Over the weekend I was talking to my Aunt about courgettes, as you do, and I became obsessed with the idea of making courgette bread for my lunches this week. We moved on from the conversation and did other things, but later on I was presented with an old copy of She magazine with a recipe for courgette loaf in it. It looked simple enough and I had the basic ingredients to make the bread, what I didn’t have were the extras that would have given it some extra flavour – herbs, ham etc. So of course I improvised. Based on my experience handling the dough I have also modified the quantities:
In a bowl beat the eggs and add the salt and spices
Add the flour and yeast to the bowl and combine with the egg mixture
Add the oil and grated courgette and mix in evenly
Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes until it becomes smooth and non-sticky
Place in a loaf tin and leave for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size
Bake at 200 for 45 minutes
And there you have it. I’m happy with the overall flavour but the texture is a little cakey. More experimentation needed, reducing the number of eggs perhaps. It has made a good easy packed lunch though as an accompaniment to a nice bit of cheese and salad.
My new kitchen is small; I’d guess at around 3m x 3m, with only about 1m of usable work surface. This is a challenge to the domestic baker, but not insurmountable. I’ve been waiting for my first attempt at baking until I had the flat to myself so I could completely take over the kitchen. Today was the day.
I’ve had this Italian recipe for filled rolls on my to do list for months. Looking for inspiration for my packed lunches I decided to give it a go. Now I don’t read Italian so with the help of Google translate I set out to bake. I amended the recipe as I went and this is the result:
300g strong bread flour
200g plain flour
100g butter at room temperature
1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks
2tsp fast action yeast
Filling: any combination of cheese, ham, courgette, tomato, chicken, onion (or anything else you can think of)
Warm the milk and add the yeast. Leave for 5-10 minutes until the yeast begins to activate.
Pour the warm milk mixture into a large bowl with the flour, eggs, salt and softened butter. Combine the mixture. The result should be a smooth, elastic dough.
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes.
Put the dough in a bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise until increased three times in volume (about 1.5 hours).
Take the dough and divide into balls of around 40g, roll each ball out to form a disk and stuff to taste. Securely close it and place (closure down) on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper leaving a little space between the balls.
Leave the prepared trays for 30 minutes to 1 hour then brush with milk, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes.
I have to say, this was probably the best dough experience I’ve ever had. It was light, and elastic. Felt almost like pizza dough rather than bread. And for the first time ever I had a visible, and marked difference in size after leaving it to prove.
I decided on a filling of onion, courgette, emmenthal and chicken. I cut the onion and courgette fairly small and roasted it first to try to get rid of some of the moisture. I used a pack of pre-cooked chicken, the stuff you get for sandwich fillings, and cut the cheese into small chunks.
My dough and filling made 13 rolls. I reckon two would make for a decent sized packed lunch. I’ve experimented with freezing half of the batch. If that works well I could see this becoming a regular thing.
It’s miserable out this weekend, so I have spent the majority of my time baking. With the rest I have been watching rugby and eating the goodies that I made.
I started out yesterday morning with Celeriac and Blue Cheese Soda Bread. It’s the February recipe from my Abel and Cole calendar and as luck would have it I got a celeriac in my veg box this week. I made it to go with leek and potato soup for my lunches. It’s so easy and so tasty. I’ll definitely be making it again.
Next I made Pea, Feta and Mint Fatayer from a recipe I got from a course I took at the Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. These are little pasties made with a soft pastry with yoghurt as a secret ingredient. The filling is exactly as it says in the name of the fatayer; pea, feta and mint. They’re deliciious hot or cold. I’ve frozen half the batch and will eat the remainder in my packed lunches this week.
Finally, I adapted a recipe for Aztec Cookies from The Great Comic Relief Bake Off recipe book. The adaptations were made out of necessity – I ran out of flour and didn’t have any espresso flavoured chocolate. So here’s my take on it:
140g dark chocolate
1 large egg
2tsp instant coffee (I used Kenco Milicano for extra flavour)
few drops of vanilla extract
75g caster sugar
100g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
3 bags white chocolate buttons
Dissolve the instant coffee in 100ml boiling water, then leave to go cold.
Melt the dark chocolate and butter (in microwave or bowl over boiling water) and leave to cool slightly.
Whisk together the egg, cold coffee, vanilla and sugar. Then stir in the melted chocolate/butter mix.
Add the ground almonds to the wet ingredients and then sift in the flour and baking powder and combine. Stir in the white chocolate buttons.
Set the mixture aside for 10-15 minutes to let it thicken. Meanwhile, line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Spoon the mixture out onto the baking trays into 12-15 heaps.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm, at 150C.
Leave the coookies on the baking tray for around 5 minutes after removing from the oven.
Laura recently came back from a trip to Finland with an addiction to cinnamon and cardamom pulla. In the days immediately afterwards we made a half-hearted attempt to make our own from a random recipe we found online. It was a disaster. The dough was way too runny and instead of rolling them with cinnamon butter we ended up baking it in a cake tin and applying butter and cinnamon afterwards.
Earlier this week Laura was reading Falling Cloudberries, the food biography of Greek-Finnish writer Tessa Kiros, and she discovered a recipe for cinnamon and cardamom buns. So, with some time on my hands this Bank Holiday weekend I decided to give them a go. The recipe is a multi-stage process and I thought it would be interesting to document the process, and here is the result: