I’ve borrowed another inspiring book out of the library recently. The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak. It is so up my street, I want to make pretty much everything in it. I may just have to splash out and buy it. The recipes all look and sound as though you want to dive straight in, but they mostly have a healthy twist of some kind.
An old hand at bread-making I may be, but I was a little daunted when I was recently sent an automatic Panasonic bread maker to try out. I have never used a machine to make bread before, other than an oven and I was a little concerned I would fall at the first hurdle. In truth I’ve always been a bit wary of bread makers as I’d heard they weren’t great for the flours I like to bake with – spelt and rye.
It’s International Scone Week over at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Now in it’s fifth year, I’m quite shocked to find that I haven’t participated since 2012. If you ever need a scone recipe, Celia’s annual round-ups of all sorts of scones from bloggers around the world is a must. Read on to get the recipe for my rich dark chocolate scones.
Saffron with its bright yellow hues and subtle floral and bitter notes is a spice which seems singularly exotic. But it has long been associated with Cornwall. It is said that the Cornish traded with the Phoenicians way back, exchanging tin for saffron and it’s been used here ever since. This may or may not be true, but saffron was a highly popular ingredient in the Middle Ages and saffron crocuses were grown in Bude until the late 19th Century.
Creme Egg doughnuts are one of those phenomena that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment. The sugar hit that comes from eating one of these must be something else; I have it on good authority that running around in circles for sometime after having consumed one is not unusual. As someone whose childhood sweet tooth has mellowed, I still have a ridiculous fondness for Cadbury creme eggs. But I wasn’t sure I could cope with ladling on even more sugar.
When I was asked if I’d like to review some creme eggs, I had doughnuts very much in mind and knew that the time had come to try baking with these chocolate eggs. To temper some of the sweetness, I thought I would try baking them into an unsweetened bread roll – well pain au chocolate works!
As soon as I figured that out, I thought I could make pizza dough and use a little of it for two small bread rolls, leaving enough for a pizza supper. Instead of using olive oil in the dough, I tried using hazelnut oil instead, thinking that would give a welcome nuttiness to the pizza and make the bread part of my creme egg bun a little more interesting.
Creme eggs, just in case anyone is unaware, are a classic Easter treat from Cadbury: a milk chocolate shell filled with sugar fondant, white with a yellow centre, mimicking an actual egg. They are very sweet. As a child, I used to be sent a pack of them every Easter from my grandmother and I’d try and eek them out for as long as I could.
Along with the creme eggs, I was sent two packs of a new to me cadbury product which came out last Easter: Egg ‘n’ Spoon – one of each kind. Ingeniously packed into an egg box, the four eggs come complete with two spoons, which I thought rather cute. A milk chocolate shell contains either a white chocolate or milk chocolate mousse depending on which variety you have.
I decided to try mine in an egg cup and eat it with the spoon. The top comes off easily, leaving a nicely jagged shell and the contents were easily spooned out of it. Personally, I didn’t find the eating experience that good, the chocolate was soft, so I’m guessing the cocoa content was very low and the mousse was OK, but no more than that. However, these are great for sharing and are a really fun Easter idea; I suspect kids would love them, I know I would have done.
To keep the kids, or even yourself, amused after the eggs have disappeared, you can get crafty and create a Batty Aunt Polly’s Earring Drum out of the two empty boxes.
This is how I made:
Creme Egg Buns
- Threw 250g flour (half wholemeal, half strong white) into a bowl together with 1 tsp instant yeast, 1/4 tsp salt and ½ tsp maca powder (one of those super foods that are meant to be so good for us).
- Made a well in the centre and added 1 tbsp hazelnut oil and 150ml warm water.
- Stirred until just combined, then turned out onto an oiled worktop and kneaded for about 10 minutes.
- Cut off an ⅛ of the dough and returned the rest to a covered bowl and left to rise in the cool for a few more hours.
- Cut the small bit of dough into two and rolled each piece into a rectangle just big enough to wrap around an egg.
- Encased two eggs in the dough ensuring they were properly sealed.
- Placed on a lined baking tray and left to rise in a warm place for an hour.
- Brushed with milk and baked at 200°C for 12 minutes when the tops were golden and the bottoms sounded hollow when tapped.
- Placed on a wire rack to cool.
I thought CT wouldn’t be able to handle anything quite as sweet as these, so I only left him half of one to try. I had one warm and a half cold. I have never had a warm cream egg before, but I can attest it is an experience worth having. In fact it was rather delicious, the contents having completely melted and soaked lusciously into the bread. However, it was the second one where the egg had time to set which I enjoyed the best and surprisingly CT enjoyed it too. As I’d hoped, the plain bread acted as a good foil for the sweet egg and worked very well indeed with the hazelnut notes giving a little added interest.
These would be a fun and interesting way of using up leftover Easter chocs – assuming you ever have such a thing! Of course if you really wanted to party, you could forget the pizza and use this amount of dough to make 16 creme egg buns
Bread is such a fascinating bake. There is so much variety in taste and texture to be had. Thankfully there has been a revival of interest in real bread in recent years, spearheaded in Britain by the Real Bread Campaign. New techniques and methods are being invented or rediscovered all the time it seems. I’ve been making my own bread since I was a teenager – on and off. But it wasn’t until I attended a bread making course with Andrew Whitley a few years ago that I discovered, when it comes to water, more is definitely best. Wet doughs may be harder to knead, but generally give a much better result. I’ve been hearing about no knead breads for a while now. My own rye sourdough requires no kneading, but could this really work for wheat breads I wondered? I really kneaded (get it) to try it out for myself. Thanks to the unexpected delivery of a Lékué bread maker, I finally managed it.
One of the few things I miss as a vegetarian is a good lardy cake. Our local bakery BlakesBakery does a particularly good one. Rich with fat, sugar and spicy fruit, it has a crunchy exterior with a lovely doughy interior. When I found out the #TeaTimeTreats theme was for yeast bakery this month, an idea was conceived. I would invent my very own non-lardy, lardy cake using white chocolate instead of lard, my own candied peel and very non traditionally, apples.
Here are a few breakfast bites you might not have thought of sitting down to in the mornings. You’ll find mini reviews of gluten-free pancakes, lemon green tea, a muesli variety pack and Mexican hot chocolate. There’s also a recipe for chocolate sauce and a link to my rye sourdough recipe.