You will also need a 15 cm (6 inch) soufflé dish or 3 × 10 cm (4 inch) individual soufflé dishes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
Grease the soufflé dish or dishes.
Prepare a collar with baking parchment to go round the outside of the dish or dishes to support the mixture as it rises in the oven.
Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a large pan.*
Reduce the heat and blend in the flour to make a roux. Let it cook over a low heat for 2–3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk until the mixture is smooth.
Then bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and beat in the cheese.
Now add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then fold a tablespoon into the cheese mixture to loosen it a little.
Using a metal spoon, very gently fold in the remaining egg white until thoroughly incorporated.
Pour into the soufflé dish, or divide between the individual dishes, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes for the large soufflé or for 20 minutes for the individual ones. Do not open the oven door while they are cooking.
*Using a large pan will make it easier to fold in the egg whites.
When making a soufflé, the ratio between the ingredients is very important, so keep to the amounts above. Increasing the number of eggs to make a larger soufflé would affect its ability to be light and well risen.
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.
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.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.
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.
Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.
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.
Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then prepare a couple of baking trays. Line them with baking parchment.
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.
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.
Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).
Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Eat warm.
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.
* 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%.
These salmon fish cakes are very easy to put together and, as they can be frozen, are always a good standby for a light supper or a special lunch.
Salmon Fish Cakes
4servings for a light supper and 6 for a lunch
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Refrigeration time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
340g(12 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into equal sizes
25g(1 oz) butter
2x 213 g cans red Pacific salmon
1tbspfresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
milk to bind
50(2 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
oil for frying
Put the potatoes in a pan of boiling, salted water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Cream the potatoes with the butter. Drain the salmon, removing any bones and skin and then mix into the potatoes with the parsley. Season to taste and bind with a little milk. Shape into 8 cakes for a light supper or 12 for a lunch. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up.
Put the egg in a shallow bowl and spread the breadcrumbs over a plate. Dip the fish cakes in the egg and then coat with the breadcrumbs. (You may need more egg and breadcrumbs if you are making 12)
Heat a little oil in a pan over a gentle heat and cook the cakes for about 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook for a further 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley.
After they have been coated with the egg and breadcrumbs, open freeze them until hard then pack in a container, seal and return to the freezer. To thaw, place on a tray, cover loosely, and leave at room temperature for about 3 hours. Cook as above.
This macaroni cheese is ideal for a filling snack or for a supper served with a salad. The bacon really adds some additional flavour to the sauce and it has a crunchy, cheesy breadcrumb topping.
Macaroni Cheese with Bacon
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
225g(8 oz) macaroni
110g(4 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
850ml(1½ pints) milk
70g(2½ oz) butter
70g(2½ oz) flour
6slicessmoked streaky bacon/side bacon
2handfuls fresh white breadcrumbs
4tbspParmesan cheese, grated
A 2 litre (3½ pint) ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 minute less than recommended on the packet of the brand you are using. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, pour the milk into a pan and add the bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.
In a separate pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until there is a smooth paste (a roux).
Remove the bay leaves from the milk, then gradually add the milk to the roux, stirring constantly, until blended and smooth. Simmer to thicken to a double/whipping cream consistency. Remove from the heat.
Grill the bacon until just crispy. Let it cool a little then cut into small pieces.
Stir the pasta, bacon, cheddar and mustard into the sauce and add the pepper.
Spoon into the ovenproof dish. No need to smooth the top.
Toss the breadcrumbs and Parmesan together. Scatter over the top, completely covering the macaroni cheese mixture. Bake for 40 minutes until the top starts to brown.
Fish cakes originated as a means of using up leftovers that otherwise might be thrown away. In Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1859) she lists “the remains of any cold fish” and “cold potatoes” as the main ingredients. However, I think they make a delicious dish in their own right.
4servings for a light supper or 6 for a lunch
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Standing time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
450g(1 lb) haddock fillet
salt and pepper
225g(8 oz) potatoes
25g(1 oz) flour
50g(2 oz) dry breadcrumbs
oil for frying
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4
Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the haddock in a greased ovenproof dish. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with lemon juice. Cover and bake for about 10 minutes until the fish is just opaque.
Drain the fish, discard the skin and mash with a fork.
Drain the potatoes and mash. Add the fish and parsley, and season to taste. Beat one of the eggs and add it to the mixture to bind. Chill for 15 minutes to firm up.
Shape into 8 cakes for a light supper or 12 for a lunch. Spread the flour on a plate and the breadcrumbs on a second plate. Beat the second egg in a small bowl. Coat the fish cakes first in the flour, then the egg, shaking any excess egg as they are lifted from the bowl, and finally coat in the breadcrumbs. (You may need more egg, flour and breadcrumbs if you are making 12.)
Heat a little oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Fry the fish cakes for 5 minutes until golden brown, turn and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Once they have been coated in the breadcrumbs they can be frozen. Open freeze on a tray. When hard, transfer to a container, seal and return to the freezer. To thaw, place on a tray, cover loosely, and leave at room temperature for about 3 hours. Cook as above.