One Pot Chickpea & Spinach Curry For 1

It’s been a little while since I posted a recipe post but I have a feeling this will change very soon. What with the Bake Off starting… Tomorrow! (8pm BBC One in case you’d forgotten hehe)

I had so much fun baking along with the show last year I’m tempted to do it again this year.

Anyhoo, back to todays post – this is my second attempt at this Chickpea and Spinach curry, I tested it out on Sunday and went without too many hiccups – it’s similar to something I used to have back home and it tastes just as nice!

This recipe is *ahem* based *ahem* off the BBC Good Food recipe, the original you can find here – all I’ve really amended is the quantities to make it suitable for one.

One Pot Chick Pea Curry For 1

You will need…
Vegetable oil
half a red onion, sliced
2 garlic gloves, chopped. Finely – we don’t want large garlic chunks in our curry, no siree!
1 mild red chilli, sliced as thin as you can – I left the seeds in as I like the heat but you can leave them out.
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
2-3 chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
100g chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I used half of a tin but you might want to use less)
100g baby spinach leaves (about half a bag)
naan bread or rice to serve.

Ready? Then Let’s Begin
Don’t let the long ingredient list make you think this recipe is going to take forever. There’s even no curry paste to make (or buy from the shops). It’s a true one pot curry – even more so if you opt to serve with naan bread.

First things first, let’s get those ingredients choppody chopped and heat up some vegetable oil over a low heat in a wok.


No wok? No problem – I used a frying pan, does the job as far as I’m concerned hehe! 🙂

Into the oil goes the red onion.

Sizzling red onion

Once the onion has softened it’s time to throw in the garlic, ginger and red chilli. Give it a stir and let the mixture cook for about 5 minutes. The smell at this point is divine!

Happy? Let’s add some spices – in fact lets add all three – cumin, tumeric and garam masala. *whispers* I don’t bother to measure these out but made sure to put roughly equal amounts. Obviously the more you add the spicer the end result.

After a few seconds it’s time to add the tomatoes and tomato puree and let it simmer for 5 minutes. At this point I added a bit of water as the tomatoes I used didn’t have much juice to simmer with!

We’re on the home straight – at this point add the chickpeas (which you’ve already rinsed and drained, right?) and about 300ml of water – you can use the tin the chickpeas came in and fill it about three quarters.

Chickpea Curry

Let this simmer for 10 minutes and add in the spinach – it looks like quite a lot when it goes in…

Spinach goes in

But just you wait a few moments and a bit of stirring and it becomes this…

Chickpea Curry

Season to your taste and serve with rice or naan bread.

A very simple recipe, quick enough for a midweek meal and tasty to boot!

One Pot Chick Pea Curry For 1

Orange Hot Chocolate Recipe

If by any chance you follow me on Twitter… or Instagram for that matter you’ll know that I love Hot Chocolate and you’ll know that of the Costa seasonal hot chocolates one of my favourites is the orange hot chocolate.

Chocolate Orange also seems to be associated with Christmas too 🙂

So with this in mind and that I’ve started reading Cooking for Geeks (it’s a book which demystifies cooking by explaining everything in a way a computer geek would understand it – perfect for me then hehe) here is my seasonal orange hot chocolate recipe (which just so happens to be a twisted version of the first recipe in this book!)

Orange Hot Chocolate

All You Need
About 30g chopped orange milk chocolate (I used Green & Blacks but I’m sure chocolate orange would work)
Half a cup of double cream
Half a cup of milk (doesn’t really matter which type – I used semi-skinned as it was what I had 🙂
Pinch of salt

Lets Get To It
This is ridiculously simple to make, first heat on a low heat until hot the cream and milk but whatever you do don’t let the mixture boil.

Once the cream and milk are hot take the saucepan off the heat (if on an electric hob like me you’re going to have to actually move it off the hob) and add add in your chopped orange chocolate.

Whisk this together until the chocolate has melted – it seriously won’t take very long and then add in a little bit of salt – but not too much (it’s used to enhance the flavour).

Pour into a mug, glass or some kind of container…

Orange Hot Chocolate

…and top off with cream and some scrapings of chocolate orange (you didn’t eat the chocolate already did you 😉 ).

Orange Hot Chocolate

It really is very delicious and I for one will be making it again at some point.

Laura Heath’s (SisterSpooky) Chilli Con Carnie

Exactly 1 month after the last one welcome to another episode of um, what authors and book blogger love to cook. Um, still needs work I think!

I’m still on the lookout for more book bloggers and authors to take part so if you have a signature or go to recipe I would really love to hear from you! 🙂

I’m so pleased that this time around superstar and lovely to boot blogger Laura Heath who runs the SisterSpooky blog is taking to the stage and is sharing with us her go to Chilli Con Carnie recipe. I’m particularly interested in this one as it’s slightly different from the one I use but still packs a punch!

So without further ado over to Laura.

Laura Heath’s (Sister Spooky) Chilli Con Carnie

Laura Heath's (SisterSpooky) Chilli Con Carnie

Prepare your tastebuds.

Mince (1 pack of 500g does me about three meals with the odd cheeky spoonful eaten here and there)
1 x can of chopped tomatoes
1 x cans of Kidney Beans in Chilli Sauce (every supermarket does them)
1 x onion ­ diced (I prefer red onion but either works)
2 x garlic cloves ­ chopped (more if you like it really garlic­ filled)
Cumin seeds ­ NOT powdered.
1 x green pepper ­ diced
2 x Chilli ­ the kidney beans have them in there but I love an extra kick so finely chop a couple extra bird’s eye chills)
Fresh coriander ­ chopped

Get your rice on the go.

Fry about 2tbsp of cumin seeds over a gently heat for about 2 minutes, til you can smell them. Add the onions, garlic and peppers and fry gently until the onion starts to become translucent; about 3 mins. Add the mince and brown it.

Add the tomatoes plus juice and mix everything up well. Add the kidney beans in their sauce and the extra chillies if you want them. Simmer gently for about 10-­15 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Taste it. If you want more heat, add in more chillies. Does it need season for you? Add some. Kill the heat once you’re happy with the taste and make sure it’s hot.

Drain rice. mix chopped coriander into the chilli and serve.

Top tips:
This tastes great on top of a jacket potato or even with some nice chunky­ cut bread instead of rice. If you can stand to leave it alone for a day, it tastes even better once the flavours have soaked in and mingled together.

Can be frozen for future meals! Though I’ve never done this as I’m a pig and eat it all before it’s even seen the freezer!

Jesse’s Verdict

Like I said at the top I was especially interested in this one – not only because I was interested to compare it to my own recipe but also because it uses the red kidney beans in a chilli sauce and I’ve always wondered how these could be used.

The taste whilst different to mine – there is much more of a tomatoey taste – is still very delicious and packs quite a punch. I’ve tried it twice and slightly overdid it on the extra chilli the first time so watch out for how many of the little green devils you put in! 🙂

I would also back up what Laura says about leaving some overnight or freezing – as with many recipes the longer you wait the more intense and inviting the flavours become – the question is quite simply can you stand to wait?

Laura Heath aka Sister Spooky

hank you so much to Laura for taking part and sharing this recipe – Laura can be found blogging at SisterSpooky, blogging about books and home of 20 random questions. And also on Twitter: @SisterSpooky – Go follow, I promise you won’t regret it! 🙂

Andy Robb’s Thai Green Curry

Andy Robb's Thai Green Curry

Welcome to a brand new feature here on Books 4 Teens – one that as of now, um – doesn’t have a name.

But that’s not important – the idea sprouted from a conversation on Twitter with Andy about how much fun recipe posts are (to write and then to create) – plus the excuse to try out fun new recipes is a little too irresistible 🙂

The idea – to get to know authors and bloggers a little bit better…. through food. If you’re an author or a book blogger who has a signature recipe. A go to recipe – a recipe that you love and think others will enjoy too – we want to hear from you. Send me a tweet @ThatJesseBloke or an email 🙂

With this in mind Andy has shared with us how to make this divine (even with missing ingredients!) Thai Green Curry so without further ado take the stage Andy Robb…

Andy Robb’s Thai Green Curry

Andy Robb's Thai Green Curry
While this might not be completely authentic, it’s my go-to dinner dish because you can adjust the heat to suit all tastes. If you like it punchy, then there’s chilli in droves but, if you don’t, it’s a multi-layered festival of flavours which takes away the need for any tastedbud fireworks.

Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients: the majority just have to be blitzed or crushed to make up the curry paste. After that, the rest is plain sailing.

I’m lucky enough to have a superb Thai supermarket nearby. If you don’t – don’t panic – most ingredients can be bought in a supermarket or substituted.

Here’s yer ingredients:

For the paste:

3 tbsp green bird’s-eye chillies (the long, thin swines). However, adjust to taste. 1 tbsp. still delivers a decent kick.

A pinch of salt.

1 tbsp chopped galangal. Ginger will do.

2 tbsp chopped lemongrass. Bugger to chop, but worth it.

1 tbsp kaffir lime zest – but a bog-standard lime will do.

1 tbsp chopped coriander (the fresh stuff)

1 tbsp chopped turmeric root. ½ tbsp of powdered turmeric will do you.

3 tbsp chopped red shallot or 1 chopped red onion, if you can’t find them.

1 teaspoon shrimp paste. This stuff STINKS but, weirdly, does make the difference between a good curry and a great one. Stores in a fridge for ages – and still smells rotten.

10 peppercorns or a good grinding of pepper.

½ teaspoon coriander seeds or powder.

¼ teaspoon ground cumin seeds or powder.

2 tbsp chopped garlic.

That’s the paste. It smells a bit – but that’s no indicator of the chorus-line of angels that will be high-kicking on your tongue afters.

You also need:

A 400g can of coconut milk.

150g chicken breast, sliced.

2 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla) another stinky thing that just works and will keep for a good while.

Baby corn, sliced lengthways

3 kaffir lime leaves – which you can get, dried, from most supermarkets.

A good wodge of fresh coriander.

A handful of Thai basil leaves – if you can get them. Regular basil will just about cover it.

Make the paste by sticking the paste ingredients in your blitzer and whizzing-up to a paste. If it’s too dry, add a tbsp. or so of water to slacken it. Because you’ve got woody things in there like lemongrass, it’s good – but not absolutely necessary – to get it as fine as possible.

Next up: splash some oil in a pan and get it medium-hot. Add coconut milk and then the paste and cook until it starts to kick out a nice, coriandery whiff – which will probably only take a minute or two. You might notice your eyes watering a bit as the chillies announce themselves.

Then: add the chicken and simmer until it’s cooked through. Season with a splash of Nam Pla.

Finish with: a sprinkle of fresh coriander and basil. If you’re feeling a bit hard-core, add some fresh, chopped chillies.

Serve with: rice. Steamed, boiled or fried. But I like steamed.

I know it looks a bit of a palaver, but it really is worth it. Once you’ve made the paste, it’s just a case of cooking the thing. Plus, you can freeze the paste – so if you want to halve the numbers, just blitz it up, separate what you want to use and freeze the rest for another time.

Hope you enjoy it!


Jesse’s Verdict

Andy suggested giving these recipes a rating out of 10 but I know I’d give them all 10! So instead I’m going to give a little summary 🙂

Andy is right, although the ingredient list is a little on the daunting side his Thai Green Curry is extremely easy to make and tastes divine. 3 tablespoons of the birds eye chillies provides a really nice heat level – I’ve always wondered why I can never get things very warm with these chillies despite Sainsbury’s giving them a heat level of 4 – now I know why I never used enough of them!

I had to use all the substitutes – sadly I don’t have a local thai supermarket but I’m sure there’s one more central so will investigate. They all worked and provided what is probably now my favourite curry (and yes the fish sauce really doesn’t smell very pleasant but I tasted the curry before and after – it’s like a transformation – put it in!)

Do I recommend you try this? Yes, yes, yes. You will not regret it! I promise you 😀

Andy Robb

Andy Robb
Andy Robb is an actor turned author. He is the author of the absolutely brilliant and highly recommend Geekhood books (Close Encounters of the Girl Kind and Mission Improbable). He can be found on Twitter @ThatAndyBloke (see a theme here 🙂 ) and he has his own blog too: The Andy Robb Site!

Lamb Burger With Waffle Buns

Please bare with me for this post…

This wasn’t exactly planned…

Last week I was searching for a recipe that I could use with couscous and discovered this recipe on the Sainsbury’s website for Moroccan meatballs. I tried them and they were yummy – they worked and tasted pretty amazing for a first attempt.

Then later in the week I was reminded of Sorted Food’s Burger Quest – their attempt to find the worlds best burger and in this weeks video they asked the question does a burger bun have to actually be a bun. One of the bun alternatives they looked at using was potato waffles.

And from those two ideas comes this, um, super easy but super tasty lamb burger with waffle buns 🙂

Lamb Burger With Waffle Buns

And when I say super easy I really do mean it. the waffles make this much less filling than a traditional bun and their heat helps to keep everything else warm. Win. Win 🙂

If you want to give this a go you will need for 2 burgers (I served this on it’s own):

  • Half a small pack of lamb mince (about 125g)
  • Half a small red onion (chopped or grated)
  • 1 clove of garlic (chopped or crushed)
  • A handful of coriander (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt and Pepper to season
  • Olive oil
  • Rocket lettuce
  • 1 spring onion
  • A couple of tomatoes – I used small pomodoro tomatoes
  • 4 potato waffles

Cook your patato waffles according to the packet instructions – you’ll (obviously) need two for each burger you create.

In a bowl put the mince, chopped red onion, chopped up garlic, chopped coriander, smoked parprika, ground cinnamon, salt and pepper and squash together with your hands (make sure you wash before and after handling this mixture!!!).

Mix burger ingredients

Shape these into a patty – you could either make one large one or two smaller ones with this recipe. I made two smaller ones as I wanted them to cook quickly!

Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot fry off your burger patty – mine took less than 5 minutes each side. They should be brown on both sides when their cooked but to be extra sure my way of testing them is to cut into them and make sure they’re not pink in the middle. But I tend to play it a teeny bit safe!

Frying those burgers

Once you’re sure the burgers are cooked take them off the heat and let them rest for a few minutes and then we can begin assembly…

Assembly 1

Assembly 2 - Rocket

Add the burger

Add the tomatoes

Now for the spring onions

Lamb Burger With Waffle Buns

These actually turned out rather well and I’ll definitely be making them again – one thing I can think of I would change right now is to add more saucey ingredients – the tomatoes do provide some juice and the burgers themselves do as well – but I think it could do with a little bit more.

What would you add… or take away? What would you do differently and would you ever swap the burger bun for waffles… or anything else for that matter!

Hot ‘n’ Spicy Bacon Pasta For 1

It’s been a little while since I posted a recipe post and this one is simple to prepare and packed with flavours and heat – perfect for this time of year really 🙂

Hot 'n' Spicy Bacon Pasta For 1

I have no idea where the original recipe comes from, my Mum taught her version to me and I have um, added a few more spices to it. (I absolutely love this spice combination!) If you’re not a fan of the heat you can tone down the chilli powder…

Alternatively if you want to blow your head off, have steam coming out your ears etc increase it. Another twist is to replace the bacon with gammon – this would increase the cost but. But. But – it also increases the flavour – my Mum uses the remains of gammon from a roast for this recipe.

From nothing to this you’ll need to set aside around 30 minutes – the more time left simmering at the end the more intense the flavour gets. 🙂

For one person you will need:

  • Half a small onion
  • 3 rashers of bacon
  • 200g of tinned chopped tomatoes (approximately half a standard full tin)
  • 200g tinned sweetcorn (optional) – this is very approximate
  • 1 tbsp tomatoe puree
  • 2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 113g penne pasta
  • Salt and pepper to season

Right, lets do this thing! 🙂

The first step is to dice the onion and chop the bacon into smallish pieces (tip use separate boards and if you are using the same knife make sure it’s well cleaned between!)

Diced onion

Well – that’s all the *ahem* complicated preparation out the way :p

Put some oil into a saucepan and put on a medium heat – if you use a high heat the small pieces of onion with cook rather quickly – maybe even too quickly!

Fry the onion

Once they have softened slightly, it will take the work of minutes, add in the bacon – I guess some recipes would say remove the onion at this point and cook the bacon separately. *Whispers* I never do – it just increases the washing up and if you’re careful you don’t really need to (unless you want crispy bacon without the onions burning of course). 🙂

Add in the bacon

After a few more minutes the bacon should be cooked (it’s no longer carrying off that pink-ey see through appearance demonstrated in the above photo). At this stage add in the chopped tomatoes and about half a tin of water, sweetcorn (optional) tomatoe puree and the magic spice mix – hot chilli powder, smoked paprika and ground cumin. If you only have chilli powder this is fine, but these two extra spices take it to a whole other level!

The magic spices

A note on the chilli powder – 2 tsp makes it a little on the hot side, if you like things a little cooler only use 1 or half a teaspoon and downgrade to either the medium or mild chilli powder. I’ve also tried using fresh chilies with this but the results were shall we say a little unpredictable…

Then add in salt and pepper to taste.

Everything else in the pot

Allow this to simmer on a medium to low heat but watch it closely as the liquid will evaporate – keep topping this up with small amounts of water from time to time as required to stop it sticking and burning – while we wait for the next step to complete.

Cook the penne pasta according to the packet instructions. You’ll need about 113g per person but if you don’t have scales you can guestimate depending on how hungry you are or you can use a cup! For 113g it’s about 3/4 full…

A cup of pasta

I strongly advise not starting this step – including putting the water on to boil – until after you’ve got the sauce simmering. It may sound a little strange but it’s a great way of ensuring that the sauce has simmered for long enough.

If the sauce hasn’t simmered for long enough the final meal will be like eating a bowl of flavourless pasta. All the flavour from the bacon, tomatoes and the heat from the chilli powder will be washed away. Bad times 🙁

So the pasta is now cooked and the sauce is thick and should be clinging to the spoon, it’s time to let the two meet. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Mix the two together and you’re done.

Spicy bacon in a saucepan

Hot 'n' Spicy Bacon Pasta For 1

Hot 'n' Spicy Bacon Pasta

GBBO Week 5: Mini Lemon Tarts

Another week has passed us by and this can only mean it’s time for another bake attempt 🙂

The theme this week was pastry. At this point I let out a groan. Of all my kitchen disasters pastry has been the cause of most of them. But determined to keep to my challenge I had a go anyway… I attempted to make mini lemon tarts.

This time I followed a recipe and it came courtesy of Butter Baking – if you’d like to give these a try and show us how it’s supposed to come out here’s the recipe you need!

And here is how they came out…

GBBO Week 5: Mini Lemon Tarts

The first step is to create the pastry and this I have to say is slightly unusual – you put all the pastry ingredients except the flour (the sugar you need is icing sugar) into an ovenproof bowl and then bung it into an oven for about 15 minutes (Oven temp is 200C (400F)). It should come out with the butter all melted and starting to go slightly brown at the edges…

Melted Butter

As soon as it comes in we throw in the flour – um, I may have taken this a little too literally and some managed to miss the bowl! Mix it all together and wallah – pastry dough. Done! Ok if you really want to know it’s ready as soon as the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Pastry Dough

Spoon the mixture a tea spoon at a time into mini muffin tins (not sure what we actually call these – you can get 12 per tin anyway!). Then use your fingers to push them down and push them up the sides. In other words make them look like mini tart cases 🙂

Use a fork to poke a couple of holes into the bottom of each case (don’t go all the way through though!) And be a little careful the mixture is still hot at this point.

Pastry Cases

And then stick em in the oven (no need to turn the oven off after the first step!) The recipe says to leave them in for between 8 and 12 minutes but mine needed around 15. You then need to leave them to cool for a few moments.

Pastry Cases Done

They should be golden all over when done but they will come out a little soft. Don’t worry though they become harder as they cool.

Meanwhile I had to make the filling – the first step is to mix the flour and sugar (caster sugar this time) together. Then we add the lemon juice…

From a bottle 🙂

Lemon Juice

Feel free to squeeze 3 lemons to get the juice you need but this way it’s cheaper and you’re more likely to actually get all the juice you need!

Throw in the zest of one lemon and mix it all together…

Lemon Curd

In a separate bowl (yes, another one!) I whisked the eggs and extra egg yolk along with a pinch of salt and then combined the two mixes together. Lemon curd(ish). Done!

Lemon Curd

The recipe says to pour the mixture into the cases but I think these were a little too thin so I ended up spooning the mixture in instead. It probably won’t surprise you to learn I had quite a bit left after. Oops!

Lemon Tarts

We stick them back into the oven at the reduced temperature of 150C (300F) and leave them there for just over 5 minutes to allow the filling to set.

GBBO Week 5: Mini Lemon Tarts

The Verdict

These are probably my best attempt at pastry – OK, they were by no means perfect – slightly over baked on top and probably slightly under-baked underneath. The pastry was definitely too thick on some of them – only allowing for a small amount of the filling to be added into the case.

However the filling did taste nice – if not quite enough in each one.

What bake would you choose if you were taking part in this weeks bake off challenge?

GBBO Week 4: Chocolate Orange Fondant For 1

This week the Great British Bake Off turned its attention to puddings…

Aside from Baked Alaskas – oh what a pavalova (hehe, I’ll stop now) the bakers attempted a self saucing pudding and that is the challenge I’m taking on this week.

Now, I live on my own so making 6 self saucing puddings seems a little greedy (even I couldn’t eat them all) so I went in search of a recipe of a chocolate fondant for one and to my surprise and pleasure I found one.

I’ve seen so many attempts at making these puddings which are sometimes known as lava cakes owing to the sauce that is supposed to be left in the centre. They tend to go wrong fairly frequently in Masterchef but I’m putting that down to the pressure – how hard can it be? Lets find out! 🙂

This recipe is based on this Chocolate Fondant for 1 recipe on the Kiwi Cook blog.

Fondant Finished

If you want to give this a go for yourself – here’s what you need:

  • 30g butter (unsalted)
  • 30g of Cadburys Dairy Milk – don’t judge (you can of course use dark chocolate)
  • 30g icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of plain flower (I slightly misread the recipe here)
  • Clotted cream to serve

As all recipes start by saying pre-heat the oven to 200C (400F) – I say this, but like we know by now I’m quite slow when it comes to baking and I don’t like to waste electricity so I move this step to later in the process. 🙂 Put a baking tray into the oven at this stage.

Then we grease a ramekin with butter to help the pudding out at the end. Don’t want it getting stuck!

Into a bowl place the butter and chocolate and melt over some simmering water (or use a microwave). Once the butter and chocolate have melted give them a stir until the mixture is smooth.


In a separate bowl whisk the egg (yep – whites and yolk) with the icing sugar and a pinch of salt. I might have gone overboard here and used a hand mixer. I’m a weakling and wanted to make sure it was all mixed in :p



Add the melted chocolate mixture to the eggs a bit at a time stirring as you go and once they’re nicely combined throw in the flour. Here is a step where I went majorly wrong and didn’t read the recipe! Oooops! I measured out 30g of flour – it’s supposed to be a tablespoon! Only 3 times too much flour then!


Mix this in and add the grated zest of one Orange (mix this in too) and we’re basically done – pour the mixture into the ramekin and we’re ready to turn the oven on. Put a baking tray into the oven so that it heats up. Ok – just me then. *Waits for oven to heat up whilst everyone rushes ahead*


Tip: Keep For Later

At this point you can put the fondant into the fridge and use it later.

When you come to use it make sure you leave it out for at least 15-20 minutes to bring it back up to room temperature before moving on.

On To The Oven

Onto the now hot baking tray place your fondant and bake for about 12-13 minutes. This is critical – too long and the whole pudding will bake, too short and the fondant will simply collapse into a puddle.


Once you’ve taken your pudding out of the oven let it stand for 1 minute and then turn out onto a plate and serve with clotted cream – or some other cream or ice cream of your choosing.

Fondant Finished

I was so shocked when I turned it out on the plate, cut into it and the river of the chocolate orange sauce flowed out – I think it would have been a lot thinner if I’d used less flour but it was still pretty darn tasty. I kind of think a tablespoon of flour might not have been enough to hold the structure – maybe 20g would be the perfect amount?

I can finish this post with only one saying – it’s not Terry’s, it’s mine! 🙂

GBBO 2014 Week 3: Ciabatta

Another week has past and it was time for another Bake Off challenge. This week the theme was bread and I have to say that the choice of which to go for was relatively simple – I’ve wanted to make ciabtta for some time and so despite it being another recipe in the technical challenge section I decided to give it a go. 🙂


Like the last time I’m directly following a recipe again – so if you want to give this one a go here is the recipe you need.

This post is almost a diary of my efforts – what went wrong and what went (kind of) right, ready?


The first thing we do is to combine flour, yeast and water in a bowl. Now this step is quite easy until you discover that you need 4g of yeast. Yes 4g. Not a problem if you have fancy digital scales…

I have these…


I bought them originally as they looked cool – I didn’t exactly expect measurements to be this small. So I talked to Google and discovered 4g is roughly equivalent to 1 tsp of yeast so went for that instead.


A bit later on the recipe calls for 30 ml of olive oil – Google told me this was approximately two tablespoons if you’re wondering 😉

Once it’s all beaten mine looked like this…


Next we have to knead the batter for around 5 minutes. Now I’m not new to making bread and I have to say this is the stage I enjoy the most. Feeling the mixture change as you stretch, push and pull it is fab. Aside from helping you de-stress this step ensures that the gluten in the bread flour is properly built up.

Um, no photo of this step – this would have proved a little tricky!

This next point is where the recipes I’ve seen for ciabatta differ. Paul’s recipe requires you to place the mixture under a damp tea towel for at least 6 hours. Others say 2 hours in a bowl sealed with cling film. And another said overnight. I went for a happy medium as a) I didn’t have 6 hours to wait around and b) I was going out for the evening.

I left it in a bowl with a damp tea towel on top…


Tea Towel

When I’d got back it had risen by quite a bit (you could see the lump through the tea towel) but it was cold overnight so shrank back to this by morning…

After Prove

I added this mixture to a clean bowl with the other ingredients (notice the recipe says half the remaining water not all the remaining water – I might have misread this step slightly!) So ended up adding a little more water for the next step.

A Note On A Stand Mixer

I don’t have one. And had I known there were no knead versions of ciabatta I would probably have made these versions instead. I thought my hand mixer with a dough hook would be OK. It wasn’t.

The mixture got caught up in the hook and did on several occasions try and throw the bowl on the floor! It didn’t succeed but came pretty close. So I resorted to mixing with a wooden spoon and using the hand mixer every now again. With great caution.

Once all the ingredients are mixed we have to pour it into a litre container otherwise known in my flat as a big bowl covered in cling film. And we left it to prove again until the mixture has risen about 3/4 the way up the bowl.

Before 2nd Prove

I have to say that despite not looking quite right it did still manage to climb the bowl 🙂

After 2nd Prove

After flowering the work surface (no semolina here) I split the mixture up roughly into 6 mini ciabattas (they are about as uneven as you can get), put them on baking trays and left to prove for another 30 minutes.

On Baking Tray

After which they end up in the oven at 220C (425F / Gas 7) for 30 minutes and they come out looking like this.



They look nice even if some of them look a little misshaped. Smell nice and taste like they should. They are a little too dense though – with not enough air holes randomly scattered throughout. And I don’t think they’ve risen as much as they should have. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is partly down to not having a stand mixer.

That being said some of them do look like slippers and part of the translation of ciabatta is slipper so it’s not a complete disaster!

GBBO 2014 Week 2: My Attempt At Florentines

This week the Great British Bake Off bakers were looking at biscuits and I fancied I go at making Mary Berry’s Florentines.


As this is essentially just following a recipe (although admittedly I had to make some minor alterations which I’ll note along the way) I’m mainly going to share a couple of tips and show you the pictures that led to this *ahem* creation 🙂

For the full recipe for this weeks Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge please see the BBC website.

One other final note before we begin – I’m not playing this as a technical challenge, I’m not giving myself a skeleton recipe – I’m using the actual recipe! 🙂

Tip: Read the recipe all the way through before you start

You hear this advice so often about exams – but it applies to recipes too. If you’ve read it through at least once before hand you’ll know roughly where you’re going and at least a rough idea of what the next step will be and prepare for it.

With this in mind the first thing I did was to chop everything up – and there’s a lot to chop up (erm, finely), the almonds, the walnuts (my favourite) and the glace cherries. The recipe also calls for finely chopped candied peel – I couldn’t get it so watch out for the substitute later on!


After the chopping comes flinging ingredients (butter, sugar and golden syrup) into a saucepan and heating till it’s melted, ta dah!

Note here an ingredient substitution – I managed to miss demerara sugar off my shopping list so had to use light muscovado instead.

Into this pot we then add the flour and the ingredients we finely chopped earlier (note earlier – trying to do this whilst the butter is rapidly cooling down is probably not a good idea!).

At this stage I also added in my next substitution – mixed peel. My local Sainsbury’s doesn’t sell candied peel so had to use this instead to try and get at least some of the flavour. I have to admit though I gestimated at how much to put in.


This all gets mixed together and put a tea spoon at a time onto 3 baking trays…

This would have happened if a) I had 3 baking trays and b) I had an oven big enough to hold 3 baking trays.

I don’t.

So I did it in 3 batches.


The recipe says you should be able to get 18 Florentines – I managed to squeeze out 14. Not an important point but in the interests of showing how this recipe went – full disclosure is my policy 🙂

These then go into an oven for between 8 and 10 minutes, they should come out golden brown (mine came out a little singed around the outside).


What the recipe doesn’t tell you!

Florentines don’t exactly come out of the oven looking solid – they are, but they just don’t look it. They will have spread out and to be honest look a little like brown puddles on the baking tray. They look like they might need just a tad longer, you’ll be able to see bubbles rising to the surface of each one that gives them a watery look to them.

But don’t put them back in the oven – pop them on the side and let them cool down for a few moments – they will very quickly become more solid looking. After a few moments we transfer them to a cooling rack – you might need to gently pull them apart. But be careful they will still be hot!


Then we leave them to cool. But we’re not quite finished with them yet – next comes the chocolate.

Tempering Chocolate & The Sugar Thermometer

Tempering chocolate is what gives chocolate that gloss look and also what enables it to audibly ‘snap.’ I’ve never done it before so had to buy a food thermometer. The recipe states you need a sugar thermometer – what it doesn’t tell you is that supermarkets don’t call it this!

We break half the chocolate into a bowl over some hot water and stir until the chocolate reaches a temperature of 53C. Then we remove the chocolate from the heat and add the remaining chocolate and stir until the chocolate has cooled down to 26C.


We then spread a little of the chocolate onto the bottom of each Florentine and then after they have cooled slightly add a zigzag patten to them using a fork.


So, how did they turn out – well, the pattern on the bottom didn’t really come through and they turned out a little singed and browner than they should have been. But I think that was more down to a different sugar rather than being over baked.

But how do they taste? Well considering the substitutions they actually don’t taste too bad, they’re chewy, a bit crunchy and a nice mixture of flavours.

They wouldn’t have ranked very well on the bake off though, being only 14 (rather than 18) and all different sizes, a little bit individual and by the looks of it over baked and using the wrong ingredients!

Not my best baking attempt – but also not my worst!