To my surprise and delight I find myself hosting this month’s challenge for Fresh from the Oven, after the scheduled host had to withdraw at the last moment. Being Signor Biscotti, I just had to come up with something Italian for people to get their teeth into. That’s quite an appropriate metaphor, as this focaccia has a crunchy caramelised topping of salty butter and sugar, which settles into the dips in the surface as a sort of caramel sauce. Continue reading
I am sure I am not the only fan of the Great British Bake Off that sits there thinking “I could do that!”, sometimes accompanied by incredulous shouting at the television. I’m equally sure I’m not the only one to daydream about appearing on the show. Well, that may never happen, but I can certainly set myself some of the challenges that the competitors have faced or may face in the future. So it was that I decided to try my hand at Pork Pies.
There are two main challenges here, apart from the stamina and dedication required to complete the many stages of the recipe! Continue reading
These Portuguese Custard Tarts, or Pasteis de Nata, are often referred to simply as Natas. There is no denying that they are quite time consuming and fiddly to make, but the end result is delicious. The way the pastry is worked and rolled makes it especially flaky, and some of the cases end up with attractive spirals in them. The custard is not too rich, and is delicately flavoured with cinnamon, lemon and vanilla. Continue reading
Nota per lettori italiani/e: troverete una versione italiana della ricetta alla fine del post.
Saffron buns are a speciality of one of my favourite places in the whole world, namely Cornwall, so when I saw that they were the subject of this month’s challenge for Fresh from the Oven, I just had to have a go at making them. As is my way, I interpreted the brief a little loosely, and made a loaf as well as the buns. What’s more, as you will discover, I got a bit carried away and made a rather exotic variation on the theme as well. Continue reading
One of the challenges of making home made pizza is to get both the base and the topping cooked correctly. It’s all too easy to end up with an undercooked base or a carbonised topping. A solution I like is to pre-bake the bases, and I recently came across a very good recipe, courtesy of the Fabulous Baker Brothers, which I have adapted below. The mix of ingredients make for a very good flavour, which is further enhanced by the very long and slow rises which I have used.
As it happened, the Fresh from the Oven challenge for June, hosted by Anita at Slice of My Life, was for Pita breads. I realised that both the dough and the method for these was very similar to the one I use for pizza bases, so I decided to include both in one recipe. I have never been very inspired by Pita breads in the past, but as with Bagels, I discovered that the home made variety are definitely far superior to the ones you find in the shops. Continue reading
These may not be the most glamourous of biscuits to look at, but waft one under your nose, and you won’t be able to resist the heavenly aroma of cardamom. They have a lovely crunchy texture too, enchanced by their coating of sugar. Think Kulfi (Indian ice cream) in biscuit form. Continue reading
These round rolls from the “heel” of Italy were the subject of this month’s challenge from the on-line Italian cooking group Quanti Modi di Fare e Rifare. From my researches it appears that they can be made with a number of different flours, and with or without the addition of ingredients such as olives, tomatoes or potatoes. So I felt I had a fairly free hand in adapting the gluten free recipe provided by Vale in order to make a non-GF one. My dough ended up rather like one for Ciabatta, but with the addition of the mashed potato she recommended.
The resulting rolls were light in texture and tasty. I don’t know if they were authentic but they were certainly good to eat.
Questi panini rotondi sono stati il soggetto della sfida di questo mese di Quanti Modi di Fare e Rifare. Dalle mie ricerche risulta che possono essere fatte con diverse farine, e con o senza l’aggiunta di ingredienti come olive, pomodori e patate. Così ho pensato che avessi mano libera per adattare la ricetta priva di glutine fornita da Vale per farne una versione con glutine. Il mio impasto è stato un po’ come quello per la ciabatta, ma con l’aggiunta delle patate schiacciate come raccomandato da lei.
Non so se le mie puccette fossero autentiche, ma erano certamente leggere e gustose. Continue reading
Una versione italiana di questo post si trova qui.
Last September, we spent a week on Marettimo, the most remote of the Egadi Islands off the northwest coast of Sicily. It would take a long time to do justice to the wonders of this enchanting island. Apart from the beautiful scenery and crystal clear sea, it is a paradise for lovers of fish and seafood. I’m afraid I don’t really fall into that category, but my partner most definitely does. So we visited a number of the excellent fish restaurants on the island, where I endured quite a bit of good-natured abuse and the occasional look of contempt from the proprietors, when I asked if they could serve me with meat.
But I had no qualms about the bread. Golden brown and crusted with sesame, its crumb a lovely yellow, and with a rich and elusive flavour, it was some of the best bread I’ve ever tasted. In Palermo, where we spent a few frenetic days at the end of our holiday, the sesame was enhanced by a little bit of aniseed. Continue reading
An English version of this post will be found here
Durante il nostro soggiorno sulla meravigliosa isola di Marettimo, la più lontana delle Egadi, ed a Palermo, la città più frenetica del mondo, una delle cose più memorabili che ho mangiato era anche la più semplice. E’ stato il pane, che era fra i migliori che io abbia mai assaggiato. Appena tornato a casa, mi sono messo a cercare una ricetta. Ne ho trovato una in “The Italian Baker” di Carol Field, e per fortuna avevo portato dall’isola un sacco di semola rimacinata (ingrediente molto difficile da trovare qui in Inghilterra).
Su Marettimo si faceva il pane sotto forma di bastone, ma io ho voluto fare due forme più interessanti della tradizione siciliana, cioè occhi e mafalda. Non sono sicuro fino a che punto ci sono riuscito: la mia pagnotta occhi è meno ricurva che avrei voluto, e la mafalda è un poco tozza. Ma sono stato abbastanza contento del loro aspetto e sapore, e mi potevo immaginare di nuovo sulla nostra terrazza di Marettimo, guardando le acque cristalline del Mediterraneo mentre mangiavo questo gustoso pane con del miele di rosmarino dell’isola. Continue reading
This light textured bread is subtly flavoured with rosemary and honey, and although it contains a lot of sultanas, is not overly sweet. I thought it would be ideal for this month’s challenge on Fresh from the Oven, hosted by La Cuisine de Sarah, which was to make a fruited breakfast bread.
Although Rosemary is often thought of as a savory herb, it works beautifully in sweet recipes too. In this bread, it plays a quite understated role, and if you didn’t know it was there, you might wonder what exactly was lending that interesting undertone to the smell and flavour of the bread. Continue reading