Bread & butter pudding 

This takes me back to staying at my nana’s house on a school night. Good old nana.

 

Butter up and cut up whatever bread is hiding in your cupboard and drown it in vanilla custard. Sprinkle with currants, glacé cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Or whatever you have in, chocolate chips are a good shout too if you’re feeling it. Bake for 30 minutes on gas mark 4 until golden. Serve with a good dollop of pudding with lashings of double cream. 

Now that’s making memories or at least returning back to a favourite few. 

Vanilla custard :

  • 250 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 50 ml double cream
  • 35g sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

Heat up the milk  and cream with the vanilla and add to the beaten egg yolks and sugar slowly. If you do it too quickly the eggs will scramble. Return the mixture to the pan and whisk constantly until slightly thickened. It’s so easy to curdle the custard, so heat slowly and never take your eyes off it.

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Wholemeal date loaf

Never know what to do with your left over festive fruit? Whack it in a loaf! This loaf has a good crust and a brilliant sweetness. Cut this up and make it into lovely toast and butter it up with something sweet. Alternatively it’s also good with meat and cheese as the dates act a bit like a sweet relish already within the bread.

  

  • 500g strong wholemeal flour
  • 1 sachet of yeast
  • 10g salt
  • Lots of chopped up dates 
  • 300ml tepid water

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together and combine with the water. This makes quite a sloppy dough. Let it prove in a warm place for an hour then squash the air out of it and prove again for another hour. Mix in the dates and distribute evenly. Place in the loaf tin for a final prove and bake at 200°C for 40 minutes. 

Nom. 

Cranberry & raisin loaf

  
I think this is the best loaf of bread I have ever made. It’s a sweet bread with a good crust. The cranberries and raisins give it a fruity punch which go well with nutmeg and cinnamon. This is a James Morton recipe amended to be a bit fruitier. 

  • 500g strong white flour 
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 yeast sachet
  • 10g salt 
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml warm milk
  • 75g raisins
  • 75g cranberries 
  • 1tsp nutmeg 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon and mixed spice

This bread is made like your average loaf but with a few extra additions. 

  • Mix up the flour with yeast, sugar and salt (try not to let the yeast mingle a lot with the sugar and salt at the start- this can inhibit the yeast)
  • Stir in the milk and eggs to make a wet dough
  • Prove for 1 hour
  • Add spices and fruit until well distributed
  • Prove for another hour
  • Knead it a little bit and pop it into a loaf tin
  • Pop it the fridge overnight to prove slowly 
  • Give the bread an egg wash (milk if you haven’t got any)
  • Bake at 210°C for 30 minutes
  • Turn oven down to 190°for another 15 minutes

There’s lots of proving in this loaf recipe but it’s well worth it because the flavour is spectacular. Definitely gonna make this again, might try dried apricots next time…. 

Wholemeal bread

Mmmmm…. the smell of bread in the oven again.

  • 200g strong white bread flour
  • 300g strong brown bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • Sachet of yeast
  • 350ml water

This is another James Morton signature bread. Very simple this one. Knock the flours, salt and yeast together and mix in the water to form a good dough (always put the salt and yeast at opposite ends of the bowl before rubbing in). Leave to prove to double in size and then squash the air out of it and repeat a few times. Shape into a loaf tin and prove once more for an hour. Give it a milk wash, sprinkle with oats and pop into a hot oven (210°C) for 30 minutes. Remove from the tin and bake for another 15 minutes to get the crust good and crunchy.

Pizza bianco!

Iphone 173

Can’t beat a good pizza. They’re super fast to make and super fast to eat! The dough contains:

  • 250g strong bread four
  • 1 packet dried yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 150ml tepid water

Make a soft dough and knead on a floured surface for 10-15 minutes until nice and smooth. Prove for 20 minutes and then roll out onto a polenta covered surface. The polenta prevents the dough from sticking to the worktop (really important, I’ve made many a boob doing this – if you do mess up though, just roll up your pizza and pretend you meant to make a calzone all along). The beauty of pizza is you can make it your own. I used some cooked off spinach, anchovies, taleggio and a runny egg (idea stolen from Angela Hartnett – what a wonderful woman she is!). I keep my baked tray (also covered in polenta) in a very hot oven (220°C) and then place the pizza on, crack the egg in the centre and place in the oven. The pizza takes ~4-6 minutes to cook depending on how good your oven is. If you can rescue your pizza before the yolk cooks through then you’re winning!

Other topping combinations I’ve tried include:

  • pancetta
  • asparagus tips
  • mozzarella
  • a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil

AND

  • salmon
  • spinach
  • mozzarella
  • tomatoes cooked down with a bit of sugar and garlic

But there’s so much more to discover. I try not to make pizza too often to prevent the likelihood of turning into a blue whale overnight. It’s definitely a treat and goes very well with a good big glass of Chianti. Buon appetito!

Walnut honey bread

kneadingTime for something delicious and savoury. I felt like kneading so I decided to make my favourite honey walnut loaf. I don’t know if you can remember James Morten from the Great British Bake Off Season 3. Well he essentially taught me how to make bread over the last few years via a book (Brilliant Bread), not in person – although that would have been lovely because I really like his choice of knitwear. This recipe has barely any ingredients in which is so convenient if you’re like me and don’t plan your shopping well in advance. I never know what I’m gonna feel like baking until I get hit by a craving and then my obsessive, compulsive nature usually follows through….
mixture
So I started off by making a lovely doughy mixture and then rested it for five minutes and proved it for 1.5 hours. I always oil some cling film to place on top of the bowl whilst it proves – otherwise the dough sticks to it and it gets a bit messy.
  • 200 g strong white flour
  • 300 g strong brown flour
  • 10 g salt
  • packet of dried yeast
  • a good squeeze of honey
  • 125 ml tepid milk
  • 150 ml tepid water
  • knob of butter melted

I then added a big packet of walnuts (200 g) to the mixture and left to prove for another hour. They are quite tricky to combine into the dough because every time you push down, some pop out. So it’s more than a ten minute job and good exercise!

proved dough
After the bread had proved I shaped it into a big ball and proved again for an hour. It’s really important to get your oven nice and hot for bread baking so you get a good crust. My oven is nuclear so after five minutes I wrapped it in foil to prevent it from becoming too dark. Baked it for just over half an hour and it came out all golden and sounded hollow upon tapping it’s base. Slice it, butter it, EAT IT! SOOOOO GOOD.
finished bread
Now that’s what I call NOMI-LICIOUS, yes I did just make that word up. One day that might be found in the dictionary. The toasted walnuts on it’s crust are very special and I could harp on about them all day. Why buy bread when you can make it fresh?