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Happy Halloween!

I’ve been doing more baking and learning to ice cakes at a Wilton class in Brennan’s in Cork http://www.brenco.ie/cookschool.html . I’ve also tutored a couple of back to basics classes and a bread baking demonstration at Brennan’s too.
One thing I discovered was a new respect for fresh yeast, which I hadn’t used for some time. I also found a Canadian extra strong flour with which I made the thinnest pizza bases I’ve ever made. I was a bit slow with the camera and they got eaten before I had a chance to record them.
The poppy seed loaves were a big hit with the family particularly as I'd made some crab apple jelly.
Tea brack is an old family favourite for Halloween and a great thing to have in store for callers in at this time of year. The muesli flapjacks are also great to put into a school lunch box for days when extra energy is needed for sports or just to make it home. Sometimes I just use a mixture of porridge and seeds instead of muesli for people who don’t like dried fruit.
The back to basics class were treated to a pot of colcannon as the class was just before Halloween too.

White bread loaves topped with poppy seeds.

White Bread Dough

150 ml boiling water
250 ml cold water                                     
20g fresh yeast or 2 level tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar                                             
2 tsp salt                                            
700 g strong white flour
4tbs oil

Mix together the boiling and cold water to make hand hot water.
Mix the yeast and sugar in a cup and pour in some of the warm water, stir and leave in a warm place to froth, for about 10 minutes. Add the salt to the rest of the water and keep warm.
Weigh out the flour and sift it into a bowl.
The yeast is ready when it has a head like a pint of stout, pour the yeast into the flour and rinse out the cup with some of the warm water and pour into the flour. Add the rest of the water and 3 tablespoons of oil.
Flours vary in the amount of water they need, you may need more or less.
Mix the water in and knead the dough, either in a mixer with a dough hook or by hand. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and springy. This could take up to 10 minutes by hand or about 5 in a mixer.
Pour in a tablespoon of oil to the bowl, put the dough back into the bowl and smear it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic and leave to rise. The time taken to rise depends on temperature, one and a half to two hours somewhere warm or all day somewhere cooler.
When the dough has doubled in size and has a domed top it is ready to use.

Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes.
Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes.
Grease the inside of two 1kg loaf tins. (22cmx11cmx6.5cm)
Cut the dough into two pieces and put them into the greased loaf tins.
Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour till coming to the top of the tins.
Put the oven on to heat up to 220˚C, GM 7
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle on poppy or sesame seeds. With a sharp knife cut a line down the centre of the loaf about 1cm into the dough.
Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes and then turn the heat down to 180˚C, GM 4 for another 20 minutes.
Remove the loaves from the tin and put them onto the oven rack to crisp the out side of the loaves for 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Licking lips!

Milk Loaves/Rolls
You can replace 2/3rds of the water with milk and the oil with 50g of butter, rubbed into the flour before you add the yeast and liquid. Instead of making two loaves after the first proofing divide the dough into 12-18 balls of dough and put them on a greased roasting tin. Let them rise for 20-30 minutes and bake for 20-30 minutes in the hot oven.

Tea Brack

375g mixed dried fruit
200g brown sugar
225ml hot strong tea
275g self raising flour
1 egg

Put the mixed dried fruit and sugar into a large bowl and cover with the tea. Stir well and leave over night.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C, GM4. Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin.
Sift the flour into the bowl with the soaked fruit and stir well add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour*.
When done, turn the brack out onto a wire rack to cool.
When cold serve sliced and buttered.

*To test for doneness push a skewer into the centre of the brack and if it comes out clean the brack is ready. If the skewer is sticky with batter leave in the oven for another 5-10 minutes and test again.


600g potatoes
1 bunch or bag of curly kale
1 bunch of scallions
100 ml milk
70g butter
salt and pepper

Peel and wash the potatoes. Put them in a pot and cover with water and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and cook until a knife goes into the centre of a potato easily.
Meanwhile wash the kale and remove the central stalks, cut the leaves into narrow ribbons. Put these into the top of a steamer and put 2 cm of water into the bottom and bring to the boil and steam for 4-5 minutes. Or steam them over the potatoes.
Cut the roots off the scallions and cut them into half centimetre lengths. Put these into a small saucepan with the milk a pinch of salt and some pepper.
Bring to the boil.
When the potatoes are cooked drain off the water and mash them in the pot with half the butter and some pepper. Beat in the milk and scallions and then add the kale, stir it in well.
Pile the colcannon on to a plate and shape into a mountain, make a hollow in the top and put in the rest of the butter.
For good luck coins are added to colcannon, but do wrap them in foil first.

Muesli Flapjacks.

 Muesli Flapjacks

6dsp sunflower oil
3dsp golden syrup
110g soft brown sugar
225g muesli
2dsp sunflower seeds

Set the oven to GM 4/350˚F/180˚C.
Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
Put the oil, syrup and the sugar into a saucepan and warm on a low heat.
Mix with a wooden spoon and when the sugar has melted add the muesli and sunflower seeds. Mix them in well and pour the contents of the saucepan on to the Swiss roll tin. Spread the mixture out well and smooth down with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. When they are done the edges will have darkened a bit, take the tin out of the oven and mark the flapjacks into squares and leave to cool in the tin. When they are cold take them out of the tin and break into pieces along the marked lines.

1 comment:

  1. great ideas ! will make the brack - it sounds really easy ! and I will also make your bloody cake from your book - always goes down well at Halloween ! Rosi