Archive for category #TwelveLoaves

Simple White Bread

Simple White Bread

The #TwelveLoaves theme for January is all about a clean slate and keeping things simple. The perfect theme for January. I’ve tried a couple of loaves for this months challenge and had a little trouble,  the trouble was I was trying different whole grain flours. I think I was trying too hard, often something I suffer from! So out of the blue I bought some white bread flour, much to my husbands disappointment our house went wholemeal years ago!

I had much better success with this loaf! For the first time I made a soft, fluffy loaf of bread! It’s a perfectly simple loaf, and very well-behaved, rising as it should do even on a cold day. I often have raising issues when making bread, my house never seems to be warm enough. Needless to say my husband loved this simple white loaf, thus confirming his opinion that there is no bread better than white! I will be trying this recipe with wholemeal flour though, I’m determined to find a good loaf made with a whole grain flour!

Simple White Bread (inspired by Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe for basic bread dough in his book Passione)

  • 500 grams strong white flour
  • 1 tsp quick/easy bake yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 300 mls water
  • A little corn meal for spreading on the baking tray
  1. Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl. Mix until it all comes together to form a dough the knead for about  minutes. I use my stand mixer for this job.
  2. After the five minutes knead, form the dough into a ball put back into the large bowl and cover with cling film. Leave somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour.
  3. When its risen to double its original size knock the air out of the dough, form into the desired shape, (I just made a flattish ball) and place onto baking sheet that’s been lightly sprinkled with cornmeal.
  4. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for a further hour.
  5. Bake on the bottom shelf of an oven preheated to 240 C, 475 F, Gas 9 for 25- 30 minutes. Its ready when you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow.
  6. Cool on a baking rack.

To see what others have baked in the monthly #Twelveloaves challenge see Lora’s blog Cake Duchess



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Brandied Mincemeat Loaf for #TwelveLoaves

Brandied mincemeat loaf

The theme for this months #TwelveLoaves is booze! Well that had me stumped! Not only do I have a little issue using yeast but apart from the odd glass of wine or Margarita I’m not much of an alcohol user, in fact Id go so far to say that alcohol in cooking many times spoils things for me. I almost wimped out. I hate doing that though and with it been the season to be jolly I thought I should enter into the spirit of things (excuse the pun, lol!). One alcohol infused thing I do have a fondness for is mincemeat, in days gone by I used to enjoy a mince pie a day leading up to Christmas! That was of course before I realised the calories in one mince pie, gosh ignorance is bliss! I made my own mincemeat last year which was wonderful. This year I’m less organised and pushed for time so I began with a jar of ready-made mincemeat and added my own additions to liven it up a little. I had visions of using a yeast bread along with my mincemeat but that time thing cropped up again so I opted to make a loaf cake which is also known as a quick bread and suitable for the #TwelveLoaves challenge.

I added dried cranberries, dried cherries and of course brandy to my mincemeat, letting them soak overnight before making this festive loaf the next day. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of this before! It’s really easy and perfect for this time of the year. It’s a great way to use up mincemeat if you can’t be bothered to make or don’t like pastry.  I used Mary Berry’s recipe as my base.

Time is running away and its Christmas Eve as I’m posting this. Growing up Christmas eve was always so exciting for us but very busy for my Mother. It seemed to be the day for a big clean followed by preparing for the next days big meal. I know a lot of people enjoy Christmas eve even more than Christmas day, personally I always find it to be a slightly chaotic day with lots of list checking, last-minute wrapping and shopping and me alternately cleaning and cooking. I look forward to the end of the day when all is done and I can enjoy a glass of mulled wine while watching a Christmas movie. However you are spending your Christmas eve I hope its a good one.

Merry Christmas to all.

Brandied Mincemeat Loaf (adapted from Mary Berry’s recipe)

  • 1 jar of mincemeat
  • 75 grams dried cranberries
  • 75 grams dried cherries
  • 1.5 tbsp brandy
  • 75 grams light muscodavo sugar
  • 75 grams butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 115 grams self-raising flour
  1. The day before you want to make your loaf empty the mincemeat into a bowl, add the dried cranberries, dried cherries and brandy. Mix together well. Cover and leave overnight to steep.
  2. Preheat oven to 160 C, 325 F, Gas 3. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Beat in the egg.
  5. Add all the other ingredients, combine well then pour into the prepared loaf tin.
  6. Bake for 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning out onto a cake rack to completely cool.


This is my entry into this months #TwelveLoaves challenge, hosted by Barb at Creative Culinary, Jamie at Lifes a Feast or Lora at  Cake Duchess

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Apple and Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread for #TwelveLoaves

I was so looking forward to making this. The theme for this months #TwelveLoaves is apples and pears.  As I don’t really make much bread I was very tempted to make an apple loaf which of course would really be cake but I’ve done that on this blog  before and that would kind of defeat the purpose in my taking part in #twelveloaves, I’m enjoying the challenge of leaving my comfort zone and making more bread and using the dreaded yeast! What is it about yeast that can put me off making a recipe? I looked around and the recipe that most appealed was for pull apart bread, I saw it on pinterest and all over the internet. I looked at quite a few versions and it seemed the most popular recipe was from King Arthur Flour. I decided to try it out, as I’m not a very experienced bread maker I thought I would stick to the recipe as it is.

Play the cartoon wa-wa-wa music when something goes wrong, because that’s what happened. The recipe was a fail for me! Maybe I used the wrong yeast, maybe I was just unlucky. I wasn’t going to bother posting this but just because I write a food blog doesn’t mean I don’t have kitchen fails so I thought I’d share!

The apple filling was delicious and made the house smell so good. The problem was that the dough just wouldn’t rise, I left it in a warm place for the required hour, then for another hour in a different warm place. It rose a little so I thought Id give it a go. It was a fiddly mess to make, the filling was quite runny (I did leave the clear gel out as I didn’t have any/ really know what it was!) and that made the layers heavy and difficult to stack. I managed though and it all fit into the loaf tin very nicely, although the recipe says it will double in size and my tin was already full to the brim so I wondered what would happen. Well of course I needn’t have worried as predictably my loaf hardly rose at all! I put it in the oven anyway and it seemed to cook in the right amount of time. It smelled good and even looked good. But when it came to taking it out of the tin it felt quite solid and heavy. Then when I tried to pull it apart to take a picture I realised my doubts were correct, the bread needed more sinking in of the finger nails and tugging firmly to break apart the layers! No pulling apart at the “gentlest of touches” as the recipe suggests! I used the instant yeast out of a can as that’s what I had rather than using the instant yeast sachets, I think that is possibly where I went wrong. I was careful that the water and milk were neither too warm or cold but I find that the canned yeast is just too fussy and I’ve had problems with it before. The overall look of the loaf was good and I good see I wasnt far off but it was heavy, too heavy, you could have broken a window with that loaf if so inclined! I guess it wasn’t the end of the world, it did cook through and it was kind of edible it was just so disappointingly heavy that it really wasnt worth the calories.

So there you have it, I am probably #TwelveLoaves first failure! But I’m not giving up, I may well try this recipe again as it looks so good and I hate getting things wrong! If you have used this recipe or a similar recipe and have had success please let me know!

To see the more successful bakes of November’s # TwelveLoaves visit Barb’s blog Creative Culinary or Lora’s blog Cake Duchess

For the recipe for the Apple and Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread see here


Wholegrain Spelt Loaf with Pumpkin seeds and Linseeds

The theme for this months #Twelveloaves is grains and seeds. Easy (ish) I thought, the possibilities were endless but those of you who know me will know that I bake cakes and not a lot of bread! Its taken most of October for inspiration to come to me! I had a bag of wholegrain spelt flour in the cupboard, so that took care of the grain part. I’ve had success replacing wheat with spelt in quite a lot of my recipes, I’m beginning to see that wheat is overrated and also not that healthy (see this article for more information on that) so I’ve been looking for alternative grains to use. Spelt is apparently a little easier to digest and remains true to its origins, its missed out on a lot of the science that is sadly behind the wheat of today. Spelt flour easily replaces wheat flour, I just swap spelt for wheat flour and it works fine, no taste difference and things still rise if they need to. I’m not sure if you could replace the flour in a bread recipe for spelt like I have with cakes as so many bread recipes call for strong flour. So feeling a bit lost with my bag of spelt flour I turned to the Dovesfarm website for inspiration where I found this recipe. Their recipe uses half spelt and half whole wheat bread flour, I stuck with that but may try just spelt flour next time. I didn’t think my loaf tin would be large enough for their recipe so I halved it, I also swapped the vegetable oil for olive oil as that is what I had. As it is almost Halloween pumpkin seeds seemed fitting and for an added health boost I added linseeds, also called flax seeds.

Well that was the most novel way of toasting pumpkin seeds that I have tried! How do you get seeds to stay on top of a loaf? Mine looked great before it went in the oven, indeed when I took it out it looked good but the little tapping sound of the seeds hitting the floor as I carried the loaf from the oven to the counter was the first indication that the seeds had not stuck on. When it came to tipping the loaf out of the tin the rest of the seeds fell off! Despite the seeds missing from the top I was still happy with my loaf, it tasted good! It was quite a hearty loaf, perfect for this time of year! Thanks once again to #Twelveloaves I made bread!

To see the other loaves in this months #Twelveloaves or to take part yourself visit Barb at Creative Culinary, Jamie at Life’s a Feast or Lora at Cake Duchess

Wholegrain Spelt Loaf with Pumpkin Seeds and Linseeds (recipe adapted from this one)

  • 250 gram wholegrain spelt flour
  • 250 gram whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 tsp quick yeast
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200 ml hand warm tap water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 grams pumpkin seeds
  • 25 grams linseeds
  1. In a large bowl mix together the flours, yeast sugar and salt.
  2. Mix in the water when it’s just about incorporated add the olive oil.
  3. knead until the dough is smooth, around 5 minutes. I used my mixer for this.
  4. Add the seeds to the dough, I found it easiest to scrunch then in with my hands.
  5. Put the dough into the bowl, cover bowl with cling film and leave to rest until it has double in size, around 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  6. When the dough has risen tip it onto a floured work surface and knead for a few minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into a fat sausage shape and place into a lightly oiled loaf tin.
  8. Preheat oven to 220 C, 425 f, Gas 7.
  9. Leave dough to rise in the tin for 30 minutes.
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
  11. Remove from the tin to cool on a rack before serving.

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Mozzarella and Sun-dried Tomato Focaccia for #TwelveLoaves

Making bread is something I don’t do often enough. I’m not sure why, I bake often and I love bread, really love it! If there was such a thing as a bread diet I would happily try it! I guess I tend to think of making bread as time-consuming and dare I say I guess I’m a little scared of bread baking!

Well its said that one should face their fears so when I saw that my Twitter friend Barb was part of a blogging event called #TwelveLoaves, a monthly bread baking blog event I knew immediately that I wanted to take part. Now I’d make bread at least once every month. Not only does this challenge involve baking bread but different kinds of bread which will really challenge my bread making fears!  Somehow I missed the first couple of months of 12 loaves, organised by Barb, Jamie and Lora but I’ve discovered it now and I’m up for the rest of the challenge!

The #TwelveLoaves September challenge is bread with cheese. I’ve left this right to the end of the month so I needed a recipe that wouldn’t be too challenging! I thought focaccia would be a relatively easy choice so I made one with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes, scattered with tiny leaved Greek basil. It was easy, and didn’t take too long, I loved the melted mozzarella and slightly crisped sun-dried tomato topping! So there, I made bread!

I based my recipe on Gennaro Contaldo’s garlic and rosemary focaccia from his Passione book.

Mozzarella and sun-dried Tomato Focaccia for #TwelveLoaves 

(recipe adapted from Gennaro Contaldo’s Focaccia with rosemary and garlic)

  • 300 gram strong plain white flour
  • 200 gram semolina, I used fine cornmeal
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 x 7 gram sachets of fast action bread yeast
  • 350 ml lukewarm water

For the topping

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 125 gram mozzarella pearls or one mozzarella ball torn into pieces
  • 5-6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil.
  • few basil leaves torn
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 240 C, 475 F, Gas 9.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, semolina and salt.
  3. Measure the lukewarm water into a jug and add the yeast, stir to combine and pour into the bowl with the flour.
  4. Mix until ingredients are combined and knead for about 5 minutes, I use my mixer but if you don’t have one just knead the dough with your hands on a floured work surface.
  5. If using a mixer leave the dough ball in the bowl, if kneading by hand form the dough into a ball and place back into the bowl then cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes or until the dough has double in size.
  6. Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to a rectangle approximately 15 x 11 inches ( 37 x 27 cm).
  7. Put a similarly sized baking tray into the oven for about 10 seconds (I’m not sure why, this is what Genaro said!).
  8. Remove tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little semolina.
  9. Place the already rolled dough onto the tray, pour the olive oil onto the dough and with your fingers spread all over.
  10. Rest the dough for 5 minutes then using your fingers poke little indentations all over the dough.
  11. Remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the oil and snip into small pieces with scissors, place on top of the dough.
  12. Push the mozzarella pearls (or pieces depending on what you are using) into over the dough.
  13. Scatter the basil leaves and grind some fresh black pepper over the dough.
  14. Leave the focaccia to rest in a warm place for a further 30 minutes.
  15. Bake in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
  16. Once cooked remove from the oven and drizzle with a little olive oil. When slightly cooled cut and serve.

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