Sunday, 11 November 2012

Sourdough fig and goat's cheese scones


  • 100g sourdough starter (100% hydration) (optional)
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 85g cubed butter
  • 50g dried figs cut into pieces
  • 50g grated cheese
  • 175ml warm milk (with a squeeze lemon juice)


  • Heat the oven to 220C (no fan)/200C (fan).
  • In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until it resembles fine crumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  • Make a well in the flour, add the warm milk and the sourdough (if using), and mix with a cutlery knife. Add the figs and cheese and mix them in. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and fold it two to three times.
  • Pat the dough into a round about 4cm high, and cut the scones (8 to 10). Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg or milk, and transfer to a hot tray.
  • Bake until risen and golden on the top, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Lemon Polenta Cake

And finally, here's the recipe of the winner cake of the Great DDH Bake Off 2012. Enjoy!!

See the delicious polenta cake
at the bottom right of the picture


For the cake

  • 200 grams unsalted butter (or goats butter if you are Elena or equivalent)
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 200 grams ground almonds
  • 100 grams polenta
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 medium lemon(s) (zest - save juice for syrup)

For the lemon syrup

  • 2 lemons (juice)
  • 120 grams of sugar (icing or caster)


  1. First of all, preheat the oven 180°C (fan)
  2. Prepare a cake tin with baking paper and grease its sides with some butter
  3. Melt the butter and mix it with the sugar in a bowl. You can use a wooden spoon for this.
  4. Add the baking powder, the polenta and the almonds and keep mixing. Finally, add the 3 eggs and the lemons zest and mix again.
  5. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes
  6. In the meantime, you can make the lemon syrup by boiling the lemon juice of two lemons and the sugar in a small saucepan.
  7. Once the sugar is dissolved into the juice, the syrup is ready.
  8. When the cake is done, prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick and pour the warm syrup over it. Leave to cool before taking it out from the cake tin.
  9. Share, eat and enjoy!


Sourdough flatbreads with mixed herbs


  • 200g starter (100% hydration)
  • 200g water
  • 400g strong bread flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tbsp oil
  • 3tsp mixed herbs (optional)


  • Mix all the ingredients together until you have a soft sticky dough. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  • Rub a tablespoon of olive oil on a work surface, and knead the dough 12 times. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat the kneading two times more at 10 minutes intervals.
  • After the kneading rest the dough for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 250C (no fan).
  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into pieces (8 to 10). Round the pieces into balls, cover them and leave them to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Roll each ball into a round shape until it is about 5mm thick. Leave them to rest for 2 minutes.
  • Bake two to three flatbreads at a time for 3 to 5 mites, until lightly coloured and puffy. Remove from the oven and wrap with a tea towel to keep them warm and soft. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads.

This recipe was a adapted from a pitta bread recipe by Dan Lepard.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Some photos of the Bake Off

Hard at work creating the pastry 

Instruction in whisking techniques

The most vital job of the day being done valiantly

There's always one...

Somebody wanted to join in

The tongue of concentration

Observing the master at work

Industrious kitchen

Is it nearly ready yet?

Sampling the fruits of our labours!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Hazelnut tarte

The recipe is for a tin of 20cm of diameter.

The pie-pastry:
  • 100g of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 50g of butter
  • 0,4-0,5 dl of water

The filling:
  • 1 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 small cup of milk
  • 1 egg

The icing:
  • 150g of icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons of hot water
  • (if wanted, add some rum or kirsch)

- Mix the ingredients for the pastry in a bowl and knit until  the pastry is homogeneous. Then flat it on a circle to fit the tin and transfer it to the tin, using baking parchment if necessary.
- Mix the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and fill the tin with it by adding the filling on top of the pastry.
-Cook for about 20-30 min. at 180°  in a preheated oven.
-When cooked, add the icing, which has been mix in a bowl, and spread it over the pie and let the pie cool down.


Sunday, 28 October 2012

Oat and cherry biscuits

I used sour cherries for this recipe, but you can used glac√© cherries to make a sweeter biscuit (there's plenty of sugar in any case, so the sour cherries were very tasty).  Here they're in the tin with Elena's delicious biscotti:


  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup sour cherries or glac√© cherries


  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Line (at least) two baking sheets with baking parchment (we ended up using four!).
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg, then set aside. Place butter, sugar, and honey in another bowl and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (a few minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat together. Gently and gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the oats and cherries.
  • Drop one tablespoon of dough at a time onto the baking sheets (making sure there are at least two inches, ideally slightly more, between each biscuit).  Push them down slightly if necessary to get a better shape.  Bake until lightly golden brown (10 to 12 minutes).  Allow to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

  Here they are on their way to the oven...

Banana and walnut cake

You can use a different type of nut (e.g. hazelnuts) for this banana cake, but it works really well with walnuts.


  • 175g/6oz softened butter
  • 175g/6oz sugar (half muscovado, half golden caster)
  • 75g/2½oz walnuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g/6oz self-raising flour
  • 2 VERY ripe bananas (the browner the better!)
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • A sprinkle of demerera sugar for the top


  • Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas Mk 3. Line the base and sides of a loaf tin with baking parchment.
  • Beat the butter and sugars together until light.
  • Slowly add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, then mix in the walnuts and self-raising flour.
  • Peel the bananas and chop them into small pieces. Gently fold the vanilla extract and the bananas into the cake mixture, turning gently and taking care not to overmix.
  • Scoop the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. Dust with a little demerara sugar. Bake for between 1 hour and 1 hour 10 minutes, covering the cake with foil if the top starts to darken too quickly.

Stuffed plaited bread


250ml milk
25g fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 egg + another one to brush
550g bread flour
50g olive oil
10g salt

Ingredients for the stuffing. I did one with bacon and parmesan and the other with speck and provolone cheese

Melt the fresh yeast in warm milk and then add all the other ingredients and mix them together till the dough will be homogeneous.
Let prove for one hour.
In the mean time prepare the stuffing cutting the ingredients in very small pieces.
When the dough is ready, roll it with the rolling pin until it will be 0,5 cm thick.
Divide it into 3 stripes (or 6 if the dough is enough), every stripe needs to be large as your palm.
Put the stuff in the middle of every stripe and seal it brushing the edges with the beaten egg.
When the braid's rope are ready close them at one end and begin to weave, close also the other end, brush with the egg and let it leave to prove for 30 mins 
on the plate of the oven.

Turn on the oven 180° and cook for 1 hour.
Taste warm and enjoy it!

(please forgive my english errors... Elena, correct if you can!)

Salmon and chard pie

This is a personal take on classic Italian (genoese)  dish: torta pasqualina, but very much personalised as it uses a pizza dough instead of puff pastry (thanks for the tip, Hairy Dieters!) and adds salmon while the original version in vegetarian.

Makes 8 portions

For the pastry 

200g strong white flour
100g wholemeal strong flour
200ml water
3/4 tsp dried yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1tsp caster sugar

For the filling

1k chard (you can use spinach)
800g salmon, skin off
200g ricotta (I used buffalo ricotta)
2 medium eggs
50gr finely grated pecorino cheese
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1tbsp olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of ground nutmeg
salt an pepper to taste


  • For the dough: combine all ingredients and make a dough. Knead it for 10' and then put in a bowl to rest fo one hour (I used a bread machine as I.m not good a kneading)
  • While the dough is resting, wash and blanch the chard for a couple fo minutes. You may need to do it in batches.
  • Put the chard to drain ans squeeze it a lot
  • on a frying pan, cook chopped onion and garlic and fry for 5 minute. Add the drained chard and fry for 5/10 minutes until very dry.

  • Add cayenne pepper, nutmeg and seasoning to taste, and fry for a further minute then set aside.
  • Slice the skinless salmon in 1/2 cm thick slices.
  • Once the chard has cooled, chop it finely with a food processor, then transfer in a bowl. Add to the mixture the ricotta, pecorino cheese and the eggs. Mix until well combined. Taste again ad adjust seasoning if required.
  • Preheat the oven at 200C. You will need 25cm round, high tin.
  • When the dough has proven, take out 1/4 of it for the lid, then flat the rest of the dough on a circle larger than the tin. Transfer the dough into the tin with the border overflowing the sides of the tin.
  • Spoon half of the mixture in the tin lined with pastry, then lie the slices of salmon, then spoon in the rest of the mixture on top until you almost fill the pie tin.
  • Flat the dough you have left aside in a disc roughly of the diameter fo the tin and lie it on top of the mixture.
  • Firm the borders with your finger or roll them up in order to completely seal the pie
  • With a pair of scissors, snip a hole in the middle to allow the steam to go out.
  • Bake for 20', then cover with foil and bake for further 20' until the pie has slightly separated form the sides of the tin and the dough is dry and "bready"
  • Leave it to cool 10' before eating

The list of bakes

And here is what we decided to bake:

  • Bea: Polenta cake with lemon drizzle
  • Alexandra: Hazelnut tarte
  • William: Banana cake
  • Charlotte: Oat and black cherry biscuits
  • Miguel: Dried herbs flat bread
  • Tiffany: Figs and cheese scones
  • Elena: Salmon and chard pie
  • Eleonora: Multilayered birthday sponge
  • Marjorie: Cream Scones
Pre bake off bakes:

House preparation: bowls, trays and multimedia

We were 8 people of which 7 bakers and one washing up guy (Peter!). We needed a lot of bowls:

And plenty of baking trays

We had also a multimedia station to allow remote baker to see us and been seen (the person screaming on the video is Marjorie):

By the way, we did not used Skype, but Google Hangout which allows multiple way video chat. Very cool!

Pre Bake Off: Hazelnuts and figs biscotti

To begin the day, before anybody was her, I baked a batch of biscotti. I thought that having something to nibble with a cup of tea: this proved to be a great idea.

A linguistic note: in Italian we call these delight Cantucci, which is a plural noun, so for one only you would say Cantuccio, like in: "Do you want a cantuccio with your coffee?"

I followed a recipe of James Martin's recipe which I modified to taste (changed fruit, quantities and amount of sugar). So here you are:


160g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten
150g dried figs, chopped
80g whole hazelnuts
1 lemon, zest only

Preparation method

  • For the biscotti, preheat the oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  • Mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl until well combined.
  • Whisk in half of the beaten eggs until well combined. Gradually add the remaining beaten egg, a little at a time, making sure all of the egg has been fully incorporated into the mixture before adding more, until the mixture comes together as a dough. (NB: You may not need to use all of the egg. NBNB: I ignored JM recommendation and I ended up with a very wet dough)
  • Add the cherries, hazelnuts and lemon zest and mix well. 
  • Transfer onto a floured surface and gently coat the mixture with flour.
  • Divide the dough into three equal portions. Roll each portion into a sausage shape about 3cm in diameter, using your hands. Gently flatten each portion of dough with the palm of your hand.
  • Place each dough 'sausage' onto the prepared baking tray, leaving a 6cm gap between each portion of dough to allow for expansion. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until pale golden-brown.
  • Remove the 'sausages' from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool and firm up.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut 1.5 cm thick slices from the dough 'sausages' on the diagonal. Arrange the slices onto the lined baking tray and return them to the oven for a further 6-8 minutes.
  • Turn the biscotti over and continue to bake for 6-8 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cream Scones

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes

For about 10 to 12 scones;
- 250 gr. flour
- 50 gr. sugar
- 10 gr. baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 75 gr. butter
- 1 big egg (or 2 smaller ones)
- 12 cl. thick cream

- In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.
- Add the butter, and cut it into very small pieces with 2 knives. Stop when you only have small nuggets of butter of a few millimetres mixed with the flour etc.
- Beat the eggs, pour it into the bowl and stir to combine
- Pour the cream, stir again. You can add some milk if the dough feels to dry.

Be careful not to over-mix the dough: the end result must not be smooth and uniform, you want a thick dough  with a crumbling feel, the nuggets of butter still perceptible.

You're now done with the dough, no need to wait for it to rise, the scones can be baked immediately.

On a sheet of parchment paper, dispose little heaps of dough, well spaced since they are going to get about 30% bigger. It is most important NOT to shape the dough too brutally: pick a scoop of dough from the bowl with a fork, and just let it drop on the parchment paper (if the shape is too awkward, reshape it lightly with the fork). It will give the scones a slightly ragged, crumbly aspects.

Bake for 20 minutes MAXIMUM at 180°C (caution, keep an eye on the scones in the oven after 15 minutes, they turn very quickly from golden to dark brown, which is not very nice).

They keep very well in the fridge, up to a week. If you intend to keep the scones, you may want to bake them for a slightly shorter time, and put them in the oven for a couple of minutes just before serving when you take them out of the fridge. This will prevent the reheated scones from getting overcooked, and give them a perfect taste just as if they were just out of the oven - which they are!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Welcome to the Great DDH Bake Off

The blog hosts the outcomes of an event organised on the 27th of October 2012 when 7 bakers in presence and 3 virtual bakers met to bake. Here the rules of the Bake Off:

  1. you can bake one signature dish (bread, cake, pie, biscuits, etc.), sweet and savoury
  2. you can bring your ingredients and your tools
  3. you can bring along your partner/friend which can bake as well one dish or just enjoy and eat
  4. you can make you partner bake for you
  5. we will eat everything altogether at night and you can come here as early as you need for your signature bake, from 8am
  6. you can come without baking, only to eat and judge
  7. after baking you will make your recipe available on this blog
Invitations were sent to a few people at DDH and a few other joined after they knew it was happening. Here is the list of the bakers:

  • Elena
  • Miguel
  • Tiffany
  • Bea
  • Charlotte
  • William  
  • Alexandra
The virtual bakers which will bake remotely via Skype:
  • Eleonora
  • Paola
  • Marjorie

The fun will begin at Elena's at 2pm UK time. Stay tuned!