Cooking With Charl

Amateur home cook, with a love for baking and all things garlic :)

My sourdough starter experiment

Last Sunday I decided to take the plunge and try and nurture a sourdough starter from scratch! After reading alot on the Internet I found out it is best for beginners to start off with an established starter and work from there.
I am rather inpatient though and could not wait to get a starter from elsewhere.

I followed a fantastic guide over at sourdough.com and so far things seem to be going on track to sour doms beginners guide.

I thought I would share my progress so far :).

Day 5

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I fed the starter 50g strong white flour and 50ml filtered water everyday for the first 3 days, then discarded half and refreshed with 100g strong flour and 100ml filtered water for the last 2 days.
I could see activity after day 3 but only very slight, it’s now safe to say something is certainly happening in there!
Next step is to discard most and refresh again, then hopefully it will double in size overnight! (Fingers crossed)

I am a complete novice when it comes to sourdough so if there are any sourdough bakers out there feel free to advise me 🙂

day 7
Doubled in size very quickly (2-3hours) then shrunk back to original size so gave an early feed today as I think he was hungry! 🙂

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my first sourdough loaf

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Little bit of oven spring and good holey texture

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Only problem I seemed to encounter was it losing its shape as soon as I tried to remove it from shaping bowl

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Chocolate orange hot cross buns (with orange glaze)

Easter is the one time in the year when you can get away with having chocolate with everything! Why should hot cross buns be any different?

As an avid fan of the great British bake off, of course I was going to watch the Easter special to see if I could get some seasonal inspiration. All of the recipes were fantastic as always but Paul hollywood’s hot cross bun recipe really caught my eye as I have never worked with an enriched dough before, so I took on the challenge.

Only problem is, I’m not too keen on hot cross buns, and my boyfriend hates dried fruit, so I came up with the idea if switching fruit for the just as healthy chocolate!!! (Because what’s Easter without chocolate?)

As I still wanted my buns to have great flavour I used orange zest and made a glazing syrup with the fruit as traditionally they are glazed with an apricot jam.

I hope this recipe inspires you to get creative and tamper with recipes to your liking.

(Makes 12)

INGREDIENTS

500g strong bread flour (+a little extra for the cross)
50g soft butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg
7g fast action yeast
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp salt
300ml warm milk
250g dark (or milk) chocolate
1 large orange
4 tbsp sugar

METHOD

Warm milk in the microwave or in a pan and set aside. Place the chocolate in a bag and smash into small chunks with a rolling pin. Grate the zest from the orange with a fine grater.

Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the sugar, salt, egg, cinnamon and cubed softened butter to one side and add the yeast to the opposite side of the bowl, ensuring the salt and yeast do not come in contact with each other.

Roughly mix the ingredients together and slowly add the milk, you may not need to use all of the milk, just enough to make a sticky soft dough.

When well mixed add the orange zest and chocolate chunks to the mix, knead the dough in the bowl slightly just to combine the chocolate and orange. Add more milk if needed.

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Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead the dough for around 10 mins, pulling and stretching the dough until it becomes smooth.

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Dust the mixing bowl with flour and place the dough inside and cover tightly with cling film. Place the dough in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. ( this may take slightly longer as the chocolate weighs the dough down considerably)

Slice the white pith from the orange in a downwards motion on a board, then when all the flesh of the orange is exposed, slice the individual segments out into a pan catching all the juice. When all segments are removed squeeze the rest of the juice out of the orange into the pan. Add the sugar and rapidly boil for 3 mins. Leave to cool.

When the dough has doubled in size, tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knock the air out of it. Start to roll the dough into a large sausage shape, cut in half and half again until you have 12 pieces of dough.

Roll the individual pieces of dough between the work surface and your palm to create perfect balls of dough.

Cover a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and place the balls of dough fairly close to each other so as they rise again they touch each other.

Cover the tray with cling film and leave to prove for a 2nd time in a warm place until doubled in size again.

In a bowl mix flour and water until it becomes a thick batter and place in a piping bag. Snip the end off and pipe the crosses, I like to start from the work surface and pipe continuous lines over them all like a noughts and crosses board.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 160c gm 5 for 20-25 mins

When baked and browned on top brush the buns with the sticky orange glaze and leave to cool on a wire rack.

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I hope you all have a chocolatey Easter!! 🙂

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Chocolate chip cookies

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These chocolate chip cookies are really quick to make and are packed full of chocolate! They also double up as a great DIY cookie mix gift, by layering up the ingredients inside a lock tight jar tying with ribbon and placing the method on a tag. Fantastic as a last minute gift or to bake when friends come over, they don’t stick around for long!!!

Ingredients

115g butter
115g light brown sugar
1 egg
100g porridge oats
1 tbsp milk
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
170g plain chocolate
170g milk chocolate

Method

– Preheat oven to 180c/ gm 4, line and grease 2 baking sheets

– Mix softened butter and sugar together until well combined and paler in colour.

– Add the egg, mix well and add the oats and milk.

– When mixed together add the flour and baking powder and mix until all the ingredients come together.

– Place chocolate into a bag and smash with a rolling pin until broken into pieces. I like to leave it fairly chunky.

– Stir in the chocolate and place tablespoon size dollops of the mixture onto baking sheets. Wet hands and gently press the down slightly.

– Bake in the oven for around 15-20 mins depending on how dark you want them. They will still be quite soft when cooked and will harden when cooled.

– Leave to cool for at least 5 mins as the melted chocolate will be molten!

This is the gift I made my friend with the addition of cocoa powder 🙂

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Happy baking 🙂

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S’mores Brownies (chocolate marshmallow)

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This recipe is not one for the faint hearted! Very calorific but very worth it! 🙂 it’s based on the American pop tart variety s’mores. Which is filled with melted chocolate and marshmallow. Enough said.
All it took was a mention of brownies from my friend and that was it, these s’mores brownies were born! They have a buttery biscuit base with gooey chocolate brownie with chocolate chunks and almond pieces topped with toasted marshmallow 🙂 enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

Biscuit Base

160g digestive biscuits
30g melted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar

Brownie

150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
130g milk chocolate
280g unsalted butter
3 eggs
280g caster sugar
125g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
85g milk chocolate (broken into pieces)
85g white chocolate (broken into pieces)
50g dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
50g almonds (broken into pieces)
Almonds optional and other nuts can be used.

Toasted marshmallow top

100g white marshmallows

Method

Line a 23cm square baking tin and grease well. Preheat oven to 180c/gm4.

Smash the biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs, this can be done in a food processor but a great job for kids or friends that linger in the kitchen!

Combine the melted butter, sugar and biscuits in a bowl until well combined.

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Place the biscuit mix into the baking tin and press down with a spatula, trying to make sure it’s even in the tin.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden brown.

While the base is cooking, melt the dark and milk chocolate together with the butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl! Then leave to cool slightly.

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(I had to improvise with a pirex baking dish as I didn’t have a glass bowl!)

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy and add the cooled melted chocolate and gently mix together

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Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and gently combine. When mixed add the broken mixed chocolate and almonds.

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Pour the brownie mixture ontop of the cooled biscuit base, I decorated with white chocolate buttons but its not really needed as the marshmallow will cover the brownie.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins depending on how gooey you like your brownies!

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Yoshi’s back in the kitchen with Kay unfortunately this is most definitely not doggy friendly!!!

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When baked cover the top of the brownie with marshmallows and place under a medium low grill to melt and toast slightly, this does not take long so keep an eye on it!

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This can be very difficult to cut so as tempting as it is leave to cool completely and gently cut with a serrated knife.

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Although very sickly these are absolute heaven! Even better if slightly warmed in the microwave! But make sure you cut them small as you can always go back for more!

Happy baking 🙂

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Gingerbread

This is my ‘better late than never’ gingerbread recipe. It featured in my christmas post, which shows the shortbread and gingerbread star cookies I gave as gifts for Christmas. Although gingerbread is traditionally a christmas thing, it’s good all year round, and ginger is fantastic for settling a funny tummy!

You will need

350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Method

  • Place flour, bicarb, ginger and cinnamon into a food processor, add the butter and mix until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  • If you don’t have a food processor rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Mix the egg and golden syrup together and add to the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Mix either by hand or in a processor until the mixture clumps together into a ball.
  • Knead the mixture to bring it all together and form a ball, refrigerate for around 20 mins.
  • Roll out the dough and cut whatever shapes you like! I like to make small stars as they are good as gifts and great for the biscuit tin!
  • Traditionally, people like to cut men out of the dough, which is great for children to decorate!
  • Preheat the oven to 180c/gm 4 and grease baking trays, greaseproof paper always works best 🙂
  • Place cut out shapes on the baking trays and place in the fridge for 30 mins (this helps maintain the shape when cooking).
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins for stars and 12-15 for gingerbread men.
  • When baked, the cookies should be slightly darker in colour and may still be a little soft but will harden when cooling.
  • When cooled decorate however you wish 🙂

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I hope this recipe inspires you to make gingerbread whatever time if year!

Happy baking 🙂

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Cupcakes (basic recipe)

This recipe is especially for my friend Ali , she likes to bake but always cheats with cake mixes! (Much to my disgust! Lol) I’ve told her how easy it is to make cupcakes from scratch and thought I’d post it on here for others to have a look 🙂

This recipe can easily be doubled or used as a basic Victoria sponge recipe if divided between 2 shallow cake tins.

You will need

(Makes 6 large cupcakes)

110g self raising flour ( for plain flour add 2 tsp baking powder)
100g unsalted softened butter
100g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract
1egg
2tbsp milk

Method

There are so many techniques that people use for sponge, I find the all in one method works well for a basic sponge. I have included 2 techniques in this recipe 🙂

The ‘all in one’ method

  • Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer until well combined

The creaming method

  • Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix until light and creamy.
  • Gradually mix in the egg and vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour (and baking powder if using plain flour) a little at a time.
  • When mixture seems to appear stiff add the milk and then continue to add the flour.

BAKE

Separate into 6 muffin cases and bake in a preheated oven at 180c gm4 for 15-20 mins until cakes spring back when touched.

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BASIC BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

150g butter
300g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp milk

Whisk all ingredients together until light and fluffy, start slowly making sure icing sugar doesn’t fly everywhere.

Using a star shaped nozzle, fill a piping bag with the buttercream frosting and pipe swirls on top on cooled cupcakes starting from the outside working into the middle.

VARIATIONS

I will be doing separate posts for other cupcakes as I tend to bake a few different types, these are just 2 of my favourite recipes that I bake. You can get many different decorations now from the supermarket such as stars, silver balls, glitter etc which make a simple cake look special! Fantastic given as a gift 🙂

Vanilla chocolate marble cupcakes (picture)

  • Make cupcake batter as normal, when well combined split the mixture into two equal portions and mix 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder into one half.
  • One teaspoon at a time, fill the cupcake cases with alternate chocolate and vanilla batter until 3/4 full.
  • Take a teaspoon handle and gently swirl the 2 mixtures together in the cases, careful not to over mix.
  • Bake as normal 180c gm 4 for 15-20 mins
  • For the chocolate frosting I just add a teaspoon of cocoa powder into the basic buttercream frosting.

Sticky jam cupcakes

  • Make basic cupcake batter.
  • Put 2 teaspoons of batter in each cupcake case and make a small dip in the middle.
  • Place a teaspoon of jam in the middle of each cupcake and then continue to fill with remaining batter.
  • Bake as normal 180c gm4 for 15-20 mins, when cool decorate with buttercream frosting
  • As I say this is my fool proof cupcake recipe that I always fall back on, and once you’ve mastered this you can become quite inventive with flavours and frostings.

Happy baking 🙂

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Waiting patiently

Was browsing through old photos and came across this delightful picture of one of my friends dogs, yoshi waiting on my mat in the kitchen for the latest bake 🙂 he’s always sniffing around for treats and always appreciates all the cooking that goes on in our home whenever he comes round!

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