Saturday, 24 November 2012


Panettone for me had up until today only been eaten from a box or mini ones at a coffee shop  I always buy one around Christmas time but never made one. Given my love of making bread it's a bit of a mystery why I hadn't but never mind. Yesterday I was looking through cupboards and wondering what I had that needed using up or that I had forgotten I had, which happens a fair bit. Dried sweetened cranberries jumped out as did a tub of mixed peel and plain and white chocolate. Decided to go with the white chocolate and looked up a gazillion panettone recipes and sort of hashed one together to work with what I have.

8g dried yeast
125ml of warm full fat milk
1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
400g strong white bread flour
pinch of salt
2 medium eggs
80g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
60g dried sweetened cranberries
100g mixed cut peel
50 grams chopped white chocolate ( would double this next time)

extra butter for greasing moulds and brushing tops of bread

taking a tablespoon or so of the flour and reserving I mixed the yeast, flour, orange blossom water, milk, 2 eggs and pinch of salt into my bowl until it mixed into a slightly shaggy dough.  Was a bit dry but more egg yolks were to be added. sprinkle the dough with the reserved flour and leave for around 30-40 minutes.

Next you can do this by hand but I use my stand mixer add in the sugar and the egg yolks. mixing or kneading for 5 minutes or until you get a very soft pliable dough. Then mix in or knead in the softened butter  This takes a while and is very gungy slippery texture while incorporating it. Mine was a bit sticky and I added in a few tablespoons more of flour.  Then twigged if I was kneading it by hand it would be on floured board and absorb more anyway! 

Shape into a ball and oil bowl, cover with cling film ( I use a shower cap) and Leave for an hour to prove and double in size.

While It is doing this I buttered and lined base and sides of 3 300 ml ramekins with grease proof paper, Leaving a big collar out of the top.  Tins for this that were mentioned in recipes I read ranged from 12-15 cm tins, none of which I had so I improvised.

When the dough has doubled in size I tipped out onto a lightly floured board and gently folded and kneaded the fruits and chocolate through the dough.  Did wonder at first if there was to much for the dough but it isn't, just keep poking and folding escaped bits back into the dough. 
Divided the dough in 3 balls an placed into the lined ramekins. Covered with a tea towel and let rise for roughly another our until they rose again by double.

Preheat oven to gas mark 5

Next stage was to cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife and brush with melted cooled butter and place in oven for 10 minutes for these but 20 for big individual one.
After 10 minutes brush with butter again and reduce to gas mark 4 and put back in oven for another 20 minutes or 35 for big one. If they look like they are burning cover with a piece of foil just resting on top

And this is how much they rose! I left for 10 minutes still in ramekins and then removed onto cooling rack.  Where we waited until just warm and dived in

I decided it needs double the amount of chocolate I put in and bigger chunks, Plus the orange blossom water was rather not there so maybe will try grated orange zest next time. Great texture and taste.  But definitely a case of could be improved 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Grasmere gingerbread

While out shopping on Saturday with my son we did a spot of Christmas shopping.  WHSmiths had 2 books for £10.  I had bought one book for £9.99 as a gift so seemed only fair I got another book for me at the lovely price of one penny so I chose this>>>>> one <<<<< National trust complete country cookbook. It's jam packed full of good solid decent food, that although isn't always grandly fancy, will please whoever you feed this food to. Straightforward no nonsense but delightful food.

On Sunday I decided to try out 2 recipes, this one and a duck recipe. Both came out wonderful especially for first attempts. This however is simplicity itself even the kids could help with it and it would still come out OK,

This made loads, It says serves 16 but I used a greased Swiss roll tin and cut it in smaller bars as very rich I thought

Started off with
225g butter plus extra for greasing
450g plain flour
225g light brown sugar (I had light muscavado worked well)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon golden syrup
granulated sugar for sprinkling 

preheat oven to 150/300/gas mark 2 and butter a tin that has at least a cm worth of height

first step is to cube the butter up and rub into the flour as if you are making a crumble, when it looks like sandy clumps then add in all the dry ingredients apart from the granulated sugar and mix together between fingers and rub together more.  Just a big bowl of crumbly not quite clumping together mass it is.  Add in your tablespoon of golden syrup and mix around again.  It's really good hands on recipe for the kids if you have one you need to amuse.  

Now fill your tin and press down firmly to an even height of 1 cm.  Great fun pressing this in.  The gingerbread is in no way resembling a dough so just pack it in firmly  I then place mine in centre of oven. Now the only thing that slightly annoyed me was the instructions said bake until golden brown.  Bit hard to know as it is fairly golden mixture.  But I left mine in around 25 minutes I think it was and it was just darkening more around the edges and house had filled with a gorgeous smell :o) It was still however quite soft to the touch but  a little puffy.  So I pulled it out the oven and sprinkled it with the granulated sugar and it looked great 

It had to be left for 15 minutes to firm up and then cut while still in the tin. I left it another 10 minutes then put them all on a cooling rack to finish cooling. While sampling a still warm one. Although still a little fragile at this stage.  

Having never had this type of gingerbread before I wasn't sure what the texture was supposed to be like and asked a few people and looked it up online. Thought I had done something wrong.  The gingerbread had a slightly chewy almost fudgy texture and is the perfect balance between like a shortbread and cake if you ask me. 

I also have started to buy my dried herbs and spices at the newly opened wholefood shop in my village and the difference between the fresher spices there and store bought really does make the difference from nice to bursting with flavour, very much so with the ground ginger I bought last week in this recipe.  World of difference so check your spices aren't losing their taste and brightness folks