What to do with a couple of over ripe pears? Put them in a loaf of course and add sour cherries for a tangy flavour. And almond extract goes really well with both these ingredients!
A couple of things to say about this loaf. First, it’s an all-in-one loaf, and made in the food processor too. So it’s super simple. Believe me, the all-in-one method produces great results!
Secondly, I have been very interested in the Queen of Baking Mary Berry’s advocacy of baking spread, rather than butter, in cakes. I’ve used baking spread in Mary’s Victoria Sponge recipe and it produced a lovely textured sponge. So I have used baking spread in this recipe. But by all means, use butter if you prefer, but make sure it’s super soft.
125g caster sugar
125g baking spread (I use Nuttelex here in Australia)
2 free range eggs at room temperature
125g self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 very ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
100g sour cherries
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Butter a 21cm x 10cm loaf tin, or similar size.
Put everything except the cherries into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz until everything is combined. Don’t overdo it or the mixture will be tough.
Stir in the sour cherries.
Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.
Cool completely in the tin before turning out as the loaf is quite fragile while warm.
Serve sprinkled with a little caster sugar. A dollop of cream or yoghurt would be nice – I had some passionfruit curd on hand so I smothered the loaf with a few spoonfuls!
I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.
However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.
The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.
425g strong flour
150g sourdough starter
75g sour cherries
50g raisins or golden raisins
Mix Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.
Autolyse Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.
Knead and Prove Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.
Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.
Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.
Pre-shape Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.
Shape It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.
Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.
Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.
Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.
Second Prove While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.
Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.
Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.
Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.
Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.
Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.
Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.
I’m a huge fan of the Great British Bake-off. I have watched every episode of every season…a few times!
Kimberley Wilson was a contestant on GBBO in 2013, and I loved her bakes on the program. Her Very Cherry and Almond Traybake really caught my eye – and tastebuds. The link to the recipe on Kimberley’s website is here.
Here is Kimberley’s recipe, with any tweakings that I made.
For the base:
90g unsalted butter, softened
90g caster sugar
1 large free-range egg, beaten
110g plain flour
20g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
For the filling:
6-8 tablespoons of morello cherry jam (I left this out)
40g dried sour cherries, chopped
5 maraschino cherries chopped
90g unsalted butter, softened
80g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
180g ground almonds
30g plain flour
A few drops almond extract
Zest of a lemon
Pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 180 C degrees or 160 C degrees fan-forced. Line a 18cm x 27cm x 3cm baking tray with baking paper leaving 5cm excess on all sides.
Combine the ingredients for the base in a bowl and mix. Dollop the mixture into the lined tray and using the back of a spoon, smooth out the batter to create an even base.
Combine the ingredients for the filling and spoon across the base.
Combine the ingredients for the frangipane and mix until smooth. Put spoonfuls of the frangipane over the cherry layer and then, with a fork, push the batter across to create a smooth layer. Even the surface with the back of a spoon.
Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 20-23minutes until the top is puffed and golden.
About 15 minutes into the cooking time, put all of the ingredients for the topping into a saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir gently until the butter and sugar has melted. Turn up the heat and simmer for three minutes.
Remove the traybake from the oven and pour the topping over the surface. Using the back of a metal spoon, spread and smooth the topping all over the frangipane.
Return to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the nuts are golden and the honey syrup is bubbling all over.
To get a really neat finish on the portions the traybake needs to be cut upside-down, so that you are cutting the nutty topping against the firm surface of a chopping board.
Remove the traybake from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes. This allows for the topping to cool and set a little so that it does not stick to the board when you turn it out. Place a clean chopping board on top of the bake and, wearing oven gloves, flip it over. Peel away the baking paper and place a wire rack, upside down, on the bake. Flip again and remove the chopping board. Cool completely on the rack.
When cool, replace the chopping board gently on top and flip the bake as above. Using a large, sharp knife trim the edges and then cut into portions.
Delicious straight away and keeps well if you put it into an airtight tin.
I have just discovered the secret to great muffins – keeping the mixture in the fridge overnight or longer before baking. Matt Stone in his fabulous book “The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste” gives this tip in his recipe for Greenhouse Muffins, which I recently wrote up in a post, see here. This trick of leaving the mixture in the fridge definitely gives the muffins their gorgeous flavour.
My other discovery came about when I realised that I didn’t have any buttermilk. You just add lemon juice to milk to create the separation process. So easy!
My recipe uses ground cinnamon and cinnamon honey. I bought this honey made by Beelish Honey (http://www.beelish.com.au/) at a hand-made market in the Hunter Valley recently. It has an unusual strong cinnamon flavour. You can just use ordinary honey instead and maybe add a little more cinnamon to the mixture.
1 Granny Smith apple or similar tart apple
150 gms self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
50 gms almond meal
50 gms rolled oats
75 gms dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50 gms melted butter
1 egg, beaten
225 mls buttermilk or semi-skimmed milk with the juice of half a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp cinnamon honey or ordinary honey
2 handfuls sour cherries or cranberries or raisins
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 6 cup muffin tin with muffin papers or grease muffin pan.
Mix flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, almond meal, rolled oats, dark brown sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.
Combine melted butter, egg, buttermilk, vanilla paste and cinnamon honey or ordinary honey in another bowl.
Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix.
Fold in the chopped apple and cherries or other dried fruit. Ideally, if you can, leave the muffin mixture overnight for the flavours to develop. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. The mix will keep for 3–4 days in the fridge. Fill the 6 muffin cup muffin tin with the mixture.
For the crumble topping, place the cold butter and flour in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips. Add the oats, mix well, then mix in the honey. Cover the top of the muffins with the crumbly topping mixture.
Bake for about 25-35 minutes in the preheated oven. Check after 25 minutes with the skewer test, but they will probably need a further 5 -10 minutes. These are quite big muffins and need decent cooking time. Serve with lashing of butter and maybe a little honey!
A mid morning snack was required for the busy creative team who met, bleary eyed on a Sunday morning, to discuss our latest artistic venture.
Healthy muffins were the go!
Bird seed (yes, bird seed), cranberry and pomegranate muffins, and blueberry and yoghurt muffins were the offerings. The “bird seed” refers to my current favourite seed mix from The Source Bulk Foods in Balmain: http://thesourcebulkfoods.com.au/. It’s a very interesting mix called kapai puku which I use in my home-made muesli, so I thought I would give it a go in muffins!
Ingredients – Base Mixture
1 and 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carbonate soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
2 tbs honey
Bird Seed, Cranberry, Pomegranate and Sour Cherry Mixture
2 tbs kapai puku seed mix
1/2 cup cranberry, pomegranate and sour cherry mix (available in packets from supermarkets)
Blueberry and Yoghurt Mixture
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 tbs low-fat yoghurt
Candied orange for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers. Lightly spray papers with cooking spray. Expect to make 8 decent sized muffins.
Mix the dry ingredients for the base mixture with a spoon in a bowl until well combined. Divide into two bowls. In another bowl mix the oil, beaten egg, milk and honey.
For the birdseed muffins, add the birdseed mix to the dry ingredients in one bowl. Add half the liquid ingredients, stirring until barely mixed. Gently fold in the cranberries, pomegranates and sour cherries.
For the blueberry muffins, add the other half of the liquid ingredients, stirring until barely mixed. Stir through the yoghurt. Gently fold in the blueberries. Decorate the tops with candied orange if desired.
Spoon each mixture into the muffin papers. Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
This is Jamie Oliver’s recipe. My version included half rum and raisin ice-cream with vanilla ice-cream. In retrospect the rum and raisin ice-cream was too sweet, all vanilla would work better.
• 1 litre good-quality vanilla ice cream
• 1 kg panettone
• 125 ml vin santo
• 3 heaped tablespoons raspberry jam
• 25 g shelled pistachios
• 75 g tinned sour cherries, drained
• 40 g glacé clementines (or other glacé fruit), thinly sliced
• 2 clementines, 1 peeled and sliced into rounds
• 200 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), bashed up
Get your ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready. Line a 2 litre pudding bowl with 3 layers of cling film. Use a serrated knife to slice four 2cm thick rounds off of your panettone then cut them in half. You’ll have some panettone left over, so keep this for another time. Arrange six of the slices in a single layer around the bowl and push them down if they overlap. Drizzle some Vin Santo around the sponge so it soaks in, then use the back of a spoon to smear the jam over the sponge. Add 1 tub of ice cream to the bowl and use the spoon to spread it around in a thick layer. Sprinkle in the pistachios, cherries and glacé fruit then layer the clementine slices on top. Add the other tub of ice cream. Spread it out, working quickly so the ice cream doesn’t completely melt. Put the rest of the panettone slices on top of the ice cream, drizzle over some more Vin Santo then cover the bowl tightly with cling film. Press a plate down on top to press everything down, then freeze overnight, or longer. When you’re ready to serve it, put the bashed-up chocolate in a bowl and get that over a pan of simmering water on a really low heat. Leave the chocolate to melt while you unwrap your amazing winter bombe and carefully turn it onto a beautiful serving dish. Add a few gratings of clementine zest to the chocolate and when it’s nicely melted, pour it over the top so it oozes down the sides and looks delicious.