I’m trying to recreate the Bake Off Technical Challenges at home. Each week, I will be discussing how I got on with the bake, posting pictures of some stages, providing my own commentary as well as the recipe, a Bake Off style judging and where I think I would finish and my reflections. Some of the bakes I’m doing before the episode comes out so I’m making a rough guess of how long the bake will take. The bakes which happen after the episode is aired will follow the time given in the episode.
*Having watched the episode, my experience actually wasn’t as bad as I thought, and Paul’s recipe does indeed use the same poaching liquid as I did, maybe it was the fact I used a saucepan so the same amount of poaching liquid came up too high.*
Dampfnudeln, which translates as steam noodle, is an enriched bread steamed in milk and fried in the pan to create a golden crust on the bottom. It’s a dessert eaten in the south of Germany and in the Alsace region of France.
It’s a simple yeasted bread dough enriched with sugar, butter, milk and eggs. Strong flour is often used for breads but this recipe uses plain flour which lends a more delicate crumb suited to this dessert, which is served with a creme anglaise.
For this Technical Challenge, I have to make 6 Dampfnudeln, steamed enriched rolls with a soft white top and a golden bottom, served with a vanilla creme anglaise in just 2 hours. Here’s the recipe I used:
For the dough
300g plain flour
1 x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
For the creme anglaise
280ml whole milk
280ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
Zest of half a lemon
80g sugar, split into two 40g portions
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp custard powder
For the poaching liquid
50g caster sugar
Time: 6:30pm, 120 minutes remaining. On your marks, get set, bake!
I measure out the milk and the margarine into a cup and place it in the microwave for 30 seconds until melted. I leave it to cool down while I weigh all the other ingredients into the bowl.
I make sure the yeast and salt do not come into direct contact, placing them on opposite sides of the bowl, so the yeast is not retarded.
Time: 6:39pm, 111 minutes remaining. The mixing
I make a well in the flour, add all of the liquid and put the stand mixer on. The dough is dry so I add teaspoonfuls of water until the dough is soft but not sticky. I leave the dough hook to do all the work for 5 minutes.
Time: 6:45pm, 105 minutes remaining.
I remove the dough from the bowl, bring it to a ball and prod a floured finger all the way down and it springs back halfway, telling me it’s not kneaded enough. I decide to do it by hand to really stretch the gluten more effectively than the mixer.
Time: 6:49pm, 101 minutes remaining.
I check the dough again by prodding my finger in again and it springs almost all the way back, I know it’s ready to prove. Place into a bowl, cover with clingfilm, put in a warm place to prove. I will check back in an hour.
Time: 7:40pm, 50 minutes remaining. Creme anglaise time.
I separate the eggs and place the egg yolks into a bowl. I save the whites for another bake.
Into a saucepan, I measure out the milk, double cream, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. I put in on a medium heat to infuse and warm it all up.
I add the remaining sugar, the flour and the custard powder to the egg yolks and whisk until incorporated.
Time: 7:43pm, 47 minutes remaining.
I pour some of the hot milk and cream mix into the egg yolk mixture whisking constantly. It will look frothy on top. I then poured the egg yolk mix into the saucepan and put it over a medium heat.
I stirred the custard constantly while it thickened and because of the thickening agents in the form of flour/custard powder, it’s easier to see when it thickens up. It will coat the back of the spoon yet still have a pouring consistency.
Pour through a sieve which will remove the lemon zest and any lumps. Cover with clingfilm touching the surface of the custard to prevent custard skin forming.
Time: 7:49pm, 41 minutes remaining. Second proving of the Dampfnudeln.
Heat the poaching milk, margarine and sugar over a low heat until the fat has melted and the sugar dissolved. If it is ready before you are finished, cover with the lid.
Meanwhile knock back the dough by giving it a knead for 1 minute. Then weigh out 6 equal portions of the dough and shape into balls. I did weigh the dough and divide into 6 and the technique I used to form my balls is the tucking in method. Fold the dough inwards on itself into one point in the centre of the ball and then invert the dough and cup around the ball, working underneath to lift the dough ball off the surface.
Place all 6 of the balls into the poaching liquid, spacing them out evenly. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to prove for 15 minutes.
Time: 8:07pm, 23 minutes remaining. Cooking the Dampfnudeln
I put the pan back on the heat, this time on a medium heat. I let the milk come to a rolling boil with the lid on and carry on until three-quarters of the liquid has evaporated – you must know what’s about to happen!
The Dampfnudeln have also grown significantly due to the heat.
Time: 8:11pm, 19 minutes remaining. DISASTER!
I must have taken a silly pill today as I forgot that milk boils over. So the milk and margarine poaching liquid is everywhere and the Dampfnudeln are completely submerged in the boiling liquid. I have no choice but to pour away most of the poaching liquid to stop it boiling over.
The bread are now all coated in the melted margarine as it’s settled back down and look awful. Meanwhile I have no choice but to steam it in the remaining quarter of the liquid.
Time: 8:17pm, 13 minutes remaining. IS SOMETHING BURNING?
Now that there’s hardly any liquid, I leave it on a medium heat to steam. The milk has all gone so now I leave the bases to brown. Except there’s still milk, sugar and margarine in there which is burning and is catching on the bottom. I remove the pan from the heat and leave the lid on so they can continue to cook in the residual heat.
Time: 8:22pm, 8 minutes remaining. Decisions, all of them wrong
As I’m plating up my Dampfnudeln, I think of the photo of Tamal saying “decisions, decisions, all of them wrong”.
I’ve had overflowing milk, I’ve got burnt bottoms and raw bottoms, my Dampfnudeln look like they have the cellulite of a hundred thighs and I have massive balls. Without wanting to sound like I’ve just stepped into the Embarrassing Bodies clinic, I cover my Dampfnudeln with custard and serve with 5 minutes to spare!
Time: 8:25pm, 5 minutes remaining. I’ve finished with time to spare!
Time: 8:30pm, 0 minutes. Bring your Dampfnudeln up to the gingham altar, ready for the judging.
Here is the plated Dampfnudeln with a vanilla creme anglaise. Having plated it up, I did sort of forget about all of the procedure and stress in the last 20 minutes because the creme anglaise worked out so well (thanks Marks and Spencer for your reduced double cream that cost me 10p!) and it did a brilliant job of covering up the cellulite top.
Despite this, I can’t get away from the fact that the custard is disguising burnt bottoms and a very eventful bake. The milk as the poaching liquid was part of the problem, however the recipe I found added margarine and sugar which were, on reflection, unnecessary additions. Water would have been a much better liquid for the steaming as there would be no risk of boiling over and wouldn’t burn in the pan as the milk did.
With regards to the timing, on a relatively warm-ish day, 2 hours is just enough time. The 50 minutes during the proving could have been time to make the creme anglaise however I used it to wash and tidy up and rest. Without the pressure of time, I would have proved it longer.
As with all of my #TryingTheTechnical posts, I am judging them in 5 categories, scoring each out of 10. The categories are the bread, the creme anglaise, the evenness of the batch, the bake and the flavour and texture.
- Bread: The bread wasn’t white on top, not helped by the fact that the milk and margarine boiled over. It was a little bit tough and probably a bit too heavy and not all of the Dampfnudeln were nicely browned – some of them were a bit over! Score: 3/10
- Creme anglaise: The creme anglaise was the right consistency, coating the back of a spoon and the Dampfnudeln and it was sweet enough to work with the Dampfnudeln. The lemon zest came through adding a different dimension to the dish and it wasn’t lumpy. Score: 9.5/10
- Evenness of the batch: The bottoms of the bread were all unevenly browned because of the milk. They weren’t all the same shape and ended up different sizes. Score: 1.5/10
- The bake: The milk boiled over and this led to all manner of problems; the bases weren’t evenly browned, the bread never steamed properly and the final Dampfnudeln were coated in a layer of milk and margarine. However they were baked inside. Score: 2.5/10
- Flavour and texture: The flavour of the custard was fantastic with the citrus notes cutting through the rich creaminess of the creme anglaise itself and the heaviness of the Dampfnudeln and it was smooth and silky. The Dampfnudeln was soft on the top and crunchy on the base where it had cooked, and had a light-ish texture but could have been lighter. Score: 7.5/10
Total Score: 24/50
Difficulty: 4.5/10, again due to time constraints and the recipe I chosen being very flawed
Finishing position: 6th – 8th, since my Dampfnudeln were not raw
If I were to try these again, I would consider using a different bread recipe so that the dough wasn’t so golden, as this one was, and when they steam, they were white. This would involve taking out the egg from the dough and adding water or milk. The dough was also quite heavy so perhaps strong flour would have been a better option so the gluten could be built up more and the dough would have a stronger protein network. I would add a bit more sugar to the dough as well for a better flavour and I would also prove the dough in the first instance for longer too however due to the time restraints of the challenge, this wasn’t possible.
Moreover, I would have steamed the dough in a smaller amount of water instead of milk with margarine so that the dough balls wouldn’t be almost submerged in the liquid and there would be no boiling over of the water, just evaporation of the steam which would prevent the Dampfnudeln from being coated in the milk and remaining white. I would also use a shallower pan so that I could spread the balls out more so they would be a more even shape and it would probably be easier overall.
Having said all of the improvements that could have been made, I would try these again; with a fruit compote or jam or something to cut through the heaviness of the Dampfnudeln, this would be a perfect winter warmer. It’s hearty and just ideal for those nights in the freezing cold!
Rankings of the #TryingTheTechnical challenges:
Coconut Viennese Whirls, Biscuit Week, 35.5
Jaffa Cakes, Cake Week, 27
Dampfnudeln, Bread week, 24