#Recipe – Baguettes

Apparently “to make a good French stick, with its distinctive open texture, you need a very lively dough that’s just slightly soft, rather than firm.  A bit of steam at the start of baking will help give the baguettes the traditional glossy, razor-sharp crust.” Oh and from start to finish, including proving time, you need about 7 hours! So in my humble opinion pop down to your local bakery, it’s a lot less hassle!

What you need:

300g strong white bread flour
200g plain white flour
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
approx. 300ml lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt, dissolved in 4 tbsp. cold water, for brushing

What you do:

  • Mix together both flours in a large bowl, then tip about half into another smaller bowl and set one aside.
  • Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt of the yeast into the flour in the large bowl, then work in the lukewarm water, using your hand, to make a smooth thick batter.
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave on the side for 3-4 hours until the surface of the batter is covered with tiny bubbles.
  • Uncover the bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water into the batter.
  • Mix the rest of the yeast and salt into the flour in the second bowl.  Gradually work this mixture into the batter using your hand to make a slightly soft but not sticky dough.
  • Lightly dust hands and worktop and knead the dough for approx. 10 minutes until it feels smooth and stretchy.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover again with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  • Dust hands and worktop again and turn out dough – don’t punch down to deflate it.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut in half – in my experience, this was nigh on impossible as the dough just stuck to the knife.
  • Shape each piece into a rough ball, try not to handle too much, then cover loosely with a clean dry tea towel or clingfilm and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Move one piece of dough to the side.  Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to a rectangle about 25 x 30cm. 
  • Roll up the rectangle fairly tightly from the long side, like a Swiss roll.  Tuck in the ends and pinch the seam together firmly.  The roll back and forth with your hands to make a sausage-shaped loaf approx. 40cm long with tapering ends.
  • Flour a large tray with flour, and lay the loaves on the tray.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for approx. 45 minutes.
  • While the loaves are rising heat your oven to 230°c.  Put your baking sheet into the oven to heat up, and place an empty roasting tin on the bottom of the oven.
  • When the loaves are ready for baking, quickly remove the baking sheet from the oven and slide the loaves onto it.  Brush them with the salty water then make several slashes along the loaves with a sharp knife – again not easy.  Put the baking sheet back into the oven.
  • Pour a jug of cold water into the roasting tin to create plenty of steam, quickly shut the oven door and bake for approx. 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack.

Results

This recipe is best eaten on the same day and I think without the salt water wash.

Since starting Weight Watchers one of the biggest things I miss eating is proper bread.  I’ve taken to buying the Weight Watchers branded bread which is perfectly ok but at the end of the day it is calorie and portion controlled – it’s not freshly baked thick bread! Slicing this baguette into 10 slices gives a Weight Watchers Smart Point value of 3SP per slice!  Bearing in mind I have an allowance of 30 per day – this type of bread is a diet killer!

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Rhubarb and Banana Bread

I was given some fresh rhubarb so went searching online for a healthier recipe to use it in and found this rhubarb and banana bread at Kim’s Cravings (see original recipe here).  I have converted the cup measurements where necessary for ease.

What you need:

340g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 large mashed bananas (I used a hand held blender)
1 large stalk rhubarb
5 tablespoons honey

What you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 180c.  Using low fat cooking spray (e.g Fry Light) grease and line your loaf tin. Mine is approx 8×4″.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice in one bowl and put aside.
  • Beat the eggs for approx 30 seconds using hand held or freestanding mixer.  Add the vanilla, honey and mashed banana and mix.
  • Slowly add the flour mixture and mix on low speed.
  • Gently fold in the rhubarb.
  • Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.  I then added some of the rhubarb to the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
  • Serve warm with a smidge of butter…yum! 🙂

Results

Despite having a power outage of an hour during the baking of the bread it turned out ok.  It was a little overbaked in my opinion but I think that’s because I lost track of the time baked.  I served it at my book club meeting and everyone was really surprised that it didn’t contain any sugar or fat as it still tasted sweet, moist and really tasty.

Having calculated the ingredients, based on 10 slices per loaf, each slice has a Weight Watchers point value of 5 which is was good for me as I could fit it into my daily plan allowance without too much juggling.  Next time though, I’d use more rhubarb and it was hard to detect.

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Hot Cross Buns (Weight Watchers #Recipe)


This is the first time I’ve baked in about 2 months and the first recipe I’ve tried in my healthier lower fat sugar challenge/experiment.  I had to use some substitutions as I didn’t quite have all the correct ingredients in the cupboard but this didn’t impact negatively in any way.

What you need:

For the buns
375g strong white flour (bread flour)
25g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
7g dried baking yeast (1 sachet)
1 medium egg, whisked lightly
220 ml tepid skimmed milk
2 level tsp ground mixed spice
60g low fat spread melted
6 sprays calorie controlled cooking spray
For the crosses
100g currants (I used sultanas)
35g plain white flour
1g baking powder
1 tsp honey warm, to glaze (I used golden syrup)

What you do:

  • In a large bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, yeast, salt and mixed spice. Make a well in the centre then pour in the milk, egg and spread. With a wooden spoon, mix to form a dough.
    Use your hands to bring the dough together, then knead the dough for at least 10 mins until smooth and elastic. I used the dough hook on my freestanding mixer.
  • Put the dough in a clean bowl misted with the cooking spray. Place a clean tea cloth over the dough and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°c.
  • Knock back the dough by kneading for another 2 minutes, adding the currants/sultanas. Shape the dough into 12 small round buns, making a cross shape on each one using a knife. This, I found, virtually impossible, as the dough just gets dragged on the knife so I didn’t bother after a couple.
  • Mist a baking tray with cooking spray and place the buns on it in a rectangle close together. Cover with a tea cloth and leave for another 30 mins to prove.
  • Make the crosses by mixing the flour with the baking powder and 3 tbsp water to form a thick paste. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and carefully pipe a cross onto each bun.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Carefully tap the bottom of the buns – if they are light and sound hollow then they are done.
  • Once cooked, leave to cool slightly on a wire rack and then brush with the honey/syrup to glaze.

Results

I was really pleased with my first ever batch of hot cross buns and especially with the doubling in size of the dough (rarely happens for me).

As this was a Weight Watchers recipe, for those of you who are unfamiliar with how the WW plan works, each food and drink is given a points value and you have a daily and weekly points allowance calculated upon weight and gender etc to spend.  My daily allowance is 30 with a weekly allowance of 42 for extras and treats.

These hot cross buns have a value of 6 points. For comparison, Aldi Hot Cross Buns have a point value of 7, Sainsbury’s 8, Marks & Spencer luxury 9.  However, the Co-Op’s are 6, same as the WW recipe – interesting!

All in all, the homemade buns are very nice and I didn’t feel as I’d been short changed in any way by using some lower calorie alternatives.  However, given the length of time they take to make, I’d probably nip down the Co-Op if I wanted some more! 😉

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ok, so I have gone a little muffin mad just lately, but that’s because I’ve had two new different sized silicone trays to experiment with, but I promise to step away from the muffin tray for now and try some other bakes.

What you need:img_2684

250g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g caster sugar
50g butter
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
250ml milk
175g milk or plain chocolate chips

What you do:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 200°c.  Lightly grease a 12 muffin tin or use paper muffin cases if you don’t have a silicone tray.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and then add the butter in chunks, rubbing it into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar and the chocolate chips.
  • In another bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla essence and milk and then pour into the dry mixture and combine. Don’t overmix, it should be a chunky rough mix.
  • Share evenly between the tin or the paper cases.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes.chocolate-chip-muffins
  • Cool in the tray initially then on a wire rack.chocolate-chip-muffins

Until next time…Happy Baking!

Banana and Walnut Muffins

This is my first baking post of the New Year!! I received a silicone muffin mould for Christmas which I’ve been dying to try out.  So if you’re in need of quickish breakfast treat, try these Banana & Walnut Mini Muffins, this recipe is originally from the BBC Food website.  I used half of the ingredients which comfortably made 6 mini muffins.

What you need:

250g self-raising flour1
75g melted butter
115g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence/extract
2 large ripe bananas
125ml milk
2 medium eggs
10 walnut kernels

What you do:

  1. Heat your oven to 190°c.
  2. Melt the butter and allow to cool – I did this in the microwave, about 30 seconds should do it.
  3. Mash the bananas.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a large bowl, add caster sugar and stir.
  5. Beat together the eggs, vanilla extract, melted butter and milk into a second bowl.banana-muffins

  6. Add the mashed banana and stir together.

  7. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture, stirring with a fork until it makes a lumpy goo.

  8. Share the mixture between your muffin paper cases or mould until almost full. Top each one with a walnut kernel.

  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.banana-muffins

  10. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes then remove the muffins and leave on the rack for another five minutes before serving.

    banana-muffins

Well I’m dead impressed with the silicone muffin mould, no greasing or paper cases needed and the muffins just pop out of the tray when cool.  Ideally do them till they’re cool so they keep their shape and can support themselves on the cooling tray – genius idea which every baker needs in their life! 

Until next time…Happy Baking!