Monthly Archives: December 2011

Gloooooria! Bread rise in excelsis!

Loaf rise merrily on high,

In kitchen the timer’s pinging:

Bread smells wafting through the sky,

On toast I will be binging!

So, yeah, this weekend was about bread and carols…Nom nom nom nom la...nom nom nom la!

After a successful(ish) crumpet run we thought it maybe time to put Gloria Bubble’s leavening powers to the test!…Loaf time!

Really easy recipe just a 1:2:3 ration of Gloria, Liquid (we used liquid whey) and Strong White Flour…and salt (about 0.05 but that totally ruins the pretty ratio).

So…

  • 125g Gloria Bubbles
  • 250ml liquid whey
  • 375g Flour
  • 6.25g Salt
  • We also added a tsp of cumin seeds for some earthy depth (then sprinkled with sea salt and freshly dried thyme to add a lighter, sweeter note (that is douche speak for we scattered shit on).).

    ooh, we do love a savoury sprinkle.

  1. Mix everything and knead for about 10 minutes
  2. Cover and leave somewhere nice and snuggly warm until doubled in size
  3. Knock back and knead for a few minutes
  4. Shape and plonk in a loaf tin
  5. Cover and leave again until doubled in size
  6. Sprinkle with thyme and sea salt and bake 200ºC for 30-35 minutes

We made the loaf over the weekend and left it by the roaring fire to prove.  As it was “Gloria Powered” not those turbo, rock n’ roll, speeding off their tits, fast-action yeasties…it took forever to double in size!  She plodded along obviously taking her time knitting bubbles and wrapping them in ribbon before releasing into the dough…we were concerned we’d pushed her too hard, too fast, to furious, but she came good in the end!

If we’re honest we may have over-proved her second time around; she was taking sooooo long to rise I was going to bake the loaf the next morning…5pm, still little; 6pm, not much happening; 7pm, (like our hung-over eyes) a little puffy; 8pm good to go but a bit late for fresh bread?!  9.30pm, she was bursting from her seams so we had no choice…baking time!

Look at the air-holes! We made them! Oh Dr Frankenstein eat your heart out! My creation was totally more delicious than yours!

what a delightful crumb! *breaks the forth wall a la Miranda Hart*

The other great thing is that Gloria lives! She donates a portion and then goes on her fabulous way! There is no need for a sacrifice to the Baking Gods or to Our Mother Mary (Berry).

The loaf was delightful, light and airy with that lovely sour-dough tang.  The cumin and thyme worked nicely together to make it the perfect accompaniment to a warm stew or soup (we warned Simon just in time as he was about to spread some raspberry jam on a slice!).

toasted with a swipe of butter...hold the jam.

The next job for Gloria is probably a sweet, breakfast bread…exciting…we are very proud mamas’!

Gloria Bubbles makes her début: Crumpets and English Muffins

She stood, nervous and quivering in her foamy gown.  The beautiful débutante, Miss Gloria Bubbles turned to us and said “Wondercat, I’m ready”…

introducing Miss Gloria Bubbles...

What better way for our new sour-dough starter to make an entrance than with some quintessentially English breakfast bread products; crumpets and English muffins…We always thought crumpets would take far too long to make at home, but, once you have a nice starter bubbling away they couldn’t be simpler (well, OK, buying them is still simpler).

crumpilicious

The great thing about crumps and muffs (last time we use those abbreviations) is that you make them with excess that you’d otherwise be throwing down the drain: and we hate waste!

Gloria is one hungry lady, but as we feed her, she grows; every now and then we need to give her a bit of a nip and a tuck so she doesn’t take over the place…it is TOTALLY Lloyd in Space-The Science Project (how much did we love Lloyd in Space!?!?!)

We pretty much messed around with a few recipes to get a feel for things.  We didn’t throw a hole-in-one (love a mixed-sports-metaphor) but we are well on the way to delightful bready goodness…a few more runs to score a knock-out!

almost there! a C+ I think

Both crumpets and English muffins are basically a scoop of Ms. Bubbles, flour, a bit o’ salt n’ sugar and perhaps a little milk to thin things down…oh yeah, then a teaspoon of baking powder!  Gloria is a acidic little madam so the baking powder gets her foaming at the mouth!

rabid Gloria

The first batch of crumpets were ridiculously thick.  We didn’t realise how much volume the bubbles would provide so, we started about 2/3 crumpet height and ended up with monsterous triple thick (and stodgy centred) crumps; they were also a bit Gloria heavy so tasted too sour…a great first batch!  The second were better but the bottoms got a little too bronzed as the pan had been on for a while (and was shit).

the Claire from Steps muffin: looks good but a little doughy in the middle

if only we had a decent pan big enough to fit more than one but less than a gazillion chef rings.

The English muffins were just crumpets flipped over to cook on both sides…who knew!  Again they were whacking great giants but this we think, is more acceptable in a muffin!

muffin monsters!

So, we will be working on getting the ratios correct then we’ll post a complete recipe for perfect crumps and muffs (the abbreviations have grown on us).

Herman – thank you for being a friend…

Travelled down the road and back again;  Your heart is true, your a pal and a confidant. And if you through a party;  Invited everyone you ever knew; You would see the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say thank you for being a friend!!!

Sorry, we went to a bad place…this isn’t a Golden Girls post, it’s about German, Herman Friendship Cake…picture it, Sicily, 1912 (We’ll stop now, promise!)

Well, forgive me. But my arthritis is playing me up. My social security check was late. And I realized today I haven't showered with a man in twenty-two years!

Right…picture it, Christmas party, Altrincham, last weekend…Granny Dot gave us a Baby Herman!  If you haven’t heard of Herman he is a version of Amish Friendship Breadthat is currently having a bit of a revival.  It is basically an edible chain letter that we here at Wondercat predict will be the Zombie/Bacon/Angry Birds of 2012.

Herman - the cupcake/macaroon/Kim Kardashian of next year...

 

The easiest way to explain things is to show you the instructions:

Herman

Herman is a friendship cake which you cannot buy but can give away. Herman is alive and grows slowly but surely because of a yeasting process. It takes 10 days before you can eat him.
DO NOT put in the fridge as he grows at room temperature. You do not need a lid, just cover the bowl with a tea towel.
DAY 1:  Today Herman is given to you. Congratulations, you must have a friend. Pour him into a big bow so      
he can grow.
DAY 2:  Stir Herman 2 or 3 times each day using a wooden spoon. You can leave the spoon in the bowl.
DAY 3:  Stir Herman and talk to him.
DAY 4:  Herman is hungry! You must feed him with – 
              200ml of milk
              200g of self raising flour
              250g of sugar
DAY 5:  Stir Herman
DAY 6:  Stir Herman. He really appreciates your visits.
DAY 7:  Stir Herman.
DAY 8:  Stir Herman. Are you still talking to him?
DAY 9:  Herman is hungry again! Feed him as Day 4.
              Having been fed, he now needs to be split into equal little Hermans. Give away 4 of the little 
              Hermans and a copy of these instructions.
DAY 10: Your remaining little Herman is absolutely starving after all that!
              This time feed him with – 
              150g of Self raising flour
              150g of Sugar
              3 Eggs
              2 tsp of cinnamon*
              1 tsp of baking powder
              100g of fine chopped nuts or mixed fruit*
              2 Grated Apples*
              100ml of oil (corn or sunflower)
* = optional
Herman would now like to go to a hot resort, the oven will do. Preheat it to 170 degrees Celsius (which is between 3 and 4 on a gas mark oven). With everything mixed, pour him into a 7” cake tin. Leave him at the resort for about an hour. After all this care, attention and nurturing … eat him!!!

after the trip to the resort...little bit of a tan, smothered in after-sun lotion...this is too twee even for us.

You can pretty much whack anything in him at the end.  Carrot instead of apple? Bit of chocolate? Whatever random crap you have lying around? We went for chocolate (cocoa), candied peel, dried cranberries, sultanas, cinnamon, vanilla, fresh and ground ginger.
It felt a little awful eating the little guy we’d nurtured for the last week or so (we actually cheated and skipped a few days), but hey ho…it was his delicious destiny.

crumbled a bit when cut...tis what happens when you can't wait for Herman to cool down...boy smelt goooood!

Herman, it turns out, is just a milky sourdough starter.  After doing a little bit of research on sourdough it appears you can make your own starter!  Grown from natural yeasts hanging around it will improve and develop with age and you can keep a starter for centuries!
So, a little bit of organic malted flour and some orange juice and we have a new addition to the Bakery…MISS GLORIA BUBBLES IS ALIVE AND FROTHING!  We are going to let her gain some strength over the next few weeks, then we are taking her out for a test drive!!!!  If anyone fancies baking with Gloria Bubbles I’m more than happy to send out baby Glorias!

Happy Holidays!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We are definitely on-board with the festive here at the bakery!

put some records on while I pour...

This weekend was time for our annual Winter Soirée; a time to catch up with friends and family and be merry! Tis the season after all!

This year we changed things up a bit.  Gone were the glazed ham, roast turkey and salmon…bring on the Bolly and canapés!  Of course, there were a few regulars…

The Chadong Christmas Cake and Mykie’s Mince Pies!

I do enjoy a table full of sweetness!

The Chadong Christmas Cake is the highlight of the baking calendar for us.  Not only do we try and improve on the taste of the cake each year but we also have a great time planning the décor!  The Cake is the centrepiece, the fruity glue that holds the evening together…it must be perfection (or as close as we can get given the restraints of time, resource and sanity).

run, run Rudolph!

This year we totally revamped the fruit cake which is usually just a Delia with a twist or two.  This year we wanted something different; something that still screamed fruit cake but lighter, fresher, and more appealing to the “fruit cake haters”.

The Fruit Cake Nativity

  • Mary: Dried Apricots
  • Wise Men: Dried Mango/Pineapple/Papaya
  • Baby Jesus: Maraschino Cherries
  • Angel Gabriel: Candied Mixed Peel
  • Joseph: Sultanas
  • Donkey: Pistachio Nuts
  • Shepherds: Lemoncello, Calvados, Apricot Brandy
  • Inn-Keeper: Honey

   As you can see, we made some big changes!  The cake batter was made with golden caster sugar a heap of vanilla and spiced with just a touch of cinnamon and a generous helping of ground ginger…light honey frivolity replaced dark treacly depth.

The design for this year was “Snow Stripe”; we wanted to create something rigid in design but with the Wondercat signature piping detail.  Over all it turned out OK.  There are a few areas that aren’t as surgically precise as we would of hoped for but in the time we allowed for decorating we will settle for good over great.

never such a blizzard before?

So, how was this mountain of blue hues received?  Pretty well!

It managed to retain the essence of a good Chrimbo Cake but really was zippier, lighter and brighter.  The tropical fruits and cherries    punctuated each mouthful brilliantly giving something more interesting than the traditional homogeneous treacly fudge of a classic cake.  This cake converted two “fruit cake haters” to total cake-munchers but the biggest compliment came from Moogi Leong; she rang the next day to say she really enjoyed the cake and that Grandma Glover (R.I.P.) would have loved it as she also wasn’t a fan of the traditional fruit cake so always had Dundee Cake at Christmas.  This had Mykie in floods when he hung up the phone…we are keeping this recipe (which I will post, promise) and dedicating it to the late, great Betty Glover!

a cake for my Grandma...*sheds a little tear*

The mince pies we made using the Cranberry Mincemeat of the previous post but once again we gave things a shake!  In place of the ground almonds in the sweet shortcrust pastry, we used THIS to give a richer, more nutty texture and taste.  It added a slightly wholemeal feel which contrasted nicely against the sweet cranberry and citrus tang of the filling…yummers!

If only really snowflakes came with pies attached...

The evening was a blast!  Wonderful to see everyone and ramp up the Christmas spirit!

Santa Baby, stick a fruit cake under the tree...

Not long to go now folks…Santa’s coming!!!!  Raise a glass to friends and family both living and departed and celebrate!!!!

 

Wondercat 2: Back in the habit

Sista Mary Wondercat!

So after a few weeks of not being able to look at a cake, bat an eyelid at a biscuit or glance at a gateaux we are back in the baking habit…oh happy day!!

We’ve been trying to rev ourselves up for a while but after two weeks channelling Takeru Kobayashi in China and thus returning looking like a giant cha siu baothe Violet Beauregarde of the Far East if you will, we have steered clear of the kitchen.

But we’re back! Christmas has cracked us!  After our traditional “Grand Opening to Christmas”-a trip to Fortnum and Mason for high tea in St James’s and a rampage through their decadent decorations (seriously, rampage…last year I managed to totally decimate a display of baubles…why didn’t I learn from classic cartoon slapstick and not take a bauble from the bottom of the pile!?); a freshly filled decanter of Pedro Ximenez and finally the erecting of the festive foliage…we could hold back no longer…

anyone for tree and cake?

Chadong Panettone and Mykie’s Mincemeat

I’m not adding recipes as the panettone is a work in progress and the mincemeat is just a revamp of Nigella’s Cranberry Studded Mincemeat with a few tweaks.

So, panettone…bit of a disaster for a few reasons…

  1. I didn’t have a recipe I liked
  2. I decided to freestyle and make my own
  3. I used a tin that was too big
  4. I baked it totally wrong

all cake slices should be based on the right angle at Christmas

Apart from that it was fucking marvellous!

The thing about panettone is that it is basically a delicious interbreeding of a yeast bread dough and a rich fruity sponge batter…you make both then have sexytimes in the Kitchenaid.  We didn’t have enough yeast in the house but hey-ho it’ll all be fine…it wasn’t fine.  As we were winging the recipe we had to take a stab in the dark with the baking…we went for “bake like a cake” (low and longer) rather than “bake like bread” (hot and quick)…I think I chose wrong.  The balls up in the baking and choosing a tin far, far to large (I had far too much confidence in the dough being a grower not a shower) we ended up with a dense low-slung cake thing.  Taste-wise it was total Christmas-sexy-good but texturally it was edible brewers droop…back to the drawing board!

dumpy yet delightful

The mincemeat as we admitted, is basically Nigella’s, but we prefer a few sharper notes running through so use a nice Amontillado sherry instead of ruby port, add some mixed peel, and use a zippy Calvados in place of brandy…oh, and we use a heap more dried cranberries!!!!!!

trust the label...

So Christmas is here! Fragrance adverts are taking over the TV and there is tinsel everywhere (except our house, let’s be real people, we are not tinsel people)…(for some reason we’ve started calling it tinzel…well, tiiiinnnnzzzzzzeeelllll…it’s hilariously homo…try it, you won’t go back)

Fudge-packer: a fragrance for men: from Wondercat Bakery

the word "reindeer" totally left my brain; we wanted to say "raisin/raisindeer" but knew it was not the right word...oh the joys of old age.

Three cheers for the return of the holiday season and the return of baked goods from The Wondercat Bakery!

Happy Holidays!