Category Archives: Breads
OK, all these bread trials with Gloria Bubbles has made us doubt our bread baking abilities…
So we ran up a little batch o’ buns just to remind ourselves we know how to do bread!
We ran around with a pair of them pretending they were jiggly boobies, shoulder shimmying at Simon…whilst making sexy noises (If speaking in a high pitched voice shouting “oooh, oooh, would you look at these lovely breasts” count as sexy noises).
We feel better now…
Continuing on with the experiments into fruit bread…
The thing about keeping a sour-dough starter (sorry, non-human baking assistant) happy is you need to feed it flour and water regularly…like every few days. Once the novelty of making crumpets and English muffins wears off you end up with a monstrous amount of starter!
So, Gloria had gained a few El Bees over the Christmas period (that girls a sucker for Walnut Whips and Matchmakers); after a trip to Harley St. for a touch o’ lipo she was back down to her usual size for a while (she’s like the fungus Janet Jackson). We had three options for dealing with the excess.
1) Give it away (Merry Christmas, have a bag of slop)
2) Throw it down the drain
Experiment 2: Big Mama Bread
So we had a pile of Gloria’s excess erm…thighs? We decided to see if we could just add enough flour to get to a dough consistency. About three parts Gloria flab to one part flour; then some spices and dried fruit and stuff.
Since she was in need of a feed I guessed it would be an eating-proving combo…she had to eat fast enough to pump up the dough…fork at the ready love?
We didn’t hold up much hope for this and after a whole afternoon with not much going on, we going to chuck it and call it a day…then she began to grow!
After a knock back, shaping and second proving she’d been reclining on her fat arse by the fire for about 9 hours (lazy bitch)…baking time!
Considering all the proving time she didn’t really do that much work…the crumb was still rather dense…but this is not too much of a tragedy for a fruit loaf…
Despite the total rising lethargy, she toasted well…
Unsurprisingly, when you make bread will mostly sour-dough starter, it tastes…god damn sour! This got mixed reviews from the boys, Mykie thought it was pretty scrummy and that the sourness was an acceptable contrast against the fruit, Simon thought it was a bit funky tasting.
Experiment 2 has been comme ci, comme ça. We learned it’s probably best not to use a heap of hungry starter and expect good things to happen (that should probably have been obvious).
If at first (or second) you don’t succeed…eat the evidence and pretend it never happened.
Hello, you remember Gloria, right? Our new born sour-dough baby that we hatched ourselves? We have had her in the bakery wired up and running on a tread mill for some fruit bread experiments…
We have baked three fruit loaves so far and messed around with different things each time. Sometimes we treated Gloria like a Queen and gave her everything she could want; sometimes it was a prison tickle in a cold bowl…
Experiment 1: HRH Gloria Bubbles
So, we treated her right…like a queen, queen of the yeast people. She was well fed and watered and frothing at the mouth (that’s a good thing); Fresh, warm with a sour yeasty smell…good for sour-dough, if she were human we’d be suggesting Canesten Combi. Her Majesty was massaged lovingly in a classic sour-dough ratio of:
- 1 part HRH Gloria Bubbles
- 2 parts liquid: we bathed her in a luke warm liquid whey that had been infused overnight with Fortnum & Mason Christmas tea; a whole beaten egg and some melted butter (only the best for Lady Bubbles).
- 3 parts strong white flour
we also provided gifts (like the wise men, as it was Christmastime) of:
- salt (great gift)
- cinnamon (getting better…just)
- ground ginger (keep the receipt)
- a bounty of raisins and sultanas (meh)
- a generous helping of candied mixed peel (Christmas morning is fun, fun, fun at Wondercat Bakery)
This, as you may notice was an enriched bread think “festive brioche” not “vajazzled bun” (whilst we are on that subject BTW, guess what our mother bought our sisters for Christmas?? INAPPROPRIATE!!!)
Gloria performed well at cranking out the bubbles. We played Michael Bublé to help her along…his Christmas album is totally delightful BTW (we were wailing along to it for weeeeeks…Santa Buddy put a Rolex under the treeee)! Don’t expect crazy fast proving like you get with that fast-action-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants yeast, it takes ages to double in size; so long, that after we’d shaped the loaf it didn’t appear risen enough before bedtime. The next morning SHE WAS HUGE! Spread like a whore on a Harley. We couldn’t be bothered knocking back again so we just baked the gigantic loaf of oaf.
So the bread was a bit massive …
but it was very tasty! The crumb was fairly open and light the Christmas tea gave a yummy flavour and fragrance…and there was a slight sour-dough tang but not overpowering.
Experiment 1 was a mixed bag. Good for flavour, passable for texture…kind of disastrous for size and shape. But hey-ho we’re only human (well, kitty cats) and half the fun of baking stuff is learning how things work (the other half is the eating).
Back to the drawing board…
(what exactly is a drawing board? a black board? who says drawing board? *we actually just googled “drawing board” and it is a thing but we’re leaving our rando rant in to demonstrate our ignorance…this is a post on learning stuff after all)
Sooooo…after a night of revelry and much fine food, champagnes and cocktails (then span around on the Manchester Wheel) at Harvey Nichols we were for lack of a better word, fooked…
What do most people do on returning home from a night out? Probably not raid the Christmas sweets (well maybe you do, I’m not judging) then bake sour-dough bread.
I think we decided fresh bread would be AMAZING to wake up to New Year’s Day (in theory this is true).
So in the battle of “drunken stupor” vs “autonomic baking abilities” it was probably just in favour of the baking…I’m sooooooooo surprised there was anything edible in the morning.
What we did find on stumbling downstairs armed with a cracking headache, one slipper and one sock at 6am (for a much needed glass of water!) was a loaf proving in a tin!!!!
Still not sure how this happened but there was the scent of sesame oil in the air so we sprinkled it with some black and white sesame seeds and baked it!
A bit dense and doughy as I’m really not sure what was involved in the making of it or what sort of rising/proving time was involved but it tasted acceptable…actually it was rather nice!
So it appears we can actually bake with our eyes closed (or brain closed)!
Loaf rise merrily on high,
In kitchen the timer’s pinging:
Bread smells wafting through the sky,
On toast I will be binging!
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).
- 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).).
- Mix everything and knead for about 10 minutes
- Cover and leave somewhere nice and snuggly warm until doubled in size
- Knock back and knead for a few minutes
- Shape and plonk in a loaf tin
- Cover and leave again until doubled in size
- 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!
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!).
The next job for Gloria is probably a sweet, breakfast bread…exciting…we are very proud mamas’!
She stood, nervous and quivering in her foamy gown. The beautiful débutante, Miss Gloria Bubbles turned to us and said “Wondercat, I’m ready”…
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).
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!
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!
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 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!
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).
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!)
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.
The easiest way to explain things is to show you the instructions:
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 bao; the 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…
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…
- I didn’t have a recipe I liked
- I decided to freestyle and make my own
- I used a tin that was too big
- I baked it totally wrong
Apart from that it was fucking marvellous!
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)
Three cheers for the return of the holiday season and the return of baked goods from The Wondercat Bakery!
You look hungry right now,
Like you need to eat bao.
Bored of scones and apple pie,
Bao so tasty, makes you cry,
Please, just munch them down!
OMG? Did that just happen? Did we just rewrite Rihanna? Have we no shame? Have we far too much time on our hands?
Well, Simon is a sickling and Mykie is terrible at looking after sick people. He’d be great if sick people wanted to be poked to make sure they’re still alive and who don’t mind carers who run away at the sound of vomiting…where was I going? Oh, yes, that’s why we had time to improve the lyrics for Rihanna…
So, Dou Sha Bao! A family favourite food! Simon calls them “towel buns” as he says they are like well, warm fluffy towels…duh.
A bao is a chinese sweet bun and Dou Sha is sweet aduki bean paste…stick with me, I know a bean bun doesn’t sound wonderful but OMG they are the nicest of treats!
- 300g plain flour
- 100g rice flour
- 20g caster sugar
- 1 pack of yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 225ml slightly warm liquid whey or half milk and water
- stir dry ingredients together
- slowly mix in liquid and knead until smooth
- put back in the bowl, cover in cling film and leave to rise for an hour or until twice as big
- knock back the dough and knead again
- roll into a sausage and cut into 12 pieces
- roll each piece into a ball
- flatten each ball, plop in a spoonful of filling
- fold up edges, to seal in filling then turn upside down to the nice smooth side
- place each on a little square of baking parchment and leave to rice again for 20 mins
- steam for 20 mins
- munch, munch, munch
Aduki Bean Paste
- 1 can of Aduki beans
- 250g caster sugar
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional, but I likes the vanilla!)
- heat the beans and the sugar until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbling away nicely (it’s like heating baked beans so you can’t fuck it up)
- smoosh the beans up with a hand blender (still in the pan)
- mix the cornflour with a little milk until smooth
- add the cornflour mixture to the pan and bring back to the boil
- cook away until the mixture thickens
- leave to cool
- spoon into buns, or your mouth…this stuff is totally yummy!
Really happy with the bao! So soft and springy! Perfect for a cold Autumn afternoon with a cup of jasmine tea!
Have a good week everyone!
Two things we heart soooo hard: Cinnamon and Stroopen Gloopen…
Ok, I don’t think it’s called Stroopen Gloopen. It is some sort of Belgian, jammy, delicious wonderstuff made from only apples and pears! Apples and pears! But probably like a million of them per spoon! Granny Dot introduced us to this heavenly goo a few years ago and she kindly brought us some back from Belgium last week (when the boys went to Belgium they literally filled a small suitcase with magical stroop which lasted for…oh, about a week).
What was I saying? Yes, so we have marvellous, sweet supplies and we’re still elbow deep in a bread obsession…say hello to Cinnastroop Swirl Bread!
Our plan was to bake this Friday evening then slice and toast it for breakfast on Saturday…what happened is it was baked and mostly devoured before it had even cooled…it’s called gluttony, we’re guilty and proud of it (did we just get totally meta with my 7 deadlys?).
Any who, I told Mykie to go get supplies on the way home from work and some crazy supermarket parking attendant had a big rant at him! So, maaaaaybe he didn’t get a ticket for the free hour parking, but he was there like 10 minutes…
- Parking douche: is this your car?! *shouty shouty*
- Poor Mykie: well, I have the keys and I’m getting inside so yup, I think it is.
- Parking douche: don’t give my any BACK-SASS!
Back-sass?! What the hell is back-sass?! Who talks like this?! What does that even mean?! Shouldn’t it be followed by a finger snap and a side to side head jerk? We are definitely stealing “Back-sass” as the phrase du jour so thank you cranky parking man.
Focus now, back to bread…
- 350g strong bread flour
- 300ml whey or water
- 5g salt
- 3g yeast (half a packet)
- Stroopen Gloopen or something similar*
- nob of butter
- bit of sugar
- mix whey/water and flour
- cover and leave for 20 minutes
- kneed in salt and yeast for 10 minutes
- cover and leave for 1 hour
- knock back, roll flat , roll like a carpet and roll ends to centre
- cover and leave for 1 hour
- knock back, roll flat , roll like a carpet and roll ends to centre
- cover and leave for 1 hour…are you loving my copy/paste instructions?
- mix Stroopen Gloopen with cinnamon to taste
- roll dough into rectangle spread with Cinnastroop mix and sprinkle with sultanas
- roll up like a carpet and pop into a greased and floured loaf tin
- cover and leave for 20 minutes
- pre-heat the oven to 220C with a bowl of water at the bottom
- melt butter with some cinnamon spread on loaf, sprinkle with sugar
- bake for about 30 minutes
You probably only really need to knock back once but I always repeat and find the bread is so soft and beautiful. Treat your bread like your shampoo-lather, rinse, REPEAT(?)…if you are pushed for time, why the hell are you making bread? (now THAT is some back-sass)
*(hello! here I am! don’t you enjoy a good game of hunt the asterisk note? No? Just me then?)
So Stroopen Gloopen isn’t easy to find if you’re not in Belgium (are you in Belgium? If you are then send me Stroop!) you can maybe use honey or golden syrup or agave nectar. I think Holland and Barrat maybe do a kind of Stroop-stitute, hold on *runs to Google*, yes! This will do pseudo-stroop.
The bread is really soft and with the filling still oven warm…oh, oh, sex squirt (bread lust? sin number 3). I do adore a butter glaze as the glistening sheen it provides is so inviting I may as well have scribbled “eat me NOW” across the loaf. I think I needed to roll it into a shorter, thicker log as one end got smunched into the tin so the dough didn’t touch the sides *smirks*; this lead to a bit of unfurling during baking…hey ho, it’s not like I won’t be making many variations of this until Christmas!
A small amount was somehow reserved for a lazy Saturday morning and was toasted with butter…OMG! Delish!(major sloth time…sin number 4!)