Technical Challenge Week 7 – Margherita Pizza

I love making pizzas – I’ve been making these at least once a month for the past couple of years, so I think I would have been pretty good at this challenge! The most important thing is to make sure the mozzarella has been drained and squeezed in kitchen roll to remove as much moisture as possible. If this isn’t done, you may end up with a soup of liquid in the middle of your pizza!

Makes 2 Pizzas

Ingredients

Dough

  •  5g (1 tsp) fast-action dried yeast
  • 260mL (1 cup) warm water
  • 400g (3 1/cups) strong white bread flour
  • 1/tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • large pinch of sugar
  • basil leaves, to garnish

Sauce

  •  1 can (400g) plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • large pinch of sugar

Method

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the water and oil on top, and mix together with a spoon until you have a shaggy dough.
  2. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  3. For the sauce, chop and fry the garlic in a little oil for a minute, then stir in the tomatoes.
  4. Add the sugar and salt and simmer for 10 minutes until it is a thick, sauce-like consistency. Leave to one side until needed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF). Split the dough in half and using your hands, press out into a large circle. Try not to press the outside rim to ensure a thick crust.
  6. Add the sauce to the middle of the pizza, and spread outwards leaving an inch rim for the crust. Slice your mozzarella and place on top.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling. Remove from the heat and add basil leaves to garnish. Enjoy!

Technical Challenge Week 4 – Stroopwafels

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When I discovered that stroopwafels were the next technical challenge, I was worried – I thought it would be impossible to create these without a waffle iron. However, necessity is the mother of invention! I managed to ‘make’ one using two cast iron pans, which you can see below:

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With this setup, I heated up both pieces separately on a medium-high heat. Once heated, I added a ball of dough to the bottom, and (using oven gloves!) I put the smaller pan on top and squished it down for 30 seconds. I then left these to cook for a further minute and a half, and I think they turned out great! The smaller cast iron piece had a design on the base, so this also made them come out quite pretty, if I do say so myself!

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As with all the bakers in this challenge, my caramel also came out very grainy. If I were to make these again, I think I would try to melt the sugar alone first, and then add in the butter. The sugar just did not want to dissolve for some reason.

However, they tasted amazing, and I would definitely attempt them again in the future.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 300g (21/2 cups) plain flour
  • 65g (1/4 cup) butter
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1/tsp cinnamon
  • 65g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 65mL (1/4 cup) warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt

For the caramel

  • 200g (1 cup packed) soft light brown sugar
  • 100g (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • You will also need a 10cm (4 inch) round cookie cutter.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, rub the butter and the flour together until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the yeast, cinnamon, and sugar.
  2. Stir in the warm water and egg, and knead together for two minutes, until smooth. Cover and leave for 30 minutes.
  3. For the caramel, melt the butter and sugar together over a low heat until dissolved. Add the cinnamon and syrup and stir until it starts to bubble. Stir in the vanilla, and keep warm.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces, and cover with a damp cloth to prevent them drying out.
  5. Heat up the waffle iron or cast iron (see instructions above), and grease with butter. Place a ball on, and close the lid. Bake for 1-2 minutes until they are a dark golden colour.
  6. Quickly, remove the stroopwafel and place on a chopping board. Cut using a 10cm (4 inch) cutter, and slice in half with a sharp knife.
  7. Add a heaping tablespoon of caramel in the middle of one side, and gently push the two sides together to evenly distribute the caramel across the surface. Place on a wire rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining dough.

 

This recipe was originally from the Great British Bake Off’s website, which you can find here.

Technical Challenge Week 2 – Fortune Cookies

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I was very excited when I saw that fortune cookies were next on the agenda – they have been on my to-do list for so long! This finally gave me an excuse to make them, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

A silicone baking mat is required for this recipe – fortune cookies will stick to anything else (even greaseproof paper!), so make sure you have a mat! Also be aware that you need to manipulate these as soon as they come out of the oven – a small spatula can help to flip and fold the cookies to prevent burning yourself. My only other advice would be to make sure they have started to brown on the edges – underbaked dough will not harden fully and will prevent a crisp snap.

I really did enjoy making these, and I hope you will too!

Makes 12 Fortune Cookies – 6 of each

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 65g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 11/2 tsp cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • orange food colouring

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) / 130°C (270°F) fan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat, and prepare fortunes for your cookies.
  2. Gently whisk the egg whites together with the vegetable oil and water.
  3. Sieve the flour, cornflour, and salt together in a separate bowl, and stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the bowl and beat until smooth. Do not aerate the batter.
  5. Divide the batter into two bowls. Add the almond extract to one, and the orange extract to the other.
  6. For the orange fortune cookies, place 3 tbsp batter into a disposable icing bag and set aside. Colour the remaining batter bright orange.
  7. For the almond cookies, place one tablespoon of batter onto one side of the silicone mat and using the back of a spoon, spread until you have a 10cm (4″) circle. Repeat on the other side of the mat with a second tablespoon of mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.
  8. Working quickly, remove from the oven and lift a cookie from the tray. Add a fortune to the centre, fold in half and press the edges to seal. Place the middle of the folded edge of the cookie on the rim of a glass to fold them in to make the classic shape. Place in a 12-hole muffin tin to cool and set. Repeat with the other cookie, and the remaining batter to make six in total.
  9. For the orange cookies, place two tablespoons of batter onto the silicone mat and spread as before. Using the piping bag, pipe six circles of light-coloured batter around the circle, 1cm in from the edge. Drag a cocktail stick through the first circle, and follow around to form a heart pattern around the outside of the cookie.
  10. Bake and shape as above, to make a further six cookies.

 

This recipe was adapted from Paul’s Fortune Cookies Recipe, which can be found on The Great British Bake Off’s website.

Welshcakes

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With only a few days until St. David’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to share the recipe I use to make welshcakes. Soft and delicious, these cake-biscuit hybrids are traditionally baked on a bakestone. But don’t worry if you don’t have one – a cast iron skillet will do the job. They are usually made with dried fruit, but I can’t resist chocolate chip welshcakes! These are best served warm and dusted with caster sugar, but are still delicious once cool. Cymru am byth!

Makes 20 welshcakes

Ingredients

  •  125g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter (chilled)
  • 250g (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 1/4tsp ground allspice
  •  100g (2/3 cup) sultanas (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 large egg

Method

  1. Cube the butter and add to a bowl with the flour. Rub the two together until you form fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and allspice, and mix to combine.
  2. Add the egg and fruit (or chocolate chips) to the dough and mix until just combined. Form into a flat disc, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Roll on a floured surface to a thickness of 1cm (2/5 inch) and cut using a fluted 7.5cm (3 inch) round cutter.
  4. Preheat an unoiled bakestone or cast iron skillet on a medium-low heat and cook for around 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Leave to stand on a plate for a few minutes before eating.

The recipe used is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’.

Lemon Poppyseed Crumpets

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A friend of mine mentioned the idea of lemon and poppyseed crumpets, and I had to try to make my own! I love crumpets. They’re relatively simple to make, but it does take time to prove the dough. If you don’t have crumpet rings, large metal round cookie cutters also do the job. Don’t be tempted to add lemon juice to the recipe – the acidity will interfere with the rising agent used in the final steps. I also start cooking with one tester crumpet – much like pancakes, it does take time to fine-tune the temperature and cooking times. These are great served warm, or cooled and reheated later. Delicious!

Makes 12 crumpets

Ingredients

  •  175g (11/4cups) strong white bread flour
  • 175g (11/4cups) plain flour
  • 14g (11/2tbsp) dried yeast
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 350mL (11/2cups) warm milk
  • 150mL (2/3 cups) tepid water
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp lemon zest
  • 1tbsp poppy seeds

Method

  1. Add the flours and yeast to a bowl. Dissolve 1tsp of sugar into the milk, and add to the bowl of flour.
  2. Beat with a wooden spoon for 4-5 minutes; this step is important to develop the gluten in the dough, to ensure the crumpets have an open, cavernous texture.
  3. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile, add the salt, 1tsp sugar, and lemon zest to the water to infuse.
  4. Once the dough has proved, add the bicarbonate of soda into the water and stir to dissolve. Add the water and poppy seeds into the dough, and mix until incorporated. Leave to stand for a further 20 minutes.
  5. Grease four 8cm (3inch) crumpet rings and pre-heat your pan at a medium heat. Start with a tester crumpet – fill with batter until just below the rim. After 6 minutes, the top should be set and have large, open holes. Flip over and allow to cook for another 1-2 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  6. Now you have fine-tuned the heat and temperature, repeat but with 4 crumpets at a time.
  7. Serve immediately or allow to cool and reheat later.

 

The base crumpet recipe used is from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’.

Mary Berry’s Scones

To celebrate the return of The Great British Bake Off, I’m sharing my favourite scone recipe from none other than Mary Berry herself! The key is not to overwork the dough; this will develop gluten, which results in a tougher bake. Traditionally, a fluted cutter is used but don’t worry if you don’t have one – a round cutter works just as well. These scones are best served warm from the oven, slathered in clotted cream and strawberry jam. With a cup of tea of course!

Makes 10 scones
8cm/3in round or fluted cutter required

Ingredients

  •  450g (323 cups) self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 50g (14 cup) caster sugar
  • 75g (13 cup) butter
  • 225mL (1 cup) milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75g (12 cup) dried fruit (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°c (425°f) or 200°c (400°f) fan.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Rub in the butter until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency.
  3. Beat the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl. Keep a small amount for glazing.
  4. Add enough of the milk/egg mixture to make a slightly wet and sticky dough. Add the dried fruit if using.
  5. Place dough onto a floured surface and roll to 2cm (34in) thick. Cut using an 8cm (or 3in) cutter. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  6. Put on a lined baking tray, and brush the tops with the remaining egg/milk mixture.
  7. Bake until well-risen and golden (around 12-15 minutes).

This recipe was originally from maryberry.co.uk – find the recipe here.