Fresh from the oven – Fougasse

This month it is exactly two year since I took over the running of Fresh from the oven. I can’t believe it has been so long. This month I took the opportunity to host a challenge and picked a type of bread I have wanted to bake for some time but never got round to. I chose a french flat bread called fougasse. I chose this recipe by Richard Bertinet but I also liked the sound of this recipe by Lorraine Pascale. So I followed Richard Bertinet’s recipe but divided the dough in half and added fresh thyme and chorzio to half the dough. I have to say I enjoyed the chorizo and thyme more than the plain white and I am keen to try different flavourings. I left it up to the members which recipe they used or even suggested they use a different recipe if perhaps they had a favorite one to share with us. Continue reading

Fresh from the oven – courgette cluster bread

This months Fresh from the oven challenge was hosted by Sally from My custard pie. She chose courgette cluster bread but challenged us to either use this recipe or another bread recipe with any vegetables in it. I think this is my first time baking vegetables in to bread so  I started of by baking the recipe provided by Sally with every intention of doing a different bread as well but I didn’t have time to try any other breads.

I have to be honest and say this bread wasn’t to my taste but I loved the way of baking bread in clusters in a cake tin, I will be doing that again. I’m not a massive fan of courgettes unless they are used in a recipe with plenty of other flavours so I guess I was destined not to like the bread from the start.

Courgette Cluster Bread – adapted from a recipe in House and Garden magazine by Roz Denny
Makes 8 rolls or clusters


450g courgettes, grated coarsely
Salt (for degorging and for the dough)
675g strong white bread flour
2 sachets of easy-blend/fast-action yeast or 14g instant dried yeast
3 tablespoons parmesan, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tepid water – about 200ml
Milk, to glaze
Sesame seeds, to sprinkle


  • Place the courgettes in a colander, sprinkle lightly with salt. Allow the juices to drain for about half-an-hour, then rinse well in cold water and pat dry.
  • If using instant yeast whisk it into 90 ml of the tepid water until frothy and dissolved. Mix the flour, yeast, parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper together in a bowl, then stir in the olive oil and courgettes. Add some more water until the mixture comes together as a firm, soft dough. I did this and the kneading in my KitchenAid with the dough hook.
  • If kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a lightly floured board or work surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl and put the dough into rise, covered with cling film or a cloth, for about one hour or until doubled in size.
  • Knock back the dough in the bowl (punch the air out of it) and then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead again briefly until smooth.
  • Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll to shape into even balls. Lightly grease and line the base of a 23 cm cake tin with baking parchment. Place one ball of dough in the middle and all the others around it.
  • Brush the tops of rolls with milk and sprinkle over some sesame seeds. Cover again with oiled cling film or a cloth and leave to prove until doubled in size and the balls touch each other – about 30 minutes.
  • Put into a preheated oven at 200 C for about 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Cool on a wire rack. Tear each roll off to eat as a bun.

Thank you again Sally for hosting this months challenge. I think you have inspired a lot of us to try baking breads with vegetables in them. This may not have been the right recipe for me but you have inspired me to try different bread recipes that include vegetables.

Fresh from the oven – July – Piadina

Here’s my slightly late entry for this months fresh from the oven challenge. This month’s challenge was hosted by Alex of Dear love blog. She chose an Italian flat bread called piadina. Traditionally piadina are made with lard but because Alex is vegetarian she made them with olive oil. The recipe below gives quantities for olive oil or lard. I’m not vegetarian but still have no desire to cook with lard so I stuck with olive oil.

I filled mine with mozzarella and parma ham and baked them in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese had melted. They were super easy to make (I cheated and put all the ingredients in my kitchenaid and let it do all th work), relatively quick to prepare and very tasty.

Here are a few vegetarian fillings suggested by Alex that all sound delicious:
Wilted spinach with nutmeg, garlic & ricotta
Potato, pecorino & rosemary
Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella & basil
Gorgonzola, pear, rocket & walnuts
Taleggio, porcini & thyme

I had planned to bake these last weekend ahead of the deadline and fill them with griddled aubergine and mozzarella but I forgot I was out of plain flour until our next supermarket trip. I’m glad that I tried the recipe even if I am a few days late.


Makes 8
500g Plain flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp Finely ground sea salt
100ml Olive oil or 100g Lard
200ml Warm water

  • Place the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt & olive oil/lard in a large bowl.
  • Gradually add the water stirring with loose fingers until the mix comes together to form a soft dough.
  • Turn out on to a lightly floured surface & knead until the dough becomes smooth & shiny, this should take about 5-10 mins.
  • Divide into 8 equal balls, loosely cover with lightly oiled cling film & allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a non stick cast iron skillet over a high heat for 5 mins.
  • On a well floured surface flatten each ball & roll out into a disc 2-3 mm thick, prick all over with a fork.
  • Place a disc of dough flat in the centre of the pan & press down gently. Cook for 2 mins or until the dough is crisps & brown spots begin to appear then flip & repeat on the other side.
  • Cook the piadina one at a time until all the dough is used.
  • Cover with a clean t-towel to prevent them drying out whilst you prepare your desired filling.
  • Place one piadina on the bottom cover evenly with filling & top with another.
  • If you like your fillings cold, cut into wedges & serve. Alternatively heat through in the oven or a sandwich press & serve hot.

Book review: One more slice, Leila Lindholm

This book was my first introduction to Leila Lindholm. She is a Swedish TV chef (I’m not sure that any of her shows have been shown in the UK but I could be wrong), author (this is her fourth book) and has be extensively featured in Delicious, Easy Living and Elle magazine.

This book follows on from her previous book, A piece of cake and includes recipes for breads, pizza’s, fresh pasta, brownies, cheesecakes,  ice creams, pies, pancakes and waffle. I love the photography throughout the book. It’s a wonderful book to pick up and flick through for the photos alone. But if you did you would be missing out as the recipes are really simple, use standard, easy to get hold of ingredients and look and sound delicious. Leila’s enthusiasm for baking is evident throughout.

There is something for everyone in this book. For each section there are basic recipes e.g. for pizza sauces and dough or for brownies and then Leila gives you lots of variations. If you like brownies then you might like after eight brownies or raspberry brownies or how about rocky road brownies or brownie cupcakes (to name just a few of the brownie recipes).

There are many recipes I want to try in this book but I went straight to the bread section “boulangerie” and tried out one on the nine kinds of baguette included in the book. I chose to bake birdie num-num bread, partly because I had all the ingredients in and partly as I just love the name! The recipe was simple to follow and the resulting baguettes delicious. I used my baguette tray to make two of them and had to make the other two on a flat baking sheet. The ones on the flat baking sheet didn’t work so well, they collapsed into a wide flat loaf of bread! The book talks about using a baguette tray or baking sheet I don’t know if anyone has had more sucess than me with using baking sheets but I’ll be halving the recipe next time and using the baguette tray! New Holland Publishers have kindly agreed for me to publish this recipe below. I can’t wait to bake another recipe from this book and I know this will be a well used book in my ever growing cookbook collection.

My birdie num num baguette straight from the oven

One more slice is available to buy now for £19.99. New Holland Publishers, are offering my readers a 25% discount and free post and packaging if you buy it direct from their website and enter the discount code purely. This offer is valid until 30th September 2011 to UK residents only. Discount cannot be used in conjunction with other offers!

Thank you to New Holland Publishers for my review copy of this book and for allowing me to share the recipe for birdie num num with my readers.

Delicious with cheese and tomatoes

basic recipe
makes 4 baguettes
dough one ( starter)
5 g (1/4 oz) fresh yeast
300 ml (10 fl oz) cold water
325 g (11 oz) strong bread flour

1. For the starter: crumble the yeast in a mixing bowl and dissolve it in the water.
2. Add the flour and mix it until the loose dough is smooth.
3. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let it rise for at least
4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

dough two
15 g (1/2 oz) fresh yeast
300 ml (10 fl oz) cold water
1 portion dough one (starter)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
450–550 g (1 lb–1 lb 4 oz) strong bread
oil for the trays
sea salt

1. For dough two: crumble the yeast in a mixing bowl, add the water and mix.
2. Add dough one, salt, sugar and then the flour until the dough holds together. Work the dough in a mixer at low speed for around 15 minutes.
3. Let the dough rise under a cloth for around 11/2 hours.
4. Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F/gas 9).
5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, divide it into four pieces and carefully press each piece into a rectangle with your fingers.
6. Fold in a long side of each rectangle, roll it up and shape the ends into points.
7. Twist the baguettes once and place them on a well-oiled baguette tray (or a regular baking tray).
8. Let them rise under a cloth for about an hour.
9. Brush the baguettes with water and sprinkle with sea salt. Make a few incisions diagonally across each baguette with a sharp knife and immediately put the tray in the middle of the hot oven.

10. When the baguettes have coloured a little, lower the temperature to 200°C (400°F/gas 6).
11. Bake until the breads have been in the oven for a total of around 30 minutes, then let them cool on a rack.

birdie num-num baguette

makes 4 baguet tes
1 portion baguette dough (see basic recipe below)
50 g (2 oz) mixed seeds – poppy, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin
oil for greasing
sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F/gas 9).
2. Make the baguettes according to the basic recipe and let them rise on a greased tray.
3. Brush with water, sprinkle with seeds and sea salt.
4. Immediately place the tray in the middle of the oven.
5. When the baguettes have gained a little colour, lower the temperature to 200°C (400°F/gas 6).
6. Bake until the breads have been in the oven for a total of around 30 minutes, then let them cool on a rack.

Baking the book – River cottage bread book catch up – focaccia and flat breads

Back in January I set myself the challenge of baking my way through the River cottage handbook bread. The plan is still there to complete this by the end of 2011. I won’t be baking every recipe (and I certainly won’t be building the clay oven!) since we have discovered that neither of us like sourdough and it’s unlikely I’ll do any of the breads that need deep frying. I think I have baked the majority of the loaves in the book but will check and finish those soon if I haven’t.

Since I last posted about this challenge in March I have bake the foccacia and the flat breads a couple of times each but never got round to blogging about them so here they are.


I’ve tried this recipe before and in fact it is my go to recipe for focaccia. Whilst in Italy though we had the most amazing focaccia’s which were very different to this bread. For this reason I’m determined to try different recipes for focaccia and see if I can recreate the delicious focaccias that we ate strolling the streets of Lucca.

Flat breads

I’ve baked these breads a couple of times and I know that I’ll bake them again soon. Above I served them straight after cooking with moussaka. I find they are best served warm so either serve them straight away or pop them in the toaster for a minute or so the day after to warm them through. If you have the book and want to bake this recipe my tips would be to not heat the hob to the highest setting (I use 7-8 on a ceramic hob) as I found the bottom side burnt before the bread rose sufficiently with my hob on high and I had my grill on high (as oppose to medium as directed). This could just be my hob/oven so experiment. The recipe makes 12 so if the first one isn’t a success change the hob/grill settings and try again.

Irish soda bread

As much as I enjoy making yeasted bread, sometimes I just don’t have the time to wait three hours for a loaf. This is where I find soda bread comes in as it can be ready in under an hour. I’ve tried a few recipes but never found one I’ve loved and wanted to repeat. That was until this weekend. This recipe will be repeated in my kitchen very soon. The recipe is from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine and is from Richard Corrigan. I had to adapted the recipe slightly as it was a last minute decision on sunday morning to bake bread for lunch and I had to use what was in the fridge/cupboards. I substituted the treacle/honey for golden syrup and as we had no buttermilk in I used half semi-skimmed milk and half low fat natural yogurt. I love the flavour of the bread and the texture from the seeds, oats and mix of half plain/half wholemeal flour. This makes quiet a big loaf so for just the two of us I will be halving the recipe next time.

Irish soda bread

250g plain flour
10g salt
15g bicarbonate of soda
250g wholemeal flour
150g jumbo oat flakes
1 tbsp clear honey
1 tbsp black treacle
500ml buttermilk
1 tbsp mixed seeds (optional)

  • Heat the oven to 390F/200C (fan 180)/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or grease and line a large loaf tin.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the honey, treacle and buttermilk, working everything together lightly with your hands until you have a loose, wet dough.
  • With floured hands, shape the dough into a round and lift it onto the lined baking sheet or into the tin. Use a knife to mark a cross in the top (there’s no need to do this if you are using a tin). Scatter with seeds if using.
  • Put into the oven and bake for around 45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
  • Transfer to a wire rack, drape a slightly damp cloth over the top and leave to cool.

Fresh from the oven, June challenge – a sandwich loaf

This month’s Fresh from the oven challenge was hosted by Jo from Jo’s kitchen. She chose a recipe for a sandwich loaf from the recent BBC TV series Great British food revival. I loved the show but never quiet got round to trying the recipe. After returning from Tuscany, without wedding planning taking up all my free time, this month’s challenge was the perfect way for me to jump back in to both blogging and baking bread. I just checked my archive and was surprised to find out that the last time I participated in a Fresh from the oven challenge was last September! I’ve still been enjoying running the group (with the lovely Michelle of Utterly scrummy food for families) but I just never seemed to find the time each month to participate. I love seeing all the fantastic breads everyone makes when putting together the round ups, it is very inspiring. I was pleased to find out this month that we have been featured on the channel 4 website in an article on the best bread blogs. A big thank you to all our members who take part each month. Clearly I’m not the only one who finds all your efforts inspiring.

Back to this month’s challenge. You can find the recipe here. I found the recipe very straight forward to follow. Although I found the dough quiet wet, using my kitchenaid mixer this was not a problem. I will be reading the other members post keen to find out if it was just mine and how those who knead by hand got on. The only adaption I made was that after about 20 minutes in the oven my loaf was looking brown enough for my liking so I cover it with tin foil for the rest of the baking time (but then I’m a bit fuss like that, my husband calls my toast warm bread as I like it fairly pale golden). We both loved the loaf, it made delicious sandwiches and toast. The only downside was that perhaps the bread was a little bit too sweet. As an occasional bread though I enjoyed it but if I was making this all the time for sandwiches I think we would get fed up of the sweetness. Having said that  I will definately be making this loaf again.

River cottage baking – bagels

It’s about time I did a bit of an update on the challenge I set myself to bake my way through the River Cottage Bread Handbook. I’ve haven’t given up but the variety of recipes I have being trying has slowed down a little. I guess it was inevitable really as there are only so many loaf recipes in there and the majority of bread I bake is loaves for sandwiches. The spelt loaf in particular gets baked quiet regularly now. I have also baked the pikelets a few times as well. I love being able to toast them straight from the freezer.

I did try a new recipe last week, bagels. Now I have made bagels before and wrote about them here. I liked that the recipe from River cottage didn’t include treacle in the poaching water (as I usually don’t have any in) but I didn’t like the flavour of the bread as much as the Rachel Allen recipe I usually use. I think that from now on I will follow the Rachel Allen recipe but not bother with the treacle in the poaching water and see how I get on.

Wholemeal spelt bread

It’s been a few weeks since I updated you on my bread making challenge. This has mainly been because I haven’t tried any new recipes. I have cooked pikelets a couple of times now but the loaves I’ve been baking for sandwiches have been ones I have already blogged about. Spelt flour has been on my shopping list for several weeks now but my fiance always came home without being able to find it. This weekend I found myself in the supermarket so decided to look for myself and came home with a bag of  wholemeal spelt flour (and a bag of rye flour too, so rye bread will be next).

Yesterday I baked a spelt bread recipe from The River Cottage handbook (find one similar here). The recipe noted that spelt bread can be dense and heavy but doesn’t need to be and suggested an extra 5 minutes kneading and to rise the loaf in a proving basket. I followed the advice and the resulting loaf was perfect. The texture was great, not too dense at all and the flavour was delicious with a slight nutty flavour. We eat a lot of granary and wholemeal bread anyway but the flavour of the spelt was even better. I can see spelt bread becoming a firm favorite in this house.

A week in my kitchen (including River cottage bread baking)

I can’t believe it’s a week since my last post. It’s not through lack of cooking/baking though so this post is a bit of a catch up with my River cottage bread baking experience and a few other things I have cooked and want to bookmark (plus share with you) for future cooking over the last 8 days.


I’ve been baking my own pizza’s from scratch for some time now to the point where I know longer look at a recipe to make the dough or remember where the recipe came from. But in the spirit of baking my way through the River Cottage bread handbook I followed the recipe in the book last week. I’m so glad I did! The River Cottage recipe uses half plain flour and half bread flour making the resulting dough much softer than I am used to and the end result was a perfectly thin pizza base. I also used a recipe in the book for garlic infused olive oil to make a garlic pizza bread as well. The topping in the photo above was spinach, feta and prosciutto. This pizza dough recipe was previously published in the guardian here.


I baked my first full sourdough bread last monday following the recipe in River Cottage Bread. It started with making the sponge the night before and then the following day I followed the recipe to make the dough and let it rise as directed. You can find a sourdough recipe here on Belleau Kitchen. The bread turned out well, I’m just not sure we enjoyed the sourness enough to be worth the time it takes to make sourdough. I’m still keeping my started alive as I think I will use it to try some recipes from Dan Lepards the handmade loaf but I’m not sure if I’ll make another sourdough (even though there are several different sourdough recipe I haven’t baked in RC).

Simple pasta sauce

I shared my secret to delicious, simple pasta sauces here.

Malted and seeded loaf

I’ve updated my post on the malted grain loaf to include details of a very similar bread.


I baked a big batch of pikelets from the River cottage book. I love crumpets but don’t have any of the rings needed to cook them in. Pikelets are really simple to make and they taste delicious toasted spread with butter (the recipe made a lot so I froze most of them and I am happy to report they toast well straight from frozen). I can see these being baked a lot in my kitchen.

Smoked mackerel and pea risotto

In an effort to eat more sustainable fish, I cooked a smoked mackerel risotto. I just cooked a basic, plain risotto and added frozen peas and flaked up smoked mackerel with the last ladle of stock and finished it off with a squeeze of lemon juice. If your looking for more of a recipe to follow you can find one here.