Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns

 

A traditional Chelsea bun is a currant bun which was first created in the 18th century in the Bun House in Chelsea, London (demolished in 1839). It had a rich yeast dough which was filled with currants, spices and brown sugar.

This version has a light rich yeast dough which is filled with mixed fruit tossed in brown sugar and spices. The top is glazed with honey and sprinkled with sugar. So good!

 

Chelsea Buns
Prepares: 8 buns
 
  • Preparation time: 50 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the dough
  • 450g (16 oz) strong plain white/all-purpose flour (4 cups less 3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 28g (1 oz) caster/white sugar (3 tbsp)
  • 7g sachet quick-rise dried yeast (2 tsp)
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) warm milk (½ cup + ⅓ cup)
  • 2 eggs, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten

  • For the filling
  • 115g (4 oz) mixed dried fruit (currants, raisins and sultanas) (¾ cup)
  • 55g (2 oz) soft light brown sugar (¼ cup)
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice (all-spice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger)
  • 28g (1 oz) butter, melted (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)

  • For the topping
  • 2 tbsp runny/clear honey
  • 6 sugar cubes, crushed OR
  • 2 tbsp granulated/white sugar

  • Equipment
  • Non-stick baking tin/pan, 28 x 18 x 4cm (11 x 7 x 1½ ins), lightly buttered


  1. Method
  2. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Cube the butter, add to the bowl and rub in until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the yeast and mix in.

  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Pour in the warmed milk and eggs and mix to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. Then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes (6 minutes if using a stand mixer with a dough hook) until silky smooth.

  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 23cm (9 in) square.

  5. Now for the filling. Mix together the dried fruit and brown sugar. Stir though the mixed spice and melted butter until well mixed in.

  6. Evenly distribute the mixture over the dough to within 5cm (¼ in) of the edge. Now carefully roll the dough up as tightly as possible. Cut the rolled dough into eight equal slices and place in the prepared tin with the cut sides down, spacing evenly apart.

  7. Loosely cover the tin/pan with cling film and leave in a warm place until the buns have risen and almost fill the tin/pan. The dough should retain an indentation when lightly pressed with a finger.

  8. Heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6)

  9. Bake the buns for 25 minutes until they are golden brown and feel firm when lightly pressed with a finger.

  10. Remove the buns from the oven. Heat the honey in a small pan until just warm and then brush all over the buns. Now just sprinkle the crushed sugar over the top.

  11. Allow to cool in the tin/pan before removing and then gently separate the buns.

 

St George’s Day Buns

St George's Day Buns

 

It’s disappointing that St George’s Day (23rd April) doesn’t get as much attention as St Patrick’s Day or even St Andrew’s Day. However, we personally try to make up for it by eating our own creation – St George’s Day Buns.

These buns are based on a traditional recipe for Dorset Wiggs, buns that originated in the English county of Dorset and mentioned in the diary of Samuel Pepys in 1664. We decided to use Dorset Wiggs because the earliest dedication to St George in England is a church in Fordington, Dorset, which was even mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great who died as long ago as 899.

The buns are topped with the cross of St George. He became the patron saint of England in a process that began in 1348 and it shows how important he was, that when it was made illegal in 1552, during the Reformation, to fly any saint’s banner, the cross of St George was the only banner that was allowed.

 

St George's Day Buns
Prepares: 12 buns
 
  • Ingredients

  • For the Dorset Wiggs
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 300ml (10½ fl oz) warm milk (1¼ cups)
  • 60g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 15g (1½ tbsp) instant yeast
  • 60g (2 oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup)
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 1 egg, medium (U.K.)/large (N.A.), beaten
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • ½ tsp nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (I use ½ tsp mixed spice, as I’m not keen on caraway seeds)

  • For the white icing
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) icing sugar, sifted (4 cups)
  • About 6 tbsp water

  • For the red icing
  • 230g (8 oz) icing sugar, sifted (2 cups)
  • About 2 tbsp water
  • Dr Oetker Gel Food Colour, Bright Red/Wilton’s red (no-taste) icing colour
  • (Here in Canada, I use this no-taste brand as some colourings are quite bitter and this one has fewer additives.)


  1. Method


  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the milk and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the milk. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the rest of the ingredients for the Dorset Wiggs.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, sugar, yeast, and the beaten egg to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well. Finally, mix in the spices.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)

  17. Place the dough balls on the baking tray, laid out four by three, an inch or more apart. This will give them room to grow without touching each other. Cover with a tea towel, or place inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  18. Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7

  19. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until nicely browned.

  20. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  21. For the icing
  22. Boil some water and pour 6 tablespoons into a mixing bowl. Sift the flour into the bowl gradually, stirring briskly after each addition. Adjust the amounts to achieve a fairly stiff consistency. Take a dessert spoon and drop a spoonful onto each bun, using the back of the spoon to smooth the icing over the top surface. Allow to set for a few hours.

  23. For the crosses
  24. Mix the icing sugar and water as above and then add a few drops of red colouring, a little at a time until the colour is the desired red. Make the crosses using a piping bag with a nozzle with a flat opening (I used a Wilton No. 47). Just make sure the even edge is uppermost.



  25. Tip
  26. It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right.

  27. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: April 17, 2017

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

 

Update  My recipe previously included all spice because I couldn’t find the mixed spices used in the U.K. Whilst you can use any spices that you like, I’ve now adapted the recipe to more closely resemble the traditional British flavours.

Tastier than store-bought, we enjoy these traditional hot cross buns at Easter and all year round! I have to thank Paul Hollywood of The Great British Bakeoff for the idea of adding an apple to the recipe. It adds to the flavour and gives them a softer, more moist, texture.

I use a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook but you can knead by hand if you prefer.

 

Hot Cross Buns
Prepares: 12 buns
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 2 hours
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hours
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 75g (2½ oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 150g (5 oz) sultanas (1 cup)
  • 80g (3 oz) chopped, mixed peel (½ cup)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 40g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (room temperature) (3 tbsp)
  • 1 egg, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), beaten
  • 300ml (10 fl oz) whole/full fat milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1¼ cups)
  • ¾ tsp all spice
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mace
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger

  • For the crosses
  • 75g (2½ oz) plain/cake & pastry flour (½ cup)
  • 75ml (2½ fl oz) water (¼ cup + 1 tbsp)

  • For the glaze
  • 3 tsp apricot jam
  • 1 tsp water


  1. Method


  2. Step 1
  3. Chop the mixed peel and the apple into small cubes, grate the zest of an orange into the mixture, and put to one side.

  4. Weigh out the salt, sugar, and yeast, and add to the flour in the mixer bowl, putting the yeast and the salt on opposite sides of the bowl. Then add the sultanas and the fruit that you chopped up, as well as the spices. Mix all these dry ingredients together. (This allows the flour to coat the fruit and prevent it sticking together.)

  5. Add the butter, egg, and milk, and mix on speed 1 until it is all evenly mixed. This only takes about a minute. Then mix on speed 2 for another 8 minutes. While this is kneading, lightly oil a large bowl for the dough to rise in.

  6. The dough should now be smooth, the sides of the bowl should be clean, and the dough should come off the dough hook without sticking. Tip it out onto a lightly floured (or oiled) surface and shape it into a ball. Put it into the oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  7. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  8. While waiting, prepare a large baking tray – line with baking parchment.

  9. Step 2
  10. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)

  11. Place the dough balls on the baking tray, laid out four by three, about an inch apart. This will give them room to grow so that they’re almost touching after proving. (You want them to join up when baking so that you have to tear them apart when finished.) Cover with a tea towel, or place inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  12. Before the end of the hour, preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5

  13. Step 3
  14. For the crosses
  15. Mix the flour and water into a paste and add to a piping bag with a fine nozzle. Make one half of the crosses by piping across each row of buns in one sweep, starting on the tray and finishing each sweep on the tray at the other side. When all the buns are piped in one direction, turn the tray and repeat, forming the crosses.

  16. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned.

  17. For the glaze
  18. Warm the apricot jam with a teaspoon of boiling water and brush over the tops of the buns while they’re still warm.

  19. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  20. Unless you can't wait, freeze the buns and defrost when needed.



  21. Tip
  22. It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right. With this recipe they worked out to be about 103g (3⅔ oz) each

  23. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves

 

I’m indebted to Paul Hollywood, the English baker and celebrity chef, for this recipe. These bacon and cheddar loaves make a great lunch or snack and are enjoyed by all the family.

I have played about with his quantities of ingredients, though. The recipe in his book “How to Bake” recommends that 500g, or just over a pound, of flour will provide 4 servings. Perhaps he has a bigger appetite than I do, but that’s equivalent to a quarter of a large loaf in each serving. And I feel that the bacon and cheddar gets a bit lost in all the bread.

My adapted recipe below halves the quantity of bread and increases the proportion of bacon and cheese. Perhaps you’d like to try different amounts and let me know how you get on?

Baking bread is not difficult if you follow this 3-step process. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Bacon and Cheddar Loaves
Prepares: 4 servings
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 200g (7 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (1½ cups)
  • 50g (1¾ oz) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (⅓ cups)
  • 5g (1½ tsp) instant yeast
  • 5g (1 tsp) salt
  • 15g (½ oz) unsalted butter, softened (1 tbsp)
  • 165ml (6 fl oz) water (1¾ cups less 1 tbsp)

  • For the filling
  • 6 rashers of smoked back bacon, rind removed
  • 100g (3½ oz) grated Cheddar cheese (1 cup)


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. While waiting, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the bacon, cooking gently on both sides until just cooked. Set aside to cool and then chop into small squares.

  15. Then prepare a couple of baking trays. Line them with baking parchment.

  16. Step 3
  17. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Add the bacon pieces and grated cheese to it, and knead until well mixed. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth oval, tapering the ends into points. Place 2 loaves on each tray, dust with flour and slash the tops along their lengths.

  18. Cover with tea towels, or place each tray inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  19. Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).

  20. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Eat warm.



  21. Tip
  22. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  23. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Whole Wheat Milk Bread

Whole Wheat Milk Bread

 

Milk bread is ideal for sandwiches or for toasting. It produces a softer, tighter crumb and a softer crust than breads made with water. Made with wholemeal, or wholewheat, flour, this loaf smells and tastes as real bread should!

Bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Whole Wheat Milk Bread
Prepares: 1 loaf
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 455g (1 lb) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (3 cups + 2½ tbsp)
  • 65g (2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (½ cup)
  • 360ml (12¾ fl oz) semi-skimmed/2% milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1½ cups)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 56g (2 oz) unsalted butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the milk and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the milk. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20-30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, sugar, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, yeast, and sugar to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  17. For the classic shape
  18. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  19. For a natural shape
  20. Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  21. Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  22. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6).

  23. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Then bake for 35–40 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  24. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

White Milk Bread

White Milk Bread

 

If your day-to-day bread is used for sandwiches or for toasting, you might want to try this milk bread. It produces a softer, tighter crumb and a softer crust than breads made with water.

Bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

White Milk Bread
Prepares: 1 loaf
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 335ml (11¾ fl oz) semi-skimmed/2% milk (warm, about 40°C/100°F) (1⅓ cups + 1 tbsp)
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 25g (1 oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 32g (1¼ oz) unsalted butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the milk and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the milk. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, sugar, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, yeast, and sugar to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  17. For the classic shape
  18. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  19. For a natural shape
  20. Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  21. Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  22. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6).

  23. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Then bake for 35–40 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  24. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Crusty French Bread

Crusty French Bread

 

This crusty French bread is light and airy, with a beautiful crisp crust.

Baking bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Crusty French Bread
Prepares: 1 loaf
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 520g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3⅔ cups)
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 345ml (12 fl oz) water (1½ cups less 1 tbsp)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20-30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt and yeast.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, add the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. While waiting, prepare a baking tray and line with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom.

  17. Place the dough on the baking tray, shaping how you want the loaf to end up. Lightly dust with flour and cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  18. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).

  19. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top diagonally with a sharp knife. Add about 250ml/½ pint of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crispy). Then bake for 35–40 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  20. Tip
  21. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  22. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Soda Bread

Soda Bread

 

Soda bread is delicious in its own right with soup or stews, with cheese, or just spread with butter. And it’s also a quick and easy solution if you want a homemade bread and you suddenly find you’re out of yeast.

 

Soda Bread
 
  • Preparation time: About 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) plain white/cake & pastry flour* (3½ cups)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 400ml (14 fl oz) buttermilk (1⅔ cups)


  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then stir in the buttermilk. Once all the flour has been taken up by the liquid, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured worktop, fold it in on itself a few times and shape it into a ball. It doesn’t need kneading.

  4. Place on the baking tray and flatten it slightly. Then cut a cross deeply into the dough, almost cutting it into quarters. A deep cut is essential to get the heat into the loaf. Lightly dust with flour.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes until nicely browned. Turn over the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  6. Soda bread doesn’t keep as well as yeast bread, so either eat the same day or freeze.



  7. *An alternative is to use 250g/9 oz plain/cake & pastry flour and 250g/9 oz wholemeal/whole wheat flour (shown above)

Updated: March 10, 2017

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat Bread

 

Baking a wholemeal, or whole wheat, loaf is very similar to White Bread. It just needs a little more water, as wholemeal flour absorbs more liquid than white flour. You can use wholemeal flour alone, which I prefer, but you can add white flour which gives a slightly less dense texture (about 425g wholemeal/75g white).

Baking bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Whole Wheat Bread
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) wholemeal/whole wheat flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • ½ × 500mg tablet of vitamin C
  • 55g (2 oz) unsalted butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 335ml (12 fl oz) water (1¼ cups + 2½ tbsp)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, sugar, and butter. Grind up half a tablet of vitamin C, either with a mortar and pestle or between two teaspoons.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, yeast, sugar and vitamin C to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  17. For the classic shape
  18. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  19. For a natural shape
  20. Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  21. Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  22. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F (gas mark 8).

  23. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Add about 250ml/½ pint of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crisper). Then bake for 20 minutes, turning the oven down to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6) for a further 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  24. Tip
  25. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  26. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Simple White Bread

Simple White Bread

 

A basic white bread to start with, if you’re just getting into baking.

Bread isn’t difficult if you break the process down into 3 steps. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Simple White Bread
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 5–10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (3½ cups)
  • 10g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 10g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 30g (1 oz) unsalted butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 315ml (11 fl oz) water (1⅓ cups)
  • olive oil for oiling the bowl and tin


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. Depending on the kind of loaf you want, prepare for the shaping while you wait. If you want a classic rectangular shape as shown in the photograph, prepare a loaf tin. (For this amount of dough, I use one which measures 23.5 × 13.3 × 7cm /9¼ × 5¼ × 3 in. Lightly oil the whole of the inside to prevent the loaf sticking.) If making a natural-shaped loaf, say a cob or a boule, line a baking tray with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Then flatten it out into a rectangle, with a short side towards you. Lift the dough from the furthest edge and fold it down towards you about half way. Press the edge down with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough round and repeat. Then shape the dough.

  17. For the classic shape
  18. Flatten the dough into a rectangle, short side towards you, with the width about the length of the loaf tin. Roll the dough up away from you making sure that the join ends up at the bottom. Place the dough in the tin, moulding as necessary to make sure it's even along its length.

  19. For a natural shape
  20. Rotate the dough into a ball and shape appropriately. Place on the baking tray.

  21. Cover with the tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for at least another hour. You can tell when it's ready when it's doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  22. Before the end of the hour, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F (gas mark 8).

  23. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash the top lengthways with a sharp knife. Add about 250ml/½ pint of boiling water to a roasting tray and place it on a rack at the bottom of the oven to create some steam (this makes the crust crisper). Then bake for 20 minutes, turning the oven down to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6) for a further 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn out the loaf and tap it on the bottom – it should sound hollow. Allow to cool on a wire rack.



  24. Tip
  25. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  26. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated: March 10, 2017

Soft White Rolls

Soft White Rolls

 

Soft and light, delicious with or without butter, these rolls will complement any meal.

Baking bread is not difficult if you follow this 3-step process. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.

 

Soft White Rolls
Prepares: 12 rolls
 
  • Step 1
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes
  • Step 2
  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Waiting time: About 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Step 3
  • Preparation time: 10–15 minutes
  • Waiting time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 600g (1 lb 5 oz) strong white/all purpose flour (4¼ cups)
  • 12g (1 tbsp) instant yeast
  • 12g (1½ tsp) salt
  • 50g (2 oz) caster sugar/fine white sugar (¼ cup)
  • 50g (2 oz) unsalted butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 385ml/13½ fl oz water (1½ cups + 5 tsp)


  1. Method

  2. Step 1
  3. Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.

  4. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.

  5. In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, sugar, yeast, and butter.

  6. Step 2
  7. At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt, sugar and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.

  8. Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.

  9. Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.

  10. Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.

  11. Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.

  12. The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.

  13. Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.

  14. While waiting, prepare a couple of baking trays. Mine are 39cm × 26cm/15 in × 10 in. Line them with baking parchment.

  15. Step 3
  16. Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. (To do this, flatten the dough with your hand flat, then moving your hand in a circular motion, gradually lift the palm while leaving the finger tips on the work surface, forming a cage around the dough. Do this quite quickly.)

  17. Place 6 dough balls on each baking tray with space between them to allow for spreading, and sprinkle them with flour. Cover with tea towels, or place each tray inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.

  18. Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 200°C/400°F (gas mark 6)

  19. Bake for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

  20. Unless you can't wait, freeze the rolls and defrost when needed.



  21. Tip 1
  22. Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.

  23. Tip 2
  24. It's not easy to accurately divide the dough into 12 equal portions. I weigh the bowl with the risen dough in it, turn out the dough and then weigh the bowl again. The difference is the weight of the dough. Divide that by 12 and then weigh each portion as you cut it, adding or subtracting bits of dough until they're approximately right. With this amount of dough, they're about 90g/3¼ oz each.

  25. Tip 3
  26. When freezing, because these rolls are really light and soft, I open freeze them for about an hour before putting them in a container.

  27. * Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.

Updated March 10, 2017