Easy recipes from Apple Tree

Category: Baking (Page 1 of 2)

Easy Focaccia Bread

I use a food processor to do the kneading, it’s quicker!

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 350ml hand-warm water

Tip the yeast into the water and stir to get it active. A pinch of sugar helps but isn’t essential. In a separate bowl (or the food processor) tip the salt, flour and oil. Mix. Now tip in the water. Mix 40 seconds or hand-knead for 10 minutes. You may need to add more water, you need the dough to be soft but not sticky.

Roll the dough into a ball, put in a warmed oiled bowl, cover with a cloth or cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour to rise.

When double in size, remove from the bowl, knead briefly to knock the air out of it and press into an oiled baking tray – a tray-bake tray 20cm x 30cm is ideal. Stretch and push the dough into the corners. Cover as before and put back in the warm place for another hour.

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • Sprigs/leaves of rosemary

Heat the fan oven to 200C. Push your finger into the dough at intervals to make the characteristic holes. Mix the oil, water and salt to make an emulsion, then drizzle over the dough. Put little sprigs of rosemary in the holes.

Bake for 20 minutes. It should be brown on top and fluffy inside. Remove from the pan and leave to cool. Drizzle with more oil if you like and sprinkle with more coarse salt. Serve warm or cold.

Alternatives to rosemary are thin slices of red onion, garlic, sliced olives (green or black), dried tomato, thyme or anything else that takes your fancy. It’s OK to experiment.

Lightest, fluffiest vegan naan

This is very simple and uses just seven vegan ingredients plus water. I think these naans are even better than traditional naan breads. Makes about 8 breads. And you don’t even have to knead it! First make your yeasty liquid:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp active yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar

Combine and leave for ten minutes until frothy. Meanwhile mix up:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbs vegan yoghurt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • (optional – 3 cloves garlic, minced)

Now add about three quarters of the frothy water. Mix to a sticky dough, adding more frothy water if it is too dry. Knead briefly, just to combine and make a ball. Place in a bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise 1-2 hours in a warm place. If you used fast acting yeast it may rise quicker than that.

Heat a hot plate or dry heavy based frying pan so they are sizzling hot. When the dough is ready, knock it back and break it up into 8 balls. Leave to rest for another ten minutes. Roll out on a floured surface to make naan shaped ovals about half a centimetre thick. Put on the hot plate. When bubbles appear on the ncooked surface after a minute or two, flip over and cook a similar time on the other side. Remove and keep warm while you make the remainder.

To serve you can brush with melted vegan spread and sprinkle with salt, more minced garlic, chopped coriander or just serve plain. Eat fresh with your Indian meal, they are amazing.

Sourdough Starter

Before you make sourdough bread, you need a sourdough starter. This is easy as pie, except it takes five days! Firstly on Day 1:

  • 50g strong white bread flour
  • 50ml water

Mix, put in a covered bowl and leave in the fridge. On Day 2, add:

  • 50g strong white bread flour
  • 50ml water

Mix, put in a covered bowl and leave in the fridge. On Day 3, add:

  • 50g strong white bread flour
  • 50ml water

Mix, put in a covered bowl and leave in the fridge. On Day 4, add:

  • 50g strong white bread flour
  • 50ml water

Mix, put in a covered bowl and leave in the fridge. On Day 5. add:

  • 50g strong white bread flour
  • 50ml water

Now your starter is ready to be used in a levain, the first part of making the sourdough bread.

Aedy’s Sourdough

Here’s a record of Aedy’s first and highly successful attempt at making a sourdough loaf. A lot of work, but it does make a unique loaf. You need to make a starter first.

The night before you want to make the loaf, take

  • 1 tbs starter
  • 50g strong white flour
  • 50g tepid water

Mix in a bowl and leave overnight. Then add

  • 300g water

Stir to mix. Add

  • 500g strong white flour

Mix until you can’t see any more flour. Cover and prove in a warm place for two or three hours. Then remove, sprinkle over

  • 10g salt
  • 25g water

Mix until combined. It will now look and feel like soft chewing gum. Pour onto a flat surface and get kneading. Strench, pull fold, flip over, scrape, repeat. It will be wet, gooey and messy. Keep going. Eventually it will sort of ball up and won’t stick to your hands so much. Don’t be tempted to add flour, this is sourdough not normal bread. (Angela says scoop from the middle, stretch up and flop it forward). This can take 10-15 minutes.

Now put it into a bowl. With wet hands, stretch and fold dough, grab one side and stretch over the other side. Do this on both sides. Flip it over and tuck the sides in. Cover and prove for 20 minutes in a warm place. Do this three times!

Then scrape out onto a well-floured surface and gently form into a ball. Dust a lined proofing basket with flour and pop the ball gently into it. Prove in a warm place for one hour.

Heat the over to the max setting or 250C and put in a lidded casserole dish to heat up. Cut a sling from baking paper to hold the base of the loaf and have two “handles” so you can lift the bread into the casserole. Invert the dough onto the parchment. Slash the top with a sharp knife, remember to cut parallel to make “shelves” as it rises. Take the very hot casserole out of the oven, gently lift the dough into it, put the lid on then bake for 20 minutes.

Turn the temperature down to 230C and bake for another 15 minutes.

Take the lid off and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes until very golden and crusty.

Remove and cool on a wire rack.


Told you it was a lot of work.

French-style crusty loaf

French bread is often very crusty with a soft fluffy inside. I have always assumed that this type of bread needs special flour and expertise, but not so. A chance find on the internet showed up this recipe. This is a bit weird – you will need a cast iron casserole, but trust me. Have a go!

  • 360g plain flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5tsp instant yeast
  • 300ml warm water

Throw all of this in a food processor and process for 45 seconds. Alternatively do it the hard way and knead by hand for 10 minutes! This will produce a very sticky dough so good luck with the hand method.

Let your dough rise for an hour in a covered bowl left in a warm place. Use flour on your hands and in the bowl to try and keep it from sticking, but you probably won’t. No matter, at this stage anyway.

Do you have a proving basket? Thought not, neither did I. After the hour is up the dough will have doubled in size, the yeast inside is going crazy. Try and get it out of the bowl, then gently knock it back by taking the floppy sides and folding them over into the middle to make a sort of cushion. Lots of flour will be needed to keep it from sticking. This is OK.

Now flour your proving basket/bowl. Carefully place your dough into the bowl, with the folded sides down. Allow to rise again for half an hour.

Meanwhile heat your oven to 230C with is very hot. Put your cast iron casserole dish into the oven to heat up. If you keep the lid out, you can use it as a cutting guide to make a baking parchment sling for your dough. The sling is simply a piece of paper the size of the base of the casserole, with two strips extending from opposite sides to make the handles.

When all is ready, upturn your proving basket/bowl onto the paper and if you floured it enough it will flop out. If not you may have to do running repairs (as I did). The only difference is that the top won’t look as pro, but you will be forgiven when they eat it.

Take your casserole dish out of the oven, use the paper sling to put the delicate dough into the casserole, put the lid on and put it back into the oven for 30 minutes. The casserole will get all steamy inside which is what makes the crusty surface of the loaf.

After 30 minutes, take the lid off. The bread will have risen but it won’t look too brown. Put it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Now you can take it out and impress your family and friends with an amazing crusty artisan loaf!

If all that makes no sense at all, watch the videos on the original recipe site

Thyme Crackers

These are delicate crackers that are great with cheese or salmon pate.  They are a bit fiddly to make but very easy if you follow these instructions exactly! This makes about 50.

  • 350g plain flour
  • 90g unsalted butter, cold
  • 1tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 140ml cold water

Bang the lot in a food processor and whizz until it forms a dough. Divide into six balls, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Put the oven on at 180C (160C fan). Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Roll out the dough a ball at a time to a thickness of about 2mm. That’s thin! Cut into long triangles like in the phot above and transfer to your baking tray. You do need it this thin, trust me. And it is possible to transfer the cut dough balanced on a thin knife to the tray – trust me on that too! Bake for 12 minutes. Have a peek after 10, you want the crackers to look pale but the corners just tinging golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. It is best to do this in batches otherwise the dough will dry out, and you probably haven’t enough trays anyway. The original recipe used a pasta machine to roll the dough but I found I had made the dough too sticky for that. Whatever works for you – if you use the machine roll out to setting No. 2.

Easy Banana Loaf Cake

First line a greased 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar

Beat in a bowl until white and fluffy

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Stir in until well mixed

  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed

Fold in to make a runny mix. Fill the tin and cook at 180C/160C fan for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (it might still be gooey from the banana but you want the cake mix cooked. Cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes then take out.

Make your own pitta breads

You might think – for 90p a pack of six in Tesco what’s the point? But these are awesome.

  • 500gm plain flour
  • 4gm dried yeast (half a sachet)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp sugar
  • Glass of warm water 40 deg C

Ideally, use a food processor. If not you may reconsider going to Tesco.

Pour the dry ingredients into the processor. Give it a whizz to aerate the flour. While the motor is running gently and slowly pour in the water. The mix will start to look like crumbs. Very gently add more water a splash at a time until the dough forms a ball. Whizz for another 40 seconds. Now take the dough out and let it rise in a warm place covered in oiled cling film or plastic bag. After about an hour when it has grown by at least 50% it is ready. Pull off a fistful of dough and roll thinly, about 4mm thick. Heat a heavy griddle or frying pan (no oil) , and cook the pittas on the dry pan turning once when the under surface has brown spots. When cooked through from both sides, keep warm in a kitchen towel while you make the rest. This mix makes about 6 large pittas.

Spiced Banana Loaf

A bid fiddly but worth it. First heat your oven to 170C. Grease a large loaf tin and line with baking parchment.

  • 3 weetabixes, crumbled
  • 100g sultanas
  • 150ml milk

Mix, then set aside.

  • 2 eggs
  • 250g light muscavado sugur

Whip to a froth (or as best you can in a mixer)

  • 120g butter, melted
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix into the egg and sugar froth. You can do this in a food mixer. Now stir into the weetabix mixture. Don’t use a food processor for this step or you will “loose” the sultanas.

Bake for 1-1.25 hours. Leave in the tin for at least 5 minutes after it is cooked.

Quick Irish Soda Bread

This makes a small loaf so it is quick, and very authentic in texture and flavour.

  • 170g self raising wholemeal flour
  • 170g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 290ml buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and knead briefly.

Heat the oven to 200C. On a flat greased oven tray, place the ball of dough. Slash a deep cross on top with a knife. Bake 30 minutes.

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