Cracked pepper and figgy bread recipe review

A slight departure from cake for this week…At the weekend, I made bread for the first time with my friend and it was much easier than I thought it would be! It’s also pretty quick and cheap to make. This recipe was fun to bake and something a bit different as it’s savoury and sweet. It goes incredibly well with cheeses like St Agur, Wensleydale and cranberries and mature cheddar. This is the recipe my friend chose from the BBC Good Food website. All you need is strong flour for bread, a bit of fast action yeast, some decent olive oil, pepper and salt, chopped dried figs and a very large bowl for the bread to rise in. The kneading is a great stress buster/bicep workout too!

First up, put your salt, pepper, yeast and flour in a bowl. Add your olive oil. Work into a dough. 400-425ml of water is about right to get the mixture to form a smooth dough. According to Delia, the water should be hot for your little finger if you dip it in. Our water was a bit colder than that but I read the Delia ‘bible‘ later on. Then you need to leave the dough to rise for an hour in a warm place. Our kitchen was warm already and we wanted to pop out so we didn’t put it by the radiator. We left our bread to rise for two hours whilst we grabbed a coffee in Wimbledon Village and watched the perfectly coiffured pedigree pooches walk by! There’s a surprising number of them!

When we got home, our bread had doubled in size and we were ready to knead in the dried figs. I’d actually use less than 350g of figs, 250g seemed enough to us. Leave it to rise for another 10-15 mins and sprinkle with a bit of flour before putting in the oven. Don’t put it too high in the oven but I would recommend baking for 45-50 mins (or atleast in a fan oven like mine). We only baked ours for 45mins and it wasn’t quite enough.

Figgy bread with St Agur and Cheddar cheeseTo check it’s done, knock on the bottom and see if it sounds hollow. If not, give it another 5mins in the oven. Serve warm with yummy cheese and grapes like we did! I tested the bread out on my colleagues this afternoon and with some Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, it went down a treat! Try it for yourselves!

Paris: the tale of the tart, the cupcake and the macaron

Lemon cupcake from Miss Cupcake shop in ParisI recently visited Paris for the very first time and as part of my trip, I made it my quest to sniff out a cupcake shop and devour raspberry tarts and try my first Parisian macaron. First up, I stumbled across a cupcake shop not far from the Sacré Coeur called Miss Cupcake (nearest metro station is Abesses). I chatted to the two ladies in there and bought a lovely looking lemon cupcake with yellow edible glitter. Whilst admiring the view from the Sacre Coeur I took this pic of the cupcake which came in a very handy portable cupcake container. The sponge melted in your mouth and I loved the amount of icing. As it was a lemon cupcake I think it could do with a little bit more lemon juice to make it really lemony.

Raspberry tart from Les Magots, ParisNext up was this corker of a raspberry tart in Les Deux Magots in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. The crème anglaise was yummy and the raspberries were plump and delicious. I did have one other raspberry tart which was superior in fact. It was from La Durée and I devoured it on the Eurostar home but I couldn’t get a snap of it with flash as everyone was fast asleep!

Macarons from La DuréeFinally, I spent a good 20 minutes queuing up for some of these beauties in La Durée. I chose vanilla, blackcurrant, caramel, red berries and chocolate. Six of these will set you back around eight euros. The intensity of flavour was incredible. I loved the blackcurrant and caramel ones. My friend told me that Pierre Hermé (here’s his chocolate macaron recipe) sells delicious ones near le Jardin des Tuileries but I didn’t get time to pop in there. I will have to save that for my next culinary visit to Paris! According to the Daily Telegraph, his book ‘Macaron’ should be publishing this autumn in English so I will be keeping my eyes peeled for that! I’ve done a bit of digging but can’t find it on sale yet so the mystery continues…Finally, if you fancy reading a bit more about macarons and Pierre Hermé, I enjoyed reading He-Eats’ blog post.

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