Monthly Archives: January 2010

Fresh from the Oven: Chocolate Buns

This my first Fresh from the oven challenge and it forms one of my new years resolutions that I posted earlier this month to bake more often and more adventurously. This month’s challenge was chosen by Chele of Chocolate Teapot and she decided that we should make Chocolate Buns from Richard Bertinet’s ‘Dough’. I have never made a sweet bread before or crème pattissiere so I was slightly nervous before I begun.  I adapted the recipe slightly as I had some dried yeast and did not want to make a special trip out, just to get some fresh yeast. This did not seem to affect them in any way and they still rose really well. I also adapted the method slightly as I do not have a plastic dough scraper so I just kneaded the dough like I would any other type of bread and it did not seem to affect the finished result. My colleagues at work loved them, however they said that they were too big and many did not eat lunch after having one. Therefore, if I was to make these again, I would cut the dough the half once it has been rolled out and make smaller one’s and I would make the crème pattissiere a bit thicker as it went everywhere except for in middle of the dough. Overall, I enjoyed the challenge and I eagerly await the next one.

Chocolate Buns


  • 250g full fat milk (250ml)
  • 15g fresh yeast
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 60g unsalted butter at room temp
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 10g salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 25g good quality coca powder
  • 200g chocolate chips, milk or plain, or a mixture
  • 2 eggs beaten with a pinch of salt for an egg wash
  • Crème Patissiere (recipe follows)
  • 15g cocoa powder


  1. Pour the milk into a pan and warm gently until it is about body temp – it should feel neither warm nor cold when you dip your finger into it.
  2. To mix by hand, rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble. Rub in the butter, then add the sugar and salt, then the eggs, milk and cocoa powder. With the help of a plastic scraper, lift the dough onto your work surface. Even though the dough will feel quite soft and moist (and look like thick, sticky porridge) do not add any flour to the work surface.
  3. Begin to work the dough, slide your fingers underneath it like a pair of forks, with your thumbs on top, swing it upwards and then slap it back down, away from you, onto your work surface (it will almost be too sticky to lift at this point). Stretch the front of the dough towards you, then lift it back over itself in an arc (to trap the air), still stretching it forwards and sideways and tucking it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence.
  4. As you work the dough it will start to come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands. Keep on working until it comes cleanly away from the work surface, begins to look silky and feels smooth, firm but wobbly and responsive.
  5. Now you can flour your work surface lightly, place the dough on top and form it into a ball by folding each edge in turn into the centre of the dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating the ball as you go. Turn the whole ball over and stretch and tuck the edges under. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 45 mins in a draught free place.
  6. Make the crème pattissiere.
  7. Once the 45 mins are up, use the rounded end of a scraper, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, with a rolling pin, gently flatten it into a rough rectangle. Spread the chocolate creme patissiere evenly over the dough and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Starting with one of the longer edges, roll the dough up until it resembles a Swiss roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 2cm slices and place them on their sides on a baking tray. Glaze with a little egg wash and leave to prove for 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 hours until the buns have roughly doubled in size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 250C.
  9. Glaze again and put into the preheated oven, turning the heat down to 180C. Bake for 10-15 mins. As the chocolate dough is quite dark it can be difficult to tell when the buns are properly baked, and you need to take care not to under bake them – the best way to tell when they are ready is to lift one gently with a spatula and check that it is firm underneath.
  10. If you don’t want to bake the buns all in one go, you can freeze some. When they are cut, just before proving, put them on a small tray in the freezer and when they are hard put them into a freezer bag. To use them, take them out, leave to prove overnight and bake in the same way

Crème Patissiere

In a bowl whisk together 6 egg yolks, 70 g caster sugar and 50g sifted flour. Put another 70g sugar into a saucepan with 500g (500ml) full fat milk, a vanilla pod split lengthwise and seeds scrapped in and the remaining cocoa powder. Place over a low heat. Leave until the first bubble appears, then remove from the heat. Whisk 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture, then add the remaining 2/3 of the milk and stir again. Pour back into the pan and put back on the heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of mins, stirring constantly to ensure that the cream does not burn on the bottom. Pour into a dish to cool. Sprinkle a little icing sugar or flakes of butter on top to prevent a skin forming.

Using A Mixer With A Dough Hook

Put the flour into your mixer bowl and rub in the yeast. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Switch the mixer onto the slowest speed, add the sugar, cocoa and salt, then the eggs and milk and mix for 2 mins, then turn up to the next slowest speed and mix for a further 6-7 mins until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured surface to mould into a ball before placing in a tea towel to prove for 45 mins. Then follow the rest of the instructions as listed above.

From ‘Dough’ Richard Bertinet

Happy Cooking!🙂

Easy Comfort Food

Good afternoon everyone. Sorry for the delay in between posts, I was away with work last week in Edinburgh and was away again this weekend in Chester with Stuart. Posts about both will follow shortly. Today, I would like to discuss a couple of my favourite comfort food dishes with you. The first is my version of Cottage Pie and the second is the Hairy Biker’s Mince Beef Stew and Dumplings.

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie should traditionally be made with leftovers, the same as Shepherd’s Pie, however, I think it is a simple easy to make Sunday lunch dish when you have time to spend in the kitchen but do not want anything to complicated to make.


  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions, chopped finely
  • 500g lean steak mince
  • 3-4 carrots, depending on size, chopped smallish
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 8 average sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 250 ml beef stock
  • Few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tomato Purée
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Big knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper (white pepper is best for the mash)
  • Olive Oil


  1. Put carrots into a saucepan with some water and salt and boil until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Put olive oil in a saucepan with the onions and some salt and allow them to soften. Once softened, add the steak mince and brown all the meat.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, stir and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes until it has thickened. Pour into an oven proof dish (a nice as you will be serving it in it) and leave in the fridge for an hour or to set slightly.
  4. Go and get a glass of wine!
  5. Put the potatoes with some water and salt in a saucepan and boil until cooked through. Drain and put back in saucepan, put back on stove for 20 seconds to get rid of any excess water from the potatoes.
  6. Put lots of butter into the potatoes, with salt and pepper and mash until smooth. Put mashed potato on top of the mince mixture in an even layer (a palette knife seems to be the best), decorate with a pattern if you like and put into the oven at 180° for 40 minutes to one hour until golden and bubbling. Take to the table, serve and enjoy!

Hairy Biker’s Mince Beef Stew and Dumplings

I have recently brought a copy of the Hairy Biker’s new book called ‘Mums Know Best’ which accompanies their current BBC TV series. I was very eager to try one of their recipes straight away and this one jumped out at me, as another easy comfort food Sunday lunch dish.

The mince beef stew part of the dish is very similar to my cottage pie mince recipe above, except their recipe has the addition of a bay leaf in it. The dumplings are simplicity in themselves too. Its only half suet to flour with some water added. Parsley is an optional extra too. I recommend that you buy their new book as it is full of traditional simple and easy to make recipes and no, I am not being paid to say that! Let me know what you think of the book if you have brought it, I would like to hear your opinions.

Rediscovering Food & Flavours – Kidney Care Cookbook

I have been asked by Jacqueline from Mccann who is working with Shire to tell you about a new cookbook that had been produced by Lawrence Keogh (from BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen and head chef at Roast restaurant in London’s Borough Market) for sufferer’s of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD sufferers have strongly regulated diets as they are restricted by the amount of salt, sugar and fat they can have. In a bid to vamp up the quite often dull and boring foods that CKD sufferers are allowed, Lawrence has taken his knowledge and passion for food and worked closely with Renal Dietician, Diane Green to develop a cookbook specifically for kidney disease patients – Rediscovering Food & Flavours.

Rediscovering Food and Flavours consists of 16 recipes that are healthy and safe for kidney disease patients. Dishes include Pea and Ham Frittata, Spice Baked Salmon with Spelt and Beef Rump Steak with Cream Onions and Tarragon Sauce. It is not only CKD sufferers that need to watch their sugar, salt and fat intake, if you are on any kind of diet or just trying to be generally healthier; these are the things you need to watch. If you would like a PDF copy of the cookbook, please email and I will email one to you.

Blog Awards

Recently, I have been awarded two blog awards from Helen of and Charlene from No Love Sincerer. I just want to say a big thank you ladies and I will pass them onto other bloggers soon.

That’s it from me today. I will be back with my first Fresh from the Oven challenge post on Thursday.

Happy Cooking!🙂

Wednesday round-up of deliciousness

Hello everyone,

Today I am doing a guest post on Nora the Kitchen ‘Splorer blog, so why don’t you pop along and say hello!


Happy Cooking🙂


Happy New Year 2010!

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you had a great time whatever you were doing- we stayed at home with a bottle of champagne and a Chinese takeaway and watched the fireworks. This is a short post to tell you about my New Year foodie resolutions and to give you a simple comfort food recipe to start the year off and give you a suggestion of something to eat in this continuing cold weather we are having.

To begin lets starts with my New Year foodie resolutions:

  1. Try and post on the blog more often (at least once a week)
  2. To get more people doing guest posts and guest post on other people’s blogs
  3. To be more adventurous in my baking and make more bread (I have joined the Fresh from the oven group to see help with this. I will be blogging my first challenge at the end of the month)
  4. To arrange meeting(s) with West Midlands based Food bloggers on UKFBA. (I will be in touch later this week with everyone in the group to arrange first meeting)
  5. Meet other foodie bloggers from the UK and hopefully, beyond
  6. Go to my first Michelin starred restaurant
  7. Make cupcakes (I have been inspired by my friends Caroline and Louise (check out Louise’s website here) to have a go at making cupcakes. I have brought ‘Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery’ book and intend to start using it as soon as possible)
  8. Make more use of the lots of cookbooks that I already own
  9. Expand my cooking repertoire
  10. Get better at food photography

These are my foodie related new year’s resolutions. What are yours? Can anyone help me with my resolutions?

Cheese and Potato Pie

Here is my simple recipe for cheese and potato pie, which is possibly some of the best comfort food you can get.


  • 3 average sized potatoes per person (or 4 if you are greedy like me!)
  • Lots of grated cheese (I prefer cheddar- a generous handful per person)
  • Big knob of butter (Hairy Biker’s sized big knob of butter)
  • Salt and white pepper


  1. Peel and chop the potatoes and put into a saucepan of water, bring it to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. (Usually 10-20mins depending on size of your chopped potatoes)
  2. Drain the potatoes and put back in the saucepan and put back on stove and apply gentle heat on your smallest ring to remove excess water from the potatoes for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Now remove from stove and add butter, salt and white pepper and mash until desired consistency. You may need to add more of butter, salt and white pepper to get it right, but do the mash until it is how you like it.
  4. Stir in some of the grated cheese and place mash into an oven proof bowl, put more grated cheese on top and then grill until the cheese on top is melted and golden. Then serve and enjoy.  You can serve it with sausages, pork chops, chicken, ham and vegetables unless you are classy like me and serve it with baked beans!

I will be back soon but until next time,

Happy Cooking!🙂