A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: bread

I’ve been really seized by the desire to make things this week. I’m also trying to use up the ingredients in my cupboard as I’m planning to move house soon. I’ve had this recipe for apple, pecan and cinnamon bread pinned for a while, so I decided to try it out.
The method of cutting and stacking the slices of dough is the same as I used in my pumpkin tear and share bread.

I’m pretty happy with it!

Since I’m moving, I’ve decided to keep my magical new mixer safe in its box until I’m in my new place. I quite enjoyed making this bread by hand and I noticed that my kneading technique has improved a lot this year. You only have to do it a few times before you get a ‘feel’ for when the dough is ready to rise.
This a lovely soft enriched white loaf packed with apple, nuts and caramel. It’s gooood. I also learnt something, if you use a American recipe that calls for King Arthur All Purpose Flour, you should substitute strong rather than plain flour. Important.
For the bread

  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, very soft
  • 1/3 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup water, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups strong white flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast- note this is slightly over one sachet

For the filling

  • 3 apples
  • 2tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

For the icing

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2-6 tbsp milk

1. Whisk together the butter, milk, water, eggs, and vanilla extract
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast, then add the wet ingredients.
3. Turn out onto a lightly floured or oiled surface. Knead until the dough is smooth, about 5-7 mins. It will be quite soft. If it seems very sticky add a little flour, up to a 1/4 cup
4. Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover.

5. Leave to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.

6. Just before the hour is up, prepare the filling. Mix the cinnamon into the sugar and thinly slice your apples. Coarsely chop the nuts. Melt the butter.

7. Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf tin
8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll into a 12″ x 20″ rectangle.
9. Spread the melted butter over the top of the dough, using a pastry brush
10. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top, using your hand to press into the butter

11. Add the apples and sprinkle on the nuts.

12. Stack the slices into the greased baking tin. Cram in any filling that has slipped out.

13. Cover the tin and leave to rise for about an hour. Preheat oven to 180C (350F) after 45mins.

14. Bake for 45-55 minutes in the centre of the oven, tenting it with foil after 30 minutes if the loaf is browning too quickly.
15. Remove from oven and transfer loaf to a rack to cool for 15-20 minutes before turning it out of pan to cool completely.

16. Make up the glaze and pour over load while it is still warm.


I’m getting quite into my autumnal baking, so I decided to try this bread flavoured with the increasingly popular spiced pumpkin. As I learnt, plain pumpkin doesn’t have much of a flavour but it does give this bread a lovely colour, and add moisture. As it’s an American recipe (upcoming stereotype warning), it’s incredibly sweet. I’ve dialled down the sweetness in the recipe below, but you can find the original here. The result is very similar to a cinnamon roll, with an added kick from the glaze if you use it. If I make this again, and I definitely will if I see pumpkin on sale, I would add some pecans because nuts make everything better. Everything.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2tsp (1 sachet) instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup (half a tin) pumpkin puree*
  • 1/4 cup sugar (granulated is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups strong white flour

For the spiced sugar

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp butter

For the glaze

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rum (replace with more milk if you want to make this  non-alcoholic)

*Yes, I used tinned pumpkin. There was no way I was going to mess around with a pumpkin myself, and I had some left over to make another autumnal recipe. It does look funny, though.


1. Brown 2tbsp butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Browned butter seems to be very fashionable in America at the moment. You allow the butter to melt and turn frothy…

…then watch carefully as the milk solids become golden brown. Don’t take your eyes off the pan at this stage as the butter can very quickly blacken and burn. This is what you want it to look like


2. Remove pan from heat and gently add milk. Return to the hob and heat through.

3. Allow to cool until just warm. Add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar, and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

4. Add the pumpkin, salt and 1 cup flour. Stir until combined.

5. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a slightly sticky dough.

6. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It will still be a little sticky, try not to add too much flour.

7. Transfer the ball of dough to a lightly oiled bowl. I put mine back in the saucepan to save on washing up.

8. Leave to rise for 60-90mins, until doubled in size.

9. While the dough is rising, make the cinnamon sugar that will flavour the bread and create the tearability of the loaf.
Brown another 2tbsp butter. Add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well, making sure the sugar absorbs the butter evenly.

10. Grease your 9×5 loaf tin and set aside.
11. Once the dough has risen, return to a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle that is 20x12ins.

12. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Take some time over it, pressing the sugar into the surface of the dough evenly.

13. Slice the dough vertically (as pictured) into six even strips. Try to make each strip just slightly narrower than the width of your loaf tin.
14. Stack the strips on top of each other.

15. Cut into six even squares and stack into the loaf tin vertically. You may need to squish them down so they all fit.

16. Cover and leave to rest for 30-45mins.
17. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
18. Bake your risen loaf for 30-40mins. The top will be a deep golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, before removing to a wire rack.

19. Prepare the glaze. Heat the butter, milk and brown sugar in a small saucepan. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove from the hob and stir in the rum and icing sugar. Pour over the loaf while it’s still warm.

This week I baked a really lovely wholemeal loaf bursting with brie and fresh basil. Mmm, cheese. This is another recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood’s 100 Great Breads BUT there is no picture. This is what mine came out like, though of course I have no idea whether the great Mr Hollywood would approve of my interpretation.

What? No, that strategically placed butter definitely isn’t covering up a slightly underbaked bit in the middle of the loaf.
This bread is tasty, but if I made it again I’d probably make it with half white flour rather than all wholemeal as I find the flavour a bit strong.

  • 500g strong wholemeal flour (use part strong white if you want)
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 10g salt
  • 15g instant yeast
  • 300ml water
  • 100g brie, thinly sliced
  • A handful of fresh basil

1. Add the flour, salt, yeast and olive oil to a bowl, with the salt and yeast on opposite sides. Combine the ingredients.
2. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hands between additions, until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is soft to the touch. You may need a little more or less water.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop. Knead for 6 mins until the dough is pliable.
4. Lightly oil your bowl, then return the ball of dough to it. Cover and leave to rise for two hours.
5. Line a baking tray with parchment. Again, put the dough onto a floured surface and shape into a ‘mini baguette’. I did mine like this.

6. Sprinkle the top with wholemeal flour, then make several slashes in the dough lengthways down the middle. I think I made mine too long and deep (you’ll see the consequence later) so be careful at this stage.

7. Push the Brie and basil into the grooves.

8. Cover and rest for 2 hours.

As you can see, my overly large slashes damaged the structure of the loaf, making it looked weird. I squished it all back together but, startlingly, it didn’t really work.

9. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Bake bread for 20 mins, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.


I realised last week that in my occasional bread baking pursuits this year, I have neglected to make simple white bread. Being given some rather wonderful pear and speculoos jam by Anna provided the perfect impetus to give it a go. Humorous aside: autocorrect suggestion for speculoos is ‘speculums’, which I’m not sure is even the correct plural for speculum. And certainly not as nice in a jam. Turns out I don’t know the difference between a 1lb loaf tin and a 2lb loaf tin, hence the rather thin bread. What would Mary Berry say? IMG_1442.JPG   Ingredients

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 10g (about two scant teaspoons) salt
  • 1 15g sachet instant yeast
  • 50g butter, soft
  • 290ml water

Makes 1 2lb loaf, apparently. Makes one loaf that fits in a 21x11x6cm loaf tin. Or two very thin loaves.

Method Put the flour, yeast, salt and butter into a mixing bowl. Slowly add the water, mixing with your hands as you go, until all the flour is absorbed into the dough. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead for about 5 mins, until the dough is soft and pliable. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to prove for an hour.

IMG_1434.JPG At this point I froze half of my dough, which I think is when my problems began. So don’t do that. Instead, oil your loaf tin, shape the dough so it fits the tin and leave to prove, covered, for a further hour.


IMG_1437.JPG Yes, I should have realised sooner that something odd was going on. Preheat oven to 225C. If desired, slash top of loaf and sprinkle with flour just before baking. I didn’t see the point of doing these things, so didn’t. Maybe with my next really small loaf. Anyway, bake loaf in preheated oven for 35-40mins (20 if it’s minuscule). I tap the bottom of the loaf and see if it sounds hollow to check it’s baked. Turn out to cool on a wire rack.

This is the my third loaf of the year, a white bread packed with dried apricots and walnuts. It’s really tasty (I may have eaten nearly half of the loaf while it was warm from the oven) with a bit of butter- neatly straddling the border between cake and bread territory.


This bread didn’t rise too well and I think it might be because I had to freeze the dough. Maybe fortified dough isn’t as amenable to freezing? I think I’ll try it again and see if it rises better if the dough isn’t frozen.


  • 350g/12oz strong white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 sachet (2tsps) instant yeast
  • 1tsp caster sugar
  • 60g/2oz butter
  • 115g/4oz dried apricots, chopped
  • 55g/2oz walnuts, chopped
  • 150ml milk (room temperature)
  • 1 egg


  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and yeast.
  2. Rub in the butter, then add apricots and walnuts
  3. In a separate container, mix the egg and milk (I just whisk the egg into the jug I measure the milk in)
  4. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. If the dough seems dry, add up to 75ml tepid water.
  5. Transfer to a floured counter top and knead for 10 mins, until smooth.
  6. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 2-3hours, until doubled in size.



I froze at this stage for uninteresting reasons. I would not recommend freezing this dough.

7. Knead the dough lightly for about 1 minute. You can divide into 5, rolling each section into a 30cm rope, then braiding 3 and placing the remaining 2 on top, twisted together. Or bung into a greased 1 pound loaf tin. Your call.

8. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for a second time for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 220C (200 fan).


9. Bake for 10mins, then reduce heat to 190C (175 fan) for a further 20mins.

10. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


It’s halfway through March and I’ve managed to bake my second loaf of bread. Just to be clear, I don’t own a breadmaker. Like many young people at the moment, the only accommodation I can afford on my low income is a room in a flat-share. I simply don’t have space for much kitchen equipment beyond a hand blender. So you really CAN make lovely fresh breads with just little counter space and your own fair hands. The initial weighing, mixing and kneading takes about half an hour, then five minutes to knock it back and reshape it between the two proves. I always assume TV cooks are lying when they tell you this kind of thing, but it really is true! Go forth and bake bread.

I was a bit annoyed that the bread caught in the oven (can’t bear to write b*rnt) even though I reduced the temperature and baking time. Definitely feeling persecuted by my oven. I’ll give the times and temperature that Paul Hollywood recommends, perhaps just check it five or ten minutes before the end and adjust the temperature if you know you have an over-zealous cooker. This is a lovely soft white bread with the St Clements tang of citrus zest and bursts of cherry.


  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g (2 scant tsps) salt
  • 30g (2tbsp) sugar
  • 40g butter, room temperature
  • 15g (2 sachets) fast action yeast
  • 1 lemon, zest only,
  • 3 oranges, zest only
  • 300ml water
  • 75g dried cherries


1. Put all of the ingredients except the cherries and water in a large bowl, with the salt and yeast on opposite sides.

2. Add as much of the water as you need to make a smooth dough, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.

3. Put back in the bowl, cover and leave to prove for an hour, until doubled in size.


4. Line a baking tray with parchment. Add the cherries to the dough. It’s probably worth doing this in 3-4 batches so they get distributed evenly.
5. Divide the dough in two and roll each to about 30 cm. Twist them together and tuck the ends under. I would try and tuck the cherries inside the loaf to prevent them being scorched in the oven. Transfer to the tray, cover and leave to rise for another hour.

6. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan).
7. Bake for 25 mins, then leave to cool on a wire rack.

Serve with lashings of butter.

Getting a Paul Hollywood bread book for Christmas inspired me to try and bake more bread in 2014. I had a bash last year when I found a lovely recipe for a honey and oat loaf. However, I tend to subscribe to the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school of baking and so made that bread 10 times rather than branch out and risk something new. Well, this year I will try to break the habit.

The first recipe that struck me was this chive and ricotta bread. I tried ricotta for the first time about a year ago and loved it. Well it is cheese, after all. I don’t think I’ve ever bought chives before. They’re the sort of thing I tend to omit from recipes as they seem more decorative than anything else. They give this bread a distinct oniony taste that is quite nice, but I prefer my breads to be on the sweet side. Still, I have the other half of the dough in the freezer and I’m looking forward to it.


This is the second loaf, which survived freezing well, though I think I overworked the dough a bit so it seemed a bit less light.


  • 1kg strong white flour
  • 3tsp salt
  • 30g instant yeast
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 600ml water
  • 250g ricotta
  • 4tbsp chopped chives

Makes 2 large loaves


Put all ingredients except chives into a large bowl, then mix using your hands for 3-4mins.

Tip onto a floured surface and knead for 2-3minutes.

Add the chives, then knead for a further 3-4minutes.



Cover with clingfilm or a damp tea-towel and leave to prove for about 90minutes, until doubled in size.



Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and divide. If freezing, wrap half of the dough in clingfilm then place in a plastic container in the freezer. To resume the recipe, leave to thaw in the fridge overnight and then proceed as below, adding more time for the second prove (about double).

Shape half into a rough sausage, tapered at both ends. Place on tray and leave to prove, lightly covered with clingfilm, for about an hour.




Pre-heat the oven to 220C (190 fan).

Bake for 25minutes until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Put on a wire rack to cool.


This bread colours really nicely in the oven. There’s probably a reason for that but I don’t know it! It’s cracked because I’m stupid and dropped it on the floor seconds after removing it from the oven.