Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Burger Birthday Cake

Obviously, this isn't a bread recipe. Which means it probably shouldn't be here. But it came about in exactly the same way as a Bread Factory invention, so I thought I'd include it.

Nothing to do with my feeling a bit pleased with myself. No, no.

It was Dan's 11th birthday party at the week-end. Two weeks ago, while making preparations, I asked him what seemed like a perfectly inocuous question:

'What sort of cake would you like for your birthday party?'

Of course I should know by now that this is the wrong sort of question to ask Dan if you want a particular type of answer. Too open-ended. Too much room for interpretation. Too much space for 'what if?' So while I was blithely anticipating a request for 'chocolate' or 'marble', what I got was...

'I think I'd like it to look like a burger.'

Now, if Dan had been unaccompanied at this moment I might have convinced him that what he really wanted was a good old chocolate sponge. But he wasn't alone, was he? He had a confederate. Seated next to him was best mate Natty who agreed that Burger Cake was a stroke of genius, Burger Cake would be just the thing - and between them they talked it into certain existence.

Not that I minded, really. I like a challenge.

And so Burger Birthday Cake was born. Not a work of art, perhaps, but not a bad approximation. And very simple in the end. Two Victoria sponges for the 'bun', one thinner chocolate Victoria sponge for the 'burger' plus a load of icing, food colouring and sugar balls. Here's the cake recipe I used along with directions for my additional twiddles.

2 classic Victoria sponges 
225g caster sugar
225g butter, softened
4 eggs
225g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
a little milk, if needed

1 chocolate Victoria sponge + a three cupcakes
115g caster sugar
115g butter, softened
2 eggs
75g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
a little milk, if needed

Butter icing 
250g butter, softened
loads of icing sugar - make sure you have a whole packet

Water icing
icing sugar + cold water (frankly, I have no idea how much I used of either, but you need about 1 tbsp of water and then add icing sugar until it is thick enough to spread without running off the cake)
gold sugar balls

First, make the Victorias.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Grease two 20cm/8in sandwich tins, and line the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Cream the sugar and butter using an electric beater until very light in colour. Beat the eggs in one at a time, adding a little flour with each if the mixture appears to curdle. Now fold in the baking powder and remaining flour. The final mixture should have a soft dropping consistency (it should fall easily off the spoon). If it is too thick, add a little milk until it is right. Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the sponges are lightly springy.

When putting the sponges out onto wire racks to cool, turn one upside-down, so the risen side will flatten (this will be the bottom 'bun') and keep the other risen side up (this will be the top 'bun').

Now make the single chocolate Victoria using exactly the same method, but folding the cocoa powder in at the same time as the flour and baking powder. Don't put all the final mixture into the prepared tin - you want the 'burger' to be thinner than the 'buns'. Instead, leave enough to make three cupcakes, which you can bake at the same time as the cake. When this sponge is ready, turn it out upside-down on the rack, so the risen side flattens.

When the cakes are completely cool, make the butter icing that will mimic lettuce and ketchup. Beat icing sugar into the butter until it has the sweetness that you like. Now split the icing into two equal portions. Add green food colouring to one and red food colouring to the other. You'll need lots to get a deep enough shade. Spread the red icing liberally onto the bottom 'bun', allowing some to splurge over the edges. Now place the chocolate sponge on top and gently squidge it down a little. Spread the green icing liberally, leaving a little of the chocolate cake exposed along one edge so that it looks like undressed burger, and again let some bits splurge over the edges. Now put the second Victoria sponge on top, but set it just a little way back from the edge at the point where you have left the exposed 'burger'.

Make the water icing and brush a very thin layer over the top of the cake. Dot it with gold sugar balls, to mimic sesame seeds on the top of a burger bun. Et voila!

Still can't quite believe it worked as I'm not usually a show cake type of gal. No thumbometer necessary on this one. I think you can see what Dan thought from the main picture. It tasted pretty good too - and interesting how the coloured icings tasted different. The red had a clear citrus flavour while the green didn't add anything to the butter and sugar.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Toast From Scratch

While buttering a piece of toast the other morning, Dan said, 'I know what should be next on our blog. Let's make Toast From Scratch!'

So here we are, with a series of instructive, if unconventional, films from Dan about how to do just that. As you'll see, there are rather a lot of these films. All very short. That's because I'm a techno-noob and can't work out how to upload anything of a proper length without it taking DAYS. Or maybe it's Blogger, not me. Of course, uploading so many films took days anyway. Ho hum. And don't tell me there's a ton of YouTube guides. Life's too short. Anyhow, done now. Please enjoy the company of the marvellous D.

1 Hello

2 Ingredients

3 Butter...

4 ...darned butter!

5 Add rest of ingredients to 500g strong white bread flour

6 Get stuck in

7 'It feels gooey'

8 Kneading styles

9 Kneading at its most restrained

10 Tamed dough goes sunbathing

11 Dough needs less air. Doof! 

12 Shape it, dump it in the tin

13 Slasher!!

14 Bake it

15 Admire your handiwork

16 Toast that baby

17 A lesson in the meaning of Marmite, almost 
(we didn't get around to saying that it's a cooking pot)

18 And, finally, eating the TFS - gets a DOUBLE YUM
(2nd part of previous video, which got waayyy too long as Dan spread more and more and more and more Marmite)

Monday, 9 June 2014

In your face! bread

Is the bread shouting? Or laughing? Either way, it's all Dan's work.

Dan made it at school last week. Just an ordinary white bread dough, which all the children in the school's cookery club made - but instead of making rolls or a loaf, Dan decided to turn it into a face. Genius. He told me that, once the dough had risen, he knocked it back then stretched it quite flat and made huge holes for the eyes and mouth because he knew they would spread together while proving. Love the added nose, too. We're going to try and make a cheesy one at home soon and see if we can get it to make an appropriate grin.
Dan's Thumbometer - Double yum

A little while later...
For Father's Day, we made this one, complete with beard and moustache - a replica of Dan's Dad.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bacon and egg breakfast rolls

Mmmmmm, oooozing
After many months with the tumbleweed blowing unhindered across the Factory's ideas room (i.e. Dan's baking brain), Dan sat up straight on the bus to school one day last week and said, 'What about bacon? We should do bacon rolls. In the Bread Factory.' I suspected The Idea was inspired by Eddie's near-daily comment at the dinner table right now, that 'everything is better with bacon', and Dan has just said that I'm right. Certainly sounded like a good idea. Then I said, 'Ooo! How about bacon and egg rolls?' Dan was up for it, and so we were off.

To begin with, we thought about including the egg as part of an enriched bread dough, but that was far too boring for an Invention. So instead we decided to make bacon rolls, following Dan's original suggestion, and then to add cooked eggs to them. Here's how we did it. A catalogue of wrong decisions, as you will see, that somehow turned out quite well.

Special ingredients
12 rashers streaky bacon (I should have used 8 to 10 rashers of back)
1 egg per roll

Roll with carved dip
We made a white bread dough using 500g of flour and left it to prove for an hour - at which point we should have prepared the bacon. But I got distracted. So, one hour later, with only a fixed window of time in which to get the rolls made (because they were our lunch and it was already well past midday), I did some helpful shrieking about how I should have cooked the bacon earlier, then Dan and I cut it up small and fried it.

It was when the meat was cooked well enough that I realised we should have used lean back bacon - because when the meat was tender, the fat was still a bit floppy which would have been soooo nasty in a cold roll. So we ended up making the bacon proper crisp. Next time, we'll use back bacon and leave it more tender.

Raw eggs in the rolls
While Dan knocked back the risen dough and kneaded it a little, I put the cooked bacon in the freezer to cool it down FAST. (This step will obviously be unnecessary when you make the rolls, as you will cook the bacon while the dough is rising rather than waiting until almost too late. Shrieking will also be unnecessary.) We then kneaded it fully into the dough, divided it into seven equal portions - we wanted the rolls to be big enough to take on an egg - rolled them into balls, laid them out on an oiled baking sheet and put the sheet into a plastic bag to rise for 30 minutes.

The rolls spread more than usual during proving (I guess due to the extra oil that was added along with the bacon), but we went ahead anyway, dusting them with a little flour before putting them in the oven and baking for 25 minutes at 200C.

When the rolls were done, I gave them a few minutes to cool off (remember, it's heading towards 2pm by this time and still nobody has eaten), then carved a dip in four of them. I cracked an egg into two of the dips and put those two rolls back in the oven to bake for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, we scrambled another two eggs (I am not providing the recipe for that) and piled them into the other two prepared rolls. Et voila. Very late lunch!
Dan's Thumbometer - double yum

Yes, I know it all sounds a bit fiddly but, to be honest, that's down to me doing things in the wrong order; it was actually pretty straightforward. And the rolls were great. Rose just fine in the oven, and had a soft, fluffy crumb. Crispy bacon was tasty. Adding the eggs made a lovely brunchy thing, and if the rolls were made the day before it'd be quick to do. We can't claim the idea for baking eggs in bread rolls - it's all over the online recipe sites. But we can claim baking eggs in bacon rolls - which were really tasty all by themselves, by the way, going some way to proving Eddie's maxim that 'everything is better with bacon'.