Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Baps (part two)

Before and after cooking pictures of the baps. I will post tasting notes later!

Baps (part one)

I do like to make my own burgers every now and again, but the problem living outside the UK is getting hold of really nice soft burger buns or baps. So, imagine my excitement when the other night, I was watching the Fabulous Baker Brothers and they made breakfast burgers from scratch, including the baps. Now, I got my favourite fool-proof white bread recipe from them, so I decided to give it a go.

The key to their recipe, which is basically for milk bread, appears to be to allow three proofs (first after a long knead, and second and third after shaping). I am writing this while the dough is proving for the first time. I will add an update when they are finished. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sunday dinner

I made another batch of brioche dough on Saturday night and baked it on Sunday morning to provide my breakfast for the week. However, this time I didn't want to freeze the dough as last time that resulted in a loaf that didn't rise so well, so I baked one loaf and then eight individual muffin sized brioches. I  know that sometimes brioche is eaten savoury so I scoured the Internet for savoury recipes and found one for brioche stuffed with tuna. You make the tuna filling with emmental and gruyère cheese so ideal for a cold snowy Swiss winter evening. Bon appetit to me!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Some of my best friends use cups

Let me start out by saying that I have nothing against Americans, but the thing I hate more than anything else in baking are recipes that use cups, teaspoons and tablespoons, instead of units of weight. I have no problem with pounds and ounces even if I prefer the metric system, but recipes written in cups drive me nuts. The main reason for this, is that they are so unpredictable. Even with a set of standard measures, it's quite difficult to make sure that you are using exactly the amount called for in the recipe and also to replicate the volume every time, so that recipes that work once can turn out a mess next time. And scraping the flour off the top of the cup to make sure it's level makes such a mess!

The internet, whilst being an amazing source of recipes, is full of cups! Cups, cups, cups everywhere I look which frankly drives me nuts!!!

I am sure there are many people out there who cope quite happily with cups and maybe I should practise using them a little more, but I'm sorry, I find recipes with weights far more easy to work with and much more predictable.

Rant over, 'nuff said!

I'll leave you with a picture of a bread roll I made last night, using a recipe written in grams.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Real men DO eat

I learnt how quick and delicious it was to make Quiche Lorraine from scratch, while sharing an apartment with a very dear French friend of mine here in Zürich. I had always been of the opinion that French food was excellent but living with her was a real eye opener in terms of how the French actually cook view food. My daily repetoire of food was heavily dominated by Italian food, but now I am keen to add more classic French dishes.

Quiche Lorraine is remarkably simple but freshly baked is so much better than shop bought, even if only for the satisfaction of having performed alchemy with milk, butter and cheese. And, although it is possible to buy nice ready made pastry and even ready blind baked flan cases, it really is very simple, quick and satisfying to make your own.

Aside from watching my dear great aunt Ada baking in her kitchen, my first experience of making shortcrust pastry was when I was 11 years old, having my first term of Home Economics classes at secondary school. The fearsome teacher, Mrs Cook (I kid you not!) barking orders at us as we all got our hot little eleven year old hands stuck into the beige ceramic bowls in front of us clouding the room in flour and melting the butter. I don't remember what the pastry tasted like but I remember being put off by this experience.

It is a commonly held belief that you need cold hands to make shortcrust pastry by hand, as warm hand melt the butter in the initial mixing with the flour and ruin the final texture of the pastry. If this was the  case then I would be doomed from the start since I have the warmest hands of anyone I know. Even in subzero temperatures my naked hands feel warm: it can get to -15 here in Zürich in the winter, and if I do venture out in gloves, I have to remove them within a few minutes as my hands feel too hot. As a child, my snowballs always melted as I was making them. However, by following a couple of basic tips, even I can make good pastry by hand.

First, make sure your butter is really cold. Unlike making cakes, making pastry calls for cold butter and not room temperature. Secondly, run your hands under the cold tap before putting your hands into the bowl and thirdly don't work too hard. The correct technique for rubbing butter into flour is a gentle tickling motion, picking up small amounts of flour and butter and combining them as they fall from your hands. It's quite sensual really, but I will stop there.

So here are some photos of my Saturday Quiche Lorraine made with a home made shortcrust pastry shell.

Blind baking the case with beans
add some lightly fried lardons

and some grated Gruyère cheese 
milk, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg

et voilà!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Panis quotidianus

Bread is seen as one of the ultimate challenges for the amateur cook. It's something that we take for granted, but forms so central a part of our daily diet that even the slightest change can cause consternation. It is no accident that Jesus used it as a metaphor for food and that, in English at least, the word is a synonym for money, that other essential for sustenance. When I was living in Tuscany, I discovered that the local bread was made without salt and, to my palate brought up on salted English loaves, was simply unpalatable. Thankfully, someone had given me a Panasonic breadmaker a few years before, with which we were able to make delicious English bloomers!

Recently, I have started baking bread without the benefit of a machine which, unfortunately, takes a lot longer but is delicious. You can make good bread dough in a mixer with a dough hook very quickly, but there is a lot of waiting around for the dough to rise. But if you plan a morning or evening around it, you can have delicious, freshly baked bread on a daily basis.

I started with a recipe for a basic white loaf which is a good one to begin with and to learn the techniques before moving onto experiment with different flours and ingredients.

The recipe I use has five ingredients:

300ml of tepid water
5g of dried yeast
560g of white flour
10g of sea salt
20ml of oil

Bread ingredients

You can use any oil. The original recipe used rapeseed oil, but I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil.

Start with the yeast. Dissolve it in the water. If the water is of the right temperature it should feel neutral when you put your hand in it. Leave it for ten minutes to start working and you should be left with a frothy liquid. If not, then the yeast hasn't worked and you should throw it away and start again.

The bubbles show that the yeast has started working

Then mix the salt in with the flour. You want to try and keep the salt away from direct contact with the yeast as it will retard it. Then add the oil and the yeast mixture and work it with your hands into a dough.
Mix the salt with the flour to keep it away from the yeast

Next comes the kneading. This can be done in a mixer with a dough hook in which case it is ready when it clings to the dough hook and the bowl is clean. However, I think that anyone who is serious about making bread should do it by hand a few times to get a feeling for the process. After a few minutes of kneading the quality of the dough changes and the surface becomes soft and slightly silky. Keep going for about 10 minutes and you will be left with a tight soft ball which bounces back when pressed with a finger.

Dough after kneading

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl which has been rubbed with olive oil and wrap tightly with clingfilm. Then put it in a warm place for about an hour to prove. This is the process by which the yeast will make the dough grow to about twice the size it was before. I warm the oven to the lowest temperature, (50 degrees) and then turn it off and leave the bowl inside.

Before ...
... and after one hour

When it has proved, remove the dough from the bowl and hit it with your hand. All the air will leave and it will return to its original size, but don't worry, this is correct. The dough will feel different again now though: much looser and more pliable.

Shape the dough into a loaf and place it in a loaf tin, which has been rubbed with oil. Cover it again, and place in a warm place for another hour. During this time it will double in size again, so make sure that there is room beneath the cover for this to happen. Instead of clingfilm, I use a plastic bag for this to ensure that the dough can rise out of the top of the tin.

Heat the oven to 220 degrees and place a backing tray at the bottom. When the loaf has risen, cut the top with a sharp knife once or twice, creating slashes. Then sprinkle with flour and place in the oven. Before you shut the oven door, take a glass of cold water and through it into the baking tray at the bottom of the oven. This will create steam which produces a nice crust on the bread.

After 30 minutes, remove the loaf from the oven. Knock the bottom of the tin. If it sounds hollow, then the loaf is cooked.  Leave it in the tin for a few minutes to cool and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool fully. And voilà, white bread!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Chuecheli* lover's guide to Zurich

 When it comes to buying and eating bread and cakes, Zurich is a bit disappointing. Among all the high-end jewellery and watch shops, you are hard pressed to find a traditional Konditorei or Backerei such as you might see in Munich or Vienna. I guess the sizeable population of bankers is more interested in spending their time making money than whiling it away enjoying a cappuccino and Apfelstrudel like their Austrian neighbours.
It is not to say that Zurich pâtisserie doesn't exist; it's just not so present as you might expect and I use the word pâtisserie, because there is a distinctly french influence to what is available. The most famous Zurich pâtisserie, Sprüngli, is known for it's Luxemburgerli, which are essentially mini french macarons. And if you want the authentic french version you can pick them up from the Zurich branch of Ladurée but without the authentic Parisian queues.
A recent outing to Honold (est. 1905) Zurich's self-styled 'confiserie' revealed a second growing influence on cakes, that of the English-speaking ex-pat community who have brought their love of cupcakes to Switzerland. And it's telling that Zurich's own cupcake shop has an English name 'Cupcake Affair'.
In fact, you can buy cupcake-making equipment all over the city, perhaps aimed at wives of expat bankers sitting bored at home and wondering what to do with that Neff oven.
As a footnote, I must add that just round the corner from my apartment is Zurich's only 24-hour 365-day-per-year Backerei where you can buy fresh baguette at 3am.

*'chuecheli': swiss german for little cake

Sprüngli Luxemburgerli

Chaussons aux pommes for carnival at Sprüngli

The real deal: Ladurée macarons
Traditional ...

... and not so traditional at Honold

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche part deux :)

Some people have been asking me about the title of the brioche post. It is the original version of the phrase often attributed to Marie Antoinette during the french revolution given in English as 'let them eat cake'.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!

I decided I wanted to try to make the french classic brioche. This is a kind of bread enriched with that french staple, butter. It seemed obvious to look for a Julia Child recipe and found the following, although I am not sure if it is authentic Julia since it was quoted on a variety of websites but was also in a YouTube video featuring Julia but where it was demonstrated by Nancy Silverton. Anyway, it worked a treat as you will see!

The recipe was in two halves, first a sponge base and then the dough for the brioche. For the sponge base:

1/3 cup of warm milk (100-110 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 egg
2 cups flour

Now, being European I have always avoided recipes involving cups, but this time I decided to brave it, noticing that my IKEA measuring jug was marked in cups as well as deciliters. So the method was to put the milk, yeast, egg and one cup of the flour into the bowl of your mixer and then mix using a spatula. You were then directed to cover the mixture with the rest of the flour and leave for 30-40 minutes. When you looked at it, the flour covering was supposed to be cracked showing that the yeast had worked. As you can see, this happened right on cue!

Next came the ingredients for the dough.

1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
6 oz butter at room temperature

So back to the method. You put the sugar, salt, eggs and one cup of the flour to the bowl and then mix using the dough hook on low for about 2 minutes until things start to come together. Then you add the rest of the flour and then mix on medium for 15 minutes. This is a bit of hard work for your mixer. You will need to stop occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that it mixes properly. When it is finished, the dough should stick to the hook and slap the sides of the bowl. This is an excellent description as it's exactly what you will see.

Now you need to add the butter to the dough. To do this, you need to make sure that the butter is the same consistency as the dough. Now the dough is sticky and wet and you can get the butter to this consistency by whacking it with a rolling pin or wrapping in cling film and rolling.

Keeping the mixer on low speed, add the butter a tablespoon at a time. It will look like it's not working and the butter will spread on the sides of the bowl, but keep faith as suddenly it will disappear into the dough. When all the butter has gone, return the mixer to medium for 5 minutes. When done you will be left with a dough that is a little wet and feels cool. So put it in a bowl and cover it with cling film.

You can now have a rest as the dough rises. You need to wait a grand total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the dough doubles in size, which as long as the milk was the right temperature at the beginning, it will.

When it has risen, put your fingers under dough to lift it out of the bowl and it will deflate. Don't worry, this is all part of the process. Then cover it with cling film again and then place the bowl in the fridge for 4-6 hours. During this time it will double in size again. I didn't say this was quick!

Now, take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and arrange in a loaf tin in two rows, as in the picture.

And guess what? You now have to wait for another two hours for it to double in size.

Next, brush the tops of the balls with egg wash being careful that the sides are not touched. This can stop the dough from rising. Then cut a cross in the top of each ball with a pair of scissors! This is truly the classic technique. I was shocked but then saw this video of Michel Roux doing the same so obeyed.

So this now goes in an oven, preheated to 190 degrees C for 30 to 40 minutes and when you have finished, voilà! You will see that the balls blend into each other and form a very attractive shaped loaf.

Perfect with Nutella or jam for breakfast with coffee, or more traditionally, dipped into a bowl of hot chocolate!
As you can see, brioche takes a long time, but if you plan it correctly, the final stages can be done in the morning, facilitating a wonderful fresh cooked loaf for breakfast!

Gruezi Mitenand (again!)

Welcome to my second attempt at a blog. My first one, Züri Blog which aimed to document the City of Zürich through its COOP supermarkets, was a great idea but impractical. Firstly there are too many COOPs around the city and secondly, I found myself outside the city too much to make updates which were of a useful regularity. So, now I am back! This time with Chueche Bueb a blog that combines my two favourite pastimes of writing and baking.
I had the idea for this blog a while ago because of something I noticed on Facebook. No matter how many witticisms, insightful comments or exotic photographs I posted, the only thing that would really get my friends' attention was when I shared pictures of food I had prepared.
So, I am sure you are all asking yourselves where I got the name from. Well, as I live in Zürich, it seems appropriate to choose a Schwyzertüütsch (Swiss German) name. Chueche Bueb translates literally as Cake Boy and is a homage to two things: firstly it's an early version of the term 'metrosexual' which I think is really amusing and also it's the name of the shop of my favourite pâtissier Eric Lanlard.
Enough of explanations: let's get started with the really fun stuff ... the food! And as the subject of the ultimate food blog would have said: Bon appetit!