Sunday, 28 April 2013

I don't go baking

After chatting with a friend this week I became aware that although the name of my blog suggests I will regale you with tales of my baking, thus far, I have not delivered. So the theme this week was an obvious one- I’d better bake something. While I love cooking, and am well aware of the current trend for baking, I wont lie, cakes aren’t exactly top of my to do list. I think it’s mainly because I don’t really like eating them. I’m selfish like that. I will always choose a starter over a pudding and reach for crisps, not chocolate, in a moment of hunger. Salt wins over sugar every time in my opinion. Good news for anyone sharing a dessert with me, it’s pretty likely you’ll get the lions share. I do however, always make a cake for Birthdays, If you know me, and it’s that time of year, then you’re probably getting a cake.

Secondly, I hate the mess. Now, anyone who knows me or indeed has seen me in the kitchen will tell you I’m not the tidiest of cooks. I feel it’s largely due to my clumsy nature. Being clumsy with a bag of onions, not such a problem, but when you chuck flour, eggs and soft butter into the mix….then, we have a problem. I not only cover myself in cake mixture, but everything I touch. I’m like the opposite of King Midas. There are always so many bowls to wash up after too, it’s quite a commitment…and a massive turn off.

So what to bake? - I suddenly had writers, and bakers block. Maybe I could just change the name of the blog? I don’t go baking…but I wasn’t sure it had quite the same ring to it…

Then it hit me, BREAD, that was baking! I not only love eating bread, but love making it too. I think the thrill of seeing something come from relatively nothing coupled with the smell of freshly baked bread should be enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. There would still be the mess, I had to accept this, but at least I could enjoy the fruits of my labor post clean up. Having said that, I still felt like I was copping out a bit, so I decided on a sweet creation, maple pecan and cinnamon swirls. These are what the love child, from an illicit affair between a Chelsea bun and a pecan Danish, would look like. I may not like cakes, but I could happily eat these all day long.

If you’ve annoyed anyone this week I really would urge you to knock up a batch of these this weekend, instant forgiveness - I promise you.

Maple pecan and cinnamon swirls
Makes about 14 small buns

For the dough:
450g strong white flour
50g soft brown sugar
14g fast action yeast
150ml warm milk
50ml warm water
50g melted butter
1 tsp almond essence
1 egg
For the filling
50g soft butter
50g soft brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla paste (with seeds)
50g pecans, roughly chopped
For the topping
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp almond extract
a few pecans, roughly chopped
100g icing sugar mixed with a splash of water to form a runny icing

1 Mix tall the dough ingredients in a large bowl or food processor fitted with a dough hook, knead for 10 minutes by hand or about 6 in a machine, until the dough is smooth. Shape into a ball and leave to rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

2 Push back into the bowl with your fist then on a lighly floured sheet of baking parchment roll out to a long thin rectangle, about 50cm long. Mix all the filling ingredients, apart from the pecans, together, spread this onto the dough. Scatter with the pecans. Roll up from the widest end, so you have a really long swiss roll type creation. Use a little water to help it stick the dough together if you need to. Cut into about 14 slices. Arrange cut side up in two well oiled round cake tins.

3 Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour. Cook at 200C for about 16 mins, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

4 Gentle warm the syrup and almond extract then brush onto the buns. Scatter with pecans and drizzle with the icing. Eat.

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