So, that’s 2014 done and dusted. Haven’t come up for breath yet! If it’s not already, why not make your New Year’s Resolution to apply for the Bake Off?
Happy New Year! If you were in on New Year’s Eve, you might have seen me on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. It was such a laugh and great to catch up with my fellow baker Nancy and her husband Tim there too. I also got to meet the chef Tom Kerridge, who I’m a big fan of. The live performances from all the artists were awesome and it was a great party atmosphere. We kept having to pinch ourselves we were actually there. I’m hopefully going to see Hayseed Dixie again when they play in London next month. I haven’t made any New Year’s Resolutions yet myself. I didn’t make any last year, but it still turned out ok!
On New Year’s Eve 2013, I was watching the Hootenanny at home with friends and we saw Frances Quinn, winner of the Bake Off in 2013, in the audience. My wife said “see, that might be you next year if you send off your Bake Off application!” but not for a second did we really believe that. Anyway, I woke up with a hangover on New Year’s Day and decided I had nothing to lose so submitted my application form for the Great British Bake Off. You have just one week left to hand your form in, and I reckon you need to get it in as quickly as possible – just do it.
My year snowballed from handing in the form onwards. I was called on the 6th of January for my first audition, for which I had to bake something sweet and something savoury. The first audition was the first time I met Iain. Nancy and Claire were both in my second audition. For my sweet bake, I made chocolate, praline and hazelnut petit fours. For my savoury bake, I made Chelsea buns filled with pesto, roasted vegetables, feta cheese, walnut and spinach. As it’s been a quiet week and I’ve not posted a recipe for ages, I’ll post the recipe here:
Pesto, Feta and Roasted Vegetable Chelsea Buns
Makes 15 (18 if you roll it out far enough)
- 500g strong white flour
- 300ml milk
- 50g unsalted butter
- 2tsp salt
- 1tbsp quick yeast
- 1 large egg
- 50g caster sugar
- Jar of pesto (you can make your own pesto but it’s cheaper to buy it readymade, unless you grow your own basil)
- 1 red onion, sliced into strips
- 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
- ⅓ butternut squash, cut into small cubes
- olive oil, for drizzling
- 100g feta
- 50g walnuts, chopped into small pieces
- Bag of baby spinach
- Mix 500g flour, sugar, salt and yeast up in a bowl
- Slightly warm 300ml milk, beat the egg into this
- Melt 50g butter and add this to the milk and egg then pour all the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour
- Mix well, with a wooden spoon first and then your fingers, until you have a rough dough. Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until a smooth dough is formed
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 1 to 1.5 hours until it’s at least doubled in size
- For the filling, preheat the oven to 170oC and finely chop the onion and pepper into slices and the butternut squash into cubes. Put them onto separate baking trays, drizzle with a little olive oil and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes
- Clear a big area to roll out on. You need at least 40x80cm, and flour it well!
- Tip out the dough onto the surface and begin to roll out into a rectangle at least 40x60cm. You may need to let the dough rest every now and again to allow it to stretch to the full size, but remember to keep the underside well floured, or it will stick to your surface
- Once the rectangle is made, spread the pesto over the dough and pile the roasted vegetables, feta and walnuts over the top in layers, then top with baby spinach, remembering to keep the edge closest to you clear
- Now to roll it up. This is not as hard as it first feels. Start with the edge furthest away from you, and gently roll the edge towards you. This will feel fiddly at first, but will get easier as the roll gets thicker. When the roll is almost done, brush the clean strip of dough with water, and finish the roll, so the water sticks the roll closed
- You should now have a long sausage of dough. If you want it longer, you can now gently stretch it by lifting it off the surface and pulling it out. Be gentle! You don’t want to rip it
- Get a big baking tray, preferably about 30x40cm, and grease it with a little butter. Use a sharp knife and cut the dough in segments of about 4-5cm Gently put each segment in the baking tray cut side up, with about a 1cm gap between each one to allow them to grow during the second prove
- Cover with cling film, and leave to rise somewhere warm for about an hour
- Set the oven to 180oC, take the cling film off of the baking tray and bake for 25 minutes
- When done, take out, set on a cooling rack and allow to cool down. Then eat!
See you next week!