Saturday, 21 October 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 4 - Stroopwafels

On Week 4 of GBBO, the bakers were challenged with baking stroopwafels - a kind of wafer filled with a deep caramel sauce (they sell them in Starbucks). I've wanted to make these for years, ever since my brother brought me some back from the Netherlands. I had to buy a waffle pan, which was why I didn't make these straight after the show. The one I bought, in case you are interested, is from Lakeland in the UK.

The Waffle maker
When I read Prue's recipe, I was a bit unhappy with her term "pancake syrup", as I had no idea what that was! Therefore I did some digging and read more about the traditional stroopwafel. Although the caramel is a secret recipe, they do say that black treacle is a prime ingredient. Therefore I used this in place of the syrup, and the result was heavenly. If you love parkin or treacle toffee, you will love this caramel.

However, if you want to be more like the Starbucks variety, use golden syrup in place of the treacle.
Unlike when the bakers made this caramel, my caramel didn't turn grainy, which I think was due to using treacle (and golden syrup should have a similar effect to the treacle as well).

These are beautiful, but you will get very warm making them, as you need to hold the lid down. You also need to work quickly when slicing and filling the biscuit/wafer, as it gets hard quickly. Don't worry if you get some leakage, it will still taste fabulous!

Makes 12


For the dough:
  • 300g (2 & 2/5 cup) plain flour
  • 65g (1/3 cup)unsalted butter
  • 5g (1 tsp) dried fast action yeast
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 65g (1/4 cup & 1 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 65ml (1/4 cup) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • oil, for greasing (I used a spray bottle)

For the caramel:
  • 200g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) soft light brown sugar
  • 100g (2/5 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp black treacle or golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


1. Make the dough, by pouring the flour into a large bowl. Chop the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl, and the cinnamon, salt and sugar to the other side and briefly mix to distribute.

2. Add the egg and slowly pour in the warm water, and use your hands to bring the dough together (you may not need all of the water). Knead lightly for 1 -2 minutes, until it forms a ball.

3. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.

4. To make the caramel, melt the sugar and the butter together in a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cinnamon and treacle and continue to heat and stir until the caramel reduces and becomes sticky enough to be able to spread (don't touch it though as it will be incredibly hot!) Stir in the vanilla extract, then keep warm. If the caramel becomes too cold, simply heat gently to loosen it up and become spreadable again.

5. Weigh out 40g of the dough and roll into a ball. Repeat with the remaining dough (this will make 12 stroopwafels). each. Cover with a damp cloth to prevent them drying out.

6. Heat the wafer/waffle cone machine. Grease the top and bottom plate with a little oil (having oil in a spray bottle makes this very easy). Place one dough ball in the middle of the pan, then set a timer for around 80-90 seconds. Press down the top lid, and bake for 80-90 seconds. Remove from the machine. You want the stroopwafel to be a light golden all over. If it is too brown, for the next biscuit, cook it for 10 seconds less. If too light, cook for 10 seconds more (this is very dependent on your machine, so requires optimization).  

7. Carefully remove the biscuit from the machine (I found this easiest using a spatula). Place on a chopping board, and while the waffle is hot, place a 10cm metal cutter on the dough. Cut around the cutter (or if unlike me, you have a sharp cutter, press down on the cutter to get a very even 10cm circle). Slice horizontally in two and split apart.

8. Spoon over a generous tablespoon of the caramel on the bottom half of the stroopwafel, then top with the top half. Gently press down so that the caramel reaches the edges of the waffle. Place on a wire rack to cool and continue with the rest of the dough.

9. Once cool, Smakelijk!

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GBBO 2017 Week 6 - Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie

GBBO Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie

GBBO Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie Whole

My boyfriend was in charge of making this pie following pastry week on the GBBO. This is his post, so I hope you enjoy it :)

This is based off Sophies four seasons pies from GBBO 2017 but makes one large pie instead of 4 smaller ones. This pie is not quick as a few of the ingredients need to be made separately before being combined. If you are looking for a quick and easy recipe you might prefer this : Game Pie, or Pork Pies with Chicken & Apricot.


For the Pastry:
500g plain flour
quarter teaspoon of salt
250g unsalted butter
3 medium egg yolks
120ml cold water
1 medium egg for glazing

For the Filling:
1 medium butternut squash (approx 600-800g once peeled, de-seeded and cubed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons honey
10g salted butter
175g creamy blue cheese (e.g. St Agur, Castello Danish blue)
250-300g baby spinach leaves
200g Buckwheat
2 table spoons crème fraiche
salt and pepper

Making the Pastry

1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, cut the butter into cubes and add it to the bowl. Work the mixture with your hands until the big chunks of butter are gone and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Add the Egg yolks then trickle in the water whilst mixing. The dough should become soft but not sticky.
3. Flatten the dough into a fat circle, wrap in clingflim and put into the fridge for 15 minutes.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge, cut in half and return half to the fridge to make the top of the pie later.
5. Roll out the dough into a circular shape and place it into the pie dish. The dough should just come over the sides.
6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan oven), whilst it is heating up cut a disc of grease proof paper and place it into the pie dish. Add some baking beans to keep the paper in place.
7. Once the oven has reached the correct temperature place the pie onto the middle shelf and leave to bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove the dish from the oven. Remove the beans and paper. Brush the inside of the pastry with a beaten egg and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
9. Take the pie out of the oven and set to one side to cool. (Leave the oven turned on for the next part)

Making the Filling

1. Place the Buckwheat in a  sieve and run under cold water until the water runs clear instead of white.
2. Put the Buckwheat into a pan of water and bring to the boil, let it simmer for 30 minutes (whilst you prepare the rest of the filling.)
3. Peel the Butternut squash and cut into small cubes. 
4. Place the cubes onto a baking tray and add the oil, cumin, rosemary and honey evenly across the tray.
5. The oven should still be turned on at 200 degrees. Place the tray of butternut squash inside for 20-25 minutes. The cubes should be mostly golden brown.
6. Remove the tray and empty into a colander to allow the liquid to drain away. Once drained move into a bowl. Turn the oven down to 160 degrees (fan oven)
7. Melt the butter into a pan and add the spinach. Stir gently until the spinach has wilted. 
8. Remove the spinach and put it into the colander to allow to drain. Once it has cooled squeeze out any excess water using your hands. The spinach will shrink a lot after doing so.
9. Crumble the blue cheese into the bowl with the butternut squash. Add the crème fraiche and then the spinach. Add the buckwheat and mix everything. Finally use some salt and pepper to taste. (If you have used a salty blue cheese you may only need to add pepper)
10. Place the mixture into the pie dish and spread it evenly.
11. Remove the remaining pastry from the fridge. Roll out into a very thin square and cut into ribbons
12. Use the Ribbons to create a pattern on top of the pie. A traditional ribbon weave will work or you can use your imagination.
13. Glaze the top of the pie using egg.
14. Bake the pie for about 25 minutes (until golden brown)

GBBO Blue Cheese, Squash and Spinach Pie

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

GBBO 2017 Week 7 - Pizza Margherita

GBBO Pizza

Week 7 on the 2017 series of GBBO was Italian-themed. I really enjoyed watching the bakers make Cannoli, which look as though they would taste amazing - deep fried pastry cylinders usually filled with a ricotta-based filling - the textures sound divine! This was the signature challenge, and as much as I wanted to try them this week I didn't have the specialist equipment - cannoli moulds or a pasta roller. Sadly, not having a pasta machine also meant that I couldn't immediately make the showstopper challenge - Sfogliatelle, which are beautiful layers of pastry layered to look like "lobster tails", filled with a sweet semolina filling. I've devoured these at Christmas markets before, and have tried to make them previously (without a pasta machine)...and they didn't turn out too well. I will be making these in the future - I just may need to put a pasta machine on my Christmas list :)

GBBO Cannoli
Sophie's Cannoli

GBBO Sfogliatelle
Steven's Sfogliatelle

So, this week I made the technical challenge, which was set by Prue and was the classic pizza Margherita. I had a few issues with her recipe (sorry Prue).

Firstly, she uses fresh yeast. As a non-professional baker, I find this really hard to get hold of (without having to persuade bakers at supermarkets to give me some...). She also used a pizza stone and a peel, neither of which I own. Therefore I adapted the recipe - using firstly Pauls' pizza dough recipe, and then I baked it in a way most people would be capable of - on a pizza tray on top of a preheated baking tray (see the recipe below).

I also added sliced meat to the pizza, as my boyfriend demanded. Leave this off to make a proper Margherita, but it did add a nice taste to the pizza.

The dough turned out wonderfully and was really easy to stretch out without using a rolling pin. The pizza itself tasted great too - it wasn't overly fatty or overladen with toppings. Simple but delicious.

Serves 2-4 (depending on whether you're having anything else with the meal)


For the dough:

  • 250g (2 tsp) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 5g (1 tsp) salt
  • 5g (1 tsp) fast-action dried yeast
  • 20ml (1 tbsp and 1 tsp) olive oil, plus extra for greasing your hands/work surface
  • 160ml (2/3 cup) water
  • Fine semolina, for dusting

For the tomato base:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can (400g) peeled plum tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped as fine as possible
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the topping:

  • 125g (around 1 cup) mozzarella
  • 50g sliced meat (optional)


1. Prepare the dough. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Pour the olive oil and salt into the bowl. Lightly grease your hands, then bring the dough together.

2. Once it forms a rough ball, tip out onto a lightly greased surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. If it gets really sticky, add some more olive oil. Keep kneading until the dough looks smooth, and springs back when lightly pressed.

3. Place in a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm then leave until it has at least doubled in size - this will take around an hour.

4. Meanwhile, make your tomato base. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan, and fry the garlic on a low heat until softened (but hasn't browned).

5. Tip in the peeled plum tomatoes, sugar and lemon juice. Heat gently, pressing the plum tomatoes against the pan to break them down. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes until the tomato juice has reduced by about half. Set aside to cool.

6. Once the dough has risen, preheat your oven to 240c (220c fan)/464F/ gas mark 9. Turn a baking tray upside down, and place in your oven to heat up. Dust a 35cm (14 inch) pizza tray with semolina and flour.

7. Grease your work surface a little oil. Tip the dough onto the surface and press down to a rough circle. Pick the dough up, and start stretching the dough outwards - you can try spinning the dough at this stage (I didn't dare!).

8. Once the dough is slightly bigger than the size of the pizza tray, transfer to the tray. Curl the excess dough over to create a neat circular pizza (this also gives a nice crust to hold onto).

9. Spread over the tomato base. Slice the mozzarella into 6-8 slices and place well spaced apart onto the pizza. Place the meat slices as you like.

9. Bake the pizza by placing the pizza tray on the preheated baking tray, for 12-15 minutes, until the sides are well browned, and the mozzarella is becoming slightly brown.

10. Slice.

11. Buon appetito!

GBBO Pizza

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