Cakes & Bakes: Piadina

Piadina with olives, hummus and rocket | H is for Home

Prior to making these flatbreads, I’d never heard of piadina. That’s strange really, seeing as flatbreads from other countries are so well known – pitta, tortilla, chapati, roti…

Ball of piadina dough | H is for Home

Piadina is from the Emilia-Romagna region of north eastern Italy. It’s an area renowned for its food; the same area that produces Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and the origin of pastas such as tortellini, lasagne and tagliatelle.

Stack of freshly-made piadina | H is for Home

This basic flatbread is traditionally made of plain white flour, lard or olive oil, salt and water and served as a street food. It’s eaten as an accompaniment to cheeses, cold meats and vegetables or with sweet fillings such as jam or chocolate spread.

These are quick, easy and delicious – devour them while they’re still warm with a selection of dips!

Piadina
Yields 4
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz plain flour
  2. 1tsp salt
  3. 15ml/1tbsp olive oil
  4. 105ml/7tbsp lukewarm waterHome-made piadina ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl; make a well in the centre
  2. Add the oil and water to the centre of the flour and gradually mix in to form a dough
  3. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oild cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes
  5. Heat a griddle over a medium heat
  6. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each into 18cm/7-inch round
  7. Cover until ready to cook
  8. Lightly oil the hot griddle, add one or two piadine and cook for about 2 minutes or until they are starting to brown
  9. Turn the piadine over and cook for a further 1-1½ minutes
  10. Serve warm
Notes
  1. If you don't have a griddle, a large heavy frying pan will work just as well
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Adapted from Bread
Adapted from Bread
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
Click here or on the image below to pin the recipe for later!

Piadina recipe | H is for Home

Home-made tomato sauce

Home-made tomato sauce | H is for Home

Justin doesn’t normally get involved with the Thursday recipes – well, apart from taking the photos! However, this week, he’s actually done the cooking too. Don’t worry though, you’re in safe hands – as he was a chef for about 15 years before re-inventing himself as Mr H is for Home – and he does most of the savoury dishes in our household anyway.

Finely sliced garlic and olive oil in a saucepan | H is for Home Finely sliced garlic, tomato pureé and olive oil in a saucepan | H is for Home

We mentioned this lovely all-purpose tomato sauce in last week’s pizza post. Most people list tinned tomatoes in their store cupboard essentials, but we always have batches of this home-made tomato sauce in the fridge or freezer.

Home-made tomato sauce with basil | H is for Home

It’s quick – only taking about an hour – and very straightforward too.

Home-made tomato sauce being sieved through a colander | H is dfor Home Sieved home-made tomato sauce | H is for Home

It’s so flexible. The addition of ground black pepper and Parmesan makes for a simple yet delicious pasta sauce. It also provides the base for a myriad of other recipes. You can add all sorts of ingredients to it for some wonderful dishes – meatballs, chicken, fish, olives, roasted aubergines & peppers to name but a few. If you reduce it down and concentrate it a little further it makes the perfect tomato sauce for pizza topping. The recipe can be scaled up to suit requirements. You can also tweek quantities to suit your own taste – more garlicky, more olive oily etc… and add other herbs if you like too.

Storing home-made tomato sauce for freezing | H is for Home

We make up a batch of home-made tomato sauce every few weeks and put a couple of two-portion containers into the freezer – ready to grab as required.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Cakes & Bakes: Italian cheesecake with almond crumb base

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Slice of home-made Italian cheesecake with almond crumb base | H is for Home

Lidl had a ‘Taste of Italy‘ special this week so I stocked up on a few Mediterranean bits & bobs when I popped in. I bought a couple of tubs of ricotta, not quite knowing what I was going to do with them. Of course… Italian Cheesecake!

Italian cheesecake ingredients

Ground almonds, sugar and butter in a saucepan

I fancied making it with a crunchy base using amaretti biscuits but I couldn’t find any in the shops. No need to panic, I improvised and made my own almond crumb base.

Almond crumb cheesecake base

ricotta and sugar mixture

I’ve made a fair few different cheesecakes in the past. I think this is almost up there with the all-time favourite Gordon Ramsey version.

making Italian cheesecake mixture

uncooked Italian cheesecake

It’s best served cold, straight from the fridge, perhaps with an after-dinner espresso.

Italian cheesecake straight from the oven

Home-made Italian cheesecake

Fancy giving it a try? Pin the recipe for later!

Vegan chocolate petit fours
Yields 25
Ingredients
  1. 300g/10½oz dark chocolate
  2. pinch sea salt
  3. 2tbs coconut oil
  4. 215ml/7½fl oz tinned coconut milk
  5. toasted desiccated coconut, chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder to finish
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Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate up into small pieces and put it into a large heatproof bowl
  2. Add the coconut oil and the salt
  3. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to the boil before pouring it over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth
  4. Allow to cool, cover the bowl with cling film and leave to set overnight in the fridge (or at least 4 hours).
  5. Put the toasted desiccated coconut chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and/or cocoa powder into separate wide-bottomed bowls
  6. Using a measuring teaspoon, scoop out a portion of ganache before rolling between your palms to form a ball before putting it on a plate or baking sheet
  7. Repeat until all the ganache has been used
  8. Cover the balls in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
  9. Toss in the balls equally between the chopped mixed nuts, icing sugar and or cocoa powder, rolling around the bowls making sure each ball is completely coated
  10. Carefully place the balls on to a plate lined with parchment paper, recover carefully with cling film and put them back into the fridge to firm up again
Notes
  1. These can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Crescia

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Slices of crescia with mini chick decorations | H is for Home

It’s Easter week, so we thought that we should make something that’s traditionally eaten at this time of year for this edition of Cakes & Bakes. We plumped for Crescia – an Italian cheese loaf.

Crescia ingredients | H is for Home

You can use any hard cheese – parmesan, pecorino and so on.

Crescia dough | H is for Home

The dough is simple to make and easy to handle.

Crescia dough proving | H is for Home

It’s baked in a tall tin so it has a distinctive shape, like a panettone – the smell as it cooked was amazing!

Baked crescia loaf in tin | H is for Home

A very handsome loaf wouldn’t you agree?

Crescia loaf | H is for Home

The bread is light and airy with a wonderful flavour. It’s traditionally eaten with cold meats. I’m vegetarian, but Justin volunteered to test this combination and tried it with some of his fennel salami – a perfect match he thought. It also works really well with various cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables, oil & balsamic vinegar etc, etc, etc. 

Slices of crescia with salami, cheese and salad | H is for Home

We can highly recommend this loaf – and we certainly won’t be waiting till next Easter to make another one!

You can pin the recipe from here to try later!

Crescia
A light & cheesy Italian loaf enjoyed at Easter
Cook Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 300g grated hard cheese (such as Parmesan Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano)
  2. 5 eggs
  3. 1tsp cracked black pepper
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 150g olive oil
  6. 150ml warm milk
  7. 1tbsp yeast
  8. ½tsp granulated sugar
  9. 600g strong bread flourHome-made crescia ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Put the grated cheese into a large mixing bowl
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl or large measuring jug. Add the salt & pepper and whisk slightly
  3. Add the egg mixture to the grated cheese, add the olive oil and combine
  4. In a measuring jug, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, add the sugar and allow to stand for 10 minutes
  5. Add ⅓ of the flour to the cheese, egg & oil mixture and combine
  6. Add ⅓ of the dissolved yeast mixture and combine
  7. Alternate adding & combining the flour and yeast mixtures until it has all been incorporated and you have a smooth paste that comes away from the edges of the bowl
  8. Cover the bowl with cling film/Saran wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size
  9. Grease a high-sided baking tin such as a panettone tin (I used the tall bottom pan from my 3-tier steamer)
  10. Generously flour a work surface, turn out the dough and knock back before putting it into the high-sided baking tin and again covering with cling film/Saran wrap
  11. Allow the dough rise again until it has doubled in size (about 45 minutes to an hour)
  12. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F/Gas mark 4
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown and an inserted skewer comes away clean
  14. Remove the loaf from the tin straight away and allow to cool on a wire rack
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Pizza

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Home-made pizza sliced | H is for Home

It’s pizza for this week’s Cakes & Bakes. We’ve got a great pizzeria here in Todmorden – and we certainly can’t match their huge, wood fired oven… but we like to eat it in the house sometimes too!

pizza ingredients

A very simple list of ingredients for the dough.

yeast mixture yeast mixture next to the fire

With sub zero temperatures outside, the yeast mixture found the perfect place to come to life beside the fire.

pizza dough

The dough is simple to make and easy to work with.

risen pizza dough

Size and thickness is a matter of personal choice. In this house, Adelle has deep pan tendencies – Justin is a more thin & crispy kinda guy!

shaped pizza base

We rustled up a lovely tomato sauce. Olive oil, garlic, tomatoes & basil – cooked through, seasoned, reduced and strained.

tomato sauce being added to pizza base

This sauce was spread evenly over the pizza dough. Adelle then added roast aubergine, mozzarella and olives. Justin very similar, but he substituted Gruyère cheese for the mozzarella and also added red onion.

Adelle's pizza before being cooked Justin's pizza before being cooked

Both turned out very well – delicious in fact. We’ll continue experimenting with dough thickness, toppings and oven temperatures ’til we have absolute perfection!

Beetroot loaf
SMALL
  1. 150ml/5fl oz/⅔ cup water
  2. 140g/5oz/1 cup grated raw beetroot
  3. 2 spring onions, chopped
  4. 375g/13oz/3¼ cups unbleached white bread flour
  5. 15g/½oz/1tbsp butter
  6. 1½tsp salt
  7. 1tsp granulated sugar
  8. 1tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast
MEDIUM
  1. 170ml/6fl oz/¾ cup water
  2. 225g/8oz/1½ cup grated raw beetroot
  3. 3 spring onions, chopped
  4. 500g/1lb 2oz/4½ cups unbleached white bread flour
  5. 25g/1oz/2tbsp butter
  6. 2tsp salt
  7. 1tsp granulated sugar
  8. 1tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast
LARGE
  1. 280ml/1ofl oz/1¼ cup water
  2. 280g/10oz/2 cups grated raw beetroot
  3. 4 spring onions, chopped
  4. 675g/1 ½lbs/6 cups unbleached white bread flour
  5. 40g/1½oz/3tbsp butter
  6. 2tsp salt
  7. 1½tsp granulated sugar
  8. 1½tsp easy-blend (rapid-rise) dried yeast
Add ingredients to shopping list
If you don’t have Buy Me a Pie! app installed you’ll see the list with ingredients right after downloading it
Instructions
  1. Pour the water into the bread pan. Sprinkle over the grated beetroot. If the instructions for your machine specify that the yeast is to be placed in the pan first, reverse the order in which you add the liquid mixture and dry ingredients
  2. Add the chopped spring onions. However, if your bread machine offers you the option of adding any extra ingredients during the kneading cycle, set the spring onions aside so that you may add them later on
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the beetroot and water, ensuring it covers them both. Add the butter, salt and sugar in separate corners. Make a small indent in the centre of the flour (but not down as far as the liquid) and add the yeast
  4. Set the bread machine to the basic/normal setting, medium crust. Press start. If you like, slash the top of the loaf with diagonal slashes just before the baking cycle starts
  5. Remove at the end of the baking cycle and turn out on to a wire rack
Notes
  1. If you prefer an all-over red loaf rather than speckled, purée the raw beetroot in a mini-food processor instead of grating it
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Adapted from Bread
Adapted from Bread
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Chuffed with my ciabatta!

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Sliced, home-made ciabatta with Todmorden-made Pextenement cheese and watercress | H is for Home

I’m chuffed with my ciabatta! It was my first ever attempt and I think the loaves turned out really well!

two uncooked, home-made ciabatta loaves proving before getting put in the oven

I used a recipe from one of my favourite baking books, Bread by Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter. If you’d like to try making this one yourself, I’ve listed the recipe at the end of this post.

sliced, home-made ciabatta detail from a sliced, home-made ciabatta

There’s always a little ‘hold your breath’ moment as you cut the first slice and have a look at the crumb. Proper, big ciabatta holes!

sliced, home-made ciabatta with fried eggs and Todmorden-made sausages

I had a few slices, fresh from the oven, with a handful of watercress and East Lee soft cheese made locally by the Pextenement Cheese Company… Justin had his with the slightly less healthy option for his Sunday brunch – fried eggs with pork & chive sausages – but it was all local produce too – and delicious he said.

For the biga starter

7g/¼ oz fresh yeast

175-200ml/6-7fl oz/¾-scant cup lukewarm water

350g/12 oz/3 cups unbleached plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting

For the dough

15g/½ oz fresh yeast

400ml/14fl oz/1⅔ cups lukewarm water

60ml/4 tbsp lukewarm milk

500g/1¼ lb/5 cups unbleached white bread flour

10ml/3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Makes 3 loaves

  1. Cream the yeast for the biga starter with a little of the water. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Gradually mix in the yeast mixture and sufficient of the remaining water to form a firm dough.
  2. Turn out the biga starter dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for 12-15 hours or until the dough has risen and is starting to collapse.
  3. Sprinkle 3 baking sheets with flour. Mix the yeast for the dough with a little of the water until creamy, then mix in the remainder. Add the yeast mixture to the biga and gradually mix in.
  4. Mix the milk, beating thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Using your hand, gradually beat in the flour, lifting the dough as you mix. Mixing the dough will take 15 minutes or more and form a very wet mix, impossible to knead on a work surface.
  5. Beat in the salt and olive oil. Cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½-2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  6. With a spoon, carefully tip one third of the dough at a time on to the baking sheets without knocking back the dough in the process.
  7. 7 Using floured hands, shape into rough, oblong loaf shapes, about 2.5cm/1” thick. Flatten slightly with splayed fingers. Sprinkle with flour and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas mark 7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and sounding hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.