For my next Christmas Guest Post, I’ve invited Paul from beerandbaking.net to bake something sweet and sticky for the blog. Like myself, Paul is a food blogger and shares his adventures in baking on his blog. I met Paul on Twitter through BakeChat and I’ve seen many of his fantastic bakes, including a Nutella Star Bread (picture below). I contacted Paul after seeing how great his bakes were and he was more than happy to bake something for the blog.
You can find Paul’s blog here: http://beerandbaking.net/
You can follow Paul on Twitter: @beerandbaking
How long have you been baking and where did the interest come from?
I grew up baking with my mum and if I helped I got to lick out the mixing bowl! Baking really became a hobby a few years ago when I was given an Italian Baking book for Christmas. I started posting pictures online and discovered the Sunday Baking Club and it all exploded from there.
Why do you think Britain has captured the baking bug?
Bake Off has contributed massively to people rediscovering baking but I also think that the recession has also had its effect. It is cheaper to cook and bake at home than go out for dinner even if you splash out on some ingredients.
What is your most memorable kitchen disaster?
There have been a few but I think my attempt at croissants has to take the crown. I had found a recipe in a free eBook and I completely failed to create a laminated dough. I ended up with what can be best described as very buttery tasting rock cakes instead of the luscious French classic.
What is your Signature Bake?
For pastry it’s lemon meringue pie. This is a regular request from friends and family whenever we meet up, even if I need to use their kitchen to make it. For cake, it’s cappuccino cake always goes down a storm at work charity bake sales.
Would you apply for Bake Off? Could you stand the pressure of baking in the tent?
A bit 50/50 really, at the moment I do not have all the skills required e.g. Puff pastry, Tempering, Sugar work and my piping skills definitely could do with improving. But even if I was confident in my skill level the time pressures are ridiculous! Jay (dontboilthesauce) blogged his way through the technical challenges this year and the time in the recipes was significantly longer than the time allotted. Yet there is still a part of me that would like to give it a go.
What do you bake most of, cakes, biscuits, pies or bread? Why?
I’m a jack of all trades but a tossup between pastry and cake, with bread in third place. Sunday Bake Club has been fantastic as it is a really supportive community, encourages you to stretch yourself, and the competitive aspect hones presentation skills. Even though I’ve put bread in third place this is the category I have won the most competitions with; 2 Sunday Bake Club Golden Spoons and a BakeTalk Golden Mixer.
Who is your favourite TV chef/cook?
In terms of cookery books I love the Hairy Bikers. Their recipes are straightforward, delicious, and aimed at the everyday cook. But my favourite to watch has to be Nigella [Lawson] as she could make a piece of toast into a sinful decadent delight. [I agree very much with Paul!]
What have you chosen to bake for this post and why did you choose it?
As it is getting close to Christmas I wanted to do a seasonal recipe and Panettone is one of my favourite seasonal treats and doesn’t require huge amounts of ingredients, but it does take a bit of time. This is also a recipe from that first Italian Baking cookbook by Gino D’Acampo I was given that kickstarted this whole baking adventure. The quantities posted are half the original recipe as I was cooking for 2 and not 6.
8g fast action dried yeast
200g strong white flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
40g caster sugar
90g dried mixed fruit
Warm the milk to 40°C and stir in the yeast and leave to bubble away for 15 minutes. The temperature is really crucial as if it’s too hot will kill the yeast.
Set aside a tablespoon of flour and sift the rest with a pinch of salt. Make a well and pour the yeast and milk in with the whole egg. Mix together and form a dough, don’t be worried that it is a little dry at this stage as more moisture will be added later. Cover with cling film in the bowl and leave to rest for 35 minutes.
Mix the sugar and the egg yolk together, then knead the yolk mixture into the dough in the bowl. Dice the butter and knead in as well. (Still using the bowl as it is very sticky and messy at this stage!). Add the reserved tablespoon of flour. When all the ingredients are evenly mixed transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Pick up the dough and slap one end back onto the work surface. Fold the dough in half and slap again. This technique builds up the gluten and dries the dough out. After 10 minutes or so should have a soft smooth elastic ball of dough.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover with cling film and leave to prove for 2 hours.
Now to prepare the tin, this part is particularly crucial if using the original recipe (double the quantities). A springform tin around 15cm is ideal. Measure out a piece of baking paper that is just bigger than the circumference of the tin. The easiest way is to roll the tin down the paper to get the right length. Fold the baking paper into thirds and create a collar inside of the tin. It should stick up above the sides at least the depth of the tin again.
Turn out the dough and knock back (punch out the air). Knead in the dried mixed fruit until it is evenly distributed. Put the ball of dough into the prepared tin, cover and leave to prove for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 190°C and rearrange the shelves to make sure you have enough room. Uncover the dough and using a sharp knife cut a cross is the top. Brush with a little melted butter and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 180°C and brush the top with a little more melted butter. Bake for another 20-30 minutes then take out and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.