Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘white’

Bread – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 16, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

This week, I’ve decided to make myself sound like a bit of a hypocrite and declare bread to be ‘better than toast’. Well, let’s just put it this way: All bread can be good toast but not all toast is necessarily good bread. In fact, once you’ve baked your own I’m convinced that little else will satisfy you just as much.

Bread is such a basic thing that we rarely stop to think about it. Supermarket bread is readily available at any time of the day and stays soft for days, but rarely sports a great crust. Of course, you could go to an artisan baker, but I’m somehow reluctant to pay a fiver for a loaf that I could just as well make at home. And yet, baking bread doesn’t really catch on with the younger generation. I don’t know if it’s because it’s seen as something old-fashioned to do, or if people are put off by how long the whole process takes. Granted, it’s much quicker to go to your nearest store and buy some than make your own, but homemade bread ages far better and gives you endless possibilities. Besides, you could make your whole flat smell of freshly baked bread and snack on a warm loaf afterwards. What’s not to love?

There are no two ways about it: making bread does take time. But that doesn’t mean that this is a bad thing! Schedule your bread-making on a day you have lots of little things to do, that way you can cross things off your list while you wait for the bread to rise. Make the dough and then tidy your flat, knock the bread back and skype with your parents afterwards, stick it in the oven and do your nails while you wait.

If you’ve never baked bread before I would really urge you to take your time with this recipe. Get a real feel for the dough, see how it changes beneath your hands while you are kneading it. After all, breadmaking is an ancient tradition and so vital. Take your time and think about what you are doing; you’re effectively transforming three basic ingredients (water, flour, yeast) into food with only your hands and some heat. You can probably already tell, but I really find something almost magical in making bread.

It is needless to tell you just how many different kinds of bread you could make. Wholemeal, with seeds, sweet, savoury, you can play around with different flours like spelt and rye, make a tin loaf one day and then burger buns the next – I could go on forever. Take this very basic recipe, memorize it forever, and run with it. Quite honestly, the best advice about breadmaking I can give you.

Makes one loaf:

500g strong white bread flour

7g dried yeast (1 sachet)

2 tbsp olive oil (optional)

1-2 tbsp salt, to taste (optional but recommended)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

Want to know more about baking your own loaved? Check out this website for a thorough bread baking 101.

Once you’ve made your loaf you can either eat it as it is or make it into this heavenly creation (hint: goes down great at parties!).

And finally, don’t ever get tempted to throw out hard bread. There’s still plenty of life in it!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Advertisements

Homemade chocolates – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on February 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Picture: Antonia Landi

Yes, it’s that time of the year again. The shops are filled with bears holding up hearts, roses are basically shoved in your face and everyone is supposed to be happy and in love. But why not use this time to treat yourself to some handmade sweets?

It’s Valentine’s Day alright. Quite possibly the worst holiday of the year. You either feel under pressure to make a romantic gesture to your partner, or supposedly need to feel bad because you don’t currently have a partner. Either way, it’s not very cheerful, is it. So instead of spending money on some horrible stuffed animal, get a few bars of chocolate and make the magic happen! Celebrating Valentine’s Day should be about the people that you love, be it friends or family. And trust me, after they’ve tried these delicious chocolates, they will love you.

Working with chocolate is really tricky and easy to mess up. Many people will tell you that you’ll need to temper it by closely monitor the chocolate’s temperature and suggest a myriad of techniques to aid you in your quest for the chocolate of the century. The truth is, as long as you don’t get water into your melted chocolate, you’ll be just fine. True, the chocolate you’ll produce won’t be glossy and shiny, and won’t have that characteristic ‘snap’ when you bite into it; it’ll look and taste more like a truffle. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad! So stop faffing about with your thermometer and let’s melt some chocolate.

Melting chocolate is pretty straightforward. The only two things that could go wrong is if you accidentally get water into it (remember, even a tiny amount can ruin your chocolate, so be extra careful) or if you burn it, but if you’re as impatient as I am, that isn’t likely going to happen. The great thing about making these yourself is that you can personalize them to suit the person you are making them for. Think about their favourite chocolate and customise: chopped or whole nuts, dried fruit, tiny marshmallows, experiment with layering two kinds of chocolate or add a small amount of cereals – there is so much you can do. There is no right or wrong – think about what you like and then make it! This is a great opportunity to really bring your ideas to life.

I find working with silicon moulds easiest – when you choose one, make sure you take its shape into account and go for the one with fewer details. For example, it’s easier to get the chocolate out of a heart shape than it is to get all the corners of a star out without breaking anything. It takes about 4 hours for the chocolate to set, but  I would suggest leaving it to set overnight. And if you have leftover melted chocolate, simply dip some fruits in it and let them to cool on a baking sheet. There’s nothing like a few sweet treats to reward yourself!

 

Makes approx. 20 chocolates:

150g white chocolate

150g milk chocolate

150g dark chocolate

Fillings like cereals, nuts, dried fruits, dried chilli flakes, marshmallows… be creative!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

 

If you’re up for making chocolates but you don’t have a mould, or you want to make something a bit more sophisticated, why not try making your own truffles?

For the future Chocolatiers among you and for those who want to know the tricks of the trade, here is a great and simple guide on how to properly temper chocolate.

And if you’d rather keep the chocolates for yourself but still need a gift for your loved one, have a look at these great ideas for homemade presents.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

How to make a pokéball cake – Better than Toast Extra

In Food on September 28, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Pokéball cake - Picture: Antonia Landi

Hello and welcome to this rather informal video tutorial about how to make your very own pokéball cake in a few simple steps! This recipe and video combined should give you enough confidence and information about how to make your cake – if you’re unsure about any of the steps, please contact me! I am more than happy to help 🙂

First of all, here is the all-important cake recipe.

You will need:

225g butter, plus extra for greasing

225g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

4 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

If you want to make a chocolate cake, simply add 50-75g of cocoa powder. Please not that the more cocoa you use, the darker the chocolate cake will be.

Grease your cake tins with butter and line the bottom of each with greaseproof paper. Divide mixture into equal parts and bake on a medium heat for approx 30 minutes.

For the filling you will need:

1 tub elmea whipping cream

Jam of your choice (I used strawberry jam)

And finally this is what you will need for decorating:

2x 500g white ready to roll icing (you might be able to do with one pack, but I’d rather have too much than not enough!)

1/2 bottle red food colouring

1 tube black ‘decorating’ icing

Icing sugar

You will notice that the red icing will be softer and more difficult to work with than the white icing (it sticks to everything!). This is because you have added extra liquid (the food colouring) to the icing. Therefore it is very important that you work quickly and efficiently with the red icing and make sure to put it in the fridge (or even the freezer!) immediately after colouring it.

If you don’t want to muck about with the black icing, you could use liquorice instead. I’m not a big fan of it, so it’s really up to you!

Finally, if this is your first cake, do check out my cake baking strategy guide – there’s lots of tips and tricks to be found there, plus an easy recipe for a simple chocolate cake to get you started!

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

%d bloggers like this: