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Bake like you mean it Recipe Shed Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

Pierogi / Pyrohy / Piroshki or hand pies to that effect

Back at the Warwick Folk Festival again – fantastic music (Man the Lifeboats, Trials of Cato, Banter, Glory Strokes) and amazingly good food. As per my blog post from last year, some of the stand-out food of the weekend came from The Old Granary Pierogi. Just the most wonderful yeasted-pastry pies/pasty things you can imagine. Wonderful fillings, tasty to the end. So this year, getting home, I figured I’d try to make them myself.

Don’t put them too close together!

Turns out that most every country in the Russia/Ukraine/Poland type region has a variation on this dish. Not only that, but it bears a striking resemblance to Chinese steamed dumplings. So pretty much every culture in the world has developed a Cornish pasty-type thing of some kind. Fillings vary, obviously.

Essentially, though, they boil down to 2 things. The dough and the filling. My culinary adviser and Google-fu expert found me half a dozen different dough recipes, I found a few more, and we distilled them down to this, which makes roughly 20 pierogi:

The Dough

  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 60ml warm water
  • 2tsp sugar

Put into the bowl of your Kenwood mixer (other stand mixers are available, we’ve got a K to do the heavy kneading work here). Give it a quick stir and leave it for 5 minutes. Then, in another bowl, mix together…

  • 360ml warm milk
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1tsp salt

Add that to the yeast mixture you first thought of, along with

  • 450g / 1lb strong white flour.

First time through I thought I only had plain flour, so used that, and needed another 150g or thereabouts to get the dough to the right consistency.

Stick the bread hook on the Kenwood, turn it on medium, go away and have a cup of tea. Give it at least 10 minutes. It should be pulling away from the sides of the mixer and forming a nice ball. Add more flour if too sticky, more warm water if too dry. It’s a very soft dough you end up with but it’s lovely to work.

Cover the bowl with a cloth, leave it to double in size – about an hour. Plenty of time to make your filling. Always make more filling that you think you’ll need. Easy to store and use later, harder to stop everything and make up another batch!

The Filling

I went for a classic pork/chorizo/pepper pie filling we’ve made before, knowing that the kids will eat it whether this works or not, and that I can always knock up a batch of rough puff pastry and make a real pie should everything go pear-shaped. You’ll need:

  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, finely chopped
  • Some cloves of garlic (more than 2, less than 10, you know how much garlic you like), finely chopped.
  • 1 chorizo sausage (~250g), finely cubed (there’s a pattern here)
  • Pork loin, 3-4 steaks, finely cubed
  • Oil, salt, pepper, chilli flakes
  • Fresh parsley

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over a medium/low heat and fry the onions slowly for about 10 minutes. Low and slow is the key here. Sprinkle of salt, grate of pepper. While you’re frying the onions, prep the peppers and garlic.

Add the peppers and garlic, mix it all up, give it another 15 minutes. And while this is all frying, prep the pork and chorizo

Add the pork, the chorizo, the chilli flakes (as much or as little as you want heat-wise) and give it about 5 minutes, enough to colour the pork. Take your filling off the heat.

Ah, this stuff smells fantastic. Simple and gorgeous.

Pierogi, Assemble!

And this is where the story really starts…

Roll the dough out into a long sausage, about 5cm diameter. Divide it up into 20 equal pieces. Grab the first one and a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc about 5mm thick, maybe a bit thinner. Whack a tablespoon of the filling into the middle and close it, pinching and twisting like a Cornish pasty. Put in onto a baking try, grab the next one. Roll, fill, place, repeat. Don’t place them too close together, they’re going to rise…

Basic pinch and twist to seal them. And, FYI, these are set way too close together

Let them stand for about half an hour, heat your oven to 180C, bake them for about half an hour.

The challenge then is to let them cool before eating them.

And a final word of advice. Whatever I’ve written for quantities up there? Double them. You’ll thank me.

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Bake like you mean it

Bake like you mean it – Bananananana Bread

As Terry Pratchett said, it’s a very hard word to stop once you’ve started.

So.  For Sport Relief here at school we had a bake sale, one that did very well as we have a hugely talented team of bakers.  Cupcakes, cookies, sports-decorated gingerbread men, cookies, brownies, rice crispie cakes, did I mention cookies?  And banana bread.

Now the banana bread was a slow burn.  Problem is, it doesn’t look the most appetizing and it’s not visually grabbing like the Sport Relief cupcakes or the bright red cookies.  But those who did try it loved it.  Therefore, by popular demand, here’s the recipe:

To make 1 big loaf (or a couple of smaller ones) you’ll need:

  • Greased and lined loaf tin/s – No need to line all 4 sides, just do the 2 long sides and the base so you can lift the loaf out once it’s done.
  • 125g soft butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 over-ripe bananas, mashed – we cheat here and use a hand mixer to “mash” the bananas.  Works like a charm.  Remember, kids, the really sweet, ripe, bananas are the ones with all the black and brown bits on the skin.  Don’t be revolted because it’s not just on the yellow side of green.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 250g self raising flour.  Leave this in a bowl on the scales…
  • 1tsp baking powder (you can use plain flour, but you’d then need 3tsp baking powder.  And if you don’t have baking powder it’s 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda and 1/2tsp cream of tartar to make 1tsp baking powder)
  • Oven set to 160C

Okay.  Lock and load.  This is an easy one.

  1. Mix butter and sugar until you’ve a paste.  You don’t need the full Kenwood butter/sugar->cream here.
  2. Mix in the mashed bananas, the vanilla extract and the eggs.  This gives you a gorgeous lumpy wet mix.
  3. Mix the baking powder into the flour then sieve this over the wet mix in 3 stages, folding in completely after each stage.  You want a mix that is still lumpy, not a silky smooth mush, so don’t over-fold.
  4. Pour into the prepared baking tin.
  5. Bake for an hour for a big loaf, 40 minutes for a pair of small loaves.  Test with a skewer when time’s up, if it comes out clean, it’s done.

I’ve had “issues” with banana bread being really, really, really slow to cook.  The first time I did this it took a good half hour longer (but still tasted great), so if the skewer comes out with batter on it, give it another 10 minutes and test again.  If it looks like the top’s burning, give it a foil hat at this stage.

Leave it to cool for about half an hour to an hour before you take it out of the tin.  Take it out too soon and mine have collapsed into a gorgeous, banana-bready crumbly pile.  If that happens, just add custard and pretend it’s what you meant to do all along.

This recipe has been adapted from the Banana Bread recipe found on page 209 of James Morton’s “Brilliant Bread” – this is the mark 3 for us according to my notes.  I have learned a lot from this book, most especially not to be scared of sourdough.  Get a copy.