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German meat and cabbage buns

8 Oct

I have a very soft spot for German baking, growing up on it, but I had never heard of “Beirocks” until I saw them being made on TV.  They do have very typical ingredients (meat, cabbage, carbs, fennel and caraway seeds), which is right up my alley, so I decided to give them a try.

They are a little time-consuming, as they have to rise twice, but aside from that they’re very easy to make (the filling can be made the day before) and they are an absolute crowd pleaser.  I made these for a group of friends and we consumed way too many each, sitting outside in the sun (so I obviously made these the first time a few weeks ago, now that the weather has turned!) drinking beer.  They aren’t called Beirocks for nothing.

The men of the group were particularly taken by them and my fiance has requested them again, on more than one occasion.   I even overheard him telling his mates how great they were – which is a true sign of a great recipe discovery!

Makes 20

2 tablespoons oil
500 gr minced beef
2 onions, finely chopped
1 small white cabbage, shredded finely (discard the hard core)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
100 ml water
50 gr melted butter
1 tablespoon caster sugar
300 ml warm water
1 x 7 gr sachet of dried yeast
500 gr strong white flour, extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sunflower oil

I made the filling first.  This can be done the day before – which is more convenient, as the filling is then cold when you want to assemble the buns.

Heat the oil in a frying pan (that has a lid) and brown the beef and onions over a medium heat, uncovered.  Make sure that the beef doesn’t stick together in large clumps.  Add the cabbage and all the spices.  Fry for another 5 minutes.  Add the water and cover with the lid.  Simmer for 5 minutes or more – until the cabbage is cooked through and very soft.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

To make the buns, stir the sugar and warm water into a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the yeast and stir lightly with a wooden spoon (not a metal spoon).  Leave for 10 minutes – this will foam on the surface.  In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt together.  Make a well in the middle.  Pour in the oil and yeast mixture.  Mix together with a wooden spoon and then your hands.  Knead this dough for 10 minutes until smooth.  Oil the mixing bowl, add the dough, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.

Pour the dough back onto the work bench and divide it into 20 even balls.

Line 2 large baking trays with good quality non-stick baking paper, or with a lot of oil.  I found that the paper stuck to the bottom of the buns and if I greased the trays very well, I could remove the buns from the tray with an egg flip.  Turn the oven on to 180 C / 350 F.

Roll out the dough balls into large rounds – roughly the size of a saucer.  Place 2 tablespoons of the cold filling in the centre.  Brush the edges with water and then bring the edges of the dough to the centre and pinch together.  Place on the baking tray with the sealed edges at the bottom.  Leave to rise for another 20 minutes.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter and serve with German mustard, pickles and beer.  Enjoy!

served outside with beer


Sourdough and Sourdough starter

10 May

Our local supermarket has a great sourdough that I’m quite happy to continue purchasing each week, however being on a baking quest, I decided to try my own.

A nice idea, but not so simple as I first thought.  This isn’t a baking recipe whereby you buy the ingredients, prep and bake all within the same day.  We’re talking nearly two weeks!  But, each day it’s a 5 minute job and now that I’ve started, I can have fresh sourdough every day!  Bonus.

When researching on how to make sourdough, there were a variety of methods available and there were some very strict rules, but I didn’t use many of the purist methods and it still worked really well.

So first things first and that’s the sourdough starter:

All you need is a good-sized jar and the following:

1/2 cup strong white flour
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons plain natural yoghurt
more flour and warm water each day

On the first day, I mixed the flour, warm water and yoghurt in the jar and stirred with a wooden spoon.  I then sealed the lid and left it on the kitchen bench.  The next day, I stirred in another 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup of warm water.  On day 3 onwards, I poured out half of the starter and continued to add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup of warm water.

The mixture will really bubble and have a distinctive smell.  Apparently if it really stinks, you need to pour it all out and start again.

After about a week, I began to actually make the sponge and then sourdough loaf and it took 3 days, but again, each day was really simple and only took a few minutes.

100 ml starter
250 gr strong white flour
300 ml warm water
300 gr strong white flour
1 tablespoon oil
10 gr salt

First off, you need to make the sponge.  In a large bowl, mix the starter, flour and water and mix with a wooden spoon.  Cover with cling film and keep in a refrigerator for 24 hours.

Next day, mix in the loaf ingredients, flour, oil and salt to the sponge and knead for about 10 minutes on a floured surface, until nice and smooth.  This dough is really wet and sometimes sticks to your fingers but it’s quite soft.

Afterwards, add this dough to an oiled bowl, covered with oiled cling film and let it rise for quite a few hours.  Sourdough takes a long time to rise and I let it raise for about 6 hours.   It would work well, if it was left overnight and then cooked in the morning.

Next day, knead this again briefly, mould into an oval shape and place on a floured tray.  Leave this for one hour.  Preheat oven to 250 C / 480 F.

Sprinkle the dough with flour and slash the top with 3 cuts.  Spray the oven with water and bake the sourdough for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven to 220 C / 420 F, spray the insides of the oven with water again and cook for a further 25 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

Homemade Hot Cross Buns

5 Apr

Religious holidays always make me think of home (as I live 20,000 km away) and Easter is no exception.  Good Friday was always breakfast at Mum’s house and Hot Cross Buns was on the menu.  I love Hot Cross Buns and so do the rest of my family.  It’s the one time that you can add butter as thick as cheese slices and not feel guilty.  Well I do anyway.

My sister eats her Hot Cross Buns in a very amusing and time-consuming way.  She hates sultanas and so she painstakingly picks all the sultanas out.  What a mission.  That’s called dedication.

I’ll be travelling to the coast with a few friends this year and decided to bake Hot Cross Buns for the trip.  They are a little time-consuming, but I’ve already sampled one (okay, two) and I am happy to say that they are soooo much better than the bought versions.  Also, if you have a sultana-hater in the family, you can always omit these in a few buns to keep them happy!

This recipe makes 16 buns

For the Buns:
680 gr strong white flour
14 gr dried yeast (2 sachets)
10 gr salt 
100 gr light brown, very fine sugar
80 gr unsalted butter, very soft
15 gr mixed spice (spice mix including cassia, coriander seeds, caraway, nutmeg, ginger and cloves)
175 ml whole milk, warm
175 ml warm water
1 egg
125 gr sultanas (can mix with currants)
zest of 1 orange
For the Cross:
100 gr strong white flour
pinch salt
pinch sugar
25 gr melted butter
125 ml water
For the Bun Wash:
75 ml boiling water
1 tablespoon caster (very fine white) sugar
pinch of mixed spice

 In a very large mixing bowl, add all bun ingredients, except the sultanas and zest.  Mix together.  Pour the mixture onto a floured surface and start kneading.  As you do this, gradually add the sultanas and zest so that you knead these ingredients into the dough.  Take about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth.

Add this dough pack into the mixture bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 – 45 minutes until doubled in size.

Line a very large baking tin (with high sides) with greaseproof paper.

Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and cut in half and again until you have 16 even slices of dough.  Roll each of these into a ball and place in baking tray, approximately one finger spaced apart.  Cover again with the same cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 – 50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F.

In a small bowl, mix all the bun cross ingredients together.  Whisk them until you have a smooth paste.  Add this to a piping bag with a 1/2 cm nozzle and pipe a cross on each bun once they have risen.

Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.    Mix the bun wash ingredients together and lightly brush each bun with this wash.  Serve these hot with a little (or in my case a lot) of butter inside.  Enjoy!

Easy Brioche loaf recipe

22 Mar

The first time I had brioche was in a very cheap hotel in the outskirts of Paris.  It was over 10 years ago and I just thought it was “fancy” toast and I ate about 6 slices every breakfast for the 4 days I stayed there.  I didn’t realise what I was eating until a few years later when a friend of mine introduced me to their “cake bread”.  Ah, that’s what it’s called.  We were both wrong, but right at the same time.

I looked at a few recipes as I was keen for eggy bread / french toast and brioche is the best way (“healthy” way, just how I like it) to enjoy a Sunday brunch at home.  Unfortunately, quite a few of the recipes I found were quite involved, included ingredients that I didn’t have and I’m a big fan of not leaving the house on a Sunday.  Then I found the below recipe.  It took about 5 minutes to get it into the oven.  A little crumbly once cooked – however I was trying to slice it while it was still warm and burning my hands, so if I allowed it to cool, I may not have had the same problem.

175 gr plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
175 ml crème fraîche
1 egg, beaten
30 gr caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
another egg or a little milk to glaze

Turn the oven on to 180 C / 350 F.  Grease a brioche tin or I just used a bread loaf tin, with butter.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and then stir in the crème fraîche.  Add the egg, sugar and salt and mix into a soft dough (I used my hands once it was all combined).  Place the mixture into the pre-prepared tin and glaze with another beaten egg or some milk and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Simple White Loaf of bread

9 Feb

In 2012, I’ve had more sweet baked goods in my house then I have ever had in my life. I have signed up to a half marathon, which should help the waistline during training, however I feel that I may need to add in a few savoury baked goods into the mix to trim the fat, so to speak.

So, I have started with a very basic white bread recipe. It was a really simple recipe and is ideal for weekend baking, it was an absolute success and I’m really happy with it.

It is great to make when you’re at home, pottering / faffing about. With a recipe I found, you don’t actually have to give it much attention, and there is hardly any kneading involved, which I loved.

I followed a recipe that has all the usual ingredients for white bread, however instead of kneading the bread for ages, which tends to be the norm, I used this other method whereby after leaving the bread for 10 minutes, then on an oiled bench / table area you knead the dough, up to 10 times (the dough is turned a quarter, and then knead with one hand, turn a quarter and knead again, etc). Leave for 10 minutes in the bowl under the cloth and repeat twice more.  A little time-consuming, but very easy with not too much effort.  Then you let it raise like you normally would.  I might see if this method works with other recipes.

(Apologies for not being able to keep the recipe within this post – however the editor of the book I used – which I did disclose, asked me to delete it.)