Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Bread Making Part 3 – Pizza

I’ve been a little slow to update on my bread making skills project , however over the past few weeks I’ve been working on my bread making skills & techniques. I decided to make some yeast dough & use it in probably the quickest method of cooking possible, making a tasty pizza.

Pizza is such an easy super to make, and of any toppings that you have in your fridge can be used as a topping, eggs, bacon, cheese, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms.

I used Catherine Fulvio pizza recipe for the base of my pizza, then made a simple tomato sauce.


Happy Baking Vickx

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So my bread making project has kinda been put on hold but am hoping to get back on track now! Last weekend my sister flew home for the weekend & we went out for a gorgeous lunch in Nude Food in Dungarvan, she had Chicken Cornation Salad while I got a monster sized portion of slow cooked pork belly with couscous & hummus – it was AMAZING. I even brought home some of the pork belly I was so stuffed after it, alas I forgot to take some pictures but I will go back again soon & report. The atmosphere was great, there was a live jazz band playing in the corner.

 In the afternoon we decided to hit the kitchen & make some yummy Focaccia Bread for supper. After watching Hugh @ River Cottage rustle this up in Dec on the River Cottage Everyday prog I decided to give it a shout, I had reviewed a few recipes for focaccia and some chefs add a little mashed potato to the mixture, which seems a little odd to me. I think Focaccia Bread is one of those breads that you can bring with you for lunch, in a picnic or nibble on as a starter while waiting for dinner! I believe good olive oil is the key ingredient when making italian style focaccia. We made two types of focaccia, the first was Rosemary & sun dried tomatoes & second which was my favourite was Rosemary & garlic…yummy. (the photos don’t do them justice!)

Focaccia Bread


2½ tsps dried yeast (or 1x7g sachet)

1 tbsp sugar

450ml lukewarm water (more if required)

700g Italian ‘00’ or strong white flour

2 tsps salt

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large sprig rosemary

Sea salt

1 Mix the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water and allow the yeast to activate. When the yeast is frothy, it’s ready to use.

2 Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl and add the salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Mix to a soft dough, adding more flour or water as required. Knead until the dough is very pliable, which should take about seven to 10 minutes by hand.

3 Leave the dough to rise in a well-oiled bowl covered with clingfilm until the dough has trebled in size and is springy to the touch, which will take two to three hours. This will rise best in a warm, draught-free place, eg a hot press or near a cooker or oven.

4 When it has risen, knock the dough back and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead it again by hand for two to three minutes. Then divide the dough into two pieces and roll or press them out until the dough is 1cm thick.

5 Place the pieces on to two oiled baking sheets. Flatten the dough and push it into all four corners of the sheet, then make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle the surface with olive oil, pull the leaves from the rosemary sprig and scatter them, along with the sea salt, on top of the dough. Allow the dough to rise again for 30-45 minutes in a warm place.

6 Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 230°C. Bake for five minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Happy Baking

Vick xx

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French Apple Tart

This is great recipe for using up those apples that are in abundance this time of year. You can use either eating apples or as I did cookers in this recipe & added extra sugar on top.

Its something a little different from the traditional apple tart, it has a cake/dough  mixture underneath & apples sliced on top of the base.

French Apple Tart


6oz Self Raising Flour

3 tbsp sugar

grated lemon or orange zest

5 oz margarine

2 egg yolks

1/2 tbsp milk or water

1 lb eating apples ( can use pears or plums either)


Rub butter into dry ingredients, to resemble breadcrumbs

Make well in centre, break in egg yolks and zest of orange

Add 1 tbsp milk, mix with fork

Spoon into dish & flatten, chill for 15mins.

Core & slice apples. Fan apples over the cake mix

Spinkle with sugar, Bake in pre-heated oven at 180C, until pale golden brown & fruit soft.

Cook for approx 35 -40min.

Serve warm with cream or custard & large cup of tea!

(PS. I picked up the cute Tea towel in Cath Kidston in Kildare Village for €4 bargain)

Happy Baking,

Vick xx

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From an early age I helped my Nana  make yeast rolls & bread in her wonderful almond coloured Aga in East Cork, we would arrive on a Saturday morning & begin making bread process, the perfect environment for proving process with the warmth of the Aga, then in the afternoon we would enjoy a freshly baked hot yeast roll with butter… and of course we were always told that eating hot bread would hurt our tummies, but we didn’t care, it was heavenly! If we were really lucky she would make doughnuts with us, it was such a treat. While my other Gran made fantastic White Soda Bread & Brown Bread.

Last week after watching River Cottage Everyday on Channel 4 where he mastered Bread. I felt completely inspired to skip off to relive my child memories of wonderful smells of fresh bread & the excitement that some flour, yeast & water could make a wonderful end result of bread. I love Hugh Frearnley-Whittingstall enthusiasm & passion for food, whether it be using up old crusts of bread & making pesto, to utilising free food that surrounds us in making Dandelion Marmalade. Last weeks episode was absolute inspiration and to anyone who missed it I would highly recommend it. He went to visit & tutor a group of ladies who started a bread club, which is a super idea. He mastered the techniques of Yeast, Sourdough, Pizza, Focaccia & Soda Bread. My highlight was the pizza oven they built… I want myself one of them!

So I’ve decided that my project over the next few weeks will be to discover & master some of the techniques of bread making from irish soda bread, to yeast & sourdough. I started with White Yeast Bread which while it is time-consuming it is so rewarding to have fresh wholesome bread to enjoy.

White Yeast Bread

Yeast is an organism that will grow in the right conditions given warmth, food (flour) & moisture (water), it then releases carbon dioxide & produces bubbles making bread rise. It is these bubbles that you have to knock out of the dough once risen & then leave to prove again before cooking the yeast bread. The first proving process will take about 2 hours for the yeast to grown in a warm environment, either a warm air-ing cupboard, kitchen or even leaving bowl standing in warm water! Yeast can be purchased in 3 forms, fresh (Superquinn often sell- this can be kept in the freezer & then taken out & used as soon as it is defrosted), dried & fast acting yeast which are much more accessible. The above is my result of white yeast bread, while i’m very happy with the texture there aren’t many air holes, however I think the crust was slightly over-cooked. Can’t wait to try my next Breads…

A few books which have fantastic recipes & hints on bread making are the wonderful Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, which is an encyclopedia of information of raising agents, flour guides & variety of recipes from Scones to Corn Bread & Moroccan Bread. And of course also Tim Allen’s The Ballymaloe Bread Book. While Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall River Cottage Everyday is also a wonderful guide to bread, from Sour-dough, Flatbreads to Focaccia.

Happy Bread Making , Vick x

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Cully & Sully Cheffactor

So i’ve been under ground the last week or two – apologies, but here’s what i’ve been working on….

My entry for Cully & Sully Cheffactor check it out on www.cheffactor.ie

what do you think? Voting starts Oct 25th – Nov 25th – so PLEASE vote for me.

It’s an absolute dream opportunity Vick xx

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Apologies for the lack of blogging recently, hopefully will get back into it now summer is coming to a close…

Here’s a pic of my friends 80’s theme b-day cake, herself, her sister & myself made on sat after much planning on their part!

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Lavender Shortbread

Lavender is such a beautifully scented plant, when it comes into flower I always pinch bunches to hang in the house as it releases strong refreshing scents. However recently browsing through The River Cottage Year I spotted a recipe for Lavender Shortbread, so I decided here go’s…. I have to say that the shortbread had lovely texture & the lavender added a unique taste, although it was scattered throughout it still had a strong flavour. This shortbread would be perfect served with ice-cream or even just with big cuppa tea!

Lavender Shortbread


160g softened butter

80g caster sugar

2 tsp fresh lavender flowers

240g plain flour


Cream butter & sugar together, add the lavender flowers, then sift in the flour. Place in non stick tin & flatten, prick with a fork & cook in pre-heated oven at 170C for approx 20mins or until golden.

Happy Cooking xx

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