Friday, 22 August 2014

Nevs amazeballs

Our world is now one where it’s normal to have seen your friends and families holiday snaps before they even fly home. You will know what your cousin Alice got for her birthday before she has even had time to tell you herself and hell you probably even saw what I had for dinner last night before I even tasted it. Yep social media means that we are now more connected than ever and while it can be a pain in the ass at times (‘the oh so inspirational’ quotes or subtle digs that you don’t have to be a genius to figure out have a hidden meaning) it’s pretty amazing too as well. I love that I can keep in touch with friends all over the globe and see their wonderful pictures and posts. My nieces and nephews grow so quickly and with the help of social media I feel that little bit more connected. I feel lucky I can share those precious moments with them, that wouldn’t have always been possible. Plus, lets face it…I do actually really want to know what you had for dinner last night too.

The wealth of information can seem a little overwhelming and there are times when you feel like you’ve definitely seen more than you would have chosen to. The trick is to try not to let it influence you too much, although this is sometimes easier said than done. When life does occasionally get me down though or I have something troubling on my mind and I just want to switch of for a few hours and get away from the world I find the best thing to do is put down the technology and get into the kitchen and cook. Quite handy really considering my job! Naturally I’ll post a picture afterwards too, of course. Recently I had a go at making some iced doughnuts, kind of a traditional jam filled doughnut meets an iced bun in an attempt to cheer myself up one day.

Iced buns have always been my favourite. I don’t really have a sweet tooth so could go a whole year without eating a slice of cake or a chocolate bar but I’ve got a lot of time for the iced bun. Definitely not the most refined or interesting of baked goods I’ll agree but there’s something so charming and reassuring about their simple deliciousness that I just can’t resist. I’m guessing it must stem from my love of bread. It’s basically a wonderful combination of bread, jam and icing. These will never disappoint. I had a lot of different sprinkles in my baking cupboard (left over from other projects) and so I spent the afternoon covering balls of dough, piped full of Nutella or jam with a multitude of colourful sugary treats. My kitchen was covered. I was covered. The doughnuts were covered. Even the dog was covered in a film of sugar but by the time I’d finished my mood had been lifted to something way past happiness.

This doughnut recipe might not be the most technical, impressive or refined but I guarantee you once you finish you’ll be happy, even if they look a bit rustic. I have come to the conclusion it’s impossible to be unhappy when the kitchen floor crunches with hundred and thousands under foot and you have a still warm, icing dripping, jam drizzling doughnut in your hand.

So basically what I am saying is this. Instead of brooding and filling my day with unhappiness, worry and stress I choose to make doughnuts. It took my mind of things, cheered me up but not only that it stopped me ruining any more moments by being in a bad mood. The trouble with being pissed off is this; it’s not just the moment you spend being unhappy, it’s all the happy moments you miss out on, that’s the real loss. It may sounds stupid and oversimplified but it works, make these doughnuts and you’ll find out. Hope you have all a happy bank holiday.

Mini iced doughnuts (Nevs amazeballs)
Makes about 20

300g strong white bread flour
10g fast action yeast (1.5 sachets)
2 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 large egg (must be large)
110ml semi-skimmed milk
About ½ jar of jam or nutella, use smooth jam or the fruit will clog up the piping bag
250g icing sugar
Sprinkles, loads, whatever you have lying around, or nuts, anything really that will stick

1 Heat the milk, butter, vanilla until melted. Allow to cool a little (about 5 mins) and stir in the egg and the yeast, leave for about 5 mins or until it looks frothy. In a machine with a dough hook fitted mix the flour and yeasty mixture until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes, or by hand mix then knead for about 10 minutes. Leave in an oiled bowl covered with oiled Clingfilm until doubled in size. You can pop it in the fridge overnight or leave at room temperature for about 1 hour 30 minutes.

2 Once risen lightly punch back the dough and divide into about 18-20 balls. Weigh them. I know you think this is boring and a waste of time but they will look so much better. You want them between 26-30g each, it’s not that tough, just divide into 18 ish rough balls, weigh one by one adding or taking away a little until you have the correct weigh. Simples. Shape. Basically take each piece and you want to pull the sides into the middle so the surface is smooth and rounded. Once you have that use your hands as a cone to complete the ball shape.

3 Place on a parchment lined tray, with a little space to grow, cover with oiled cling film and leave for about 45 mins, or doubled in size. Meanwhile heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Bake for about (my oven is hot so keep an eye on them) 12 mins, check after 8. Until golden and risen.

3 Allow to cool for about 10 mins under a tea towel to keep the crusts soft. Use a skewer to poke a hole in each and wiggle a little to make room for the filling. Mix the icing sugar with enough water to form a stiff but slowly pourable consistency. Fill a piping bag with a small nossel with jam, or warmed nutella (this makes it more pliable) and pipe into each bun. Place on a wire rack or tray lined with parchment (it gets messy, the parchment helps operation clean up!). Spoon the icing onto the middle of each ball, enough so it runs down the side and coats them. Sprinkle!!!!!! Smile. Breath. Feel happy. Eat!

Best eaten the day you make them. They wont be around for more than a few hours anyway.