I have been on a bread baking spree lately. Not all of my experiments make it to the blog. Some of them go straight into the trash can. Some just sit on the counter top because they are, well, blah! Not bad but not very exciting either. But some, like this recipe, shoot straight to the top of my list of (current) favorites.
Who knew baking breadsticks was going to be this easy? Not only are they easy, they’re quick (by bread baking standards), they lend themselves well to experimentation and they make a great all day snack!
I used Paul Hollywood’s Olive Breadsticks recipe. The only change I made was to swap out the olives for sun dried tomatoes and garlic. They’re glorious! I am sure they will work just as great with any other flavor of your choosing, should you decide to experiment.
On a side note – I urge you to buy a cheap kitchen scale, if you haven’t already. They are more precise than measuring cups and mise en place is so much easier!
- Bread flour – 500 grams
- Salt – 10 grams
- Instant yeast – 10 grams
- Warm water – 400 ml
- Olive oil – 2 tbsp
- Sun dried tomatoes in oil – 150 grams roughly chopped
- Garlic puree – 1 and 1/2 to 2 tbsp
- Fine semolina – for dusting optional
- Take a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one. Add the bread flour. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the instant yeast to the other side of the bowl. Make sure they do not mix just yet as the salt will kill the yeast
- Make sure your water is between 110 to 115 F. Add 3/4th of the water to the flour. Using a mixer with the dough hook attached start mixing on low speed
- Once the dough has come together add the rest of the water in and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. The dough will be quite wet and very stretchy
- Add the olive oil to the dough and mix for two minutes. Then add the sun dried tomatoes and garlic and run the mixer till the are thoroughly mixed in. The garlic will smell a little pungent but will mellow out after it is baked
- Oil a 2 to 3 liter capacity rectangular or square plastic container. Make sure it has a lid. Put the dough into the container. Close the lid and leave it in a warm place to rise. The dough should triple in size. This takes about an hour
- Dust your work surface generously with semolina and little flour. Gently tip the risen dough onto this surface making sure not to handle it too much. Don’t knock any air out of the dough. Dust the surface of the dough with more semolina and flour. Gently nudge the dough into a rough rectangle without flattening it – you need all the air in the dough to stay intact
- Line 3 baking trays with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 425 F or 220 degree Celsius
- Starting at the short edge and with a bench scraper or sharp knife cut the dough into 18 to 20 strips. As you cut each strip roll it gently in the semolina and flour on the work surface. This makes it easier to handle as this dough is very tender and stretchy.
- Transfer each piece to the parchment lined trays and space them about an inch apart. You can take the help of the bench scraper or a wide spatula to do this. The dough will stretch a bit while you transfer it but that is okay. Just make sure all the breadsticks are more or less of the same length before baking
- Bake the breadsticks in a preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes till they turn golden brown
- Cool them on a wire rack till they have cooled down completely.
- Breadsticks are best when eaten fresh on the day they are made. Store them wrapped in foil in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days
My toddler likes to think she’s the original cookie monster. She can inhale a whole batch of cookies in a couple of sittings – if allowed to. Though I am not much of a cookie person myself, we do go through quite a few batches around here. I prefer baking cookies that have a savory quality to them. I also need them to taste less like a dessert and more like a healthy-ish snack that wont have me running to closest treadmill after snack time.
Fortunately, my current food idol, Ottolenghi, has just what I need. His latest release, Sweet, is my favorite bedtime reading. I plan to bake my way through the book and this recipe is a great starting point. It has something for everyone. It is sweet without being excessively so. It’s chewiness is punctuated by the crunch of the nuts. The tartness of the cranberries plays beautifully with the bittersweet notes of chocolate.
That’s not all. This recipe has the goodness of wholewheat flour and oats. The cookie dough doesn’t need to be chilled before baking and the cookies will stay good for up to a week in an airtight container at room temperature.
Have I convinced you to bake a batch yet? Let’s get started!
- All purpose flour – 50 grams or 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp
- White whole wheat flour – 25 grams or 3 tbsp
- Old fashioned oats – 50 grams or 1/2 cup plus 1.5 tbsp
- Whole almonds – 50 grams or 1/3 cup*
- Dried cranberries – 42 grams or 1/3 cup
- Orange zest – 1/2 tbsp or the zest of a small orange
- Orange juice – 1 tbsp
- Unsalted butter – 75 grams or 1/3 cup (softened to room temperature)
- Granulated sugar – 34 grams or 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp
- Salt – a pinch
- Bittersweet chocolate bar (at least 60%) – 3 oz or 90 grams
*I used slivered almonds instead of whole almonds while testing the recipe and they turned out just as good. You will need 2/3 cup of slivered almonds. You can skip the roasting step and add them to the recipe as is
Yield – 10 to 12 cookies that are 2.5 inches in diameter. Recipe can be doubled
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the whole almonds out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes till they’re just roasted. Set them to cool on a rack. Once cooled, chop them roughly into bite sized pieces. Set aside. If using slivered almonds you can skip this step
- Increase the oven temperature to 375 F or 190 degree Celsius and preheat
- Rough chop the dried cranberries. Soak them in the orange juice for about 10 minutes
- In a medium bowl combine the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, almonds and salt and set aside
- In the bowl of a mixer cream the butter, granulated sugar and orange zest till it turns light and fluffy and increases in volume. This takes at least 5 minutes
- Add the flour-almond mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and whip to combine
- Add the cranberries soaked in orange juice and whip briefly
- Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto it and gently bring it together into a ball
- Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper or cling film into a rough circle which is 1/4th of an inch thick
- Using a 2.5 inch cookie cutter punch out the cookies. Using a spatula gently transfer the cookies onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Place the cookies about an inch apart. They do not expand in the oven
- Bake in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes till they are uniformly golden brown
- Cool the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack
- While the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (set a small sauce pan with an inch of water in it over the stovetop on low heat. Place the bowl with chocolate over this saucepan and stir periodically till the chocolate melts). Set aside to cool slightly
- Dollop about a teaspoon of chocolate on the cookies and spread it out evenly using the back of a spoon. Set the cookies back on the rack to cool completely and till the chocolate sets
- The cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week
Recipe adapted from the Cranberry and Oat Cookies recipe from his latest book Sweet
Cake rolls are a great dessert to make for company! They look impressive. They come together quickly, with a bake time of just 7 to 10 minutes. They can be made ahead of time and there are so many flavor combinations to choose from.
But what I love most about them is their simplicity. The ingredient list is very short and you don’t need to be a pastry chef to be able to whip one up – bake a simple sponge, slather on the filling, roll it up and you’re done.
Having said that, cake roll recipes up until this one, have always reduced me to a nervous wreck during the rolling process. They would invariably crack in all the wrong places and the filling would squirt out. But not with this recipe! This one is a keeper. No cracking, no squirting and no more tears!
I’ve made two of these this past week – the recipe really is that good – one with a whipped cream filling and one with buttercream. I found that the buttercream filled cake held up a lot better. The whipped cream tends to seep into the sponge and the cake collapses under it’s own weight overnight. So if you’re planning to make this cake ahead of time I would recommend a sturdy buttercream filling.
I made the cake a bit more special by baking a pattern onto the sponge. This step is entirely optional. But if you are somewhat handy with a piping tip and want to raise a few eyebrows then you should go for it.
Trace the pattern of your choice onto a sheet of parchment paper the same size as your swiss roll tin. and line your tin with this sheet. Pipe your pattern onto the parchment and chill while preparing the batter for the cake roll
Sponge for the decorative piping
- Unsalted butter – 35 grams or 2 and 1/2 tbsp
- Icing Sugar – 35 grams or 1/4 cup
- Egg white – from 1 large egg
- All purpose flour – 80 grams or 2/3 cup
- Vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
- Gel food colors of your choice
*This recipe is enough to pipe a delicate pattern on the roll cake. If you’d like to make a more elaborate pattern then make double the recipe
Sponge for the roll cake
- Fine granulated sugar – 75 grams or 1/3 cup
- Eggs – 3 large
- All purpose flour – 75 grams minus 1 tbsp** or 2/3 cup minus 1 tbsp
- Baking powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/4 tsp
- Cocoa powder – 1 tbsp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Simple syrup – 3 tbsp of granulated sugar mixed with 3 tbsp of water
**This recipe is for a chocolate roll cake. If you want to make a plain vanilla cake then omit the cocoa powder and add the whole 75 grams of all purpose flour
- Unsalted butter – 115 grams or 1/2 cup
- Icing sugar – 150 grams or 1 and 1/3 cup
- Strong brewed coffee – 2 tsp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
If you just want a plain swiss roll without any pattern piped on it then skip the recipe below and go directly onto the recipe for the roll cake sponge and buttercream
Sponge for decorative piping
- Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Grease and line a 9×13 inch swiss roll tin with parchment paper. If you’re tracing a pattern onto the paper then flip the parchment over when you’re done so that the pencil side is facing down
- Using a mixer whip the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy
- While beating continuously gradually add the egg white and the vanilla extract. Whip until thoroughly combined
- Using a spatula gently fold in the flour. Add your food coloring at this stage if using
- Fill this mixture into a piping bag and pipe it onto the parchment paper. Chill this tray with the parchment paper in the freezer while you make the sponge for the roll cake
Sponge for the roll cake
- Preheat the oven to 400 F or 200 degree Celsius. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside
- Using a mixer whip the eggs and the granulated sugar on medium speed till the mixture turns pale and fluffy and the beater leaves a trail when lifted up from the bowl. This takes at least 5 minutes
- Add the vanilla extract and beat briefly until it is mixed in
- Fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture gently using a spatula
- Remove the swiss roll tin that’s been chilling in the freezer and gently pour the sponge cake mixture over the parchment paper. Tilt the tin gently so that the batter spreads out evenly
- Bake in a preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes till the sponge turns a light golden brown and starts separating from the sides Make sure you do not over bake.
- Take two sheets of parchment paper larger than the size of the cake tin. Dust one with granulated sugar and lay it on your work surface. As soon as the cake is ready tip it on to this sheet. Carefully peel off the parchment paper that is on the cake to reveal your pattern. Now place the second sheet of parchment paper on the exposed surface and turn the cake back up again so that the patterned side is now underneath.
- Set it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes
- Using a mixer whip butter until is light and creamy and has nearly doubled in volume
- Add 1 cup of icing sugar and salt and continue to whip on medium-high speed scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
- Add the coffee and vanilla extract and continue to whip for 2 minutes more
- Do a taste test and add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time till you achieve your desired level of sweetness. I find that an additional 1/3 cup does the trick for me
- Spread the buttercream on the cooled cake in a thin even layer. Leave a gap of about a centimeter around the edges
- Using a palette or butter knife score the cake in a line about 2 cm in from one of the shorter sides. This will make the first roll easier
- Using the help of the parchment paper underneath gently roll the cake starting at the short edge that you scored. Keep the roll as tight and firm as possible till you reach the other end. Gently trim the uneven ends of the cake roll using a serrated knife.
- Make a simple syrup with 3 tbsp of granulated sugar and 3 tbsp of water. Warm gently on low heat till the sugar dissolves. Gently brush the roll cake with this syrup to keep the cake moist
This cake roll will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days or in the fridge for about 3 days
Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood’s Blackcurrant and Liquorice Swiss Roll
Have you had one of those evenings where you’re halfway through dinner prep and you have a sudden craving for dessert? Something warm and gooey that you could dip your spoon into and lick clean? This happens to me quite often. Of course you’re tempted to abandon dinner plans and address that craving first. But you cannot feed your toddler dessert for dinner. Wait, can you?
In a situation like this you should make a Cobbler! It’s warm, gooey, bubbly and jammy and will address your craving without derailing your dinner rush.
It doesn’t need any special equipment, uses the most basic of ingredients and turns out great with almost any fruit you have lying around – fresh or frozen. You can bake it in individual ramekins or one big dish. What I’m trying to say is – it’s versatile and it may win you a parent-of-the-day award.
So let’s get to it shall we?
Yield – 4 to 5 small ramekins. This recipe can be doubled to feed a larger crowd
- Butter* – 1/4 cup melted and cooled
- Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
- All purpose flour – 1/2 cup
- Baking powder – 3/4 tsp
- Milk** – 1/2 cup
- Strawberries or mixed berries – 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups
*I’ve used salted butter. You can use unsalted butter too in which case add 1/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients
**I used 2% milk but you can use any milk you have on hand
- Preheat oven to 350 F or 177 degree Celsius. Grease 4 small ramekins
- Add flour, baking powder and 1/2 cup sugar to a bowl and whisk to combine
- Add the milk and whisk to mix thoroughly. Add the melted and cooled butter to the batter and mix to combine. The consistency should resemble loose pancake batter
- Spoon berries into the ramekins. Top them up with the batter and place some more berries on top. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar and bake in a preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes till the tops are golden brown and crisp
- Serve while still warm with ice cream or whipped cream
This dessert is best eaten fresh and warm straight of the oven. But if you have to save it, wrap it in clingfilm and store it in the refrigerator. Warm it up in a 350 F oven for 5 to 7 minutes just before serving.
Recipe adapted from Completely Delicious
My toddler loves pears. Which is why I buy them by the sackfuls. Which is also why I always end up with a bunch of pears that ripen all at the same time. There’s only that many pears we can eat per day! There are oh so many elegant pear desserts I want to try but this particular bunch had gone too soft. Hence this cake.
You can use bottom of the bowl, overripe pears and still have this cake turn out stellar! It’s a very simple, no fuss recipe. The only work involved is whipping butter and sugar and that only takes about 5 minutes.
This recipe was originally measured out in grams. I have converted them to cup and tablespoon measures. I have included the weight measurements in italics if you prefer to go that route.
This recipe also mentions Self Rising Flour. You don’t have to rush out to the grocery store to buy a bag, or worse, abandon this project altogether! You just need all purpose flour, baking powder and salt and you can make your own batch of self rising flour. Recipe for that is given below.
For the cake
- Peeled and roughly chopped pears – 3
- Unsalted butter* – 1 cup (200 grams)
- Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp (125 grams + 1 tbsp)
- Large eggs – 2
- Self rising flour** – 1 cup minus 5 tbsp (100 grams)
- Ground almonds or Almond meal – 1/2 cup plus 4 tbsp (80 grams)
*If using salted butter leave the salt out of the self rising flour recipe given below
**Self rising flour – Take 1 cup all purpose flour, add 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk to combine. Measure and use as directed
For the caramel sauce
- Salted butter* – 1/4 cup
- Light brown sugar – 1 cup
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
- Amaretto extract – 2 tsp (optional)
*If using unsalted butter add 1/2 tsp of salt to your recipe
- Preheat oven to 375 F or 190 degree Celsius. Grease and flour a 9 inch circular cake pan. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature and the butter is softened
- In a medium saucepan melt 2 tbsp of butter. Add 1 tbsp of sugar and stir till it melts. Add the peeled and chopped pears and simmer till they turn brown and the sauce thickens a little
- In a large bowl add the remaining butter and sugar and whip together using a mixer till it turns light and fluffy. This will take 5 to 7 minutes
- Add the eggs one by one and whip thoroughly after each addition
- Add the flour to this mixture in three batches and combine on low speed just until incorporated
- Add the ground almonds or almond meal and using a spatula stir it gently through the batter
- Pour the batter into the cake pan. Level with a spatula. Arrange the cooked pears evenly over the surface of the cake. Pour some of the sauce from the saucepan over the cake
- Bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes till the cake turns golden brown and a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean
- Cool the cake in the pan set over a cooling rack. Once it is completely cooled remove from pan
The amaretto caramel
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat
- Add the sugar and cream and stir. The mixture will foam up quite a bit. Make sure you use a saucepan with tall sides
- Let it cook for about 5 minutes stirring constantly
- Add vanilla extract, amaretto and salt (if using) and stir
- Let the sauce simmer on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes till it reaches the desired thickness. For this cake I prefer an unsalted, slightly thin caramel sauce that pours easily over the cake without clumping
- Place the cooled cake on a cake stand or plate. Pour the amaretto caramel sauce generously over the cake and garnish with additional chopped or slivered almonds
This cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days. Anything longer than that, it will have to be stored in the refrigerator.
Recipe adapted from Frugal Feeding