Tuesday 25 September 2012

The Great British Bake Off / How to Bake

I know that a lot of people are glued to their TV screens every Tuesday evening for the Great British Bake Off. Some are there for the baking, some are there for the competitive element; some are even there for James (no, I don’t get what all the fuss is about either…) but I reckon that most of us are there for the delectable Paul Hollywood. And the cake, of course. Oh, Mr H, you can squeeze my muffins any time!
We are now at episode 6 of series three, and the competition is heating up. You can see that the contestants are still friendly with each other, but there is a certain fatigue and sense of competition seeping in. Ooooh I love this part of a competition. Muahahahahahhahahaaa.
Anyway, aside from my lusting after Mr H, I’m also lusting after all the goodies they bake on the show. This week was a complete disaster for my diet saw my cooking fantasy list explode, with sticky toffee pudding, steamed apple pudding and a host of others all joining it, in the hope of being made (again) soon.
I bought Mr H’s book ‘How to bake’ and had time this weekend to make a couple of his recipes. It was almost like having him in the kitchen. I tried his fougasse and scones (sc-own-s please, not sc-on-s. I’m Irish).
Me and my own homemade scones are not a success story. They always end up like biscuits. Would the lovely Paul’s recipe be The One that would actually work?

In a word, yes.

450g strong flour (I’m working my way though a bag of 'pain blanc' from Delhaize at the moment. So far, so good).
80g unsalted butter
80g castor sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 teaspoons baking powder
250 ml milk (he says full fat, I used semi…)
I also added 100g of dried cranberries and a few drops of vanilla essence with the milk

Heat your oven to 220°.  Prepare your baking tray.
Put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar, baking powder and the cranberries and mix well. Mix in the beaten eggs. Pour in about half the milk and mix well. Keep adding more of the milk until the mixture comes together – you might not need all of the milk for this.  I didn’t need the last 50-60 mls, but that was just the flour I used.
Sprinkle some flour onto your counter top and tip the dough onto it. Bring it together with your hands until it is smooth, but try to handle it as little as possible.  Pat your dough down to about 2.5cm thick and using a glass about 7cm wide, cut circles from it. Put the scones onto your prepared baking sheets and leave them to rest for a few minutes. Before you put them in the oven, brush the tops with a little beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. Serve with jam and cream.

Cranberry scones

As mentioned, I also made fougasse, a type of focaccia from southern France. If you are interested in making both the scones and the fougasse, start the fougasse as it needs to rise. It can be flavoured with many things, such as different dried herbs, cheese and meats, but I stuck to Paul’s oregano.

250g strong white flour
5g salt (that’s a teaspoon)
5g yeast (there are 7grams in a packet, so I used 7)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
190ml cool water
semolina or extra flour
dried oregano and a little extra oil

Mr H starts off by oiling a plastic container. I like recipes that tell you what you need to do in advance and saves you from lots of unnecessary hand-washing. I rarely read a recipe through so I’m always having to wash doughy hands a few times. So annoying.
Put the flour, salt and yeast into your mixer bowl (what! no kneading by hand!!!)  and add the olive oil and ¾ of the water. Pop your dough hook on the mixer and mix slowly until the dough starts coming together. Add the rest of the water slowly. Continue mixing for another 6-8 minutes, until the dough is elastic. Tip the dough into the oiled container and cover for about an hour until it has doubled in size.
Line your baking sheet with baking paper.
Now, Mr H says to dust your counter top with flour and/or semolina, tip your dough onto this and transfer it to the baking sheet. So, he actually doesn’t seem to do anything with the dough once it’s on the counter top.  So, I reckon that you can just transfer your dough from the plastic container to the prepared baking sheet.
Push it out into an oval shape and make some cuts in it. I made a rather nice modern art take on a leaf… Make sure your cuts are well separated from each other – I mean, once you cut, move the dough away from its other side of the cut – the dough will rise, and the gaps are the attractive part of this bread. Cover it with cling film and leave for 20 minutes.
I dusted the dough with some semolina and then poured about a tablespoon of oil over it all before sprinkling on about a teaspoon of dried oregano. As I said, you can flavour this with lots of things, so do as you wish.
Bake for 15-20 minutes and eat warm.

Fougasse with dried oregano


  1. Your Fougasse looks great Katie. I tried my hand at a Fougasse a few days ago but ended up with one big ball! I suppose I'll just have to give it a second go

    1. Hi Evan,

      Thanks for the comment. You have to really separate the cut-out bits as they spread a lot. Better luck next time. As they say, if you don't succeed at first, bake and bake again! Or try another recipe ;-)