Anyway, just to ease myself back in to blogging, here's a recipe I made recently and actually managed to photograph. It's a recipe I got from my patisserie teacher in catering college (I have no idea where he got it from so if you recognise it, let me know) and it's one I particularly like but don't make very often because it's not exactly what you'd call healthy...
Maple & Pecan Bread
100ml milk (I use semi skimmed)
140ml sour cream or double cream
5 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp salt
450g strong white flour
1 ½ tsp dried yeast (a 7g sachet is perfect, if you use those)
100g chopped pecan nuts
My method is to throw the lot into the Kenwood Chef/Kitchenaid and let it do the work for me, but of course you can do it by hand, in which case you should rub the butter into the flour and add the yeast and salt, mix together the milk, cream and maple syrup, add this to the dry ingredients and bring it all together to form a dough. Knead until it feels smooth, springy and lovely, and then knead in the pecan nuts (I find it easier this way than to add them right at the start).
Either way, when you've got your dough, form it into a tight ball, place it in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, shower cap (top tip! Pinch them from hotel rooms), cling film or whatever, and leave to prove until it's doubled in size – roughly an hour.
When it's doubled, knock it back and divide the dough into six evenly sized lumps. Divide each of these lumps into three, roll them into thin sausages and plait/braid (depending on where you're from – in the UK we call it plait!) the sausages together. Place these on a baking tray, covered with a tea towel, and leave to prove again for around 40 minutes. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.
When the little plaits/braids have almost doubled in size again, brush the tops with beaten egg and bake for around 20 minutes, by which time they should be a lovely golden brown and will sound hollow if you tap the undersides. Brush the tops with some more maple syrup while they're still warm.
You really need to eat these while they're fresh and preferably still warm as they do stale quickly, but a quick blast in the oven will freshen them up again the next day. Enjoy slathered with butter, obviously!
With a teeny tiny mug of espresso!
I do have some more posts planned for the near future, including showing off my Christmas cake, which I made a couple of days ago and have already fed with a generous amount of brandy, and some recipes for chutney which is my new obsession. Oh and I also want to show you my latest kitchen toy, which happens to be yet another way for me to get my caffeine fix...