Focaccia Art

A foccacia in a baking tray with a floral decoration

One of our lovely bake club members posted a gorgeous photo a few weeks back. It was an image of someone’s beautiful Focaccia art. Many of us decided that we needed to give it a go. It was a work of art, and lots of fun.

You can use whatever recipe you want for this, I used my sourdough recipe, but any Focaccia or Pizza base recipe will work fine. Just make sure you prove it properly. In my experience, that’s where most people make mistakes with their bread making.

A foccacia in a baking tray with a floral decoration

Focaccia art

becs-table.com.au

Making focaccia or pizza dough by hand can be fun. Of course, you could use a Thermomix or Stand mixer to do the kneading for you.

Prep Time 1 hr

Cook Time 25 mins

Total Time 1 hr 25 mins

Difficulty Easy

Course Bread, Dinner, Lunch

Cuisine Italian

Servings 8

Method Thermomix and Conventional

  • Thermomix (optional)

  • Stand mixer (optional)

  • 500 g strong white bakers flour
  • 2 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 300 ml lukewarm water
  • olive oil
  • melted butter for brushing on the top
  • Fill a measuring jug with 300 g of lukewarm water then add the yeast and sugar and mix with a fork. Set this aside for 5 – 10 mins to activate the yeast.

  • In the meantime, place the flour and salt into a large bowl, and make a well in the centre

  • Check the yeast and, when it starts to foam, slowly pour it into the well, mixing as you go.

  • As soon as all the ingredients come together, which may take a minute or so, knead vigorously for around 5 minutes or until the dough comes together and is smooth and soft.

  • Lightly oil a large bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

  • After around 15 minutes of proving time set the oven to preheat to 220°C and get your baking tray ready. Rub the whole base of your baking tray with olive oil.

  • Take the risen dough out of the bowl and place it on the benchtop, (lightly dust if needed, try not to use too much flour) flatten it by pressing down with the palm of your hand or using a rolling pin. You’re trying to make the same size as the size of your tray. Place it in the tray and shape as best you can. Remember it will even out a bit when it rises in the oven.

  • Brush the melted butter over the surface of your dough and decorated however you wish. Have fun.

To knead with a Thermomix bring together on speed 4 -5 then knead for 2 minutes.  Or for a stand mixer bring together then knead for 5 mins with a dough hook.

Now to make the decoration. I started by using melted butter to brush over the surface to give my Focaccia that lovely golden brown glow. Then for the fun part, the decorating.

I went out into the garden and grabbed what I could find. It’s getting chilly here now in Melbourne (May is late Autumn) so things are starting to die back. I managed to get some spring onion, parsley, rosemary and a few tomatoes. The red onion and corn was in the pantry.

Topping ideas for focaccia art

  • parsley
  • spring onion
  • red onion
  • tomato
  • sun-dried tomato
  • seeds
  • herbs like rosemary, thyme etc
  • corn kernels
  • capsicum
  • olives
  • capers
  • celery stalks and leaves
  • zucchini and zucchini flowers
  • limited only by your imagination and taste buds
Small tomatoes used to decorate the focaccia
Small tomatoes used to decorate the focaccia

One of the girls asked what did I use to make the tulips. I used these little tomatoes to make my flowers. I cut the fat end into points. I love tomatoes and eat them pretty much every day, although I don’t really like my tomatoes baked. I would have used capsicum if I had any. Do you like soft warm tomatoes? 🙂

Do you remember Malt Loaf?

A wooden board with a sliced malt loaf

I’m not sure if you have to be of British heritage to know this one?  Being a Possie, you know half Aussie half Pommie. I’m often not sure if it was just our family, or all Aussies that were fed these things when they were kids.

I know this one is quintessentially British because when I dish some of this up to any of my British friends I hear them say “Oh My Gosh, Malt Bread this tastes just as I remember it” with a glisten in their eye.  It’s like it’s something they’d forgotten about but has evoked fond memories on the first bite.

A plate with an uncut malt loaf on it
Malt loaf

Anyway enough of that, I bet you want to try it now!  So, if you love malt loaf, or have never tasted one, you need to jump in and make this. It’s an easy one to make, and seriously just like a bought one.

This recipe is one that doesn’t use yeast, so already it’s a bit easier and quicker to make.  It does have all those amazing flavours we love in malt loaf, but has a texture similar to banana loaf. 

I posted the recipe in our private Bake Club members group in Facebook a couple of weeks back and they love it. Some are telling me they’ve made it a couple of times already. Try it and I’m sure you’re going to love it as we do.

A wooden board with a sliced malt loaf

Malt loaf

Wonderful, sticky, intense flavoured malt loaf. Once it’s baked, allow it to cool, slice then slather with cold butter. YUM

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 50 mins

Total Time 1 hr 5 mins

Course Afternoon Tea, Lunch Box Treat, Snack

Cuisine British

Servings 10

  • 100 g hot black tea
  • 115 g malt extract
  • 55 g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200 g mixed dried fruit Whatever you like but I tend to go for sultanas, dates, currants and prunes whatever you have or like really. Just sultana’s if that’s all you have 😉
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 170 g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Thermomix Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160° C/140° C fan. Grease or line a 600 g loaf tin with baking paper.

  • Wash and drain the fruit, While the fruit is draining make the tea.

  • Weigh the flour, baking powder and bicarb into the TM bowl and with the MC in place combine 5 seconds/speed 5 then set aside

  • Weigh the hot tea, malt, sugar, dried fruit and eggs into the TM bowl and with the MC in place mix for 5 seconds/ reverse speed + 4

  • Return the dry ingredients to the TM bowl and mix with the MC in place for 10 seconds/ reverse speed + 5

  • Pour the mix into the prepared tin

  • Bake for around 50 mins. The loaf should be firm to the touch.

  • Remove from the tin after 10 – 15 mins and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Once cool, serve sliced and buttered, delish

Conventional Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160° C/140° C fan. Grease or line a 600 g loaf tin with baking paper.

  • Wash and drain the fruit, While the fruit is draining make the tea.

  • Add the hot tea, malt, sugar, dried fruit and eggs into a bowl and mix well to combine.

  • Weigh the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl and mix to combine.

  • Mix the dry and wet mixes together, don’t take too long here then pour into the prepared tin.

  • Bake for around 50 minutes, the loaf should be firm to the touch.

  • Remove from the tin after 10 – 15 mins and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Once cool, serve sliced and buttered, delish

Want to know more?

I’ve got another recipe that uses sourdough or a poolish that you can make really quickly. French baguettes. They’re so good and easy to make.

Thermomix and Stand mixer French Baguettes

Or, maybe you’d like to know more about Bake Club Online?

What is Bake Club Online?

Fruit bowl Muffins

An apple and banana muffin cracked open to show the inside
Fruit bowl muffin Apple and banana

What the heck is a Fruit Bowl Muffin? Do you have fruit that has been passed over by the kids because there’s a ding in it? An apple with a black bit or a few wrinkles on the skin. Or maybe there’s a banana that has too many spots? sheesh, Don’t get cross, get even!

I’ve got a recipe that sneakily stuffs uses them all. It’s well suited for using up what your kids, or others in the family won’t touch. I won’t tell if you don’t. hehehee

I’ve got an apple and a banana that needs using up, so I’m going to fold them into this recipe for simple condensed milk muffins. Yep, I have 6 cans of condensed milk in the cooking school for some reason. I must have thought of something for Bake Club that never eventuated.

A cooling rack of muffins (fruit bowl muffins)
Use up the fruit in your fruit bowl muffin

We’ve talked about the difference between muffins and cupcakes in Bake Club, so my bake club buddies know these are muffins and not cupcakes. They understand why’s and how’s of muffins. Great texture, soft, easy and delicious, and in this case, a brilliant way to use up leftover fruit from your fruit bowl.

Apart from an apple and a banana that is a bit passed it’s prime, I’ve got the tins of condensed milk. You would think that with all these ingredients, that this would be super sweet, but it’s not.

An apple and banana muffin cracked open to show the inside

Fruit Bowl Condensed Milk Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Course: Afternoon Tea, brunch, Lunch Box Treat, Snack

Cuisine: American

Servings: 12

Author: Bec

  • 125 g butter cubed
  • 395 g can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 300 g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs lightly whisked
  • 250 g – 300g cubed fruit (apple, banana, strawberries, blueberries, anything you like really)
  • Icing sugar Optional to dust

Conventional Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced (or 180°C no fan). Line your cupcake pan with muffin papers.

  • Add your butter to a saucepan and gently heat to melt (or use a microwave). Once melted, add the condensed milk and stir well to combine. Once incorporated remove from the heat and set aside.

  • Add the self-raising flour to a large bowl and using a whisk stir creating a well in the center.

  • Pour in the condensed milk mixture, add the eggs and vanilla, then using a whisk or spatula fold in until combined. Do not over beat at this stage.

  • Add the cubed fruit folding to combine then spoon the mixture evenly among the paper cases.

  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed.

  • Set aside to cool for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Dust lightly with icing sugar to make them pretty.

Thermomix Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160°C fan forced (or 180°C no fan). Line your cupcake pan with muffin papers.

  • Add the cubed butter to the TM bowl and set for 2 minutes/60°C/sp1

  • Add the remainder of the ingredients except the fruit to the TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds/speed 4

  • Remove the lid and scrape down. Add the cubed fruit and mix on reverse speed 10 seconds/ speed 3.5

  • Spoon the mixture evenly among the paper cases.

  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed.

  • Set aside to cool for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Dust lightly with icing sugar to make them pretty.

Want to know more?

For cupcakes, rather than muffins, you might try this recipe for Thermomix cupcakes that taste like doughnuts

Or, maybe you’d like to know more about our popular Bake Club Online.

How to Cook Rice Perfectly

Jeera rice and butter chicken

Here’s a foolproof way of cooking white rice on the stove (it’s the chef way). If you haven’t seen this method before, you won’t believe how simple it is. All you need is rice, a pot with a lid (or foil), and water. A timer is handy – I use my watch.

This method will work for any white rice that needs the grains to be separated. You can even use this method with your rice cooker if you have one. I have a Thermomix, and occasionally make rice in it, but to tell you the truth my TM is usually cooking the “hero of the dish” and the rice is just the side. Making the rice on the stove ensures the rice is finished cooking at the same time.

There are so many methods out there to do absolutely everything, but I like to do things the easy way. If I find something that’s complicated, I look for the easiest, quickest, cleanest way. After all, there aren’t many of us that want to spend more hours in the kitchen than we need to.

When adding water to your rice, less is better than more. Adding too much water results in overcooked rice. If you don’t use my method below, then read the pack and follow that. Although if following the pack instructions I like to reduce the amount of water just a little bit because you can always add more, but you can’t easily take it out.

There’s one rule I never skip, it’s so important if you think about where much of our rice comes from.

  • Wash the rice first. There are so many ways you can do this, but you if you have a strainer like this, it’s easy. Pop your rice in it and run water through it until the water runs mostly clear. I don’t do this so much to wash the starch out, I do it to clean it. Depending on where your rice has come from you will defiantly want to wash it.
  • Put your rice in a pot that has a lid. Cover the rice with enough water until it comes up to your first knuckle. (Your fingertip sits on the surface of the rice and the water reaches your first knuckle.)
Rice in a pot with water and spices. A finger showing how much water to add
Jeera rice (Cumin Rice)
  • Set the pot on the stove with the lid on and bring to the boil. Keep an eye on it, as soon as it starts to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes don’t take the lid off, simply take it off the heat and let it rest for a further 10 minutes. If you don’t keep an eye on it for that first step and your rice boils too long, then you’ll overcook it. Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll know how long it takes, and it will become second nature for you.

How easy is that? Just a little tip, if you use too much water you’re rice can overcook or blow out. If you use this method at any time and you find the rice seems overcooked, it’s because you used too much water. It’s almost impossible to ruin your rice if you follow this method correctly.

  • Your rice will have perfectly absorbed the liquid
  • It won’t be too soft
  • it won’t be too hard
  • You can add flavour before you start as I do with my Cumin rice recipe
Herbs and spices used in Cumin rice

Rice is such a quick and easy side to prepare. It’s a pantry staple that everyone loves. This recipe works for any rice that needs to have the grains separated.

Cumin rice

Want to know more?

If you love curry or any dish that has bags of flavour, check out my spice blend eBooks. We’ve added a second one as a freebie with even more ways to use them. There are recipes for southern fried chicken, powdered vegetable stock, Ras El Hanout, Tandoori, Laksa and a whole lot more.

Bec’s Favourite spice blends eBook bundle

Or, have a look at this rice recipe (Cumin Rice) blog post

Cumin Rice (Jeera rice)

What’s wrong with my bread?

Image of a loaf of bread on a cooling rack

Bread making faults. There are a few. However, there is one that really stands out as a common bread making fault.

This April I saw a lot of hot cross buns on Facebook which is fabulous.  I saw loads of people that were really happy with their results, and some that weren’t so happy….

Tips for making yeasted bread.

If your bread (or buns) were heavy and hard, it may not have been the recipe, it might have been because you were a little too impatient.

When I was teaching at college we’d have 16 students in a class, each making their own version of a single recipe.  If a recipe stipulated every single move of a technique they’d be many pages long.

Bahn Mi

So we shorten our method steps to something like “set in a warm place for 30 minutes”  

This is not very specific, and not always ideal if don’t understand what outcome we’re trying to achieve. What’s a warm place and exactly 30 minutes? What does it really mean?

The question of proving

Quite often it’s not the recipe thats wrong, but more a misinterpretation of its meaning given that it may use a degree of shorthand.  For yeasted bread, when your bread has turned out heavy, it’s more than likely you’ve just been a little too impatient and didn’t allow your buns (or bread) to prove enough before you popped them in the oven.

It’s the combination of time and temperature that provides the opportunity for yeast to grow, and ultimately for the dough to increase in volume. It’s this expansion in size (volume) that is essential to avoid a heavy, unappealing loaf of bread. The required increase in volume varies depending on the style, but a doubling of volume might be a general target.

Now lets look at some other factors that impact proving.

  • Was it warm where you put them to prove? 20 – 25 c
  • Was the dough in a draft?
  • Is your yeast in date?
  • Did you have it covered? if the surface dries it’s not ideal.
  • Have you been storing your yeast in the freezer?  (don’t do that it’s a myth, the fridge is OK, freezer no good)
  • When a recipe tells you to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place it means a warm place.  Don’t have a warm spot? I have loads of ideas that are shared in our classes, but you only need one or two don’t you.  Here are a couple of my favourites.

Is 30 minutes always the right amount of time?

No. Its a guide. Yeast is sensitive to temperature, and proving times will need to be varied at different temperatures. The type of yeast used also has an impact on proving time. This is especially important for sourdough, where the yeast used will require longer proving times.

What do we mean by yeasted bread?

We mean bread that has been made with the addition of commercial bread yeast (ie. bakers yeast fresh or dried that we buy from a supermarket), or sourdough from a yeast-based starter.

Baguettes

For small loaves:

Just about everyone has a microwave whether you use it much or not.  Take a shallow heatproof bowl (I use the top of a pyrex dish), pop it in the microwave with about ½ cup of water. 

Set the water to boil. It usually takes about 3 minutes for mine. Then sit a cooling rack or plate on top (cooling rack works better if you have one small enough), pop your dough inside on top of the cooling rack and close the door.  The atmosphere will be warm and moist. Perfect for dough proving.  

For larger trays:

The second method is just as easy but I tend to use this for trays of dough rather than a loaf because of the surface area we need to cover and my larger trays don’t fit in my microwave. 

Cover your tin with clingfilm.  ¼ – ½ fill your sink with hot water, sit a cooling rack over the sink then place your tray over the cooling rack to keep the warmth and steam in I use a clean tea towel over the top.

When you prove your dough it really does need to almost double in size.  That can be really hard to judge I know. But if you make the same thing over a few times you will learn what that is. 

In my experience, this is where most people go wrong.  Especially with something like Hot Cross Buns because the remainder of the recipe is really very easy.  You don’t have to worry too much about gluten development and other things commonly used in bread making.

Black burger buns sitting in the oven on a rack, showing baked
Black Burger Buns

Want to know more?

Why not have a go at one of these other bread related recipes.

Hot Cross buns in less than an hour

Hot Cross Buns – Patisserie Recipe (for Thermomix)

Black Burger Bun Recipe

Bec’s Burger Buns

Thermomix and Stand mixer French Baguettes

Thermomix Bahn Mi – Vietnamese Bread Rolls

Sweet Custard Filled Pull-Apart

Or, maybe you’d like to know more about Bake Club Online.

What is Bake Club Online?

Sourdough Starter in 6 days

Bec's sourdough made with a yoghurt starter

With yeast being a little difficult to find at the moment, we thought we’d have a go at making a new (and unusual) sourdough starter. If you love making sourdough bread, but your sourdough starter has died, you might be interested in this…

What if you could have a new sourdough starter up and running in just 6 days?

I was looking through some old pastry chef notes from years ago and I found something that I hadn’t tried, but thought sounded interesting at the time. Using yoghurt to build a sourdough starter. Yep, you heard me.

an image of the crumb texture in Bec's yoghurt sourdough

I make my own yoghurt and a lot of my students do too, because they’ve done one of my courses or they’ve seen this post. I also notice that yoghurt is still easily found at the shops at the moment (which might be an easy option).

So if you’ve made sourdough before and you want to get a starter up and running really fast, try this method for a yogurt sourdough bread starter.

Bec’s Yoghurt Sourdough Starter

This is a quick starter to get up and running. It’s easy to do we love it

Prep Time6 d

Author: Bec

  • 1 litre jar

  • 20 g skim milk powder
  • 160 g cool boiled water I just grab it from the jug
  • 80 g Pot set yoghurt No flavour/No sugar
  • 500 g bakers flour I prefer T55 or Euro but any good quality Bakers will be fine
  • Day 1 Sterilise your 1 litre jar. I do this by washing and rinsing really well. Dry the outside with a t-towel and pop it in the microwave. set it for 5 seconds. Yep with nothing in it but the little bit of water that remains from rinsing.
  • Weigh the yoghurt and milk powder into the jar and mix well to combine. Then weigh in the water and mix again.

  • Pop the lid on the jar and sit it in a bowl. Pour enough hot tap water in the bowl for the water to come up to the same mark as the liquid inside. We don’t want boiling water here, just hot enough to gently warm the liquid inside to start the process. Now set this aside in a warm place for 24 hours

  • Day twoYou may notice that the liquid inside has separated a little, don’t worry, it’s fine. Remove thelid and weigh in 120 g bakers flour and mix well with a fork.  I use a fork because you want to try and create some air bubbles if you can.  I also chose a fork that will fit inside my jar with the lid on. Lazy I know. 😉 Now set the jar aside in a warm place for 2 whole days.
  • Day fourRemove the lid and weigh in more flour 135g and cool boiled water 135g, mix again with the fork. Leave until tomorrow
  • Day fiveThis is the first time and only time you should need to throw some starter out. It’s only because we need to fit more in the jar. (You could add it to another jar and have two going I suppose or use it in pancakes or the like ;-))You should now be seeing signs of life, loads of tiny bubbles throughout your starter. Remove 1/2 the starter from the jar and weigh in another 130 g flour and 130 g water and mix.set aside until tomorrow.
  • Day sixToday’s the day you can make your first loaf. Go on what are you waiting for. 😉oh, you want a recipe?

This will make a wet sourdough, so make sure if you’ve used a sourdough before, that you have it at the right consistency for your bread.

Here’s the one I made to test it out. It was delish, with well developed flavours that we expect from sourdough.

an image of the crumb texture in Bec's yoghurt sourdough

Bec’s Yoghurt Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 2 days

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Course: Breakfast, Dinner, lunch

Cuisine: French

Author: Bec

  • 150 g yoghurt starter
  • 240 g water
  • 8 g salt
  • 400 g white bread flour You may need a little more the dough should be tacky but not super sticky
  • Weigh all the ingredients into a bowl (I used my IKEA bowl, if you make bread, $10 at the time of writing this. you need one of these it’s brilliant for proving)

  • Mix well to combine with a spatula and leave for 2 hours.

  • After 2 hours with wet hands (or use a little oil on your hands) fold the dough over on itself a few times and rest again for another 2 hours.

  • The next step is important. I can’t stress this enough if you’re using a banneton, put plenty of flour all over it.. This dough is very wet and you don’t want it sticking. If you think it might then place a clean tea towel in the base first and dust that liberally with flour. Of course, you can use a normal bowl with a tea-towel draped inside as well. Pop in the dough and set it in the fridge for 12 hours. You know overnight while you sleep. (can be longer if you like)

  • The next morning take it out of the fridge and sit it in a warm place for around 5 hours. * see notes

  • After 5 hours, pop the oven on to 200°c, when it’s at temp turn the dough out onto a baking paper-lined tray. I have a steam oven and had it on 1/4 steam, if you don’t, you can place a tray in the bottom of your oven and throw some ice cubes in it to get similar results. The icecubes gently melt and create steam as they go.

  • Bake until deep golden brown.

  • Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before you cut it. Then devour. 😉

When you prove your loaf (leaving it for 5 hours in a warm place) if it hasn’t doubled in size you need to either wait until it does, or start creating a warm environment for it to do its job.   I like to use the microwave as a chamber.  Boil some water in there for a few minutes remove the water and add the loaf and shut the door.  
Don’t forget to feed it again once you’ve used some.  I put equal amounts of cool boiled water and flour in the same qty as I’ve taken out.  For example If you’ve used 100 g starter, put 50 water 50 g flour mix and leave on the bench for a few hours before storing in the fridge. 

My wonderful Bake Club and sourdough students inspired me to make this new recipe. I’ve had a few people ask me if I’ve got any yeast to sell. I’ve never sold yeast, so nope, sorry. I thought it might be nice to be able to help them out by sharing this recipe, because yeast is so hard to get at the moment.

So thank you Bake Clubbers. x x x

Want to know more?

I’ve got another recipe that uses sourdough or a poolish that you can make really quickly. French baguettes. They’re so good and easy to make.

Thermomix and Stand mixer French Baguettes

Or, maybe you’d like to know more about Bake Club Online?

What is Bake Club Online?

Happy Baking…….

Lentils a Pantry Staple

A Bowl filled with Puy Lentil dish

Here’s another recipe that you may be able to make from your pantry staples.

Loving lentils

I’ve always got lentils on hand. Although I’ve noticed a lot of Aussies no longer know what to do with them. It’s great to have things like this in your pantry.

For this recipe, I’m using Puy Lentils (pronounced as poy) or French Style Lentils. You can get them at the local supermarket. They don’t have to be served as a soup, they can be served as a healthy side dish.

I often see Thermomix recipes for lentils but they’re usually dahl. This recipe one is French, so if you’re not into Indian it may suit you better!

Chopping board with veg ready for lentils recipe

Nana’s recipes

We could all benefit by pulling out some of the recipes that our Nans used to make, and minimize our dependency on the packet meal and frozen food isles, as our major source of food for dinner. These recipes don’t have to be hard or time-consuming like the packet food manufactures would lead us to believe.

In fact those packets of flavour, that you only need to add veg and meat to, probably take the same amount of time and effort to make as you would something from scratch. Check out my spice blend eBook. It’s full of flavour enhancing blends you can make yourself from scratch with no added rubbish.

Which flavour?

People often tell me that they don’t have the skills to be able to throw a meal together without a recipe. Just think about the dishes you’ve made before, things you and or your family enjoyed, and what countries these flavours come from. It could be Asian, Indian, Italian, Mexican, French. Knowing which they (or you) like, will allow you to seek more from this category

I explain this to my students and I notice that many just hadn’t thought about it. What comes naturally for one person may not be the same for another.

Lets do some cooking (with lentils)

Anyway, this pantry staple recipe is another that you can have a play with. If you don’t have celery you can choose to leave it out or replace it for something you do have. Zucchini or broccoli stems work well.

This image below, shows what I had in my pantry and fridge at the time of writing this post.

A Bowl filled with Puy Lentil dish

Puy Lentils or French Style Lentils

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Course: Dinner, side

Cuisine: French

Servings: 4 side

Author: Bec

  • Pot or Thermomix

  • 1 cup lentils du Puy (French Style lentils in Australia)
  • 1 clove
  • 1 small onion peeled and cut brunoise
  • 1 medium carrot trimmed, peeled, and cut small cubes
  • 1 celery stalk trimmed, peeled, and cut into small cubes
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
  • 340 g chicken stock vegetable stock, or water
  • 1 Tbsp Cognac optional 20 ml
  • 1 shallot finely chopped,
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 rashers of bacon optional
  • Put the lentils into a sieve and wash in cold water. If needed, pick through discarding any bits of stone that might have escaped the packers.

  • Put the lentils into a pot and add 1 litre of water.

  • Simmer for approximately 10 minutes stirring occasionally

  • Remove from the pot and rinse. Set aside.

  • Add all the other ingredients to the saucepan except for the water, stock and lentils and cook till the onion is translucent and bacon is cooked.

  • Add 340g water/stock and add the lentils back into the pot (and cognac) and simmer for a further 15 mins.

—– Thermomix Method —–

  • Put the lentils into your TM basket and wash in cold water. If needed, pick through discarding any bits of stone that might have escaped the packers.

  • Put the lentils into the TM bowl and add enough water to reach the 1-litre mark.

  • Set the temp to to cook on reverse + slow speed / 7 mins / 100°c

  • Remove from the bowl into the basket again, rinse and set aside.

  • Add all the other ingredients to the TM bowl (including the bacon if using) except for the stock and lentils. Cook on reverse + slow stir / 100°c / 5 mins.

  • Return the lentils to the TM bowl, add 340g stock and alcohol if using. Pop the MC in place and cook for 15 mins/ reverse + slow stir / 100°c. Serve warm

Want to know more?

For more information about what needs to be soaked or not soaked see my post – Dried beans to soak or not to soak.

Dried beans – to soak or not to soak

Bowl of chick peas
Image from foodies feed

The question arises because there’s often confusion about whether lentils and beans should be soaked or not.

What I find helpful is knowing your dried beans from your lentils — because even though they are all part of the legume family, they are different from each other, as indicated by their different cooking times and levels of digestibility. (Hint: a requirement for longer cooking times usually indicate lower digestibility).

Examples of common dried beans and lentils:

  • Dried beans — soybeans,
    chickpeas (garbanzo), kidney beans, adzuki beans, cannellini, whole mung beans,
    lima, and black (turtle) beans.
  • Lentils — red (masoor), brown,
    and Puy (French green)

Once you know your dried beans from your
lentils you can apply this general rule of thumb:

  • Dried beans need pre-soaking
    and longer cooking times (1–5 hours)
  • Lentils do not need pre-soaking
    but may be pre-soaked (see below) and have a shorter cooking time (15–45
    minutes)

This is because dried beans are larger and have higher amounts of oligosaccharides (long-chain sugars that are difficult to digest) than lentils. So you could say the larger the legume, the harder it is to digest.

So the larger dried beans (such as soy,
chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans and lima) will need the longest soaking
times — preferably overnight, for at least for 8–10 hours. Chickpeas, along
with soybeans, are one of the hardest of the beans to digest — so the longer
you can soak them, the better. I usually soak chickpeas for 12+ hours. And soy
is best eaten soaked and fermented.

Smaller beans, such as adzuki and whole mung beans don’t need long soaking times. I find 4–6 hours is enough. Split, husked mung beans (yellow mung dhal) is an exception. Because it’s not the whole bean and the skin is removed, the cooking time is much quicker and it’s easier to digest. I actually don’t soak before making dhal but I do wash.

Legumes, Cramps and IBS

If you have issues like loading, cramping or IBS- type symptoms then you will almost definitely need to soak lentils too. Soak them for around an hour or so, and it should alleviate some of the problems they may cause.

However, despite soaking lentils and taking other measures to help digest them, some people may still have issues and not be able to tolerate them. Another thing you can try is Asafoetida. It’s commonly used in dahl and curries and the like. Here’s a link to wiki for more information on it.

Image of spoons of lentils
Image from foodies feed

Summary:

  • Dried beans need pre-soaking and longer cooking times
  • Lentils do not need pre-soaking but can be pre-soaked to improve digestibility and reduce cooking time

Want to know more?

Try our Pou Lentils recipe from – Lentils a pantry staple

This article has been adapted from one found on the The Mindful foodie website, however the link seems to be gone.

Healthy Middle Eastern Grain Salad

Pearl Barley salad close up

I’m going through my pantry looking at what I can make for dinner tonight.

Most likely you’re doing something similar?

Maybe some of you out there have some sort of grain in your pantry that you could use for this yummy recipe. Middle eastern flavours are so fresh and vibrant.

This recipe is really versatile, you can use so many different grains to make it. You can even swap the grains for legumes if you want, something like puy lentils would work brilliantly.

It’s packed with flavour although you may not have pomegranate molasses. At this crazy time, I bet any good deli that sells middle eastern produce will still have this on the shelves.

I’d serve this as a side, but there’d be nothing wrong with having it as a meal for lunch or dinner. I hope you love the flavours as much as I do.

Middle eastern grain salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Course: brunch, Salad, side

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Servings: 4

Calories: 261.2kcal

Author: Bec

  • Pot to cook grain

  • 200 g Pearl Barely, or other grain of your choice Freekeh, Pearled Spelt , Check out the healthfood store or section in the supermarket
  • 600 g Stock of your choice. You could just use water here if you like
  • 40 g Olive oil
  • 3 Spring Onions, finely sliced
  • 40 g Barberries, Or fresh pomegranate, or chopped cranberries or even currants. Your choice here
  • 1 handful Washed chopped parsely
  • 1 handful Washed torn mint leaves
  • 30 g pomegranate Molasses
  • 2 tbsp Nuts (pistachios) chopped roughly
  • Weigh and wash your grains, discard any foreign matter. Read the pack instructions for cooking.

  • In the case of pearl barley it will take around 30 mins to simmer. TM: 30mins/100°c/reversespeed+1.5

  • In the meantime, make the dressing. Add the oil and pomegranate molasses along with a pinch of salt and pepper to a small jug or bowl. Pomegranate molasses is a thick substance that will separate so whisk the dressing just before serving and adding to the salad

  • Once your grain is cooked through allow it to cool. Then fold through the remainder of the ingredients.  You can leave the pistachios and Barberries to sprinkle over the top if you like. Add the salad dressing just before serving.

Calories: 261.2kcal

Lemon Melting Moments: Thermomix and Standmixer Methods

A Plate of Lemon Melting Moments

I can’t give you all the best recipes from Bake Club, otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair for those who join us each fortnight. Although every so often I like to share something from our meetings.

I’m sure nobody minds if it’s just once in a while, we rack up so many recipes each term. And anyway these blog posts don’t have the videos and all the special chef tips included in them. I know, now you feel like you’re missing out, but you still have the recipe. If you know about baking then you’ve got this!

What do they say, (in a slow and low European voice) “if I tell you, I’d have to kill you”, or maybe they’d kill me? hahaha. Or worse still, they’d stop coming or joining Bake Club online and that would be no good. Who would I bake with then? You could always join us? Online or at our meetings.

Yoyos or Melting Moments?

A cooling rack with Bec's Recipe for baked Lemon Melting Moments

A couple of weeks ago we did a whole meeting on things that had lemon in them. We did a bit of a deep dive on lemons and talked about some of their attributes. They’re clever little things you know. Anyway, this recipe was a hit, and now you have it too.

I bet some of you are looking at these and saying they’re yo yo’s, well you could call them that. When I was teaching at TAFE I did some research trying to find the original Yo-Yo Biscuit. It seems that the first recorded yoyo biscuit recipe was made by a bakery in Adelaide, Australia. Menz biscuits.

The company was sold to Arnotts, Yes Arnotts again. What would we have done without them in our childhood in Australia? They just seem to make all the cookies we love.

So what is a melting moment recipe and what is a yoyo recipe? I like to separate the two homemade varieties, yo yo’s and melting moments by saying yoyos have custard powder in the ingredient list and the melting moment uses cornflour.

Both custard powder and cornflour give the biscuits that soft melt in the mouth sensation. Although the flavour of a yoyo is quite unmistakeably custardy. If that’s a word. 😉

Lemon Melting Moment Cookies

A Plate of Lemon Melting Moments

Lemon Melting Moments

becs-table.com.au

If you don’t want to make the traditional Custard powder type of Yo-Yo biscuit we shared in Bake Club Season 1, you might like to try this lemon version.

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Morning Tea, Snack

Cuisine British

Servings 19

  • Cookies sheets

  • Thermomix or

  • Stand Mixer or

  • Hand Mixer

For The Cookies

  • 250 g unsalted butter Thermomix: cold cubed butter
  • 80 g icing sugar sifted
  • 2 grated lemon rind (no pith) Juice is for filling
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 70 g cornflour
  • 1 Pinch of salt

For The Filling

  • 60 g unsalted butter softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp each lemon juice and rind
  • 120 g icing sugar sifted

Thermomix Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 160°c. Line your baking trays with baking paper unless you’re using USA pans then you don’t need to bother we just pop our raw dough straight on them.

  • Weigh the flour, cornflour, salt, icing sugar and zest into the TM bowl and with the MC in place mix together for 5 seconds/speed 6.

  • Add the chopped butter to the TM bowl and mix for 15 seconds/speed 6

  • Tip out of the TM bowl and ball up 15 g portions of dough.

  • Roll each 15 g portion into a ball then gently press down with your fingers very slightly. Then using a fork dipped in icing sugar, so it doesn’t stick, press the shape of the tyes into the biscuit to decorate.

  • Bake for 15 minutes or until they are just starting to show some signs of colour (very lightly golden). Then remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.

For the lemon filling

  • Weigh the butter, lemon juice and zest to mixing bowl and beat until pale and creamy. 10 seconds/speed 2 scrape and repeat if necessary.

  • Add the icing sugar and continue to beat until well combined. 5 seconds/speed 2-3 scrape and repeat if necessary, This mix will be very soft, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up before using. If you leave it in the fridge too long, it will be too hard just whisk it up with a fork or spoon to soften it again before spreading on the cookies.

Conventional Method:

For the cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 160°c.Line your baking trays with baking paper unless you’re using USA pans then you don’t need to bother we just pop our raw dough straight on them.

  • First, sift together the flour and cornflour and set aside.

  • Place into the bowl of your mixer the cream, butter, icing sugar and rind of your lemon. Beat until light and fluffy.

  • Add the flour mix to the butter mixture and combine until a soft dough is formed.

  • Roll each 15 g portion into a ball then gently press down with your fingers very slightly. Then using a fork dipped in icing sugar, so it doesn’t stick, press the shape of the tyes into the biscuit to decorate.

  • Bake for 15 minutes or until they are just starting to show some signs of colour (very lightly golden). Then remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to wire racks to finish cooling.

For the lemon filling

  • Add the butter, lemon juice and rind to mixing bowl and beat until pale and creamy.

  • Add the icing sugar and continue to beat until well combined. If the icing is too soft pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up, but not too long or it will be too hard to spread. (leaving at room temp will soften it again if you’ve chilled it too much).

  • When the biscuits are cold, sandwich them together with around 1/2 – 1 tsp of the lemon filling.

  • Store in an airtight container.

Image of Iconic Aussie Biscuits eBook
If you love the cookies we grew up with you may want to check this eBook out?

Do you love melting moment cookies? Or do you call them melting moment biscuits? If you love lemon, like most of our Bake Clubbers, try adding a lick of lemon curd in between the for an extra lemony kick. 😉