Monthly Archives: March 2013

Guinness Chocolate Chip Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

The flavour combination I am completely obsessed with is back, this time in hot cross bun form. Sourdough hot cross buns obviously. These are not your traditional hot cross buns, in fact if you like a traditional spicy, fruity hot cross bun then these are not for you! These hot cross buns are for those of us who like the idea of a hot cross bun, but then take an hour to eat it because we have to pick out all of the dried fruit as we go. I used to be that person, then I made spiced stout hot cross buns and my mind was changed. If you like a traditional hot cross bun, those are the buns for you.

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Instead these hot cross buns harness the richness of Guinness to flavour a soft, dense dough containing lots and lots of dark chocolate chips that melt when toasted and mingle with the melting butter that you will smear across it to create the most decadent breakfast I’ve had in a while. But I’m in training, so I’ve been living off porridge for longer than I dare to remember. I can’t wait to get back into proper Sunday morning breakfasts.

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You could of course use any kind of stout and another type of chocolate, but Guinness and dark chocolate are particularly strong together. In total these took me a day and a half to make, but you can follow the timings for the spiced stout sourdough hot cross buns if you want to make them in a day (plus overnight leaven creation). I know we’re only really supposed to eat hot cross buns on Good Friday, but as these aren’t traditional hot cross buns I think I’ll be untraditional and carry on eating them for a few more weeks!

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Guinness Chocolate Chip Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Makes about 16 buns.
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s Spiced Stout Buns recipe.

Ingredients

325ml Guinness (or another brand of stout if you must)
100g sourdough starter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
800g strong white flour + a couple of tablespoons extra for the crosses
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
50g caster sugar + 1 tablespoon extra for the glaze
1 large egg
50g melted butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped into chips

In the morning, whisk together the Guinness & the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir in the spices and 250g of the strong white flour. Cover with cling film and leave to ferment for at least 6 hours.

That afternoon, mix the remaining 550g of strong white flour with the salt and caster sugar in a large bowl. Mix in the Guinness batter, egg and melted butter until you have a shaggy mess of a dough. Note added: If the batter is struggling to absorb all the flour, then add a little extra Guinness, a tablespoon at a time until it’s all mixed in. Leave for 10 minutes, I took this time to chop up my chocolate as I’m never very good at preparing things like that before I start. Add the chocolate chips to the bowl and stretch & kneed the dough until the chocolate chips are fully incorporated, cover with clingfilm or a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rest.

After 30 minutes, stretch or kneed the dough for 10 seconds or so, then cover and leave to rest again. After a second 30 minutes take the dough out of the bowl, stretch it out to a rectangle then fold the right third to the centre and then the same with the left third, turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat (check out this video for a visual aid, but don’t panic when your dough takes a lot more effort to stretch). Return it to the bowl for another rest. 60 minutes later, repeat the folding technique and return to the bowl for a final 2 hour rest.

By now we’re well into the evening, perhaps even nearing bedtime, so line a baking tray with baking paper and clear a shelf in your fridge. Divide the dough up into 100g lumps, roll them into balls and place them on the baking tray. They should be touching, but only just. Cover with clingfilm (lightly greased with a little vegetable oil to avoid sticking) or your damp tea towel and place in the fridge overnight.

When you bake them the next day is up to you. I intended to get up and bake them first thing, but in the end I didn’t have time until the afternoon. The buns will be fine in the fridge for most of the day unless you have a particularly vigorous starter. Take them out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before you plan on baking them and preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan.

Mix a little flour & water into a paste. Initially add a tablespoon of each then add flour/water a teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you like. Spoon this into a piping bag & pipe long lines across the rows of buns to create crosses. Go slowly to ensure the batter follows the undulations of the buns & creates even crosses. Put the buns into the preheated oven & place an oven dish with a cup of boiling water at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake for 25 minutes.

Take the buns out of the oven and dance round the kitchen to celebrate how great they look. Then, while they are still warm, mix a tablespoon of boiling water and a tablespoon of caster sugar together to form a syrup. Brush this over the buns, making sure you get in all the dips and cracks and between any lumps and bumps from the chocolate chips. It’s worth the effort.

Slide the baking paper with the buns still attached onto a wire rack to cool. The sooner you take them off the paper the better, but you need to let them cool down enough to handle as you’ll probably need to break them into individual buns to do so.

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To enjoy: Choose the biggest bun, cut it in half, lightly toast it and smear it with a large quantity of butter. Follow with the tea/coffee of your choice.

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Time for round two…

Sourdough Pizza

I’ve been talking for ages about making sourdough pizza and I finally got round to making it! I made up the dough in the afternoon & let it proof and then my friend joined me in the evening for some homemade pizza & beers, or tea in my case as my commitment to my marathon training is such that I’m not drinking this month*.

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I followed the recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet which still my first stop for all baking tasks. So at about 2.30pm I combined 200g sourdough leaven with 300ml water, 500g strong white flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to create a shaggy mess of a dough. The dough only needed stretching once after 10 minutes resting, at which point I realised that it was the most gloriously smooth and stretchy dough I have ever had the joy of working with. I then left it for 4 1/2 hours to proof. This may well have been the easiest dinner I have ever made.

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Once my friend arrived that evening, I heated the oven to 220C fan; it’s hottest temperature, with 2 baking trays inside to heat up. I divided up the dough into 6 x 150-200g balls leaving 2 on the side to rest for 20 minutes and popping the extra 4 in the freezer.

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Then the fun bit. We stretched the dough out on some makeshift peels, which in this case were chopping boards lined with baking paper. There was much hilarity as we realised that the dough’s elasticity meant that every time we stretched it out it sprang back, it was much trickier than we thought it would be! We topped the dough with sundried-tomato pesto, tomatoes, chorizo, mozzarella and a few chilli flakes before sliding them on to the baking trays in the oven and baking for 15 mins.

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The result was two light, crispy crusted pizzas, with some rich, spicy toppings. We were probably a little heavy on the toppings which meant the centre wasn’t as crisp as it could have been, but it was a minor complaint. I think just scrapping the fresh tomatoes or swapping them for a few small cherry tomatoes would be enough to fix this. I’m looking forward to getting the spare dough out of the freezer and seeing how the second batch go!

*Paris being the exception, because going to Paris and not drinking wine is wrong.

A Weekend In Paris

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend in Paris. This wasn’t a normal weekend in Paris though, this was for my Grandmother’s 80th birthday and that entire side of my family went. In total there were 14 of us, which made choosing what to do and where to go almost impossible! So The Boy and I decided that the best option was to not make any plans, and to just go with the flow, which turned out to be a wise decision.

We covered all the visiting Paris basics. We drank lots of coffee and ate lots of pastry. In fact we drank and ate a lot of everything really. We walked for miles and miles. Went to beautiful shops and markets and gazed at many beautiful buildings. I got to practice my French and cringe at my family speaking English to everyone. C’est la vie. Can’t wait to go back.

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Highlights included the food market Marché des Enfants Rouges, lunch at Café Le Brebant, browsing around Merci boutique, the whole family going on the carousel in Le Jardin des Tuileries, the Sunday foodmarket on Rue Montmartre, Notre Dame and the fascinating bird market on the Ile de la Cité.

Brighton Marathon : The Training Peak

Yesterday I ran 20 miles. 20 whole miles.

It’s been a heavy few weeks. I had a cold 3 or 4 weeks ago that completely screwed up that week’s running & stressed me out as I knew I was getting to the critical training period. It was fine though, I took a few days off running to sleep off the virus and hit it hard again the following week.

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9 miles from home, the halfway point on my 18 miler.

Then two weeks ago I ran 18 miles. I ran it in a good time, but it was the first long run where I really ached afterwards. It took a good couple of days to get back to walking normally! That week was probably the peak of my energy and enthusiasm. My body is so fatigued from the training build up that since then I’ve really struggled to find the motivation to run. Not ideal as there’s still weeks until the race!

Last week I had to spice things up a bit to boost my motivation, so even though I’m not supposed to be adding in any new training routines I ran mile intervals for one of my short 5 milers and it made the world of difference. I felt much more energised afterwards. I then ran last week’s 10 mile mid-week long run at an average of 8:50 minutes/mile which is faster than I planned to run the marathon and felt amazing. My other tactic has been running short runs with my friend Damien who is trying to get back into running. He helped me get through a very achey recovery run after that fast 10 miler!

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20 miles along the Regents Canal.

Then we get back to the 20 miler. I spent this weekend in Paris (blog to follow), which involved walking for miles in wedged trainers, eating a huge quantity of ridiculously rich food and drinking rather large quantities of red wine. So I took on 20 miles with tired legs, achey feet, a belly full of food & drink my body wasn’t used to and without having had enough sleep. You won’t find this recommended in any marathon training books I can tell you.

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10 miles from home, which means there’s 10 miles to go.

The main thing is that I finished the 20 miles, again in a decent time. Other than backache for the last 3 or 4 miles I wasn’t in any pain, I didn’t get any blisters and my leg muscles coped frighteningly well. The rich food from the weekend repeated on me leaving me feeling very sick and I had a terrible stomach ache by the time I reached home (I also had to make two toilet stops mid-run, but the less said about that the better). The overwhelming feeling though was of exhaustion. I’ve just never been so tired in my entire life. How I kept putting one foot in front of the other for the last 5 miles I have absolutely no idea, but I did.

Incredibly I don’t really ache today – I was expecting to be really sore! I can feel my knees twinge as I walk down stairs and my feet could do with a rub, but other than that I’m fine! It’s an enormous relief, and gives me hope that on the day, when I’ve had much better preparation I’ll be able to stumble through the full 26.2 miles.

That was the peak of my training so from now on it’s rest & refuel time. A few weeks of carbohydrates and gentle running & there is no reason I won’t finish Brighton Marathon in less than my goal of 4 hours 15 minutes. If you want to give me a final push, please sponsor me so I can think of Goodgym and have a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other on the day.

Sourdough Surprises : Sourdough Chocolate & Guinness Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

It’s time for another challenge from Sourdough Surprises – a group for bakers who want to experiment with making more than just bread with their sourdough starter. March’s challenge was cake – a challenge I’m always happy to take on.

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Checking out the Sourdough Surprises Pinterest Board I immediately repinned this recipe for a sourdough chocolate cake from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. I was given a bundt tin for Christmas, so this seemed as good a time as any for it’s first outing. I also did a little research on the Herman The German Friendship Cake that is doing the rounds at the moment. It’s essentially a sourdough starter maintained specifically for cake, which you’re supposed to keep splitting and passing on to friends. However the recipes didn’t seem to use the sourdough to enhance the flavour or volume as there was no resting time for it to develop, it was just added for the sake of it. It got me wondering if all those people with Herman’s living in their cupboard realise his full potential…

In the end two things heavily influenced the way I adapted the sourdough chocolate cake. #1 – I had been making a lot of stout hot cross buns, and had an open can of Guinness on the kitchen side and #2 – this recipe for Guinness brownies with a whiskey glaze cropped up in my Google Reeder (more on my heartache at the demise of Google Reader on my social media blog). I am obsessed with Guinness & chocolate cakes, I’ve made several variations in the past, one of which won me a prize at a cake competition! So it was decided, I would make a Chocolate & Guinness Bundt Cake with a Whiskey Caramel Glaze.

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I refreshed my rye starter with water and white bread flour and left it for 6 hours before mixing up the cake – next time I think I’ll use Guinness at this stage as well to deepen the flavour. Then I mixed a cup of this starter with Guinness & flour and left it for 2.5 hours to ferment, you can see the before and after above. After that it was just a case of putting all the ingredients into the stand mixer to create the most bizarre consistency cake mix I have ever seen. It clearly couldn’t decide if it was dough or batter. At one point it looked a lot like blancmange, but it turns out that is no bad thing. The resulting cake was dense and moist, the Guinness isn’t so much a seperate flavour as a boost to the rich chocolate flavour.

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The next day I went to make the whiskey caramel glaze, but wasn’t entirely happy with the recipe. I googled a few other caramel sauce recipes and came up with my own version. As you can see from the photos, it was still a bit runny! If you prefer your glaze thicker then keep adding icing sugar, a little at a time, until you get to a consistency you’re happy with. The glaze was to die for. I couldn’t stop eating it. I’m not ashamed to say I even spread it on toast.

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Sourdough Chocolate & Guinness Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

Makes 1 large bundt cake.
Based on the recipes for this cake and this glaze.

Cake Ingredients

1 cup sourdough starter fed approx. 6 hours ago
1 cup Guinness
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder
2 large eggs

Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp double cream
1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey
1 tbsp Guinness
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup icing sugar (to reach my consistency – add more as required)

Mix together the fed starter with the Guinness & plain flour. Cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to ferment at room temperature for roughly 2.5 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C fan & grease your bundt tin with butter.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachement (or by hand), combine the caster sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder & espresso powder. Beat on a low speed to combine, and don’t worry about it being grainy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between.

Add the Guinness leaven to the batter and beat on low until well mixed. At this stage the batter goes through a range of textures (it’s very elastic!), just keep going until it’s nice and smooth. Scrape down the paddle & bowl a couple of times to make sure it’s all mixed in evenly.

Transfer the batter into the bundt tin and level the top. Bake for around 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, mine took 47 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Now for the glaze.

Combine the caster sugar with 2 tbsp water in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Stir briefly until the sugar dissolves and then leave it, any more stirring will cause sugar crystals to form and you’ll have to start again. Continue to cook until the sugar has turned a dark amber colour, keep a close watch on it as it can turn quite quickly once it gets to the right temperature.

Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the butter and double cream until combined. Add the whiskey, Guinness and salt, whisk and return to the heat, cooking until the caramel is smooth.

Cool the sauce for 10-15 minutes, it will still be a little warm. Using an electric mixer, or by hand add the icing sugar a bit at a time, until you get to the consistency you like, then drizzle over the bundt cake. Pop the cake in the fridge for half an hour to set the glaze, then enjoy!

Check out the other Sourdough Surprises entries here, and don’t forget – the leftover glaze is cracking on toast!

Can't get enough of the whiskey caramel sauce. #caramel #friday #love

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Spiced Stout Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

It is the season for hot cross buns and as the season is short we must make the most of it! My current sourdough obsession meant that making a sourdough hot cross bun was a no-brainer, it had to be attempted. After trawling through all my books and my usual internet haunts I settled on Dan Lepard’s spiced stout hot cross buns as my base recipe to adapt.

I ended up using Guinness as it was the only stout available in the miserable little supermarket I visited, but as Guinness is always delicious when combined with sugar I didn’t complain too heartily. The recipe isn’t complicated, but like all sourdough recipes it takes time for the dough to proof, so all in all they took about 24 hours to make. I made my Guinness levain and soaked the fruit overnight, then did the mixing, folding & resting during the morning, left it to proof for the afternoon under a tea towel and then baked in the evening. Another option would be to mix the levain & soaked fruit in the morning, mix the dough, fold it and rest it throughout the evening then proof the buns overnight in the fridge and bake first thing. In fact, I might use that method next time!

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The resulting buns were dense and moist with a richly, spiced flavour. The kitchen smelled like Christmas after baking them, it was divine! I sold them at work to raise money for my marathon running efforts and they got thumbs up all round. If you’re not a hot cross bun convert yet, make these, toast them, smear them with butter and you’ll never look back!

I realised after making these that the Twelve Loaves challenge for March is holiday bread! What an ideal coincidence, so I’ve submitted my recipe to the collection on Cake Duchess’ blog. Do check out the other submissions too.

Spiced Stout Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

Makes about 20 buns.
Based on Dan Lepard’s Spiced Stout Buns recipe.

Ingredients

325ml Guinness (or another brand of stout)
150g sourdough starter
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp allspice
800g strong white flour
325g raisins
175g mixed peel
200ml hot black tea
1 large egg
50g melted butter
50g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
(plus a little plain flour & extra caster sugar for the crosses & the glaze)

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The night before, whisk together the Guinness & the sourdough starter in a large bowl and stir in spices and 250g of the strong white flour. In a separate bowl mix the raisins, mixed peel and the hot black tea. Cover and leave overnight, in the morning the batter will have swollen like so:

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The next day, mix the egg and melted butter through the plumped up fruit, then stir into the spiced beer batter. Mix in the flour, sugar and salt and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Stretch the dough and leave at room temperature for 30 mins, covered with a clean tea towel. Stretch the dough again and leave for another 30 minutes. Take the dough out of the bowl to fold, then return it to the bowl & leave it for an hour. Fold the dough again and leave once more for around 2 hours. Now we can shape the dough.

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Weigh out roughly 100g balls of dough. Roll them in your hands then pinch them into a rough boule shape. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking parchment so that each bun is just touching. I easily fit all 20 buns on one baking sheet. Leave these at room temperature, covered with a tea towel, for 3-4 hours until fully risen.

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Once the buns look like they’re nearly ready, heat the oven to 180C fan. Mix a little plain flour with a little water to form a paste. The consistency needs to be soft enough to pipe, but not so runny it’s going to dribble out of the nozzle as you spoon it into the piping bag. Pipe crosses across the hot cross buns in continuous lines from one side of the baking sheet to the other. Bake these for 25 minutes until golden.

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As they come out the oven, mix a tablespoon of caster sugar & a tablespoon of boiling water and brush over the buns while they’re still hot to give that traditional shiny glaze. Once cool break them apart, cut in half, toast, smear with butter and enjoy…

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