On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


Muesli Bread

Another weekend goes by where I’ve not baked. Ok, that’s not quite true. Last weekend I did make a batch of muffins, but hardly anything to shout from the rooftops.

Missing some slashes

Muesli Bread minus the slashes (I forgot)

So far no baking this weekend either, and I can’t imagine there will be.  It’s close to dinner time and tomorrow I’m out at Lindy’s taking a handpainting class with Amber from Wildberry Cakes. That’s handpainting on fondant. So while I’m not making a cake to practice some new technique, I will be doing something within the “cake decorating” realm. I hope I don’t suck at it completely. It’s been some years since I did anything remotely artistic with drawing. And even then (despite having won a prize) it was as a child and I can’t imagine it was really very good.

Anyhow, I do have a recipe to share, something I made a couple of weekends ago, something that I’d spied several months ago and was itching to make if I could convince Mr Fussy it would be alright, and he wouldn’t die from trying.

2014-02-07 20.13.51I did convince Mr Fussy, but had to concede a few ingredients to make it palatable for him. I upped the amount of dried fruit and skipped the almonds. Instead I added some apricots (the start with A, so it’s a fair replacement – right?) and more fruit, up to one cup max.

Dumping in all the seeds/nuts and dried fruits

Dumping in all the seeds/nuts and dried fruits

Although the recipe didn’t say you could leave the dough overnight in the fridge, that’s just what I did. I went to the original source of the recipe and King Arthur Flour where it was explained you can leave the dough in the fridge for many days before using.

Talk about another easy yeast bread to make. I added everything together in the same bowl. Once it was mixed I did a few stretch and folds of the dough before covering the bowl with Gladwrap, leaving it in the fridge until I was ready the next day.

About 3 stretch and folds. It's sticky so you'll need to oil the bench.

About 3 stretch and folds. It’s sticky so you’ll need to oil the bench.

I made a few mistakes in preparing it for baking. I didn’t have it out as long it should have been to rest and I forgot to cut the slashes into the top.

I used half of the dough for our lunch and the remaining half the following day for lunch. Yes, both times I forgot the slashes.

Slow rise overnight in the fridge

Cover and leave to rise slowly overnight in the fridge

The bread was really lovely. Despite not having any spices in it, it had a surprising spicy flavour to it. It reminded me of hot cross buns. It was a bit baffling I have to confess, since I new there were no spices in the ingredients. I can only put it down to using the Jumbo Raisins (I’ve found them at Pak ‘n Save and New World supermarkets). There seems to be 3 varieties in the raisins and eating them raw, each has a unique flavour.

Try to let the bread rest 15 minutes after removing from the oven. It's hard to resist but do your best.

Try to let the bread rest 15 minutes after removing from the oven. It’s hard to resist but do your best.

My MIL really liked the bread and Mr Fussy also didn’t mind it. I think I might even get away with making it again!

We ate it all!  Each slice loaded with butter - of course.

We ate it all! Each slice loaded with butter – of course.


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Beer bread bites

I don’t know if you know who Chelsea Winter is, probably not if you’re not from New Zealand and don’t have an interest in all the cooking shows. Actually I’ve never watched Master Chef but I had stumbled across Chelsea’s Facebook page. I’ve mentioned her before. I love her down to earth banter with her followers (likers). She comes across as a really good sort.

Dripping with butterAnyway, many people have passed on favourable comments about a Beer Bread. I couldn’t find the recipe, or what I thought was the recipe they were all commenting on (and sharing photos of). Chelsea has lots of recipes on her website, pretty generous really. She also has a cook book out. Something I must get around to buying or borrowing from the library.

IngredientsI found a recipe for Marmite and Cheese Beer Bread Bites. I have to say I was pretty enthusiastic to give this recipe a try. It began with asking Mr Fussy whether I could use one of his bottles of beer. Mr Fussy informed me his beer was too good to be used. That left me with buying my own beer. As Julie pointed out on my Facebook page, cheap is more often found in a 6 pack. What would I do with 5 other beers that would be beneath Mr Fussy to consume?

I went beer shopping. Now what I know about Beer is close to zero. I don’t like it. And you’d be right in wondering why I’d want to bake/cook with it. I expected that like wine, the alcohol would be cooked out and you’d be left with a flavour. I merrily went on my way and put a 4 pack of Moa Pale Ale into my shopping basket. The other 3 would be going into Mr Fussy’s beer fridge, and since it was the “good stuff” he’d be more than happy to accommodate it.

Mixed and readyI’m going to cut to the chase. The recipe was dead simple to make. I added some cooked bacon since Mr Fussy tends to think all meals should include meat, and well, bacon makes everything (savoury) better. But, and it’s quite a big but, I ended up having crumpets for lunch. Why? Well the flavour of beer was so strong. Perhaps using the good stuff was my downfall. Would the flavour have been lessened with “cheap swill” as Mr Fussy put it.

Marmitey goodnessI also found trying to twist a teaspoon with marmite on it, through the centre of the muffin was near impossible. I only added marmite to 4 of them. Mr Fussy doesn’t like Marmite (I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s never tried it), instead favouring Bovril (which I’ll never try). Mr Fussy was very happy with the flavour of the muffins/bread bites and is happily having left overs (frozen) for lunch. He tells me that if you add pesto the flavour of the cheese comes through.

Melted and brownedSo there you go. If you’re keen on a nice beer flavoured savoury bite, then these will be right up your alley. Or there’s always crumpets for a quick fuss-free weekend lunch.

Next week I’ll post the cheesecake recipes I’ve been baking. It’s Randall (my brother) and Kade’s wedding this Saturday and my sisters (Natalie and Bee) and I are making some individual cheesecakes as part of their dessert table. The baking has been more testing recipes and flavours. All will be revealed sometime after the weekend. Celebrations commence on Friday with us heading to Timaru just as soon as the cheesecakes have baked and cooled, and don’t end until after some jet-boat activities Sunday afternoon.

Till then …



No Knead Brioche

Brioche1Have you heard of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day?  I’ve made it once. It was fine, but I didn’t quite get all the hoopla. Which is kinda funny now that I re-read that post. I was quite taken by the whole idea and happy with how that bread turned out. I even said the recipe was “a keeper”. For all that I’ve never made another batch of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day.

Moving on. This recipe for Brioche has some similarities. Similar in that it could be kept in the fridge for several days and there was no kneading. Perhaps that’s where the similarities end, but it felt familiar.

First riseWhat I liked about this recipe is how easy it was for Brioche. That the recipe didn’t use as much butter (which may be the make or break of Brioche) and I could make it at night and it would be ready for breakfast 36 hours later. The recipe says it should be baked between 24 and 48 hours.

In time for breakfast, well, it took the 3 hours for rising and with me popping it in a pre-heated oven (to 50 deg, then turned off) for 40 minutes. By then everyone had risen and we ate normal breakfast while this was baking.

Prepare for bakingBut we had it for lunch.

I really get a kick out of watching bread rise, then transform as it bakes. Once the bread was out of the oven I brushed melted butter over it. I was transfixed looking at this beautiful bread from every angle. I loved seeing how those 6 little rolled balls had joined forces and baked as one.

This is only the second time I have baked Brioche, actually only the second time I’ve eaten Brioche. If it hadn’t been for Mum’s curiosity asking if we’d been served it at breakfast when we were traveling, I probably wouldn’t have looked into it, and tried my hand at baking it.

Baked ready for devouringWith that said, I really don’t know what it should be like in texture, but it looked pretty much like the photo. The reason I’m saying this is that this Brioche went a bit gummy when chewing it. It was perfectly baked, it looked like bread should be, but as soon as I began chewing it changed. I’m not saying it didn’t taste good, but the experience wasn’t what I expected. For all that, I don’t know if that is how it’s meant to be, because I’ve only eaten it from my own baking, and the first time I made Brioche Snails, baked differently than a true loaf.

I might have been a bit stingy, though we all had 2 slices each, but I purposefully kept enough aside so I could try it as French Toast.

I used my usual “recipe” as the base, but omitted the orange peel, and used cinnamon sugar. Mr Fussy doesn’t like French Toast, what’s a bet he’s never had it, and I don’t think my MIL does either.

BriocheAs French Toast it was fabulous. I had enough for French Toast this morning as well. Will I be saying this recipe is a keeper too? Why not. I like French Toast, but I wouldn’t eat it as plain sliced bread from the loaf (maybe it needs toasting?). I think I’ll give Dean Brettschneider’s Apricot Brioche Breakfast Plait a go.

If you are familiar with Brioche, I’d love to know what it’s like to chew. Does it go a bit gummy as you chew or is it just mine? Should it be eaten as is, or are you expected to pop it in the toaster? I image toasting it would solve the gummy problem.

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Cheesy Herb (Quick Bread) Muffins

Last post from this weekend.

Herb and Cheese QuickbreadI remember a post Heidi from 100 Cookbooks wrote about her experience visiting Australia and finding that most café’s served Muffins.

It was clear Muffins were not commonplace in America. I’ve thought that strange. I suppose I guessed most things migrated this side of the word. We do seem to be a follower in many things that it’s hard to imagine we had something “new” to offer.

Anyway, last weekend (yes last weekend, not this weekend) I made this recipe from Averie’s website. It’s a “quick bread”. I didn’t know what a quick bread was, but it sounded good and I was looking forward to it.

After it had baked (and it took much longer than it took Averie) I realised the texture was so much like a savoury muffin.

So I reckon the American’s eat a food that, if it were spooned into muffin liners would be, well muffins.

IngredientsThis weekend I searched out other quick bread recipes and found one that sounded right up my alley and instead of baking it in a loaf pan, I spooned the mixture into muffin liners.

Here’s a link to the Quick Bread/Savoury Muffin that I made.

Yes, I changed a little of the recipe.

  • I added 1/2 a shallot, cooked
  • I weighed the flour at 140gm per cup. I think next time I might add 125gm weight per cup
  • I melted the butter and allowed it to cool before adding it to the other wet ingredients
  • And as per usual, the amount of cheese called for ended up being and exaggerated  measurement

The mixture was much stiffer than any I’ve mixed before. I wasn’t convinced the muffins would turn out nice and fluffy, but they did.

Stiff batterI baked these for 18 minutes at 200deg Celsius.

I didn’t have any Sage (I thought I did). The thyme added a really different flavour, it was quite obvious to me, but then we don’t often have thyme in many of our dinners so the flavour was probably more distinctive to us.

We all enjoyed the muffins. Two was enough, which reminds me, there’s 3 left. I got 9 big muffins from the mixture.

Butter butter butterThere’s always one last thing to mention. The last few batches of muffins I’ve made have stuck to the liners. I realised the liners I bought were from the supermarket and weren’t “greaseproof”. Next time I was in Stevens I found Mrs Rogers greaseproof Tulip liners and bought them. These muffins were baked in those liners and they were a bust. The muffins stuck to them just like the non-greaseproof liners. I’m a bit ticked off about that.


Double Ginger Gingerbread by Julie Le Clerc

This recipe is from a Julie Le Clerc book Favourite Cakes. I got this book from the library last year some time. I took note of a couple of recipes I wanted to try and I finally got around to trying one of them.

This is Julie’s Double Ginger Gingerbread.

Rich treacle colour

I made a few changes to the recipe, but not much.

Instead of grated fresh ginger I used chopped up uncrystallised ginger. I had some left over from the Christmas cake I baked last weekend.


I also ran out of Treacle, I had 1/3 cup of ½ cup so topped it up with Golden Syrup, and lastly I swapped the brown sugar for muscovado sugar. And rather than bake in 3 small loaf pans (1 ¼ cup capacity) I used my mini loaf tin. I was expecting to get only 6 loaves. The little tins were ½ cup in capacity (with a few mm from the top) and given the recipe would make 3 times 1 ¼ cups I worked out 6 loaves. But I got 8. Bonus.

1311_before and after baking-2-2

This is a really easy recipe to make. I love recipes that don’t require a cake mixer, not that I mind my Kitchen Aid (I’ve had it almost 12 months now!) but I love the simplicity of baking where it’s all down to hand, it just seems less fussy, more honest, more homely. Talking of not needing a mixer, I think that’s why I like the mud cake recipes. The recipes only need a pot and a large bowl. Easy peasy.

The recipe also have a Honey Yoghurt Cream which I made. I tried to convince Mr Fussy that it would be fine (he doesn’t like the taste of yoghurt) but a small sample from the spatula and he turned up his nose and requested his be served sans the cream.

Bits of ginger

Double Ginger Gingerbread by Julie Le Clerc

Ingredients (for 3 small loaves)

  • ½ cup grapeseed or sunflower oil
  • ½ cup treacle
  • ½ cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  • Heat the oven to 180 deg Celsius.
  • Grease the loaf pans and line with baking paper.
  • To a large pot add the oil, treacle, sugar and water.  Bring the ingredients to a boil stirring continuously. You need the sugar to dissolve. Once the sugar has dissolved remove the pan from the heat.
  • Add to the pan the baking soda and spices and grated ginger.
  • Leave the mix until it has cooled slightly.
  • Use a whisk to gradually incorporate the flour to the slightly cooled mixture. Once the flour is fully incorporated add the lightly beaten egg. Mix only until the egg is incorporated.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pans.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Leave the loaves in the pan until cool then store them in an airtight container.
  • The loaves will last up to a week and will freeze well.

Honey Yoghurt Cream


  • 1/3 cup cream, lightly whipped
  • ½ cup thick Greek-style yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp honey


  • Whisk the cream then add the yoghurt and honey and lightly whisk to combine.
  • Chill the cream mixture until ready to serve.

Mr Fussy and I shared the one in the photos. He had the half not spoiled by the yoghurt.

Ready to eat

Despite the colour of the loaves making it seem like they’re chocolate (as Mum first thought), it’s just the treacle that gives it that intense colour. These loaves have a very definite ginger flavour. And the little chunks of uncrystallised ginger offered a lovely hit of intensity. I’d definitely recommend adding the uncrystallised ginger. That would make it a Triple Ginger Gingerbread, assuming you added the ginger bits to the original recipe. Go one, do it, dare you .


Braided Pesto Bread

I’ve had a recipe pinned for a pesto bread for ages. You can see the original recipe here.

Basil Pesto Bread

In the end I didn’t use the recipe at all, rather just the method to achieve the braid.

Instead I used the bread dough recipe from the Craftsy class I purchased, as well as using the Pesto recipe from the Perfect Pizza at Home class. The Perfect Pizza at Home class is free! If you like pizza then I thoroughly recommend enrolling. It wont cost a cent, and you get to see some of the different techniques used to knead the dough. That’s the Stretch and Fold technique I’ve previously mentioned and shared a YouTube video of Peter Reinhart demonstrating it.

Basil Pesto Ingredients

The pesto recipe is in the class materials and it was my first time making pesto. I only made half the recipe because I didn’t have enough basil, but then the half recipe was more than ample and I ended up dividing the left over into two small freezer bags. One of which I used for the braided pesto bread.

Basil Pesto

I wasn’t 100% sure about the bread recipe I chose. It was to make baguettes not a filled bread, but I felt that most bread doughs can be adapted easily enough and when compared to the dough recipe in the original Braided Pesto Bread, I didn’t think there was a huge difference that it would matter.

I love the simplicity of the bread doughs in the Artisan Bread Craftsy class. I used the Marbled Rye bread recipe before, a type of bread I’ve never made but it tuned out great. Other than the fact I learnt I don’t like caraway seeds and it put me off eating the bread.

But this braided pesto bread? Fabulous. Loved it. Will make it again. So simple but full of great flavours, and the bread itself was lovely and soft in the centre with a crunchy outer shell.

Basil Pesto (full recipe)


  • 8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped and tossed in 2 tablespoons (30 g) of olive oil
  • 2 cups (437 g) fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed, and tightly packed into a measuring cup
  • 3⁄4 cup (177 g) grated Parmesan or other dry aged cheese
  • 1 cup (237 g) pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toast- ed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (237 g) extra virgin olive oil


  • Heat a frypan or skillet over medium heat.
  • When the frypan is hot, add the chopped garlic/olive oil mixture. Stir for 15 seconds and then remove the pan from the heat. (You only want to heat and “sweat” the garlic, not brown it.)
  • Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor and add the heated garlic/oil mixture.
  • Pulse the mixture until all the basil is broken down and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Run the food processor for an additional 5 to 10 seconds to make a bright green, pebbly-textured sauce, thin enough to spread easily but not so thin as to be runny.
  • Add more olive oil if it’s too thick, or more grated cheese if it’s too thin.
  • Transfer the pesto to a container that can be covered with a lid to minimise oxidation.
  • Keep the pesto refrigerated for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to three months.


White bread (full recipe)


  • 567gm bread flour (I used High Grade flour)
  • 11g (1.5tsp) salt
  • 3.5gm  (1tsp) instant yeast (I used the prepackaged sachets of Edmonds yeast)
  • 385gm water at room temperature


  • In mixer mix all ingredients on slow speed with the paddle for 1 minute.
  • Increase
 to medium slow (no. 2 on the KitchenAid) and mix for 1 more minute. The dough will be soft and sticky.
  • Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Mix on medium low (no. 3 on the KitchenAid) for an additional 30 seconds. The dough will form a soft, slightly sticky ball.
  • Lightly oil the surface of your bench. Use your fingers to spread the oil around the surface where you’ll tip the dough onto.
  • Tip the dough onto the oiled bench and complete the first stretch and fold.
  • Cover the dough with a large bowl and wait 20 minutes before proceeding with the 2nd (of 4) stretch and folds.
  • Re-oil the bench as needed.
  • Once 4 stretch and folds have been completed (with 20 minutes rest before the next stretch and fold) the dough is ready to rest until it doubles in size, this will take around 60-90 minutes depending on how warm or cold the room is. Remember to cover the dough with a large upturned bowl.

1309_Pesto and Parmasen

1309_Cutting and shaping

To make the braided bread

  • Re-oil the surface of the bench ready to roll the dough into a rectangle.
  • Press the dough into a rectangle and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until is roughly 9 x 13” in size.
  • Spread the pesto over the surface leaving a 1cm gap all the way around.
  • Grate some Parmesan cheese over the pesto, I’m not saying how much you need, just as much or as little as you want, but generally if you’ve covered the pesto you’re good to go.
  • Starting with the long end of the dough, roll the dough, tightly, toward you.
  • Pinch the end to seal it then roll the dough so the sealed end is underneath.
  • Get a large baking sheet around 9 x 13” in size and line it with baking paper.
  • Transfer your rolled up dough to the baking sheet and using a sharp knife cut the dough from top to bottom. Now you have two separate pieces.
  • Pinch the top two ends together and begin to braid by placing one side over the other. I started with the left side over the right meaning the right was on the left side. Keep repeating until you’ve braided the length of the bread.
  • You want to work the braid so the cut side is facing up where you can see all the bright green pesto peeking out.
  • Pinch the bottom ends together and then join the two ends (top and bottom pinched ends) together so you’ve formed a circle of dough.
  • Lightly cover the circle of dough with Gladwrap and let it rest for 30 minutes while the oven is heating.
  • Heat the oven to 240deg Celsius and if you’ve got one, place a pizza stone on the lowest shelf.
  • Remove the Gladwrap and grate a bit more Parmesan cheese over the top of the dough.
  • Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

Sometimes when I write up a baking experience several days after I’ve made the recipe (and this was made Sunday last week) it makes me really hunger for more of the same.

I enjoyed making the bread. I had plenty of time in between the stretch and folds and resting times to get stuck into other things (I was making gumpaste from the left over ombre pink fondant from Mum’s birthday cake). The bread was easy to make, I don’t know why people have a fear of baking bread. This recipe and method is so straight forward, and since you don’t have to knead for long periods in your mixer, or by hand, there’s nothing stopping a bread-baking novice giving this recipe a go. You’ll be glad you did.

1309_Baked and served


Rosemary Flatbread–dead easy, give it a go

I was talking to someone at work the other day, their wife is vegetarian and gluten intolerant and he was looking for suggestions of where to eat out. I made a comment about there being nothing to live for. I like my meat and bread, well, yes, I couldn’t live without bread, or pasta!

This flatbread is so very easy to make. I found the recipe from one blog many many months ago. They adapted the recipe from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it’s that webpage I’ve had open on my smartphone for almost the same amount of time. I almost grew tired of seeing that webpage. There had been a couple of occasions that I was going to make it, but things happened and the flatbread did not.

Preparing for baking

It was my MIL birthday on Friday and I had planned an afternoon tea for her for Saturday. I was really busy Friday night getting all the last bits done, after all there’s only 90 minutes a week that my MIL is not in the house with us. I didn’t have a lot of time to do things without her being up and about. So making this flatbread Saturday afternoon was the ticket for something quick and easy, full of flavour and served with bright colourful dips and spreads. And it’s a winner with Mr Fussy. He kept going back for more and more.

There’s only a few ingredients, just a tiny bit of mixing and then a quick roll and into the oven it goes. The bread is ready in a jiffy, and as I said, it tastes great. I used my expensive Fleur de sel. Gotta use it sometime, nothing to be gained having it taking up space in the pantry Smile

Baked flatbread

I cut the bread up into 8 wedges and then served it with some chunky dips and a capsicum, tomato and chilli dip. There was a bit of heat in that, but then I notice such things since I’m not that fond of spicy/hot food.

Rosemary Flatbread

I think I might makes more next weekend when we get together with Dad for a bit of afternoon tea for Father’s Day. I know someone in this house who will be first in line for some more.