This is a really delicious dessert. Like a combination of rhubarb and custard and bread pudding. I actually think it’s much nicer than the traditional version made with dried fruit, it’s not quite as sweet. The rhubarb gives it a nice tang whilst the strawberries […]
When other women go to New York they head to 5th Avenue to buy designer shoes and handbags. Not me. I head to The Bowery and trawl through the restaurant supply stores. When we went recently Mr Colonial Cravings treated me to a tortilla press (in my world this totally counts as a romantic gift!) I used to see these all the time in our local thrift store when we were living in Maryland but I never thought to buy one because ready-made tortillas were always pretty cheap and pretty good. Something I really regretted when we moved back to the UK.
I realise that I don’t actually need a tortilla press to make my own tortillas but it does make the process a bit more fun! I’ve also been using it to make some delicious flatbreads for summer picnics and barbecues.
Freshly made flat breads really are so much nicer than anything that you’ll buy in a supermarket and they really are so quick and easy to make, with or without a fancy-pants tortilla press.
makes about 8
225g plain flour
75g wholewheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp seasalt
2 tbsp mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
30g butter, melted
Sift together the flours and baking powder. Whisk in the salt, crushed garlic and finely chopped herbs. Combine the melted butter, milk and water and then use this to bring the dry ingredients together to form a soft dough. Add it a little at a time, you may not need all of the liquid and you don’t want the dough to be sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead it. Divide it into eight equal chunks and then roll them into thin flat discs with a rolling-pin, or if you’re fancy like me then squish them into shape with a tortilla press!
Set a heavy based frying pan over a low heat and dry-fry the flat breads until the outsides are golden. It’s easiest to do this immediately after you’ve shaped them as they do tend to spring back a bit. Serve warm or cooled with your favourite dip, they’re especially good with this channa dal hummus!
I’ve said it many times but I’ll say it again…Christmas cake is not for me. Icing belongs in my food hell. I just can’t bear it. And the cake is just too rich for me, I’ll have a token slice every year but really and truly I’m only in for the marzipan.
This cake (or is it a bread, I’m not really sure?) is much more my sort of thing, still full of festive flavours but not nearly as heavy. It has a lovely brioche like texture and isn’t too sweet, it makes a lovely change to traditional Christmas cake.
If you really feel like spoiling yourself (it is Christmas after all), this makes absolutely glorious French toast.
2 tbsp hot water
big pinch of saffron
7g yeast (1 sachet)
240ml warm milk
90g butter (+ 1 tbsp for greasing)
500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
Steep the saffron in the hot water for 10 minutes. Combine the yeast and half of the warm milk in a large mixing bowl and leave it to stand whilst the saffron steeps. It should develop a nice frothy head and then you can stir the saffron and water into it.
Mix in the flour, salt and zests. Melt the butter with the sugar and stir it into the remaining warm milk. Beat this into the dough and follow it with the eggs, one at a time. Beat the mixture really well.
Brush your bundt tin really well with melted butter. Put about 1/3 of the cake dough into the base of the tin and then spread on half of the mincemeat (it’s easier to spread if you warm it a bit). Spread another 1/3 of the dough on top and then follow it with the rest of the mincemeat before finishing off with the last of the dough. Cover the tin with cling-film and put it somewhere warm for about 2 hours, by which time it should have risen to more or less fill the tin.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°c and bake the cake for 15 minutes. After this time cover the cake with foil (to stop it from browning too much) and bake it for a further 20 minutes. Once the cake is done leave it to cool in the tin for about five minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
I’m not really sure why I haven’t ever tried to make focaccia before. Maybe because it looks really impressive I’d assumed that it would be quite complicated and beyond my capabilities. But it turns out that it’s not really any more complex than any other yeast dough. Plus you get to have fun at the end playing around with all the toppings.
This is quite a light airy dough which does mean that working with it can get a bit sticky at times, if you just rub your hands with a little olive oil then it all gets a lot easier. You can also let your food mixer do the hard work of kneading if you have one.
You can top the foccacia with pretty much anything you fancy but I really like this sweet and savoury combination of figs, olives and creamy feta. Delicious!
350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp dried yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
200ml tepid water
3 figs, cut into quarters
handful of mixed olives
scattering of feta
sprinkle of seasalt (I used Cornish, naturally)
sprig of rosemary
Combine the water, yeast and one tablespoon of the oil in a jug to give it a bit of a head start.
Mix together the salt and flour in a large bowl. Stir the honey into the water and yeast and then add this to the flour. Mix everything together to form a nice soft dough. If it’s a bit too sticky at this stage then you can sprinkle in a little extra flour to absorb some of the moisture.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead the dough for several minutes (or use your food mixer) until it is soft, smooth and stretchy. Form the dough into a ball, pop it into a lightly oiled bowl and then cover it with some cling film. Put the dough somewhere warm and leave it to double in size, which should take about an hour.
Once the dough is ready take it out of the bowl and give it a very brief knead. Don’t work it too much, it’s actually quite nice if the focaccia has some larger air bubbles in it. Use the remaining tablespoon of oil to grease a large baking or roasting tin and then stretch out the dough to fit the tin. Re-cover it and then let it rise for another 30-45 minutes.
Whilst this is happening you can pre-heat your oven. Get it as hot as it will go, to at least 240°c. When the dough has finished its second rise uncover it and press your fingertips into the surface to create some dimples. Push the figs and olives into the dough and then scatter over the crumbled feta, rosemary and a little seasalt.
Bake the focaccia for 20 minutes, it should be golden with a thin crust once it’s ready. Serve warm with a little oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.