I was pretty excited for this edition of the bake off bake along, because I love bread. Completely love it. I bake bread quite a bit at home, and I always love bread week on GBBO. But was it just me, or was this a bit of a lacklustre bread week? In my head, a teacake is a biscuit chocolate marshmallow type deal. I have never even eaten a bread-style teacake, let alone made one. And the technical challenge seemed a little dull to me. I’ve never heard of or eaten a cottage loaf either, but isn’t it basically just standard white bread in an unusual shape? Bread sculptures are all well and good, but they’ve done that before. This isn’t even the first time someone’s made a bread octopus on the show. I didn’t think the episode as a whole was particularly exciting.
But still. Even an unexciting episode of Bake Off is enough to make me pretty happy. And the bake off bake along is a great excuse to try something new.
I’ve been making a real effort to actually, er, learn the bakers’ names this week (did not have that nailed last week), and I was very happy to see Julia get star baker. Probably because she’s from Siberia, so in my head she’s a kindred spirit (I used to live in Siberia, in case that connection wasn’t clear).
Also next week is caramel week!!! One exclamation mark was not enough to demonstrate my excitement. I cannot wait for that bake off bake along session.
Before that happy moment, however, we’ve got the bread week bake along to get through. I’ve gone for teacakes, mostly because I found them a more interesting prospect than a cottage loaf and obviously I am not making a bread sculpture. And you know what? They were bloody delicious.
It seemed sensible to start with Paul’s Hollywood’s recipe, for obvious reasons.
The recipe instructed me to make eight teacakes, so I obediently did so. But they were absolutely massive! Like pillows! I mean, worse things have certainly happened, but if I was making them again I’d divide the dough into ten pieces.
500g strong white bread flour
60g golden caster sugar
1 tsp ground allspice
10g instant yeast
50g butter, softened
300ml tepid water
Flavourless oil for kneading, such as vegetable or sunflower
150g dried apricots, finely chopped
100g white chocolate, cut into small chunks
1 beaten egg, to glaze
- I made all this in a mixer with a dough hook, because I am lazy. Pop the flour, salt, sugar, allspice, and yeast into your large mixing bowl. Add your butter and roughly three quarters of your measured water, and either begin kneading by hand or turn on your mixer. Gradually add more water until you end up with a soft (but not too wet or batter-like) dough – I found mine was perfect with all 300ml, but you may need more or less, depending on lots of factors like the absorbency of your flour. If you’re kneading by hand, tip your dough onto a lightly oiled surface and go at it until your dough is beautifully silky and smooth, probably around ten minutes. If you’re using a mixer, just let it do the work. Either way, lightly oil your bowl, cover it (I use clingfilm), and leave your dough to rise until at least doubled in size – a long, gentle prove will give your a better flavour in your dough. I left mine for two hours.
- Get two baking trays ready, lining them with silicone or baking paper. Pop your proved dough onto a lightly floured counter, and pull it into a rough rectangle shape. Scatter your apricots and white chocolate over it, and then roll your dough up like a swiss roll – I find this helps to get an even distribution of fruit and chocolate from the off. Knead the dough for a few minutes until it feels like the extras are well distributed.
- Weigh your dough, then divide it into ten equal pieces. Shape each into a ball, then place it on your baking tray and press it down gently with the flat of your palm to flatten it a little. Brush each with beaten egg, then place the baking trays into plastic bags and leave the teacakes to prove until doubled in size again – at least another hour. Heat your oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6.
- Bake your teacakes for ten to fifteen minutes (mine took twelve), until risen, golden, and smelling amazing. Cool on a wire rack or do what I did and eat immediately with butter.
This bake off bake along is not particularly great for anyone trying to eat healthily. I think all my bakes have contained chocolate so far. Although admittedly that’s my own fault.