30 October 2008

Halloween Braic

Well it's Halloween tomorrow, so I thought I'd try out making braic. I looked at a few recipes and in the end made one up myself to incorporate some of my favourites. This one has a lemony kick to it, is moist and has a bit of crunch to it.

Ingredients :

400ml tea
100g sultanas
100g raisins
100g currants
225g self raising flour
200g rich dark brown sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
50g flaked almonds
50g chopped walnuts
55g chopped glacé cherries
55g chopped mixed peel
1 large egg
Zest of 1 lemon

Method :

1. Make the tea in a large bowl, add zest of 1/4 lemon.

2. Weigh out raisins, sultanas and currents.

3. Soak this fruit in the tea overnight.

4. In a large mixing bowl, put the flour.

5. Add the brown sugar and nutmeg.

6. Add the nuts.

7. Add the cherries and mixed peel.

8. Add the zest of 3/4 a lemon.

9. Make a well in the dry mix.

10. Add in beaten egg and tea mix.

11. Beat all the ingredients together.

12. Grease a tin and pour in cake mix.

13. Bake in an oven at 180 degrees Celcius for 45 minutes. To check if it's done, stick a skewer in and it should come out clean.

It's traditional to add in a ring, simply wrap a ring in greaseproof paper and add to the mix before you pour it into the tin to bake. The lucky person who gets the ring in their slice is said to get married that year!

29 October 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Bake Your Pizzas Like A Real Pizzaiolo

My first Daring Bakers challenge this month, and boy was it challenging! This month's challenge was set by Rosa of http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com/

I was expecting a nice cake, some muffins or some such, but was at first terrified at the thought of having to make my own pizza. The biggest challenge was the compulsory tossing of the dough. However, as a new Daring Baker I knew I had to give it a go! And I'm so happy I did. Turns out it's a long process and yet a worthwhile one, no more take away pizza for me!

The recipe takes two days to make, so set aside a weekend and get baking! The dough is freezable, just slip a piece into a ziploc bag with a little oil and flour and put in the freezer (after the overnight step). To defrost, simply remove from freezer the night before you want to make it, and leave in the fridge.

Ingrediants :

4 1/2 cups strong (00) white flour
1/2 tbsp salt
1 pack instant yeast
1 3/4 cups cold water
1 tbsp sugar
More flour for dusting

Method :

1. Weigh out ingredients.

2. Mix flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl.

3. Add sugar.

4. Add water.

5. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until it starts coming together as a dough.

6. Knead (by hand or with dough hooks) for 5 to 7 mins.

7. The dough should be sticky, but coming away from the edges of the bowl. If it's too sticky add a tablespoon of flour, if it's too firm add a tablespoon of cold water.

8. Line a pan with greaseproof paper, and a light spray of oil.

9. Flour a work surface, and cut the dough into 6 (or in my case 7!) equal (or in my case not so equal) balls of dough.

10. Place the dough balls on the pan, cover in cling film and place in the fridge overnight.

11. On the day you want to make the pizza, 2 hours before baking, remove the dough from the fridge. It will have risen somewhat.

12. Flour the work surface.

13. Press the dough into a disc about 1cm thick.

14. Cover in cling film and leave to rest for 2 hours.

15. 45 mins before baking, place pizza stone in the oven at 260 degrees Celcius. If you don't have a pizza stone, just preheat the oven. Use the back of a pan, cover in greaseproof paper and sprinkled with flour, to cook the pizza.

16. Toss the pizza dough until it's as thin as you'd like it. Place on a floured pizza peel, or on the pan.

17. Spread some base sauce (see post below for recipe) on the pizza.

18. Place some cheese on the pizza.

19. Add toppings.



More Cheese

20. Transfer pizza from peel to pizza stone, or put pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until base is crisp and cheese has melted.

21. Remove from oven and rest for a minute or two. Cut and serve!

I have to say, this is the best pizza I've ever had. This can also be made as a sweet pizza (which I have yet to try), with fruit, sugar, chocolate etc as toppings.

Pizza Sauce / Pasta Sauce

This months Daring Baker challenge was pizza, so of course I had to make a good base sauce. This is roughly the same sauce I use for pasta when I'm in a hurry, and the basic tomato sauce I use for a base in any tomato based dish :)

This sauce will keep in the fridge for over a week in an airtight container.

Ingredients :

1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 large onion
2 - 4 cloves of garlic

Method :

1. Fry the onion in a little oil until softened and brown.

2. Add in garlic and fry for another minute or so.

3. Add in the tomatoes.

4. Simmer the mix for 10 - 15 mins on low heat.

5. Blend the mix.

Serving and Variations :

For pizza - spread a thin layer across the base (about a tablespoon for a 9" pizza)

For pasta - add in 1cm of ginger and a handful of chopped mushrooms before simmering, blend if you like smooth sauce, don't if you like chunky

25 October 2008

October - The Quiet Month

Well, it's been a while since I blogged, but have been so busy with work, college and etc. that I haven't been doing much baking (aside from this month's Daring Bakers challenge, which will be posted at the end of this month).

Hopefully I'll be back on form next month, I plan on doing some former DB challenges, a new regular feature called "Cooking for One for a Week", where I'll show how to make a substantial meal that can be frozen and reheated for those of us who only get maybe a day free a week but love cooking, and some test baking/cooking for Christmas parties.

For now, I have 120 assignments to correct, a house to clean and a dinner to make!