Easy Spicy Focaccia with Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Paul Hollywood’s focaccia recipe is a winner.

Focaccia bread make the best sandwiches. They’re so springy and full of lovely pockets of air just begging to soak up all of the flavours. Imagine filling these fluffy Italian breads with roasted veggies and pesto OR grilled meats or salami and cheese, like mozarella and provolone. The possibilities! If sandwiches aren’t your thing, they’re just as good for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar OR eaten with a big, hearty bowl of soup.

Now, this focaccia that I made…it’s quite spicy. My whole body broke into sweats while eating it.  If you can’t take the heat replace the scotch bonnet peppers with something milder! OR not.

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Scotch Bonnet Focaccia 

From Paul Hollywood’s Focaccia recipe  on BBC Food 

Ingredients

Bread
500g/1lb 2oz/3-4 cups of strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 sachets dried easy blend yeast OR 30 g of fresh yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml/14fl oz/1 1/2 – 2 cups of cold water

Topping
olive oil, for drizzling
fine sea salt
1 scotch bonnet pepper, julienned and seeds removed

Preparation

Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. (If using fresh yeast dissolve the yeast in water first.) Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.

Rub some oil on your hands and stretch the dough in the bowl by tucking the sides into the centre. Turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Line a deep baking dish (I used a 9 x 9-inch tray) with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten it a bit, careful not to pop the air bubbles. Sprinkle the peppers on top then leave to proof for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Dimple the top of the dough with your fingers, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done by tapping the bottom of the bread and hear a hollow sound. Once cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.

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Bon appetit!

Camembert and Cranberry Sauce Sweet Buns

Spring might be in the air, but don’t tell my latest bread experiment that. Yes, cranberry season is long gone, and I felt a bit odd using them without the prospect of turkey dinners and mulled wine, but I couldn’t help reaching for them anyway. So, here they are! Sweet cranberry fig sauce melded with earthy, salty Camembert in whole wheat (pull-apart) buns. (Perfect for sharing.) I made them on Sunday afternoon and ate one while it was still warm and gooey with some strong earl grey.

The inspiration for these came from BBC Good Food’s Festive Brioche Wreath, which looks absolutely outstanding. I wanted a less time-consuming version–brioche dough needs a long, cool rise–and thought about simply adapting my go-to sweet dough recipe for it.

As tasty as these buns were, I think I would love a savoury version even more. Imagine a pull-apart bread with Camembert, caramelized onions and ham/prosciutto. Mmm!

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After making the sweet bun dough, divide into eight to ten pieces.

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Two different methods for the filling: stuff the cheese and cranberry inside OR score the top of bread and insert filling.

Egg wash (obvi!) needed for a glossy finish once it is baked.

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And here’s the bun after it has cooled.

To make:

  • 1 batch of Sweet Bun Dough recipe from my Candied Orange and Cardamom Bread using whole wheat flour for the ferment and regular white bread flour for the rest.
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Cranberry Sauce per bun — I used this one here.
  • Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

 

 

Kale and Chorizo Bread Pudding

The Super Bowl is over and you don’t know what to do with all the garlic bread you made, obviously.

For when you have stale week-old garlic bread in your fridge. Why? Because your family goes all out with party food and you’ve been eating leftovers all week. So, nobody’s been cooking and now it’s the weekend again and all the food is gone–not even any rice left!–BUT there’s garlic bread.  And some kale… Oooh, look, a piece of chorizo. Cheese? Yes, there’s cheese. Do you still have eggs? Yep. Milk? Cream? What are you waiting for?

For sure, this bread pudding is a heavy hitter. No hungry stomachs will be left behind. You’ll feel full for the rest of the afternoon, which is fine, because it’s the weekend (I’m assuming you’ll be making this on Saturday) and you can take a nap and digest it off.

If you have some leafy greens or some slaw, they’ll make a nice addition to the plate.

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Of course, if you don’t have any garlic bread, kale or chorizo, that’s fine. In the original recipe, which comes from Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson uses mushroom, leeks, radicchio and ham for his savoury bread pudding. The recipe is a basic formula that would work with any sort of cooked vegetables and/or meat.

One other note: make sure the egg custard goes as close to the rim of your baking dish or at least covers the top of your bread. I didn’t do that and the exposed top bits were just a tad difficult to chew. So, do as I say, not as I do.

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Kale and Chorizo Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1 hour maximum
  • Print

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Recipe adapted from Tartine Bread

You can also assemble the dish a day ahead and store it in the fridge, letting it come to room temperature before baking.

Savoury Bread Pudding
3 slices of leftover garlic bread…or any stale crusty bread, torn into large chunks
Handful of kale, stems removed and leaf roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup chorizo, cubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil

For Custard
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup of sharp cheese, grated
Herbs of choice (fresh or dried thyme, sage or oregano should do)

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, pan fry the chorizo until crispy. Add in the kale, season and cook until tender. Set aside and let cool down.

In a bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Add milk, cream, herbs, half of the cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place the bread, chorizo and kale in a large souffle dish or any suitable oven-proof dish (1-quart pyrex casserole dish). Pour in the custard so that it comes all the way to the rim, stir once or twice to get an even mix of everything. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Let stand for 8 to 10 until the custard saturates the bread.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Bake until the custard is no longer runny in the center, about 35 to 50 minutes. Let the pudding rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Candied Orange and Cardamom Bread

A light, airy loaf using spice-infused milk, candied orange peels and ground cardamom. It will make the perfect winter toast to brighten up any cold mornings or afternoons.

This is a multi-step recipe and it’s kind of a long process on account of the candied orange peels–not as long as making croissants–but in the end you’ll have a fluffy, sweet loaf with pockets of zesty orange and the warm and fragrant scent of cardamom wafting across your kitchen. Who doesn’t want that?

Do note that this recipe produces a very sticky dough. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using a standmixer, but if kneading by hand, invest in a dough scraper to make picking up the dough easier. The biggest challenge will be the temptation to add more flour. Just don’t do it! As you knead, the flour will eventually absorb the water and the gluten structure will develop, leading to a more manageable dough. If the stickiness really does get to you, just flour your hands in-between handling the dough.

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Continue reading “Candied Orange and Cardamom Bread”

Braided Loaf

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I’ve made three milk breads since the new year. I was hoping to post a recipe soon, but I just haven’t had the chance to sit down to properly type it all out. But soon. Very soon.

(As you can see, my braiding skill isn’t quite there.)

Montreal: Boulangerie Guillaume

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If you ever find yourself in the Montreal neighbourhood of Mile End do yourself a favour and make your way to Boulangerie Guillaume for a truly spectacular display of bread and baked goods. It’s our little Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of French bread and pastries.

Leo and I try to go there each time we visit Montreal, and we’re slowly eating our way through their shelves. So far we’ve had their little pain filled with fig and cheese, a hunk of rustic loaf filled with more figs and peppered with hazelnut, mini pain au chocolat that are too cute for words, a traditional baguette, good old butter croissants, and the poppy seed loaf. To the staff of life! 

Boulangerie Guillaume
5132 Boulevard St-Laurent, Montréal | Facebook

Hokkaido Milk Bread

I’ve been on a bread making kick lately. I can and do make other things, I swear, but I rarely get the chance to take photos. So for now, here’s one of my favourite loaf thus far. It will probably be the fluffiest bread you’ll ever make. That’s because the Hokkaido Milk Bread is a Japanese style of bread that uses “tangzhong,” a roux made of flour and milk/water that is added to the dough to trap in moisture. (It’s a common method used in Chinese bakeries as well.) Once baked, the result is a soft, springy loaf that looks as cute as it is delicious.

Since I got the recipe online and made no major modifications, I’ll just link to the original post. 🙂 The one I used comes from Yi Reservation, it has detailed notes (yesss!) and step by step photos (double yes).

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Most recipes recommend kneading the dough with a breadmaker or a standmixer, but it’s possible to do it by hand as on Two Red Bowls/Food52.

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Something which everyone seems to love doing after making this milk bread is to tear it apart. It’s really satisfying. And really delicious.

Happy Baking!

Brioche with bergamot essence

My mom used to make brioche in the late evening for the next morning’s breakfast. But no matter how hard we tried, we never could wait that long. Within minutes of touching the cooling rack, the brioche would be sliced, most probably buttered (yup), and in between mouthfuls of buttery, buttery bread were our usual non-promises to stop snacking at midnight. It’s just that freshly baked brioche is really, really hard to resist, what with the glossy mahogany crust, the fragrant crumbs, and when made at home, the faint scent of butter wafting across the kitchen — incredible.

While this particular brioche bread — a family recipe! — is light and airy, it’s also sturdy. It can be used for toast (slathered with nutella and chopped almonds, of course), for sandwiches (if you omit the bergamot), or in any baking that requires stale bread; I have a recipe for an upgraded French toast coming in a few days!

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Mom’s recipe was originally meant for the breadmaker, but I’ve made it twice using a loaf and a muffin pan. (I used the Tartine Bakery and Bouchon Bakery books as references.) Depending on how keen you are, the process of making brioche can take up a day or two, because the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight or for a few hours. It seems like a huge hassle, BUT it’s worth the effort. I prefer making it over two days…less stressful.

Continue reading “Brioche with bergamot essence”