06.07

Cider-with-Rosie-homemade-bread-recipe-15 Cider-with-Rosie-homemade-bread-recipe

A   R E C I P E  .

One of my intentions for this summer has been to make more bread. Of course bread is, in my opinion, one of the easiest, tastiest, and most rewarding things you can make yourself at home, but setting that simple joy aside, I had just got sick of buying bread wrapped in plastic.

This year I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste our household produces, and I’m currently writing up a post all about the small changes I’ve made so far that’ve been a success for us as a family. I’ve found it so frustrating seeing how the vast majority of bread in the supermarket is wrapped in non-recyclable packaging, and figured I’d have a go at getting into a routine of making bread myself in an effort to cut down on that element of waste.

Surprisingly, it’s been such an easy change! I actually find bread to be such a low-input bake- aside from the initial 15 minutes or so of mixing and kneading, it’s all about  r e s t !

And that I can get on board with!

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I’m going to share with you now the honest truth behind these photos, which is that I was so busy making sure I got this shot of water pouring into the bowl completely in focus, I actually forgot to monitor the amount of water going into the bowl and so totally overdid it!

But it just goes to show how adaptable and imprecise bread-making can be, because I just heaped in a load more flour to bring the mix back to a kneadable consistency and added in a pinch more yeast, and all was well!

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I always abide by the ratio of 10% yeast, 20% salt when making my bread, as I find it gives the tastiest results. So, for 500 grams of strong white bread flour you’d add 5g yeast (I used dried fast action yeast) and 10g of salt. Generally I do 1kg flour, 10g yeast and 20g salt for a really big loaf that keeps us in toast for the best part of the week!

The downsides? Being made without preservatives and softeners and whatever else is added to sliced bread, it won’t keep soft for all that long, and so isn’t all that great for sandwiches beyond for the first 24-48 hours. We don’t really tend to eat sandwiches very often, but if we did, I’d probably go for making a smaller loaf more regularly that will keep fresh and be used up more quickly.

Amazingly though, no matter how tough it seems after a few days post-baking, it always toasts up to the most incredible texture!

And spread with some a slick of butter and some jam? It’s the most delicious breakfast imaginable.

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So, to the recipe…

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1 kilo strong white bread flour
10 grams fast action dried yeast
20 grams salt

M E T H O D :

1. Tip the flour into a large bowl, and add the yeast to one side of the flour and the salt to the other. I’ve read that if the salt and yeast mix straight off then it can kill the yeast, so it’s best to put them in separately.

2. Get a jug of warm water (it should be about body temperature, warm but not hot), and slowly pour the water in whilst mixing with your hand. When the dough has formed to a soft, sticky but not wet consistency, stop pouring! It will be of a consistency where it’ll stick to your hands, but don’t be tempted to add in lots more flour. A sticky dough makes delicious bread!

4. Stretch, pull, squidge, and work the dough between your hands along the work top, for at least 10 minutes or so. It’ll begin to homogenise and gradually stop being sticky, coming together to form a smooth, springy ball of dough. To check if the dough is ready for proving, poke it lightly with your finger- the dough should spring straight back out again. Stretch the dough out a little and pinch the edges together underneath to form a tight ball with a smooth top- this will help the rise!

5. Put the dough back into your mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave somewhere warm to rise. I find I usually give mine about an hour and a half to rise, but check it after an hour- it should have doubled in size and filled the bowl!

6. Press all the air out of the dough gently with your hands, and then form it back into a smooth ball. The dough should feel much lighter now, a sign of the lovely airy bread it’s to become!

7. Shape the dough into whatever takes your fancy and transfer it to a well-floured baking tray (you can leave it as a a round as I’ve done here, form little rolls, pop it into a loaf tin…) and then cover and leave to prove for another half hour.

8. Dust the top with top with flour, carefully cut a couple of shallow slashes into the dough to control its rise during baking, and put into an oven preheated to 200 degrees. I always add a small dish of water into the bottom of the oven at this stage to help create stream, which bread likes whilst baking!

9. My loaves always are done after about 1 hour, but check it after 50 minutes or so. When cooked, the top will be golden brown and the base will have a lovely hollow sound when tapped.

10. Resist the urge to slice is straight away! Let the steam inside cool for a good hour or so first, and then dig in!

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I can’t say I’m any great expert at bread making, but I hope that how relatively imprecise the recipe and method I’ve shared here is shows how adaptable and relatively failsafe bread making is!

And that first slice of warm, crusty bread will make it all so very worth it.

Let me know how the recipe works for you, if you give it a go!

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24.02

Cider-with-Rosie-cheese-scones-8

F L O U R ,   M I L K ,   B U T T E R ,  C H E E S E .

There are a few dishes that, whilst cooking, bring me right back to my childhood.

Cooking apples simmering in a pan with sugar and butter. A thick slab of gammon boiling away in a stock pot with vegetables and barley. Fragrant ginger biscuits, trays of fruity and gently spiced bread pudding, rock cakes in paper cases with their currants and sultanas always catching ever so slightly in the heat.

And, of course, the comforting, homely smell of cheese scones rising tall in a hot oven.

Cider-with-Rosie-Grandma's-cheese-scones Cider-with-Rosie-cheese-scones

There’s a real knack to scone making, if you ask me.

I’ll never make them as well as my Grandma used to, but every time I try, I learn a little something.

To handle the dough softly, not to press it hard or roll it too thin whilst shaping and rolling, and that the craggier it is at that stage, the lighter and more aerated they’ll be when finished with their baking.

I find they’re more challenging to make than simple bread or biscuits or cakes- the dough seems to ask for almost the same lightness of touch as pastry, though not quite to the same extent, I’m glad to say.

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But whilst I can’t quite say I’ve got the technique 100% perfect yet, the taste is most definitely there and is as nostalgic as ever.

If you’ve never split in half a scone (cheese, or otherwise) that’s fresh from the oven, and whilst the steam spirals from its centre, spread each half with a little butter before eating it right away, then you’ve been missing out.

This particular batch disappeared in a flash, eaten as ‘I’m hungry but not too hungry’ snacks, in the evening when ‘dinner wasn’t quite as filling as I thought it might be’, and all the times in between, because who ever needs a reason to eat a scone?

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The recipe is from my Grandma’s decades old Delia Smith cookbook and I’ve done very little with it other than tinker slightly with the cheese quantity, so the credit must go to Delia, really. Makes 8.

Ingredients ::
225g self raising flour
40g butter, at room temperature
150ml milk
85g mature cheddar
1/2tsp mustard powder
Pinch salt

- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius, and grease a baking tray.

- Sift the flour into a large bowl, and then lightly and quickly rub in the butter until the mixture has no large lumps, and has the clumpy texture of wet sand.

- Add in the grated cheese, salt and mustard powder, and stir together with the butter and flour mixture.

- Slowly pour in the milk a little at a time, stirring with a knife as you go. Bring the dough together with your hands, kneading it lightly until it forms a rough ball.

- Roll the dough out until it’s 1 inch thick, and then use a 2inch fluted cutter to cut out the scones. Place them on the greased baking tray, and bake for 12-14 minutes (mine were perfect after 12, 13 was a shade too long) until the tops are lightly golden and the bases sound hollow when tapped.

- Best served warm, with lashings of butter. Delicious.

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p.s. The butter knife, rolling pin, and milk jug all are hand-me-downs from my own beautiful Grandma, and the red gingham napkins are part of a set Jason’s Grandmother made us as a wedding gift. Family really is the very best, isn’t it?

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08.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Panettone-French-toast-10

T H E   U L T I M A T E   F E S T I V E   B R E A K F A S T

Would it be presumptuous of me to say that this recipe could just be the answer to all your Christmas morning dreams? It would be, wouldn’t it…

Instead, let me say this- forget scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or crumpets and toast, or even a Full English- this panettone french toast is what Jason and I will be eating at approximately 8.30am on the 25th of December this year.

And that’s a fact!

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Panettone French toast really is the most festive breakfast imaginable- Christmas on a plate, you might say!

Thickly cut slices of sweet, fruit-flecked panettone are soaked in a cinnamon and vanilla infused egg mixture, then gently fried in butter until golden and fluffy.

The slightly dry cake becomes soft and pudding-like when cooked up French-toast style, and the addition of a little cinnamon to the proceedings adds a little ‘spice’ to balance out all that sweet.

And, what’s *most* important to know, is that the recipe is simplicity itself! Have I convinced you yet?

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Jason and I always pick up a panettone whilst buying our Christmas tree each year, to be eaten over the course of that happily festive day.

But now that this recipe’s become such a household favourite?

I think we might need to start buying more than just one…

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The ingredients as below produce 4 halved slices of French toast- enough to serve two people. The recipe is easy to multiply though- for every portion of French toast (i.e. 1 round slice, or 2 halved slices of panettone), you’ll need 1 egg, 40ml of milk, and 1.8th tsp each ground cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Ingredients ::
2 thick round slices of shop-bought Italian panettone
2 eggs
80ml, or 1/3 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp vanilla extract
Jam/fruit compote/syrup/icing sugar to serve.

- Take a good quality shop-bought Italian panettone, and cut two 1inch round slices- one slice per person.

- In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if the cinnamon is a little lumpy- it won’t matter a bit!

- Soak the panettone in the egg mixture one slice at a time, until between the two slices, pretty much all of the egg mixture has been absorbed.

- Heat a small knob of a butter in a large non-stick frying pan, then gently fry each slice of panettone in turn for a minute or two per side, until puffy and slightly browned.

{If you’re cooking for more than a couple of people, you might like to put the cooked French toast in a low oven to keep warm whilst you finish frying.}

- Cut each slice of French toast in half, and then serve with a dusting of icing sugar, a drizzle of your favourite syrup (I used golden syrup here, but maple, agave, or even honey would be just as lovely), and a spoonful of something fruity.

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Buon appetito, bon appetit, and…happy eating!

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Posted in BAKING, BREAKFAST, CHRISTMAS, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, SWEET

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05.11

Cider-with-Rosie-Bonfire-Night-17 Cider-with-Rosie-Bonfire-Night-7

A P P L E S   +   S P I C E S   +   N U T S ,   O H   M Y !

I always feel as though Bonfire Night marks the start of *real* winter.

It’s a coming together of all my most favourite aspects of the season- being outside in air so chilly you can see your breath clouding and billowing in front of you, the jovial, festive atmosphere that builds as the evening goes on, a touch of magic (brought on by bonfires and sparklers and fireworks), and, of course, the delicious food!

Food on bonfire night has to be baked, if you ask me. We hosted a mini-Bonfire Night at our house last weekend, and baked up everything from bread, to apples, to potatoes! That sounds like the most boring, meagre meal imaginable, but I promise you it was delicious!

In fact, the recipe for spiced, baked apples I rustled up turned out to be *so* delicious, I thought I’d better share it! Here’s how…

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First things first, you’ll need to buy six or so of the most delicious eating apples you can find. I picked up these Braeburns from the farmer’s market, and they were crisper and tastier than any I’ve bought from the supermarket in a long time.

Give them a rinse, to rid them of any nasties.

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Take each apple in turn, and cut off the top- only about a centimetre or so down the apple.

Use a sharp knife to cut out the core and seeds, and then use a spoon to hollow out the apple so that it’s about a centimetre or so thick all the way around.

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We’re filling the hollowed-out apples with the most delicious, and yet totally virtuous date and nut stuffing! It’s so caramelly sweet and packed with cinnamon-dredged nuts, and tastes so wonderful it’s almost hard to believe that there’s nothing but good, wholesome ingredients in it!

The ingredients are as follows:
200g Medjool dates
150g mixed pecans and walnuts
1/2tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp flaky sea salt

- Soak the dates in boiling water for 15 minutes, then remove them from the water and use a food processor/blender to whizz them up into a paste along with the 1/2tsp of salt. {You’ll need to add a few tablespoons of the soaking liquid if you’re using a blender or NutriBullet (as I did), to help the machine run.}

- Add the nuts to a large, dry frying pan set over a medium heat, and gently toast for a couple of minutes until they begin to smell warm and fragrant. Add in the cinnamon, toss to combine, and then turn off the heat.

- Transfer to a clean tea towel, cover over and bash up with a rolling pin until the nuts are in small pieces.

- Stir together the date paste and cinnamon nuts, and set aside to cool.

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Fill the cored apples with the cinnamon date filling, and then put the ‘lids’ back on!

I found I had enough of the spiced date mixture to generously fill 6 medium apples- enough to serve the five of us I was catering for, plus an extra for the chef! ;)

~

With the apple prep done (and wasn’t it simple?), it’s time to pause for a cup of tea…

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To further spice up our bonfire night, the tea blending geniuses at Taylors sent over a box of their Spiced Apple tea to serve alongside my own baked spiced apples!

I fell in love with the blend last December, and the warm spices and sweet appley flavour are *so* festive that drinking the tea again felt like my first taste of Christmas this year!

Served with those hot apples taken fresh out of the oven, it really is the most divine pairing.

Isn’t that colour so beautiful, too?

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The final step to finishing off these dreamboat baked apples is, of course, the baking!

We cooked up our batch late on in the evening (after a main course of chilli-loaded jacket potatoes!) nipping back in to check on them in between rounds of sparkler-waving and turns taken toasting our hands over the fire.

25 minutes in an oven at 180 degrees will leave them soft, melting, and beautifully wrinkled around the edges. The cinnamon in the filling infuses the apple from within, and each bite tastes like an apple pie in a mouthful.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla icecream, and eat by the light of a fire for true magic.

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Do you have anything fun planned for Bonfire Night? :) I hope you love the baked apple recipe as much as we did, if you give it a go this weekend!

~ ~ ~

This post was sponsored by Taylors.

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Posted in AUTUMN, BAKING, RECIPE, SWEET

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