Braided Pesto Bread

Perfect with a glass of sauvignon blanc!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoonkosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce

Directions:

  1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar until blended. Let stand in the bowl for about 5 minutes until the mixture appears foamy.

  2. Add the milk (at room temperature), olive oil, and salt to the yeast and mix until just combined. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mix after each addition until combined into a homogeneous mass.
  3. Scrape the raggedy dough from the edge of the mixer bowl. Knead for 5 to 8 minutes. The dough will be less sticky and become smooth on the surface. It will clear the sides of the bowl.
  4. Cover dough with a large kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot in the kitchen. Allow to rise for 1 hour until it has almost doubled in size. The dough should be smooth and puffy-looking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C and prepare egg wash by whisking the egg and water in small bowl and set aside.
  6. When the dough has risen, lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto it and divide it into 3 equal pieces.
  7. Lightly flour a rolling pin. Roll one piece of dough into a rough 8-inch square. It should be about 1/8 inch in thickness.
  8. Spread pesto on the dough, leave a 1/2-inch border uncovered. Use a pastry brush to brush a small amount of the egg wash over the exposed edge.
  9. Lift up the pesto-covered edge and roll it up, as tightly as possible. Pinch the seam closed with your fingertips. Gently roll the tube back and forth until it spreads lengthwise to about 10 inches long.
  10. Line up 3 rolled tubes on a sheet of parchment, positioning the thin ends toward you. With a very sharp, long knife, make a lengthwise slash through each, cutting a deep slit halfway down the depth of the tube; make sure not to cut all the way through to the bottom.
  11. Braid the tubes together, crossing one of the outer tubes gently over the middle one. Then cross the other outer tube up and over the new middle one. Repeat, working your way down to the end. Half of the tube should be braided. Then turn the parchment paper around and braid the other side, from the center point to the end, so that the entire loaf is braided. Tuck under ends if desired.
  12. Let the bread rise for another 30 minutes before baking.
  13. When the loaves have risen, uncover and brush well with the egg wash.
  14. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.  Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, turn the pan 180° from its original position every 15min to ensure even baking, bake until the bread is brown and crusty.

 

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Biscoff Buttercream Icing

Happy Birthday to my fatter half!

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Biscoff is one of my favourite cookies, crispy and aromatic, full of caramelized sweetness of well-toasted sugar, they are simply out of this world! And you know what?  These Belgian babies are even more addictive when made into buttercream icing…

Ingredients:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (cubed)
  • 1 cup Biscoff spread

Directions:

  1. Place egg whites and sugar into a medium-sized bowl, whisk until combined.
  2. Place bowl over a hot water bath on the stove and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and no longer grainy to the touch (approx. 3mins).
  3. Whisk on med-high with hand mixer until the meringue is stiff and cooled (the bowl is no longer warm to the touch (approx. 5-10mins)).
  4. Switch to paddle attachment. Slowly add cubed butter and mix until smooth. Add Biscoff spread and mix until smooth.

No Knead Crusty Raisin and Walnut Bread

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1g instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup raisin
  • ½ cup of walnut
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 350ml warm water (about 35°C)

Directions:

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the warm water and honey. This should result in a sticky dough, if it is not sticky to the touch, add a few spoonful of water. Gently shape the dough into a ball as best you can. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature and allow to rise for 12-18 hours. The dough will be doubled in size and covered in air bubbles.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using lightly floured hands, shape into a ball as best you can. Transfer dough to a large piece of parchment paper.

3. Using a very sharp knife, gently score an X into the top. Leave dough alone for 30 minutes.

4. During this 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 246°C. Place the dutch oven (with the lid) inside for 30 minutes so that it’s extremely hot before the dough is placed inside. After 30 minutes, remove the dutch oven from the oven and carefully place the dough inside by lifting it up with the parchment paper and tucking it all– the parchment paper included– inside the pot. Cover with the lid.

5. Bake for 25 minutes with the lid on. Carefully remove the lid and continue baking for 10 more minutes until the bread is golden brown. Remove pot from the oven, carefully remove the bread from the pot, and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.


 

Merry Cherry Sponge Cake

Let us eat cake, it’s somebody’s birthday somewhere. Oh, in fact it’s everyone’s birthday today!

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Ingredients (yield two 4-inch cakes):

  • 150g butter, at room temperature
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 10-12 cherries, stoned and halved

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease two 4-inch cake tins with butter and flour.
  2. Lay the cherries at the bottom of the cake tins.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and creamy.
  4. Fold in the flour until well incorporated. Transfer to the prepared cake tin.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
  6. Serve while still warm!

 

Gingerbread men

Soft in the centers, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced =) No holiday cookie platter would be complete without our beloved gingerbread men!


Ingredients (yield 12 pcs):

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add golden syrup, egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.
  3. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired.