Thursday, 20 September 2012

MINER'S FLAPJACK

Don’t be fooled by the title, I’m not under any illusions that this is something my granddad ate during a shift down the pit. The mining reference comes into play due to the little pieces of honeycomb like gold nuggets amongst the earth of oats beneath the dark chocolate surface. The flavour is more sophisticated than a basic flapjack, due to the dark toffee flavour the honeycomb takes in the oven and the chocolate.
 
225g porridge oats
125g butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp golden syrup
75g dark chocolate, around 50g of this chopped into chunks and the rest reserved for melting

For the Honeycomb
75g caster sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven at fan 180°/200c/6
Line and well grease a baking sheet and begin by making the honeycomb. Mix the golden syrup and sugar in a small pan, bring to boil and cook for around 2½ minutes. Take off the heat and whisk in the bicarb, don’t be alarmed by the growing foam substance, this will make the air pockets in the honeycomb. Quickly pour this mixture onto the baking sheet and leave to stand until it hardens, this can take around 5 minutes.

In the meantime line and grease a 20x20cm brownie tin and begin the flapjack by mixing all of the ingredients until well combined. Break the hardened honeycomb into shards around roughly the same size as the chocolate and mix half of this into the flapjack. Transfer this mixture into the baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes, putting a piece of baking paper over the top of the tray to stop the honeycomb from burning. Once baked allow to cool a little in the tray before melting the remainder of the chocolate and drizzling it messily over the flapjack. To finish, scatter over the remaining pieces of honeycomb, before lifting out of the tray and cutting into 8 squares.














Monday, 17 September 2012

WHITE LOAF

Thought I’d kick off the blog with my favourite ever recipe, and one which sort of explains the blog title too. When I did food technology at school every week, without fail, we’d make bread and so I’d come home with loafs upon loafs, and sometimes crazy shapes to make them look different each week. That explains the ‘bread boy’. The second part is simpler and more underwhelming; I’m ginger. Anyway, bread really is one of the easiest, yet most rewarding things to make and if I could do it as a 14 year old boy, chances are so can you.

500g strong white bread flour
1 heaped tsp salt
1 sachet action dry yeast
A knob of butter, room temp
Around 300ml warm water

Put the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl, keeping the salt and yeast separate so that the yeast doesn’t die. Mix in the butter and slowly begin to add the water, until you get a rough sticky dough.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead for around 10 minutes, pushing the dough away from you whilst folding it in on itself. Once the dough is smooth, soft and slowly springs back when touched, form into a ball and place into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film that has been rubbed with oil and leave to rise in a warm place for around an hour. Next to a radiator, in the sun or the airing cupboard are my favourite rising places.

Once the dough has doubled in size, take your fist and punch the dough to release the air. Knead once more for a couple of minutes then shape into an oval. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with the same cling film then leave to rise once more for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size again.

Within this time preheat the oven at fan 200°/220°c/7, putting a small, empty baking tray in the bottom. Once the dough has risen, carefully rub with flour and slash with a sharp knife, diagonally across the top. Add cold water to the empty baking tray to create steam which allows the bread to rise before forming a crust.

Bake the bread for around 30 minutes, or until golden brown and the bottom sounds hallow when tapped.

Spruce it up

Not that a white loaf really needs any sprucing, but if you fancy a change, here are some ideas.

Rosemary Bread- take three large springs of fresh rosemary and finely chop the needles. Mix half in with the flour and use the other half sprinkled on the surface when kneading. That way the rosemary is well dispersed and you can see it when the bread is baked.

Salt and Pepper Bread- beat one egg and extremely generously add ground black and white pepper, about a teaspoon. Glaze this over the risen bread just before it goes in the oven and whilst sticky, cover once more with freshly ground pepper and salt. This bread has a crust with a kick.




































I made basic white, rosemary and salt and pepper in mini versions, just by splitting the dough in three after kneading.

INTRODUCTION

Baking has always had a part in my life, even when I was around 5 and I remember trips to our local bakery, Shelton’s, or the enduring tradition of exchanging baked goods, such as lemon cake and flapjack, over the fence to my auntie who lives at the back of my house. Our bakery Shelton’s is the epitome of the baking I enjoy; no fuss. Wonky pastries and crumbly cakes fill the tiny room, all bursting with butter cream or jam, and the high point of decoration is hundreds and thousands. Over the past few years baking has had a massive revival, saturating every market with endless television shows, stacks of recipe books in stores and the image of the cupcake adorning vast amounts of products predominantly aimed at the female market. Although this has been fantastic for a keen baker like myself, the problem I have is with the latter image. Baking has become synonymous with super-sweet cakes, piled high with garishly coloured frostings and bizarre decorations, such as edible glitter which adds absolutely nothing to the flavour. Traditional bakery style treats, such as rock buns and custard tarts, which I remember from Shelton’s, are no longer the staple products associated with baking, and the simple pleasure of these have lost out an American baking style.
 
This baking also seems to exclude men from the pastime, not just the process itself but also the eating. Cakes at the golf club where I work are always ordered in and I remember once opening what was labelled a ‘strawberry gateau’ to find a pile of fluorescent Barbie pink swirls with little sight of a strawberry, and then having to serve this to a room full of 40 men. The first man remarked ‘what the chuff is this’ which, in reality, actually was a clever, valid observation. Overwhelming a sponge with a coloured, sugary substance is not baking. Transforming separate ingredients into one thing is.

My own inventions follow an old style of baking where you produce what you say you will and leave it as it is. This blog will showcase these, such as my cup of tea pudding, which does exactly what it says in the title. I also want to revive traditional Yorkshire recipes, such as Fat Rascals and Parkin, in which the fantastic taste is the selling point, not the finish. This is not to say that all my recipes reject decoration and will appear in a sea of beige and brown, toppings simply will always be a key part of the flavour, and if these can be made to look attractive, they will. I have tried to ensure that all ingredients are accessible and affordable as growing up in an old miner’s town in West Yorkshire means access to fancy, expensive ingredients is limited. I hope you get from my recipes what I feel Shelton’s embodies; a simple, honest and almost forgotten style of baking.

Ps, not everything will sound this formal, I wrote it on a food writing course and it got a seal of approval from Lindsey Bareham and Lulu Grimes, had to include to just mention that!