Fresh from the oven – February challenge – Bagels

Fresh from the oven has been baking bread as a group since June 2009. In that time we have baked a lot of bread and the members have changed a lot too. For our first challenge in this new format I wanted a recipe that even our longest standing members wouldn’t have baked as part of the group but also something that was straight forward enough to inspire new bakers to join in. I also wanted a recipe that allowed bakers to get creative if they wished. So with this in mind I have settled on bagels and hope that you all enjoy it.All the details about how to take part are here. I look forward to seeing all your bagels and a round up will be published on purely food at the end of February. Details of March’s challenge will be included in the round up.

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Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven is a bread baking group that has been running for a couple of years now. As of February 2012 the format is changing from a group run from a private blog to a monthly blogging event that anyone can take part in as often (or as little) as they want. The format of the challenges remains the same however. So if you want to improve your bread baking skills then this is the blogging event for you.

This monthly blogging event is being run by myself and Michelle (of Utterly Scrummy food for families). At the beginning of each month we will have guest hosts setting bread baking challenges for you and at the end of the month myself and Michelle will take it in turns to post a round up of all the entries on our blogs.

To participate each month all you need to do is:

  • Visit purely food or utterly scrummy food for families to see who is guest hosting and who is publishing the round up
  • Visit the guest hosts blog to find the monthly challenge recipe
  • Have a go at baking this months bread and blog about it (at any time during the month but on the 28th at the latest)
  • Mention fresh from the oven in your post and include a link to my FFTO main page, if I am publishing the round up (see here if Michelle is rounding up)
  • Include a link to the guest host’s blog post announcing this month’s challenge.
  • Please email a photo (saved as a jpg, no bigger than 500px x 500px ) and a link to your post to and by midinight (GMT) 28th of the month to have your post included in the monthly round up.
  • If you do not have a blog but still want to take part, email us a photo of your bread and you will be included in the round up.
  • If you are on twitter, please use the hash tag #freshfromoven to tweet about the challenge.
  • Check back here at the end of the month to see the round up of all that months entries.

I will be hosting February’s challenge so come back here on Wednesday 1st February to see what challenge I have set for you.

Chocolate and almond biscotti

It’s been a bit quiet round here this month hasn’t it? During November and early December I seemed to pick up every cough and cold going round and started to feel a bit run down. Just working and keeping up with the basics at home was enough so as a result I didn’t have much to blog about. I’m pleased to say I’ve been feeling a lot better these last couple of weeks but have been busy getting ready for Christmas.

The tree is now up and decorated, the cards written and sent and the presents are wrapped and sat under the tree ready for Christmas day. We’ve even had a bit of snow.

Last weekend I made the most of a snowy day and baked some biscotti (recipe at the end of the post) for gifts. This is a recipe adapted from a Bill Granger recipe for pistachio and chocolate biscotti (also delicious). I’ve baked biscotti a few times with this recipe, the only thing I would change next time would be to add more almonds.

I also decorate the chutney I made back in October for gifts, using this recipe I shared with you last year.

So all that’s left for me to do is wish you all a merry christmas.

Chocolate and almond biscotti

Makes 20-30 biscuits

160g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
150g plain flour
60g good quality cocoa powder
80g almonds (next time I will increase this though as biscotti should be packed with nuts)

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • Using electric beaters, beat the eggs and sugar together until thick, pale and the mixture has increased in volume.
  • Sift in the flour and cocoa. Stir with a wood spoon to combine.
  • Add the almonds and mix until well combined.
  • Divide the mixture in half and shape in to 2 logs, about 15cm long on the baking tray. Flatten them slightly so they are approximately 2cm thick.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Turn the oven down to 120C/gas 1/2.
  • Cut the cool logs into slices approximately 1cm thick (I like to cut my logs on the diagonal). Spread the slices out in a single layer on baking trays and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the biscuits over and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a month (I doubt they’ll last that long though).

Beetroot bread recipe

This beautiful, faintly pink loaf is made using the naturally cooked beetroot from the selection of beetroot I received as part of the Love beetroot campaign. The recipe is adapted from this one. The bread had a beautiful texture and the beetroot at a subtly flavour to the bread. Perfect for cheese and chutney sandwiches or toast with butter.

Beetroot bread

250ml warm water
5g dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
500g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
150g plain cooked (vacuum packed) beetroot, drained and pureed

  • In a food mixer or large bowl weigh the flour, make a well in the centre and add the dried yeast (follow the packet instruction as some yeasts need activating). Add the sugar salt and olive oil to the bowl put avoid them coming in to contact with the yeast.
  • Pour in the water and the pureed beetroot and knead with a dough hook for 5 minutes or by hand for 10 minutes. Set aside in a non-draughty place to rise for around an hour or until it has doubled in size.
  • Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and roll into a large rectangle. Roll up into a log shape, tucking the ends under.
  • Transfer to a loaf tin and set aside for 20 minutes to rise for a second time. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7)
  • Once the bread has finished its second rise, cook in a hot oven for around 25 minutes. If it is done the bread should sound slightly hollow when tapped on the base.

This post is submitted to yeastspotting

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

Chocolate brownie recipe

I love chocolate brownies and as a bonus they are so simple to bake. This recipe is even simpler. It’s from Donna Hay’s Fast, fresh, simple which was showing  in the UK a few weeks back. The recipe is for standby brownies and is perfect when you need to make brownies quickly and you have no chocolate in the house. The resulting brownies are moist and delicious. Perhaps not quite as good as with the delicious pockets of melting chocolate you get in most recipes but delicious none the less.

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White chocolate cake

As promised here is the recipe for the best cake I baked over the bank holiday weekend. I was a bit worried this cake would be too rich/sickly but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The cake was absolutely delicious, had a really nice moist texture and you could really taste the white chocolate. The frosting really worked well with the cake too. Not a recipe for those on a diet though.

I’m submitting this cake to we should cocoa, this month hosted by Chocolate teapot, as I think this would make a fantastic birthday party cake. Happy first birthday we should cocoa. Continue reading