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How to have a flipping amazing Pancake Day

treat One of our favourite foodie seasons is almost upon us…Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)

This is the perfect time to use up all those baking ingredients that have been lurking at the back of your food cupboard. Cease the opportunity to avoid wastage and turn them into something incredible – mounds and mounds of pancakes.

Here at BakingMad.com we have teamed up with Askeys Treat to share with you our top tips and ideas to have the best Pancake Day ever!

treat ingredients The most important tip of all: Don’t forget to stock up on your ingredients, in particular, the all important toppings (Askeys Treat of course)

Have you tried Askeys Maple Syrup Treat sauce? If we had to describe it in one word it would be ‘yuuuuuuum’ This sauce is amazing on pancakes, but also really versatile and can be used to drizzle on bacon, top cupcakes, bake in flapjacks and even glaze your roast parsnips!

Once you have all your ingredients, it is then time to find your recipe. BakingMad.com is packed full of wonderful Pancake Recipes so take some time to browse through and find a new favourite here.

pancake image

So! Ingredients purchased and recipe found, see below our secrets to make the perfect pancake.

1. Invest in a good quality non-stick pan (you will thank us for this later when washing up!)

2. Use a pastry brush or kitchen towelling to lightly grease the pan – too much butter means over-brown pancakes

3. Only mix your ingredients until incorporated – over mixing will lead to a rubbery pancake.

4. Stack your pancakes separated with greaseproof paper. They can even be made in advance and frozen.

5. For even sized pancakes use a measuring cup to pour out equal amounts of batter in your pan.

6. Your pancakes are ready to flip when the edges become brown and come away from the pan.

If you want to get the kids involved, the mixing of the batter is a really kid-friendly task (if you don’t mind a messy kitchen)

Also, whilst your frying the pancakes why not get the kids to take part in Pancake Day bingo. You can print off our simple bingo sheet here and get your little ones to cross one each square when it happens. Once your pancakes are complete, drizzle with Treat and enjoy!!

Pancake Bingo

treat sauces

Peter Sidwell answers your bread baking questions

Peter Sidwell This week we put your bread baking questions to master baker and judge of ITV’s Britain’s Best Bakery, Peter Sidwell. With Peter’s simple tips anyone can turn a bread baking disaster into a triumph.

Q. How can you stop you loaf sticking inside a loaf tin and get good height on the loaf? (Rebecca Seal)

Peter: Try a quick release spray in your tin or roll you loaf in a little flour before placing in the tin. To get a good height make sure you bake the bread in a nice hot oven, I like to add some steam into the oven by using a water spray gun as you place it in the oven to bake.

Q. My loaves tend to spread rather than rise, what can I do? (Jamie Wheat)

Peter: It sounds as though you are possibly adding too much liquid to your recipe, try baking your dough in a loaf tin to give the loaf support as it proves and bakes.

Q. Do you have any advice on making bread in an AGA…I never seem to get it to rise enough before the outside becomes too crusty or burns? (Kirsty Warner)

Peter: I would recommend using the hottest oven to begin with for approximately 15 minutes then transfer to a middle oven to finish baking.

Q. How do you know when dough is over proved? (Patsy Keith)

Peter: You can see if it’s over proved by appearance – the top of the dough will appear to have a thin crust and looks as though it is about to deflate. To resolve scoop the dough out, knock back and try proving again. Also another way to check is the finger test – if you push a wet finger into the dough about 1cm to 2cm in and it springs back then the dough is good if it deflates then it’s over proved.

Q. I leave my bread to prove over various times but nothing seems to make it light and fluffy it’s also dense and urgh. help me please?!?!?!? (Rachel Hutchings)

Peter: Possibly you are making bread with very little gluten in so try blending a little strong white flour in there, e.g. 200g strong white bread flour and 300g of another bread flour you make like. You must also make sure your dough has the right amount of water in so you create a nice soft dough that will stretch nicely when kneading. Always give the dough plenty of kneading or leave it to prove over night to give the dough plenty of time to rise on it first prove, before knocking back and shaping.

If your dough is too tight there is not enough water and the dough would not have enough stretch in it to hold the air pockets so it’s important to make sure the dough is soft not tight like a pastry dough and well kneaded so it’s nice and stretchy to allow for a good rise.

Q. Why do I sometimes get a gap under the crust? (Liz King)

Peter: This is probably due to not knocking all the air out of the dough following its first prove. It is important to knock all the air out of the dough so you get a nice even rise on the second prove before baking.

Q. Can you rescue over proved by knocking back and re-rising? (Wag Dalzell)

Peter: In a lot of case, yes, but make sure you knock it back well so that you get an even 2nd prove. You might even get a better flavour by re-proving. Try proving your bread in the fridge overnight for the first prove to slow it down and generate more flavour.

Q. First time using bread machine, my question is – is it true if using yeast out of date the dough does not get raised enough? (Maryati Tracy)

Peter: Yes if yeast becomes old and out of date it can be less efficient in your recipe so make sure you use it and buy Allinson sachets so you only open what you need. Also make sure you add the ingredients in the right order i.e. liquid first, then yeast and the flour and finish with the salt then you’re good to go.

Q. Mine never seems to rise as much as it should! (Woody Wenman-Hyde)

Peter: Check your yeast is in date and that you are using the correct amount. Make sure you leave the dough to prove for the maximum time in the recipe or until it doubles in size, the temp of your kitchen can also slow down the prove if it’s cold.

Q. Fresh or dried yeast? (Mike Armstrong)

Peter: Fresh yeast is great but not a handy as dried, I use dried, such as Allinson Easy Bake yeast, at home as its handy to just grab out of the cupboard.

For more bread baking hints, tips and recipe inspiration from Allinson click here

Yeast – the unsung hero

A part of the Rise Up bread baking challenge Allinson are sharing with us their expert knowledge on the true unsung hero of bread baking – yeast…

yeast “Making bread is a simple process using a small number of simple ingredients, but as flour is usually in the limelight, we thought it was time to shout about the unsung hero of bread baking; yeast! This little micro-organism really is the life and soul of the party. Let’s face it, your loaf will literally be flat without it!

So what do you need to know? Well let’s start with what the yeast does. It breaks down the starch in the flour into simple sugars, which it feeds on to create carbon dioxide. The gluten strands that make your dough lovely and stretchy hold the carbon dioxide in bubbles which expand the dough, making your bread rise. Pretty clever for a single-cell organism!

The Allinson range has 2 different types of yeast and which can be used in slightly different ways. Our Easy Bake yeast can be used in either hand baking or in a bread maker, and as the name suggests all you need to do is add it to the bowl and you are ready to go. We even make sachets which have the perfect amount (7g) to make 1 large loaf or a batch of rolls. If you aren’t using a sachet then measure out 2 teaspoons from your tin.

The other type of yeast is the Dried Active yeast. This is a more traditional format and is only suitable for hand baking. This is because it needs waking up with a nice warm bath! Simply dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in 150ml of warm water and add 15g of dried active yeast, then whisk and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes or until there is a layer of froth on the surface. You can buy this yeast in a 125g tin.

You can interchange yeasts in a bread recipe, a simple conversion to remember is that 1 sachet of Allinson Easy Bake yeast (7g) equates to 15g of Dried Active yeast.

allinson badge

The other thing to remember about yeast is that it is quite delicate. It doesn’t like to be in contact with salt for a long time as the salt will kill the yeast. Unless you have all your ingredients pre-measured try to add the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl, and if you are using a bread maker, add the yeast first and the salt last.

Now that you know a bit more about yeast why not grab a sachet and use it to rise up to the bread baking challenge!”

Peter Sidwell’s top bread baking tips

peter sidwell 1
Baking bread at home. It’s really not as hard as you think. In fact it’s really quite easy, if you follow a simple set of top tips from both me and Allinson flour.

I made my first loaf of bread when I was only 14 years of age at secondary school and it has stayed with me ever since. Baking bread is all about touch, feel and smell so it’s quite easy to see your progress as you make your bread. As the judge on ITV’s Britain’s Best Bakery I have tasted, tapped and torn open many a loaf and I never tire of the simplicity of a beautiful, simple, well baked loaf of bread. However, when you can make a great dough you can then use that as a platform to create all kinds of different flavours and textures to your bread.

I have teamed up with Allinson flour to help you rise up to the challenge of baking your own bread. To do this we have created a range of recipes that will act as a foundation for your creativity with bread.

First things first though, it’s important to make sure you get the basics right and that’s about following my top tips. These are not long winded or technical, they are short, sharp and concise designed to help you understand the key points that lead you to a successful loaf.

To be a good bread baker at home means you need just a few different recipes to allow you to create a whole range of fantastic different breads based on the basics.

If you have never made bread before, don’t worry. My best advice is don’t be tempted to make your first loaf in a mixer. Try to make it by hand as the whole process is very much about touch and feel. When you are making bread it’s very easy to see and feel your progress. Once you have achieved your first bread by hand you will know how it should look and feel.

Tip 1: Always use bread flour

Buying the right flour is the first task you must get right in order to make great bread. Allison flour is a great quality, trusted and a reliable brand that will help you achieve great results. Bread flour is sometimes described as strong flour as there is a higher protein level in the flour. This means more gluten, so when you knead the bread the dough becomes stretchy and that will help hold the air inside when it is left to rise.

Tip 2: Use a yeast sachet

Yeast is the second vital ingredient. The best tip that I can give is to use the handy Allinson yeast sachets as they are measured out in 7g which is perfect for a loaf of bread.

Tip 3: Avoid adding flour when kneading

When kneading the bread it is really important to avoid adding any additional flour if possible, as the more flour you add the tighter the dough will become and you will end up with a dough that cant expand and rise due to the amount of flour.

Tip 4: Knead by stretching and rolling back

When teaching in my cookery school we focus heavily on the knead as most people don’t knead for long enough. Try holding the dough in one hand and stretching the dough with the other hand until you reach the edge of your work top, the more you knead the stretchier the dough will become.

Tip 5: Prove at room temperature until doubled in size

There is an old wives’ tale that says pop your bread in the airing cupboard. If you speed up the proving time by placing it in a warm place like an airing cupboard you will have a bread with very little taste. The longer you can give your bread to prove the better, so leaving it at normal room temperature to prove and double in size is a much better option. It’s more important that the dough doubles in size than a set length of time as everybody’s kitchens are a different temperate.

When your dough has doubled in size it is really important that you knock out all the air so that you have a flat dough. This means that you will get an even rise on your bread when it is being baked.

Tip 6: Add steam for a crisp golden crust

When your bread is finally ready to bake, please make sure you pre heat your oven. You need a surge of heat when baking bread to give it a lift so it rises up. I also like to add a little steam to the bread when first baking and I do this by having a water sprayer in the kitchen, I add a little mist to the top of the bread and into the oven as I put the bread in to bake. The moisture on the loaf help crisp up the outside of the bread and it results in having a golden crusty loaf.

Tip 7: Release the steam

If you do add water to the oven and you want your loaf to stay crispy, make sure you open the oven door for a few minutes when the bread is cooked to let the steam back out of the oven. If you don’t, your loaf will be golden and crunchy when it first comes out of the oven but 1 hour later it will be soft.

peter sidwell 2
Tip 8: Tap the bottom to check the bread is baked

Lastly, to check that your loaf is baked throughout tap the bottom of your loaf. If the loaf sound hollow then your bread is ready.

For more great top tips from Peter Sidwell check our his bread baking videos here.

Flour – what is the difference??

flour To some of us, knowing which type of flour to use when bread baking is a complete mystery. We are here to explain which flour to use to achieve your best loaves.

Strong white bread flour

It is important to use bread flour when baking a loaf. Some denser loaf recipes such as soda breads may use plain flour but this really is the exception. Strong white bread flour has a high protein level required to bake the perfect loaf. It is really versatile and can even be used to bake pizza dough and pasta.

Very strong white bread flour

Very strong white bread flour has even higher protein content than the strong white bread flour. This guarantees a fuller rise and when blended with other flours such as rye and wholemeal will help give a rounder loaf.

Very Strong Wholemeal bread flour

This type of flour is ideal for making a wholemeal loaf. Wholemeal bread flour is typically denser than white bread flour and often recipes will specify a higher volume of water to offset this. If you prefer a lighter loaf you could combine half strong white bread flour and half wholemeal flour.

Seed and grain bread flour/ Wholemeal seed and grain bread flour

For a more textured loaf try baking with Seed and Grain bread flour. This can be used in the same manner as wholemeal or white bread flour however as it is blended with wheat and barley flakes, kibbled rye, sunflower seeds, millet and linseed these extra ingredients really add a special touch to your loaf.

Country grain flour

If you are looking to achieve a granary style loaf then Country Grain bread flour would be the recommended flour of choice. The combination of white bread flour, malted wheat flakes, rye flour and malted barley flour gives a great flavour and texture to your loaf.

All these flours are suitable for use in bread machines using either the ‘white’ or ‘wholemeal’ basic settings.

Some recipes may simply specify ‘strong white flour’ or ‘wholemeal flour’ which can be confusing. However, if you are in doubt, remember that using the correct bread flour is essential to achieving a delicious well baked loaf.

flour group shot

Rise up to the bread baking challenge

tiger bread

We love nothing more on a cold wintery day than a warm slice of fresh bread smothered in soft, creamy butter. The best bit is that it is far simpler than you might think to bake delicious bread at home; so no need to brave the cold and go to the shops. Plus it also means that our house is filled with the smell of lovely fresh baked bread.

peter sidwell We have got together with Allinson flour and ITV’s Britain’s Best Bakery judge Peter Sidwell to demonstrate just how easy it is to bake homemade bread. Allinson have devised a tasty collection of bread recipes that can all be achieved by mastering three simple doughs; white, wholemeal and olive oil. There really is something for everyone whether you are a complete beginner or the next Paul Hollywood.

Once you have accomplished your first basic dough, you can experiment with different shapes and flavours. Allinson and Peter have shared their expert knowledge with us providing recipes, how to videos and top tips which can be found right here at BakingMad.com.

Dough tree all

We also have three pairs of tickets to join Peter Sidwell for a course at his ‘Simply Good’ cookery school in the Lake District. To enter this great competition click here. allinson badge

Also, don’t forget to follow us on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for the latest expert advice from Allinson and Peter Sidwell.

So what are you waiting for? Rise up to the bread baking challenge!!!

Mini gingerbread houses

mini gingerbread houses

We can’t get enough of pinning inspirational recipe images to our BakingMad.com pinterest board recently and couldn’t help but notice some really cute miniature gingerbread houses appearing on our feeds.

We really wanted to give this a try and set about creating our own mini gingerbread house recipe.

Firstly, we drew out a template for our houses and cut them out from card. (See image below for measurements)

template

The sides and roof panels are the same height and width as each other, so you could simply cut out one front panel and one side panel and use the same template multiple times to save on excess cutting out.

We made up the gingerbread dough, wrapped it in clingfilm and popped it in the fridge to chill. By chilling the dough it is easier to work with when it comes to rolling it out and cutting, otherwise you may find that the dough sticks to your rolling pin.

We then used the templates to cut out the house panels and lay them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper. You can at this stage chill in the fridge again before baking to limit the amount of spreading that may occur with your biscuits when baked.

After baking, as the biscuits had spread out a little we again used our templates to trim them back into shape. These were then left to cool on a wire rack whilst we made our royal icing.

If you want to get really creative you can colour the royal icing or even mix edible glitter in with it for an extra sparkly effect. This is then used as a glue to stick all the panels together. Don’t worry if you have a few gaps this can be filled with extra royal icing to give a snowy effect to your mini houses.

gingerbread house method

Make sure that they are fully set before perching on your delicious cup of cocoa and enjoy. Alternatively, wrap up in cellophane and ribbon and gift to your family and friends – they make great stocking fillers which can be enjoyed on Christmas morning.

Festive film night

popcorn

Call us sad, but we are super excited to hear that the Christmas edition of the Radio Times is on sale this week. We have our highlighters at the ready to flick through the pages and select our top pick of Christmas films and TV programmes, but we figured if we are going to have a festive film night then we need an equally seasonal snack to go with it.

Step forward our caramel and cinnamon popcorn!

This recipe is so simple to make and would also make a great homemade Christmas gift for any movie buffs in the family.

ingredients

We began with a few simple ingredients: butter, salt, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and the all important Billington’s unrefined dark muscovado sugar and Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract. Using a good quality dark muscovado sugar really will make all the difference to the flavour of your popcorn, giving it a lovely rich treacle flavour, however, if you prefer a lighter caramel flavour you could swap this for a light muscovado sugar.

Be careful when making up the caramel as it is extremely hot, plus a handy tip is to wash up your saucepan immediately after unless you fancy fighting with the difficult to budge caramel stuck to your pan. If you prefer a stronger festive flavour you can increase the quantity of cinnamon or even add a touch of nutmeg if preferred.

You will want to act quickly once the caramel is ready, before it sets so make sure that you have prepared your popcorn beforehand and have placed it in a large enough bowl.

popcorn 1

If you can’t wait to tuck in or your Christmas movie is about to start you can serve your popcorn straight away. Alternatively, we like to bake our popcorn in the oven to crisp up and give that warm cinema-style effect.

Now for the all important decision – which movie to watch first?? Let the movie marathon begin …

We have got Christmas all wrapped up!

sprouts present

Having recently blogged about the fabulous gifts available at BakerandMaker we are feeling rather smug with ourselves that all our Christmas gifts have been found, bought and are sat waiting to be beautifully wrapped and placed underneath the Christmas tree.

Now all we need to do is locate some beautiful gift wrap to dress up our presents and it will be ‘all stations go’ with our scissors, tape and ribbon.

Of course as we are BakingMad, we are loving all of the foodie wrapping paper available in stores right now and wanted to share with you our favourite picks.

john lewis

For an elegant foodie gift, perhaps for the grandparents, this stylish Mince Pie gift wrap from John Lewis would look beautiful underneath the Christmas tree.

£4.00 (3m)
www.johnlewis.com

notonthehighstreet

The kids are sure to love this adorable gingerbread man wrapping paper from notonthehighstreet.com almost as much as the gift inside (we do!)

£4.00 (5 sheets)
www.notonthehighstreet.com

xmas pud

This cheeky Marks and Spencer Christmas pudding wrapping paper is seriously cute and would be great to dress up a present for Mum and Dad.It is also a bargain roll with a whopping 8 metres!

£3.50 (8m)
www.marksandspencer.com

sprouts

Although not everyone is a fan of the real things served at Christmas dinner we simply cannot get enough of this fun Brussel Sprouts wrapping paper. If we could, we would get wallpaper made up of this quirky design.

£3.50 (3m)
www.paperchase.co.uk

With gift wrap this desirable we are not sure that we will even want to part with our gifts now! You will find us Christmas morning, foraging through the piles of disgarded paper to rescue this paper and ironing out for reuse next year!

For more Christmas wrapping inspiration, follow our BakingMad.com ‘wrapped up…’ board on pinterest.

All I want for Christmas is…

group shotChristmas shopping mania is in full force already this year and if you are anything like us you will be avidly searching for the ideal present for your loved one – well look no further we have found just the place to find your perfect gift!

We came across Baker and Maker at the recent Cake and Bake show in London and totally fell in love with pretty much everything on their stall. If you are shopping for a baker or a maker then you will be spoilt for choice from their vast collection of crafty treasures.

There really is something for everyone from a chic kitchen gift to a cute stocking filler. We have whittled down our top ten favourite picks and have been lucky enough to even give some of them a test run (it was a tough job, but someone has got to do it!)

For the keen baker…
apron

‘It’s a beautiful day apron’
£24.50

We think it’s always a beautiful day when there is something baking in the kitchen and this would be a great gift for a keen baker.

measuring cup

‘Ceramic botanical measuring cups’
£18.50

We just love the pretty designs on these measuring cups, both practical and elegant.

biscuit tin

‘Biscuit tin – beasties’
£14.95

No kitchen is complete without a tin to store your freshly baked biscuits in. The woodland themed designs are so cute too.

cake slice

‘Sparkly cake slice
£12.95

We cannot get enough of these glitzy kitchen accessories – a must have for any baking diva!

tea towel

‘Retro biscuit teatowel’
£11.50

We have a secret fondness for tea towels and coincidentally biscuits so we couldn’t resist adding this to our wishlist.

Stocking fillers …

unicorn

‘Unicorn sprinkle shaker’
£7.50

This had our inner child squealing with delight – a unicorn, that dispenses sprinkles for our cakes! Every baker simply needs one of these!

spoons

‘Ceramic song bird measuring spoons’
£5.95

This baking essential has an adorable song bird design that reminds us of the twitter bird. This would be a cute gift for a teenage baker also fond of tweeting.

cutters

‘Love bird cookie cutters’
£2.95

We would love to find these in our Christmas stocking, it would also make a wonderful Secret Santa gift for a baker.

Nice biscuit coasters

Nice biscuit coasters
£14.95

We think these coasters are more than just nice, they are adorable! Perfect for any biscuit lover, just no dunking!

Something for the little chefs…

Safari cutter

‘Safari cutters’
£6.95

This would be a really fun present to introduce little ones to baking, there are four charming designs to choose from hippo, giraffe, lion and elephant.

lunch box

‘Rusty the fox lunchbox’
£4.75

We just fell in love with this sweet lunchbox and can’t think of no better way to transport our homemade bread to work.

We have decided to spread the Christmas love and share these wonderful gifts out with our Facebook and Twitter followers during the Christmas period so don’t forget to follow us on Facebook Baking Mad UK and Twitter @BakingMadUK

We are off now to finish our own Christmas shopping at www.bakerandmaker.com

Merry Christmas!