowl that I have instead. I believe this worked fine. Use whatever you have in your kitchen, the container is used to prove your bread.
- In a food mixer with the dough hook is the best way to make this bread. It is too wet to mix by hand. However if you are feeling adventurous, give it a go. I would love to hear from someone who has made this by hand and how well it worked.
- Put your flour in your mixing bowl with the salt on one side and the yeast on the other side. Add around three quarters of the water and start to mix the dough on a low speed. As it starts to come together add the remaining water. Mix for around 5-8 minutes on a medium speed. At this stage your dough should be nice and stretchy. Now add your olive oil and mix for another 2 minutes.
- Pop your dough into your oiled tub and cover with whatever you have to hand. I always use a trusty shower cap but cling film, a damp tea towel work well. I have also used a “bag for life” when I had nothing else and that worked too!
- Leave it to prove itself for about an hour. You want the dough to double in size. Put it in a warm place out of draughts.
- Line a couple of baking trays with baking parchment. When I made this bread last time I had run out of baking paper so just lightly oiled the sheets and that worked fine.
- Dust your work surface generously with flour, adding semolina too if you have it. Gently tip out your dough onto the floured surface, unusually for dough you don’t want to knock it back but keep as much air in as possible. Coat the top of your dough with flour too. Cut the dough in half lengthways and then cut each half across in two. You will have 4 pieces of dough.
- Gently stretch each piece a little bit and lay down onto your prepared sheets. 2 loaves per sheet.
- Push 10 tomato halves into the breads. As you can see from my pictures I did not have enough tomatoes, worry not, use what you have! Tear your mozzarella into smallish pieces and push them into the bread in-between the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle your breads with a little olive oil and then your oregano. I used some garlic infused olive oil for extra yumminess and mixed italian herbs. Noms.
- Leave your bread to rest for around 15 minutes. Meanwhile pop your oven on to 210 degrees C.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Pop them onto a cooling rack but make sure to eat them whilst still warm.
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.
One of my first attempts at blogging and food photography. This is still one of my all time favourite super easy recipes. It takes only minutes to whizz up a batch, they always work, they keep for ages ( I have posted them as a gift before, they took a week to arrive but were apparently still yummy! woo hoo)
And they also use up those three or four sad looking bananas that are always in the fruit bowl (or is that only me!)
After too long I am finally back to baking on a regular basis and therefore blogging can recommence as well. Bread making has been one of the things that I have been doing more of. Partly motivated by cost of horrible sliced bread, usually well over a pound a loaf, and also motivated by a need to eat good, healthy, tasty food. Of course there is a time element to baking bread but a lot of that time your lovely loaf of bread doesn’t actually need you. All you really need is 20 minutes or so to mix and kneed, go off and do whatever you need to do for an hour or so and then knock it back, re prove and bake. Actually reading that back it still sounds time consuming! I do tend to bake on days that I am at home and busy being a domestic goddess ( don’t believe a word of it, my house is shockingly messy! ). I can usually be a bit more motivated if there are yummy things baking whilst I do battle with the bathroom grime 😦 🙂
What I have decided to try and do is work my way through all my various bread recipe books and endeavour to find time friendly bread recipes that are easy to. But first here is my tried and tested standard white loaf recipe. It is a mix of recipes that I have tweaked to suit me and my kitchen. Feel free to tweak it for you, would love to hear any suggestions.
- 500g strong white flour
- 325ml warm water
- 7g easy bake fast action yeast
- 10g salt
1 tbsp of oil of your choice – we use olive but rapeseed is lovely too.
- I usually mix my breads in a food mixer with a dough hook but you can easily do this one by hand as it is quite a soft dough. In your bowl put all your ingredients in except the oil. Making sure you have the yeast away from the salt (opposite sides of the bowl).
- Gradually add the oil whilst your mixer is doing it’s job. If you are hand mixing this you can add the oil at the beginning or incorporate it when you are kneading.
- Mix for 10 minutes on slow speed or until the dough looks smooth and you can stretch the dough easily. If you are kneading by hand you will need to do this for at least 10 minutes. Great destresser!
- Once you have a lovely smooth dough in your bowl you need to leave it to prove for around an hour or until doubled in size. If your house is chilly it may take a while, worry not the longer it takes the yummier it will be. You will need to cover the bowl to create the right environment for your dough. I use a shower cap as this makes that task so easy. You can use a damp tea towel or some cling film if you prefer.
- Once your dough is all lovely and proved you can tip it out onto a floured work surface. Knock it back ( gently knock it with your knuckles) and then shape into whatever loaf you fancy making. I love to make freeform loaves but a loaf tin is useful especially if you want to slice this for sandwiches. You can also use this dough to make rolls. I made last night 10 good sized rolls out of this dough.
- Put your loaf or rolls in/on their tins/baking sheets. I usually drizzle a little oil on to prevent sticking but sometimes forget and the bread usually comes out fine 🙂
- Leave the bread in a warm area for around half an hour so it can rise again. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
- You can put your bread in the oven naked ( the bread not you!) or you can do an egg glaze and sprinkle some seeds on this. On the rolls add some sesame seeds and the rolls work great as burger buns or cheese for an interesting twist.
- Place in oven, bake for around 20/25 minutes for the loaf or 15/17 minutes for the rolls. You will have to play around with this as all ovens are different and you know yours better than I do.
- What you are looking for is a golden crust and when you tap it’s bottom it should sound hollow.
- Leave to cool on a rack for as long as you can. It will slice more easily if it’s cold!
- Serve with other yummies.