Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Focaccia: April 2015 daring bakers' challenge

For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to
 Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch

It's always a thrill when the beginning of the month arrives and a new Daring Bakers Challenge is announced. I have been a Daring Baker now for almost 6 years! Yes, I can't believe it either! How time flies and I still am excited to discover each new challenge. When it is yeast cookery...even better still. So this month when our hosts Rachael of Pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise challenged us to make focaccia I was in my element. My plan was to make it many times using different recipes however times does fly and the month got away from me. I made two simple with garlic and rosemary and another with sun dried tomatoes and black olives. 
Thank you Rachael and Sawsan!

Focaccia Two Ways - my own recipe

3 teaspoons dried yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon malt syrup or honey
385g plain flour
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

for Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia
2 or 3 cloves garlic, sliced and mixed with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sprigs of rosemary rubbed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes

for Black Olive and Sundried Tomato Foccacia
8 to 10 black olives, deseeded and cut in half
couple of spoonfuls of sliced sundried tomatoes
sea salt flakes

In the bowl of a stand mixer dissolve yeast with water and stand for a few minutes until bubbling slightly, add flour, oil, malt syrup and pepper. With the dough hook attached knead for 5 minutes, then add the salt. Knead again until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour or until at least doubled.

In the meantime prepare your toppings if you have not already.

When the dough is ready divide in half. Press out each half then fold it back up by bringing into the middle sides and the top and bottom. Press out and place onto a well oiled pizza tray. Push the toppings into the dough and sprinkle generously with the oil from the tomatoes and the oil from the garlic.

Sprinkly both with sea salt flakes. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

In the meantime preheat the oven at 200C then bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and looking delicious.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tomato Tarte Tartin -Daring Bakers' March 2015

 For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

Do you love anything pastry?

I always have. As a child I remember scraping out the filling to eat  just the pastry. As an adult I still think the pastry is the best part so when Korena challenged us to Tarte Tartin I was a very happy lady. I have previously tried my hand at Apple Tarte Tartin and love it and all it's caramelised juices mingling with the crust. With this challenge we were given free reign to make any home made pastry though Korena provided us with a rough puff pastry which when I have time I will try. Also free reign to use any fruit or vegetable of our choice. With such freedom I wanted to try a savoury Tarte Tartin. Here is the results. And it was delicious!
Thanks to our host, Korena!

Tomato Tarte Tartin


100 g plain flour
100 g fine semolina flour
Pinch salt
100g butter, chopped
80 g sour cream

Place flours, salt and butter into food processor. Pulse until like fine breadcrumbs. Add sour cream and pulse to combine and bring the dough together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


2 red onions, finely sliced
a couple of glugs of olive oil
60g butter
4 teaspoons white sugar
7 to 9 plum tomatoes, to fit your baking dish snugly
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
150g feta cheese
a handful of black olives

Caramelise the onions slowly in a olive oil. Season with salt.

While onions are cooking melt butter in a frying pan. Sprinkle over sugar. Swirl the pan to mix. Replace over heat to caramelise sugar swirling the pan regularly.

 In the meantime prepare plum tomatoes by halving and remove the  seeds and surrounding jelly like flesh.

Once the sugar has caramelised place the tomatoes in cut side down.

 It will bubble and the tomatoes will release their juices. After 10 minutes or so the tomatoes will have started to soften. Turn each one over.

 Sprinkle over  balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Don't allow the tomatoes to break down. Once you think the tomatoes are softened enough remove them to the baking dish ( I used a 25cm quiche dish) cut side up.

Return the pan with the juices to the heat and allow to simmer to reduce the liquid to a caramel.

 Cool tomato caramel and tomatoes.

Back to the tomatoes sprinkle withe smoked paprika. Stone a handful of black olives and poke down amongst the tomatoes. Spread the caramelised onion evenly over the tomatoes. Stir the cooled tomato caramel to combine and pour evenly over the tomatoes. Crumble feta cheese over.

Roll out the dough to a circle larger than the baking dish. Place over the tomatoes tucking the edges in.

Bake 30 minutes at 180C or until nicely browned.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baked Pork Buns - Daring Baker's Challenge February 2015

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

This month at Daring Bakers' we received a savoury challenge which was a lovely change. Julie of One-Wall Kitchen had us baking filled Asian Buns. Basically I kept with the challenge recipe simply adjusting the filling a little.

I have enjoyed making Steamed Pork buns over the years but I had never thought to bake them. This baked version was just as popular with the family. Thanks Julie, great challenge!

Baked Pork buns

Servings: 12 large buns

Dough Ingredients
1/4 ounce (7 gm) (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (1 packet )
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted butter
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
4 to 5 cups (20 oz to 25 oz) (560 gm to 700 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour ( I only needed 560g)
1 egg for egg-wash for the buns

Filling Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
500g (1 lb) ground pork or pork shoulder, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar )
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
4 spring onions

Heat oil in skillet.
Saute the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or until fragrant.
Add pork and brown it in the skillet.
Add soy sauce, oyster, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sugar and cook filling until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Place cornstarch and water into a small bowl and stir with fork or small whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.
Stir cornstarch mixture into filling and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Mix in the spring onions. Then remove from heat and cool before making the buns.

Directions for dough:

Mix yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Slowly mix in flour until it's fully incorporated and you have a shaggy, very tacky dough, but not wet and sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for up to an hour in warm place until doubled. While dough is rising, you can make your filling if you haven't already pre-made it to let it cool (see recipe below).
Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Depending on how much flour you added, it will be somewhat tacky to pretty tacky. Fold it over several times and shape it into a smooth ball, then divide into 12 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc about 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling into the center of the disc.

Wrap the dough around the filling, and firmly pinch it closed over the top of the filling.

Place filled buns on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
Beat 1 egg in a small bowl for egg wash and brush on top of each bun.

Bake buns for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. As you can see some of the filling oozed out of holes or cracks in the dough. Next time I will not roll the dough out as thin.

Really, though, it doesn't matter these were delicious!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homemade Orecchiette with Bacon and Broccoli

Orecchiette have been on my list of pasta to make for a long time and this Sunday was the day! At a local restaurant some time ago I had order a dish of spelt orecchiette which were delicious and thinking of the spelt flour I had just purchase, I thought spelt orecchiette were just the thing. However some online research did not deliver a spelt orecchiette recipe instead the pasta used for orecchiette seemed to be a simple semolina flour and water dough. So let's not rock the boat...we will stick with tried and true....for the time being, anyway!
Taking a look at the method to hand make orecchiette looked simple...just drag the knife over the little pieces of dough and turn inside out. Easy! Hmmm, so I thought but instead I struggled while my daughter who always masters hand made pasta, ( I think she has an Italian nonna within! ) had no problems. It is tricky. There is no denying that but after a couple (read "lots") of failures, success was mine! Very excited to produce our first orecchiette!
With some local organic streaky bacon, fresh broccoli and good Parmesan our Sunday lunch was fit for a King (or Queen)

Orecchiette - adapted from here

3 cups fine semolina flour
1 cup plain flour
good pinch salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 warm water ( 105F to 115F or 40C to 45C)
1 tablespoon (20mls) extra virgin olive oil

Place the flours and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn the machine on slow and drizzle in 1/2 cup of water. Mix until thoroughly absorbed and the mixture is sandy - this could take 2 or 3 minutes. We need the flour to adsorb the water for as long as possible as this develops the gluten. Once we add the oil this inhibits the development of the gluten.

Drizzle in another 1/2 cup of warm water (it may need reheating) and continue to mix for 5 or 6 minutes. Drizzle in a 1/4 of a cup of warm water and keep mixing for another 5 minutes. By this stage if you machine is anything like mine it will be protesting! Drizzle in the oil and mix for a further 5 minutes. By now the mixture should start coming together and feel a bit like Play Dough. If it doesn't add in a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. 

Once it is ready flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 1 hour.

Now for the fun part! Take golf ball size pieces of dough and roll a long rope of dough. Keep the rest of your dough covered. The dough should be a little bit thinner than your fingers maybe 1/2 an inch or so in diametre. Now cut the rope into little pillows of only about 1/2 an inch or less. As you go you will learn to adjust the size according to the size of orecchiette you are making.

Take a butter knife or dinner knife, press firmly on one portion...

...draw the knife towards you causing the dough to curl...

.... you should end up with something that looks like this....

....with your fingers unfurl it and turn it inside out shaping it over your thumb. And, just like magic you have made your first orecchiette!

 After a while you will have lots!

To serve with our freshly made orecchiette I turned to our local organic streaky bacon from Backfatters. The pigs at the Backfatter's farm are very happy, heritage pigs that roam freely. I love that we have such premium quality at our doorstep.

So in a little extra virgin olive oil I sauteed the diced bacon and two finely chopped garlic cloves. After a little while a couple of spoonfuls of pine nuts and a finely sliced chilli followed.

While this happened I put a pot of salted water on to boil and prepared a large head of broccoli. Once the water was boiling the broccoli went in and cooked until just tender. Scooped out, draining all the water and straight into the frying bacon. The remaining water was brought back to the boil.

A little toss, 2 tablespoons of tomato passata and a splash of extra virgin olive brought the sauce together. No extra salt because the bacon is already quite salty.

Once the water returned to the boil all the pasta went in...yes, it's a lot. The pasta probably boiled for about 5 minutes but just keep tasting it. You don't want that floury taste and it still needs to have a bit of a bite. Then drain well.

Mix in the bacon and broccoli and a handful of good grated Parmesan cheese and there you have's a winner!