Bread, Food Ramblings

Makowiec aka Poppy Seed cake

I’m lucky to have a little bit of a mix of culture and food in my family, my granddad was Polish, my Nan was Italian and the rest of my family is English.

I often eat Italian food on a regular basis but not so much Polish, however, I have recently found a recipe that I can’t wait to make to eat again… makowiec, or also known affectionately as poppy seed cake.

When I little we always used to get one of these from the market in Cannock, it used to be our Saturday afternoon treat.
Unfortunately, as time goes on and shops shut down I don’t know where I can buy this from locally now. I still have a tendency to go into a Polish shop and look for this whenever I see one but they recently they have become few and far between.

So I have decided that I am going to try and make my own. Armed with this recipe Makowiec  from The Fresh Loaf I am hoping that it is going to turn out wonderful.
I guess I shouldn’t get my hopes up too high as I am still a beginner in learning the fine art of bread making, but if it does come out well then I will making this at every available opportunity. Firstly, I need to find where I can buy a lot of poppy seeds as they are quite expensive in the supermarket.

With the baby nearing halfway through its proving time I want to make sure I have a good staple of recipes that bring back memories so that when it is old enough it can appreciate the baked goods that I loved as a child… and this is definitely one I want to continue.

Has anyone else tried making this? If so then I would love to hear your recipes or any other sweet Polish treats.

Bread, Savoury

Shaun’s Soda Bread

My husband is a great cook and makes wonderful meals, though he doesn’t bake very often.
One of the things he is really good at is a Soda Bread. It is an Irish recipe and with him having some Irish blood in his family he makes it perfectly.

I remember the first time he made it he was so nervous about getting it right because with most baking you have to be precise with your measurements and ingredients and he wasnt used to this. The first time, like everyone’s first bread, you end up a completely sticky mess as the recipe nearly always needs more flour than it says.
He managed it and ever since he has got better at doing it.

This recipe is great as a first time forray into bread as it doesn’t take much kneading, rising or proving time. From start to finish your loaf can be ready to eat in an hour and you can make it a sweet recipe to by adding some cinnamon and raisins.

Shaun’s Soda Bread

500g Plain Flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
Approx. 400ml buttermilk*

Pre-heat the oven to 200c Gas 6
Sift the flour and bicarb of soda together into a large mixing bowl and then mix in the salt.
Make a well in the centre and mix in the buttermilk (if it is little dry add a tablespoon of milk, but normally the recipe is a little sticky)
Once it is mixed together, turn onto a floured surface and knead quickly, just enough to make it into a loose ball and no more.
Put the dough onto a silicone mat or greaseproof paper.
Cut the dough with a sharp knife with a cross shape. You will want to cut quite deep but not all of the way to the edges, and make sure you don’t cut all the way though!
Generously dust with flour and then put into the oven.
Cook for about 40-45 minutes or until the dough makes a hollow sound when you tap on it on the underside. (Dont worry if you don’t know what this sound is, I am never 100% sure either.)

Leave to cool on a rack. If you want a soft crust then wrap with a clean tea towel or for a crunchy top then leave uncovered.

THis is best eaten on the day it is made and is lovely warm. It also tastes lovely with some butter and jam on it or dipped in a home-made vegetable soup, as we had it for dinner.

*If you cant find buttermilk in the then you can make your own by using full fat milk and putting a tablespoon of lemon juice into it and leaving it to stand for 15 minutes before you use it. We usually find it next to the cream in the supermarket.

Muffin, Savoury

Cheese and Black pudding muffins

Strangely, or maybe not so strange to some people, I am a huge fan of black pudding.
I can eat it straight out of the fridge, fried, in burgers, on cheese sandwiches… in fact, anywhere!

Today I have suddenly thought that I haven’t had any for a while and after reading an article on the revival of fresh blood black pudding, I really fancy some.

I thought about the best way to bake it and decided that I really fancy cheese and black pudding muffins! I think most people will turn their nose up at these but I really want to see how they will taste. In my head, I have a vision lovely soft cheesy muffins with little cubes of black pudding inside. Then I will cut them open and put some butter on whilst they are still warm.

The recipe I have decided to try is adapted from a Simon Rimmer recipe, which uses cherry tomatoes instead.

Cheese muffins with black pudding

225g/8oz self-raising flour
100g/3½oz courgette, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g/3½oz mature cheddar, grated
175ml/6fl oz milk
1 free-range egg
55ml/2fl oz olive oil
Diced Black pudding

1.Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2.In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, courgette, salt, freshly ground black pepper and cheddar and mix well.
3.In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, egg and olive oil. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Mix in the cubed black pudding
5.Grease ten muffin moulds and half-fill each with the mix.
6. Cook for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Quiche/Flan, Savoury

Ham, Cheese and Onion flan / quiche

Last weekend my wonderful husband and my dad installed our [my] new oven! Although the kitchen is a long way from finished, it is so exciting having a lovely electric oven to cook in. So after watching Saturday Kitchen and seeing Rick Stein eating a quiche – I decided that it would be the first thing I needed to bake.

I don’t know whether it is proper to call it a flan or a quiche so I end up calling it both. I am sure there is some kind of difference but I haven’t noticed one yet, I just use them interchangeably as to whether I am feeling posh or not.

You can put whatever filling you like into it such as asparagus, mushroom, bacon… – as long as you bind it all together with egg it should be fine but this is my favourite mix.

Ham, Cheese and Onion flan / quiche

Shortcrust pastry
2-3 thick slices of nice ham
Half a white onion thinly sliced
Two type of grated cheese (I used cheddar and red Leicester)
3-5 eggs depending on their size
Splash of milk

Pre-heat the oven to 200c

Roll out the shortcrust pastry about 5mm thick and use to line a pastry tin. Make sure you have no holes at all in it and it is pushed back into the edges.* Trim the top of the pastry flat with a knife and gently prick the pastry with a fork, but be careful not to go all of the way through.

Put a sheet of greaseproof paper over the pastry and fill with baking beans or something else like dried beans to weight it down. If you don’t put the greaseproof paper in then the baking beans will stick to the pastry.

Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes till the pastry starts to get a bit of colour, then take out the baking beans and greaseproof paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Let the pastry case cool a little then fill it with grated cheese, cut up pieces of ham and slices of onion. Make sure there is plenty of filling inside but not higher than the edge of the pastry case.

Whisk the eggs with the splash of milk and season with a little salt and pepper and then pour over your filling till it is near to the top of the case (but not over full)

Bake it in the oven for approx 35-45 minutes. You will be able to tell when it is done when it stops really wobbling and looks a lovely golden colour. Let it cool a bit before you cut it.

I like to eat it warm with chips and baked beans, but is also great the next day straight from the fridge.

*A little tip – use a spare bit of pastry to push it to the edges with.

Quiche/Flan, Savoury

My mom’s shortcrust pastry recipe

My mom is a wonderful cook and probably the best person in the world at making pastry. She always has such a knack at being able to make it crumbly and taste perfect, something which I am still working on at the moment.

My two favourite recipes she cooks use sweet pastry; they are toffee apple pie or egg custard, and they always look like pretty impressive deserts when they come out of the oven.

When I was little, me and my sister used to make jam tarts with the left over pastry. They must have been pretty tough due to the amount we played with it and rolled it out before it went in the oven, but it was a good, fun learning experience – and I still make jam tarts with left over pastry now.

When first decided I wanted to make my own shortcrust pastry I looked in the recipe books but couldn’t choose which recipe was best one to go for, so I cast them aside and decided to ask my mom.

The recipe she gave me for a shortcrust pastry is very simple and easy to do; you just need to follow the proportions – half the amount of flour in fat and the same number of tablespoons of water as the oz of flour. I’m sure there are lots of other recipes out there and someone in your family will have their own… but this is my mom’s.

My mom’s shortcrust pastry recipe

To make a pie with a top on you need:

16oz plain flour
4oz butter
4oz lard
Up to 16 tablespoons of cold water
Pinch of salt

For a flan base use:

12oz plain flour
3oz butter
3oz lard
Up to 12 tablespoons of cold water
Pinch of salt

Put the flour and salt into a bowl and cube the butter and lard into it. Try to have the butter and lard out of the fridge for half an hour before using as it can be a bit too hard.

Using your fingertips rub the butter and lard into the flour until it has been combined and looks like breadcrumbs.

Put most of the cold water into the breadcrumb looking mix and squash gently till just combined. If you need to keep adding the rest of the water till it all sticks together but don’t add too much you want it to just combine and not be sticky, it is better when it is only just holding together.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and put into the fridge for at least half an hour.

It is now ready to roll out and use – or freeze if you need to.