After rushing around walking dogs and milking goats I finally managed to get seated in front of the box just in time for the start of the second in the series of the Great British Bake Off.
Their first task was breadsticks, something I’ve never attempted to make. They appeared deceptively easy but I bet it’s tricky to achieve that “snap”. There was only one that was slightly overboard, the sticks presented in a giant matchbox with the ends dipped in chocolate. Very clever.
The technical challenge was something I make regularly, English muffins. After last year when they had to make an 8 strand loaf, this looked like a piece of cake. Again it was interesting to see the amount of variations produced from just one recipe.
The final test was to make a decorative loaf. I was amazed to see a peacock, an octopus and a wreath to name just a few. They reminded me of decorations made with salt dough and I didn’t think they looked terribly appetising but apparently they tasted good. It was sad that the person who was eliminated was the only one that baked something actually resembling a loaf, albeit that it was trying to be a tomato!
As usual the programme inspired me to bake and I dug out my favourite recipe for English Muffins. Unlike the enriched dough on shown on TV, this one is very simple and is relatively quick to make. As they found on the Bake Off, it can be difficult to get them cooked all the way through and in the past I have popped them in the Rayburn for 10 mins after frying just to make sure. If the worst should happen and you find they are doughy inside you can always toast them before serving.
- 450g bread flour
- 9g dried yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 250ml milk
- 55ml water
- Warm the milk and water together until just hand hot
- Whisk in the caster sugar and yeast and leave until frothy
- Pour the mixture into a food processor
- Add the flour and salt and mix well with a dough hook
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball
- Leave somewhere warm in a covered bowl for around an hour to rise
- Spread some semolina onto the work surface then turn out the dough
- Roll out to approx 1/2 inch thick and then use a pastry cutter to cut into rounds (I got 8 muffins with a 3 1/4″ cutter)
- Sprinkle a little more semolina on the top of the muffins
- Allow to rise for around 30 mins somewhere warm
- Melt a little lard in a frying pan and when hot add the muffins (you will need to do them in batches)
- Cook them for around 7 mins each side until they are golden brown top and bottom
- Place on a wire rack to cool
- If you are not confident that they are cooked through, pop in a hot oven for around 10 mins
- Cut in half and serve with lashings of butter or you can toast them first