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International A-Z: Hembesha (Eritrean Bread)

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
11/Nov/2017

My latest attempt in my international breads comes from Eritrea. There appear to be both sweet and spicy versions of this bread, but I decided to try the sweet version.

The freshly baked Hembesha

See more ....

Ingredients

  • 250g Flour (I used a mixture of white and wholemeal bread flour)
  • 125g milk
  • 1 egg
  • 50g butter or margarine (melted)
  • 25g sugar
  • 50g sultanas (soaked in water)
  • yeast
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp cumin

I simply put everything in the bowl and used our electric mixer. The mixture was a bit soft but I left it to rise for an hour or so before knocking it back and re-kneading it. After the second kneading, the mixture was a bit firmer and easier to handle.

I shaped the dough into a disk, cut some 'spokes' and left it to rise again. Instead of baking in an oven, this bread is cooked in a covered frying pan.

A close up of the inside

I don't recall having cumin in a sweet recipe before and it works well, probably because there isn't much and the flavour isn't too strong. The bread is a bit like a hot cross bun. If mixed spice mixed fruit/mixed peel was used, it would be difficult to tell the difference between them.



International A-Z: Djibouti flatbreads

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
23/Sep/2017

I actually made these a few weeks ago but didn't get around to writing it up at the time. The flatbreads are like a cross between a crumpet and a galette style pancake.

Traditionally they are made using Teff Flour which appears to be naturally gluten free. There are several versions of the recipe which use a mixture of plain flour with some gluten free flours so I decided to try my own version. Originally I used a cup of plain flour with 2 tablespoons each of the other flours but the mixture came out a bit stretchy after fermenting so the version below has the amounts adjusted to reduce the amount of wheat flour to make the mixture less stretchy.

the cooked flatbreads

See more ....
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ tbs fine cornmeal
  • ½ tbs buckwheat
  • yeast
  • salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 cups water

the fermenting batter

Method

Whisk everything together, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, take the batter out of the fridge and allow to reach room temperature.

Heat up any lightly oil a frying pan. Spoon in some of the mixture and spread to form a thin pancake.

Djibouti Flatbreads in the pan

When it has cooked on one side, flip it over to cook the other side. Continue until all the batter has been used. To serve, return one of the pancakes to the pan, add the filling, roll up and reheat.

Djibouti Flatbreads in the pan



International A-Z: Chinese Steamed Buns

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
29/May/2017

It has been far too long since I posted my last new recipe. I decided to try a sweet steamed bun recipe and tried to find something suitable on the web. I avoided any American recipes which mostly used mixture of 'all purpose' and 'cake flour' and found a recipe taken from a Ken Hom book. I decided to use half the quantities for my initial attempt.

For the sweet filling, I found a recipe for baked Honey Buns which sounded good. This recipe called for dessicated coconut which had been powdered in a food processor. Since we have coconut flour, I tried using that.

Since coconut flour abosrbs a lot of moisture during cooking, I reduced the amount (¾ of a cup instead of a full cup of dessicated) but the first test run came out too dry. I removed some of the mixture, added extra honey and oil and the egg white, to make the mixture softer and wetter, but the final version was still a bit too dry inside. The recipe for the filling is still only approximate since I don't know how much flour, honey or coconut oil ended up in the final mixture.

See more ....

Making the dough

Put:

  • 90ml warm water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 190g plain flour

in a mixing bowl. Mix to a dough, knead for a few minutes then leave to rest while preparing the filling.

Mixing the filling

Mix together:

  • ½ a cup of coconut flour
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg, beaten

The resulting mixture should be soft and slightly wet. This actually makes more than you need for the amount of dough.

Chinese Steamed Buns

Assembling and cooking

I divided the dough into 6 pieces, flattening them out and placing about a tablespoon of the filling in the middle of eIach. After folding the dough up and crimping to seal the top, I sat each bun onto a square of baking paper.

I used our Instant Pot to cook the buns. To make sure it was warmed up and ready, I poured boiling water into the bottom of the pot and pressed the sautee button while the buns rested and rose for about half an hour.

I cooked the buns using the Steam setting at low pressure for 15 minutes.

Chinese Steamed Buns with the coconut honey filling

The bun texture came out ok and the filling tasted good. Apart from the filling going a bit dry (which I mentioned earlier), the recipe worked well.



International A-Z: Bulgarian Holiday Bread

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
01/Jan/2017

For the letter 'B' I decided to do a version of a traditional Bulgarian Christmas loaf. I had originally intended to make it over Christmas but I didn't find time to do any baking, and since we had lots of cakes and chocolates to eat, we didn't really need more bread.

Ingredients

(For the bread)

  • 2 cups of bread flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g softened butter
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

(For the glaze)

  • 1 tsp of honey
  • a few drops of water

Mix the water and honey a few drops at a time until the honey is a pourable consistency.

Method

I put all the bread ingredients in our food mixer, with the dough hook, and let it mix for a few minutes. Since this a brioche type bread, the mix was very wet and a bit sticky, which made it difficult to handle and shape.

I broke the dough into equal weight pieces, rolled them into balls and put them in a round tin to prove.

After proving and brushing with honey

After they had risen, I carefully brushed them with the honey mixture. It was baked in a pre-heated oven (gas mark 5) for half an hour. I started it off covered in foil, but took the foil off after the first 15 minutes.

After baking

Verdict: a soft slightly sweet brioche with a honey flavoured crust. Definitely one to try again.

Bulgarian honey bread with butter



Banana Bread/Pumpkin Traybake

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
23/Nov/2016

This was another 'make room in the freezer' baking session. I had more grated pumpkin in the freezer, along with some 'shop damaged' bananas (6p for a bag). I defrosted them and made two cake mixes. My idea was to pour them in opposite ends of a baking tray, giving the middle a swirl so the ends were one type of cake and the middle had both combined.

Recipe

The original recipe was based on the pumpkin cupcakes. I beat together 175ml of vegetable oil, 3 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then divided the mixture in two.

In one half I added the pumpkin cake ingredients (but using cranberries instead of sultanas):

  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 100g of grated pumpkin
  • 50g cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon with ½ tsp of mixed spice

In the other half I added

  • 85g of drinking chocolate powder, with an extra tablespoon of sugar
  • 100g mashed banana
  • 50g sultanas

Both halves also had

  • 100g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda

I poured the two batters into a 10x6 inch tray. I expected the cakes to take about half an hour at gas mark 4 but it was well over ¾ hour before the middle stopped being liquid.

When the cake had cooled, I made a lemon juice icing, slightly runny so I could drizzle it over the top.

Banana Bread/Pumpkin Traybake

I took some of the cake to work to share (since that was where the hot chocolate powder came from, it was only fair to do that). People seemed to like it - I got favourable comments from people, someone even noticed that I had used an oil based recipe. Both cakes were definitely worth doing again.



International A-Z: A for Algeria

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
15/Nov/2016

Earlier this year I was watching Saturday Kitchen and they were showing one of the many regular clips from Rick Stein. This was from a series he did in Eastern Europe and it gave me the idea to try to do another alphabetical cooking challenge. I intend to take each letter of the alphabet and cook something from a country or region beginning with each letter.

Originally my plan was to cook a meal but we were recently at a barbecue where the husband was Algerian and his family had provided most of the food. There was a yellow bread which went down really well. When I got home I looked it up and found some recipes.

Khobz El Dar: Algerian Semolina Bread

I took inspiration from a recipe from food.com but I reduced the quantities a bit. Since the bread we ate didn't have seeds on or in it, I left those out.

Algerian Semolina Bread

My bread took a long time to rise (I think there were problems with the yeast) and the bread had a slight sourdough taste to it. I had baked with semolina before but this was the first time I had done a bread which was mostly semolina flour. My version wasn't as good as the one we had at the barbecue but it was my first attempt. If I try again, with fresher yeast, it might come out better.



Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownies part 2

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
03/Oct/2016

I made a second batch of the apple sauce and drinking chocolate brownies. This time I added a handful of dried cherries to the mix. I also used half apple pureé and half olive oil, since I only had half a cup of apple pureé in the fridge (the rest is in the freezer).

alt_text

When the brownies came out of the oven, I sprinkled 50g of plain chocolate over the top and waited for it to melt before spreading it over the top.

I took the cakes to work the share out and the everyone seemed to like them.



Bake-Off Fougasse

Story location: Home / Blog / tv /
01/Oct/2016

We have been fans of the Great British Bake Off since it first started and occasionally I cook something inspired by the programme. This week they did a Fougasse, which I hadn't heard of but looked good. The version on the programme was flavoured with herbs but I thought I would start with a plain version then try flavoured ones another time.

I followed the bread part of the recipe precisely, scaling it down a bit since I didn't need two loaves.

  • 300g (2¼ cups) of bread flour
  • 6g salt
  • one sachet of yeast
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 ml warm water

The method involved adding ¾ of the water at the start, then slowly adding the rest, using a food mixer with a dough hook. I followed it to the letter, including the 8 minute mixing time.

I actually split the dough in 2, adding extra flour to one half to use for a pizza base. The other half I left as-is and shaped into an approximate leaf shape and cut down the middle and diagonally from the centre.

After about an hour or so proving, I transferred the bread, still on the baking paper, onto the pizza stone and baked it (at gas mark 7) for 15 minutes.

Fougasse

It looks a bit irregular (or informal as Mary Berry might say) but that was mainly because it slid off the tray while I was getting ready to transfer it to the pizza stone. We ate it with some dips. I made the cheese and courgette dip again, but this time using cream cheese and pecorino instead of goats cheese. The fougasse was good. The outside was crispy while the inside was soft and fluffy. The dip was cheesy and went well with it.

Next time, I will add some extra flavours to the bread. Possibly garlic and chilli or parmesan/pecorino. We have some fresh herbs in the garden (and more chopped in the freezer) so I could also do Paul Hollywood's herb version too.



Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownies part 1

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
30/Sep/2016

We have a glut of hot chocolate powder in work, left over from when we used a different drinks machine. I was talking to a colleague in the kitchen and I wondered whether I could use some of it to make cakes. I decided to take some home to make an experimental batch of chocolate brownies. If they were any good, I would make some more to take back to work to share.

Every now and then I use apple sauce in recipes, since it can be used to replace some or all of the butter. We recently bought an Instant Pot, which we use several times a week as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, bread proving pot, or sometimes just a giant saucepan. It is very useful and I fully intend to blog a bit more about it in the future.

We had recently been given a bag of apples from the tree in Emma's Auntie Val's garden. I peeled them, cut them into big chunks and put them in the instant pot with a splash of water. I cooked them on the 'Soup' programme for 15 minutes and they had cooked down to a smooth pureé, there was no need to mash or liquidize afterwards.

Recipe

I looked up some brownie recipes to get a feel for the quantities, then decided to use the hot chocolate powder to replace both the sugar and cocoa powder.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of apple purée
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cup of hot chocolate powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 50g of plain chocolate, broken into chunks

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4. Grease and line a 9 or 10 inch cake tin.
  2. Mix the apple pureé, eggs and hot chocolate powder together
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt and sift into the wet mixture. Fold in.
  4. Stir in the chocolate pieces.
  5. Pour into the tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Results

Apple Sauce Hot Chocolate Brownie

Unfortunately I had to leave the house before the brownie was fully cooked so I turned the oven off and left it in while the oven cooled. When I got back, the brownie was properly cooked though, possibly a bit over-cooked because it wasn't moist and squishy inside.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the flavour though. Chocolate cakes do need a lot of cocoa powder or they just end up like brown sponge cakes. This was probably about right. I tried a square, then remembered that I needed to take a photo to put here. After taking the photo, I made a coffee and ate the second piece. If there is any cake left on monday, I'll take it to work, but I'll probably have to make another one to make sure there is enough to go round.



Apple and Banana Flapjacks

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
22/Jul/2016

I found some mashed banana and some apple puree in the freezer while I was trying to make room to put away some shopping. I was looking for recipes to try, something different to the usual banana bread, and decided to try some flapjacks.

Apple and Banana Flapjacks

The recipe was 250g of butter, 250g of fruit puree, 100g of brown sugar and 500g of porridge oats. The flapjacks were a bit crumbly and lacked the chewy texture you get with golden syrup. If I find myself making them again, I will probably replace some of the sugar with syrup.



Leftover Bread part 2: Bread Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
16/Mar/2016

Yesterday I made both the bread frittata and a bread pudding. The former was eaten for lunch, the latter was put straight in the fridge last night and we had half of it as part of our pudding after tea tonight.

Ingredients

  • Bread, 200g
  • milk, 150ml
  • dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, sultanas), 100g
  • sugar, 50g, extra for topping
  • eggs, 1
  • butter, 50g, extra for topping
  • spices (cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice), 2 tsp in total
  • orange zest

Method

The method was very similar to the frittata. The milk and egg were whisked together. The butter was melted and allowed to cool down before being stirred in, then the dried fruit, sugar, spices and bread were mixed in. Everything was poured into an 8 inch tin. The top was dotted with pieces of butter and extra sugar was sprinkled on. Again, the tin was covered with foil and baked, also at gas mark 4, for 45 minutes this time. The foil was removed about 10 minutes before the end.

Bread Pudding



Leftover Bread part 1: Frittata

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
15/Mar/2016

We have a bag in the freezer which is filled with scraps of bread leftover from various loaves. I decided it was time to find something to do with them. I wondered if it was possible to do a frittata/tortilla using bread instead of potatoes or other vegetables. I found a few recipes, all using different vegetables and quantities of bread and other ingredients. I used the leftovers from tonight's tea, along with some cocktail sausages from the weekend.

Ingredients

  • 100 g bread, cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs milk
  • 100g assorted cooked vegetables (I used onion, pepper, rice and sweetcorn)
  • 3 cocktail sausages, chopped small
  • salt, pepper and smoked paprika seasoning.

Method

I beat the eggs and milk together, stirred in all the other ingredients and poured the mixture into a greased and lined 8 inch tin. This was covered in foil and baked at gas mark 4 (180°C) for about half an hour.

Bread Frittata

The frittata was put in the fridge overnight ready for me to take for lunch tomorrow.

Update 16/03/2016

I had the frittata for lunch in work. It had gone firm enough to pick up and eat, making it ideal for picnics or packed lunches.



Banana muffins and Madeleines

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
31/Jan/2016

I baked a few things during January which I didn't get around to writing about at the time so I thought I'd post a couple of photos now. I made some banana muffins a few weeks ago, to use up some over-ripe and bruised bananas.

banana muffins

We got a madeleine tin for Christmas. It had spaces for 12 cakes, and the recipe in the Hairy Biker's book said it makes 12, which was a happy coincidence.

madeleines



Buckwheat Pancakes

Story location: Home / food_and_drink /
08/Nov/2015

When we were on holiday in France this summer, we ate a lot of the buckwheat pancakes, both in restaurants and from the supermarket. We brought a couple of bags of buckwheat flour home with us and I meant to have a go at making when we got back.

buckwheat pancake

I made a thin batter from

  • 250 g buckwheat
  • 3 small eggs
  • about 500ml of 50:50 milk and water
  • 60g melted butter
  • pinch of salt

I'm not sure exactly how much liquid I added - I kept adding it until the mixture looked right and gave a decent thickness of pancake.

My pancakes weren't quite as flexible as the ones we had on holiday - it was hard to get them as thin and not break them while getting them out of the pan, so I made them a bit thicker. They tasted similar enough to the genuine french ones.



Regional Cakeathon Revisited: Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
01/Nov/2015

The barley bread was one of the recipes I wanted to try during the main run of the A-Z of baking but I had difficulty tracking down the barley flour. I eventually managed to find some in a vegan/health food shop in Digbeth in Birmingham but by then I had already made the Nottingham Apple Pudding.

The only versions of this recipe on-line seem to be more like a savoury scone than a bread, made with buttermilk and baking powder. I thought I would try to make a more traditional bread, using yeast. Since baking powder was only invented in the mid 19th century, if the barley is a genuine traditional food, then early versions would have used yeast.

Northumberland Threshing Day Barley Bread

I used a mixture of barley flour and bread flour, added yeast and salt and then enough milk to make a soft dough. It rose quite slowly so I left it overnight. I only made a bread roll sized loaf as an experiment but it came out ok. I will have another go sometime in the future and try a few other variations on the recipe.