#Recipe – Baguettes

Apparently “to make a good French stick, with its distinctive open texture, you need a very lively dough that’s just slightly soft, rather than firm.  A bit of steam at the start of baking will help give the baguettes the traditional glossy, razor-sharp crust.” Oh and from start to finish, including proving time, you need about 7 hours! So in my humble opinion pop down to your local bakery, it’s a lot less hassle!

What you need:

300g strong white bread flour
200g plain white flour
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
approx. 300ml lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt, dissolved in 4 tbsp. cold water, for brushing

What you do:

  • Mix together both flours in a large bowl, then tip about half into another smaller bowl and set one aside.
  • Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt of the yeast into the flour in the large bowl, then work in the lukewarm water, using your hand, to make a smooth thick batter.
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave on the side for 3-4 hours until the surface of the batter is covered with tiny bubbles.
  • Uncover the bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water into the batter.
  • Mix the rest of the yeast and salt into the flour in the second bowl.  Gradually work this mixture into the batter using your hand to make a slightly soft but not sticky dough.
  • Lightly dust hands and worktop and knead the dough for approx. 10 minutes until it feels smooth and stretchy.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover again with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  • Dust hands and worktop again and turn out dough – don’t punch down to deflate it.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut in half – in my experience, this was nigh on impossible as the dough just stuck to the knife.
  • Shape each piece into a rough ball, try not to handle too much, then cover loosely with a clean dry tea towel or clingfilm and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Move one piece of dough to the side.  Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to a rectangle about 25 x 30cm. 
  • Roll up the rectangle fairly tightly from the long side, like a Swiss roll.  Tuck in the ends and pinch the seam together firmly.  The roll back and forth with your hands to make a sausage-shaped loaf approx. 40cm long with tapering ends.
  • Flour a large tray with flour, and lay the loaves on the tray.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for approx. 45 minutes.
  • While the loaves are rising heat your oven to 230°c.  Put your baking sheet into the oven to heat up, and place an empty roasting tin on the bottom of the oven.
  • When the loaves are ready for baking, quickly remove the baking sheet from the oven and slide the loaves onto it.  Brush them with the salty water then make several slashes along the loaves with a sharp knife – again not easy.  Put the baking sheet back into the oven.
  • Pour a jug of cold water into the roasting tin to create plenty of steam, quickly shut the oven door and bake for approx. 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack.

Results

This recipe is best eaten on the same day and I think without the salt water wash.

Since starting Weight Watchers one of the biggest things I miss eating is proper bread.  I’ve taken to buying the Weight Watchers branded bread which is perfectly ok but at the end of the day it is calorie and portion controlled – it’s not freshly baked thick bread! Slicing this baguette into 10 slices gives a Weight Watchers Smart Point value of 3SP per slice!  Bearing in mind I have an allowance of 30 per day – this type of bread is a diet killer!

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Rhubarb and Banana Bread

I was given some fresh rhubarb so went searching online for a healthier recipe to use it in and found this rhubarb and banana bread at Kim’s Cravings (see original recipe here).  I have converted the cup measurements where necessary for ease.

What you need:

340g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 large mashed bananas (I used a hand held blender)
1 large stalk rhubarb
5 tablespoons honey

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c.  Using low fat cooking spray (e.g Fry Light) grease and line your loaf tin. Mine is approx 8×4″.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice in one bowl and put aside.
  • Beat the eggs for approx 30 seconds using hand held or freestanding mixer.  Add the vanilla, honey and mashed banana and mix.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed.
  • Gently fold in the rhubarb.
  • Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.  I then added some of the rhubarb to the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • Serve warm with a smidge of butter…yum! 🙂

Results

Despite having a power outage of an hour during the baking of the bread it turned out ok.  It was a little overbaked in my opinion but I think that’s because I lost track of the time baked.  I served it at my book club meeting and everyone was really surprised that it didn’t contain any sugar or fat as it still tasted sweet, moist and really tasty.

Having calculated the ingredients, based on 10 slices per loaf, each slice has a Weight Watchers point value of 5 which is was good for me as I could fit it into my daily plan allowance without too much juggling.  Next time though, I’d use more rhubarb and it was hard to detect.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Hot Cross Buns (Weight Watchers #Recipe)


This is the first time I’ve baked in about 2 months and the first recipe I’ve tried in my healthier lower fat sugar challenge/experiment.  I had to use some substitutions as I didn’t quite have all the correct ingredients in the cupboard but this didn’t impact negatively in any way.

What you need:

For the buns
375g strong white flour (bread flour)
25g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7g dried baking yeast (1 sachet)
1 medium egg, whisked lightly
220 ml tepid skimmed milk
2 level tsp ground mixed spice
60g low fat spread melted
6 sprays calorie controlled cooking spray
For the crosses
100g currants (I used sultanas)
35g plain white flour
1g baking powder
1 tsp honey warm, to glaze (I used golden syrup)

What you do:

  • In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, yeast, salt and mixed spice. Make a well in the centre then pour in the milk, egg and spread. With a wooden spoon, mix to form a dough.
    Use your hands to bring the dough together, then knead the dough for at least 10 mins until smooth and elastic. I used the dough hook on my freestanding mixer.
  • Put the dough in a clean bowl misted with the cooking spray. Place a clean tea cloth over the dough and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Knock back the dough by kneading for another 2 minutes, adding the currants/sultanas. Shape the dough into 12 small round buns, making a cross shape on each one using a knife. This, I found, virtually impossible, as the dough just gets dragged on the knife so I didn’t bother after a couple.
  • Mist a baking tray with cooking spray and place the buns on it in a rectangle close together. Cover with a tea cloth and leave for another 30 mins to prove.
  • Make the crosses by mixing the flour with the baking powder and 3 tbsp water to form a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and carefully pipe a cross onto each bun.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Carefully tap the bottom of the buns – if they are light and sound hollow then they are done.
  • Once cooked, leave to cool slightly on a wire rack and then brush with the honey/syrup to glaze.

Results

I was really pleased with my first ever batch of hot cross buns and especially with the doubling in size of the dough (rarely happens for me).

As this was a Weight Watchers recipe, for those of you who are unfamiliar with how the WW plan works, each food and drink is given a points value and you have a daily and weekly points allowance calculated upon weight and gender etc to spend.  My daily allowance is 30 with a weekly allowance of 42 for extras and treats.

These hot cross buns have a value of 6 points. For comparison, Aldi Hot Cross Buns have a point value of 7, Sainsbury’s 8, Marks & Spencer luxury 9.  However, the Co-Op’s are 6, same as the WW recipe – interesting!

All in all, the homemade buns are very nice and I didn’t feel as I’d been short changed in any way by using some lower calorie alternatives.  However, given the length of time they take to make, I’d probably nip down the Co-Op if I wanted some more! 😉

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Blueberry Loaf

Here’s a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery ‘Home Sweet Home’ book which I made at my Mum’s request.  It has a Chelsea Bun / Bread & Butter Pudding feel to it

What you need:

One 900g / 2lb loaf tinIMG_2083

For the dough

300ml lukewarm whole milk
25g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp dried active yeast
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cubed

For the filling

60g unsalted butter, softened
100g soft light brown sugar
200g blueberries
1 large egg, beaten

What you do:

  • Grease the loaf tin and dust with flour
  • In a jug, mix the milk, caster sugar and yeast.  Stir well and set aside until it becomes frothy – mine didn’t froth 😦
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt.  Rub in the butter into the dry ingredients to form a crumb like consistency
  • Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk mixture.  Use a spoon to mix to form a dough
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and knead well.  Place back in bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for approx. 45 minutes or until doubled – mine didn’t double, in fact it didn’t look any different in any way!
  • Once proved, knock back, and roll out to approx. 30 x 38cm then cut lengthways into 4 equal strips – the equal strips bit is quite important because you need to stack them
  • Spread butter over the strips, sprinkle 50g of the brown sugar over, then scatter the blueberries on too, gently pressing into the dough

Blueberry loaf

  • Stack the strips neatly on top of one another
  • Cut into 6 equal stacks, then put them into the loaf tin, cut side facing up.  Place each stack next to each other to fill the tin
  • Use up any extra blueberries or gather up the ones that have fallen out, press into the dough
  • Wrap the tin in cling film and allow to rise again – approx. 30-40 minutesLift the strips and stack them neatly on top of each other

Blueberry loaf

  • Preheat oven to 170°c
  • Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle over the remaining sugar
  • Bake for approx. 30-35 minutes – mine actually took closer to 45 minutes

Blueberry loaf

  • Allow to cool but this is nicer served warm with a splash of cream

Blueberry Loaf

Until next time…Happy Baking!

 

Simnel ‘Chelsea’ Buns

Inspired by last weeks episode of the Great British Bake Off which was bread week, I baked some Simnel ‘Chelsea’ Buns from my Everyday Bake Off recipe book (page 170).

gbbo_fool_proof_recipes

What you’ll need:

200ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)  IMG_1260
50g unsalted butter
450g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons light brown muscavado sugar
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
150g luxury dried fruit
1 medium free-range egg, at room temperature
400g white marzipan

To finish:

100g icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons lemon juice

What you do:

Firstly, just let me say that as previously mentioned I do my baking on a budget. Therefore I didn’t go out and buy luxury dried fruit, I made do with the regular sultanas I had, and I used yellow marzipan as I had some left over from a previous recipe. The buns tasted delicious so have no hesitation in improvising.

Put the milk and butter into a pan and warm on a low heat to melt the butter. Leave to cool till lukewarm.

Chelsea Buns

Put the flour, salt, sugar, yeast, lemon zest, and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl  and mix throughly.

Chelsea Buns

Make a well in the middle. Beat the egg into the milk/butter mixture and pour into the well. Work it all together by hand or with a dough hook to form soft but not sticky dough.

Chelsea Buns

Lightly dust hands and work surface and knead thoroughly for about 10 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and cover with cling film or lid and leave to rise for about an hour. I was so pleased because this was the first time when using bread flour and yeast and leaving something to rise; it actually did!! Whoop whoop!

Uncover the dough and punch down the dough to flatten. Turn onto lightly floured work top and cut into 2 pieces. Roll out one half to approx 36 x 18cm.

Gently knead the marzipan, cut in half and roll to a thin rectangle to fit your dough.

Chelsea BunsPlace the marzipan on top of the dough and gently press and roll up like a swiss roll. Cut evenly with a sharp knife into 8 even slices. I’d used half the ingredients so I only cut mine into 4.

Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Chelsea Buns

Arrange them cut side up into a greased tin, so they are barely touching, they will join up as the dough rises and when cooking. Cover with a dry tea towel or cling film and leave for approx 35-45 minutes.

Chelsea Buns

Towards the end of this proofing time, heat the oven to 200°c. Bake for approx 25 minutes until golden brown.

While the buns are baking make up the icing. Make a smooth, thick but spreadable icing.

Chelsea Buns

Remove the tin from the oven and place on a wire rack, leave to cool for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edge and turn out the buns.

Chelsea BunsSpoon over the lemon icing and leave to cool before pulling them apart.

In hindsight, the tin that I used was too big for the amount of buns made. You can see from the the photo above that the top row of buns didn’t fuse together. The bottom row weren’t too bad but I’ll know for next time 😉 and they tasted delicious warm from the oven. Very pleased with these!

Chelsea Buns