Barbari Bread

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IMG_20151025_072900[1] 25/10/2015

Some meals just demand bread. For me, the idea of a barbecue without bread is like a celebration without champagne. Bread has the ability to “wrap” and hold the flavours and juices of grilled vegetables and meats so well: very helpful when the dry heat of the grill or oven has evaporated moisture from the flesh. To counteract that, the use of a sauce, such as yoghurt and mint, plus a swaddling with a bread wrap will rescue your meat or veg from drying further.

This is a long dimpled spongey flatbread that’s a little like Iranian barbari bread. I’ve packed it with yoghurt to boost the flavour, helping it to colour ultra-fast in the oven and so keeping it soft. Give yourself 2-3 hours and drape a dry cloth over it while it cools to keep it soft.

Makes 2 large flatbreads.

Ingredients:

  • 175g low-fat yoghurt
  • 250ml warm water
  • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
  • 400g strong white flour
  • 100g wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Olive oil, for kneading and shaping
  • Nigella seeds, to finish

Method:

  1. Put the yoghurt in a bowl, add the warm water (very warm if the yoghurt is fridge-cold) and stir until smooth. Mix in the yeast, then let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve.
  2. Add the two flours and salt, then mix evenly to a very sticky dough. Cover the bowl, leave for 10 minutes then rub oil on a worktop and scrape the dough out on to it. Oil your hands well, then fold the dough in on itself about 6-8 times and put it back in the bowl, cover and leave for 30 minutes.
  3. Oil the worktop again, lift the dough on to it then dimple it out into a rectangle. Fold the dough in by thirds then place it back in the bowl. After another 30 minutes, repeat this stretch and fold, then return the dough to the bowl and leave for another 30 minutes.
  4. Place the dough back on the oiled worktop and with a dimpling action stretch it out into a rectangle. Cut the dough in half then fold the edges of each dough piece inward so they form neat rectangles. Line a baking tray with non-stick paper, then flip the dough pieces on to it so they sit side by side. Don’t worry that they don’t fill the tray yet as we’ll fix that later. Leave the dough uncovered for 30 minutes, and heat the oven to 180C fan.
  5. To bake, stretch the dough pieces out by getting your fingers right underneath each rectangle and pulling them outwards. Oil the top of the dough, and run 3 or 4 fingers over the length of each rectangle so grooves form, then sprinkle lightly with seeds. Leave to rise another 15 minutes then bake for about 25 minutes until golden.
  6. To serve, leave to cool then slice the dough lengthways and serve with grilled meat and a little yoghurt mixed with fresh chopped mint.
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Melting Moments

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IMG_20151015_222840[1] 15/10/2015

Yet another basic recipe with store cupboard ingredients that tastes absolutely amazing. Don’t be scared of using lard. It gives a wonderful crisp finish to the bake. I also recommend using almond extract. It works really well with the little buttery bakes which, as their name states, melt away when you bite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ oz butter or margarine
  • 2 ½ oz lard
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • ½ egg, beaten
  • Few drops of vanilla or almond extract
  • 5oz self raising flour
  • Rolled oats for coating
  • 4-5 glace cherries, quartered

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease 2 baking sheets. Cream together the butter or margarine, lard and sugar then gradually beat in the egg and vanilla or almond extract.
  2. Stir the flour into the beaten mix then roll into 16-20 small balls in your hands.
  3. Spread the rolled oats on a sheet of greaseproof paper and toss the balls in them to coat evenly
  4. Place the balls, spaced slightly apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Place a piece of cherry on top of each and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Coffee Cake

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IMG_20151006_151029[1] 06/10/2015

One of my favourite cakes. I love coffee and I love cake. This is a no frills recipe for a light sponge and creamy coffee icing that is very simple to put together. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 225 g (8 oz) margarine
  • 225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 heaped teaspoons instant coffee
  • 225 g (8 oz) self raising flour
  • 2 level tsp baking powder

For the filling and topping:

  • 2oz margarine
  • 6oz icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 tablespoon milk (optional)

Method:

  1. Grease and base line 2 x 20cm (8in) sandwich tins.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Place the eggs in a large bowl and stir in the coffee until dissolved. Measure the margarine, sugar, flour and baking powder into the egg mix and beat until thoroughly blended. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level out.
  4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes or until well risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
  5. For the buttercream icing, beat the margarine and coffee until soft and fluffy. Gradually sift in the icing sugar until well combined and add a tablespoon or two of milk to loosen slightly.
  6. Use half the buttercream to sandwich the two cakes together. Spread the remaining buttercream on top.

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Store the cake in an airtight container or tin. Place the cake on the lid to store so that when you open it, the cake is easy to cut and serve. Keeps well for 4-5 days.