Saturday, 3 August 2013


Ciabatta is a classic Italian bread that has a lovely chewy centre and the most delicious crispy crust. This is a simple and easy recipe to make as there is no need for pre-ferments (ie biga or poolish) and is made with only four ingredients: water, flour, salt and yeast - that's it.

I generally make the dough during the evening and let it sit on the kitchen benchtop overnight. In the morning all I need to do is shape it and place it into a hot oven for half and hour and it's done. Hot, fresh, home-cooked bread ready in time for breakfast. There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread and the taste and texture is amazing.

340g lukewarm water
1/4 tsp dry yeast
440g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp salt (eg Maldon Sea Salt Flakes)

  1. Place all the ingredients into the TM bowl in the order listed.
  2. Set the dial to closed lid position, and knead for 30 seconds/interval speed. (The dough should have the consistency of a thick cake batter.)
  3. Turn out the dough into a large bowl that has been well oiled (both base and sides) with olive oil.
  4. Cover with glad wrap and leave to prove for 12-24 hours. (It will triple in size and be full of large air bubbles.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celcius.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper and dust liberally with plain flour.
  7. Carefully ease the dough out of the bowl and onto the baking tray, using either a spatula or dough scraper. Be gentle as you want to preserve the pockets of air. (You will have a relatively wet and roundish pile of dough sitting in front of you.)
  8. Using floured or wet fingertips to stop the dough sticking to your fingers, grab the edge closest to you and pull up and stretch over to the other side. Then grab the edge furthest from you and repeat the process. Gently shape the dough if necessary.
  9. Lightly spray the top of the dough with water (use a spray bottle or just flick some water with your fingertips.) This will help to form a crispy crust.
  10. Place the dough into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden and sounds hollow when tapped. (To help to create some steam place an ovenproof bowl with 1 cup of water at the bottom of the oven. )
  11. When cooked, place onto a rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Easy Thermomix Ciabatta

TIPS: I used White Wings Plain Flour. Different flours and climatic conditions may require a slight adjustment to the amount of flour required. You're after a thick and wet cake batter consistency for the dough (make sure it's not dry or too runny.) After the dough has proved it will be quite sticky - use wet hands when you handle the dough to prevent it sticking.

You can flavour the bread by adding herbs, garlic or chopped olives during the initial 30 second knead.

After 12 hours proving

Oven tray lined with baking paper and well-floured

Scrape the dough onto the baking tray

The final stretch up and over the dough

Ready for the oven

Ready to eat!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Lemon Curd

Also known as Lemon Butter, this tasty lemony spread is absolutely delicious when spread between layers of sponge cake, and as a filling in tarts and lemon meringue pie. I like to swirl it through some plain yoghurt and serve it over a bowl of muesli topped with fresh blueberries - a "breakfast parfait" as my boys' call it. After my first failed attempt at making this in the Thermomix, I can definitely say that I nailed it this time.

Thermomix Lemon Curd
100g lemon juice
100g butter, cubed
100g sugar
1 egg + 3 extra yolks

  1. Insert Butterfly into the TM bowl and add all the ingredients.
  2. Cook for 8 minutes/80 degrees/Speed 2. (It is ready when the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. If not, cook for a further 2-3 minutes.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Substitute the lemon juice with orange juice or passionfruit pulp.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Porcini Salt

The other day I found a packet of dried porcini mushrooms languishing right at the back of the pantry. I decided to make a salt blend with them, something I have never thought of making before (don't ask me why as it's so easy peasy.) And ever since, I've been sprinkling the stuff onto everything like some sort of Fairy Godmother.  Porcini mushrooms imbue a robust, nutty flavour and is a great addition to meat, chicken, fish, potatoes, sauces and spice rubs.

Sprinkle porcini salt onto a whole chicken before roasting, over steak prior to bbq'ing or onto some hand-cut chips along with a drizzle of oil before popping them into a hot oven to bake.

20g dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons sea salt flakes

  1. Place the all ingredients into the TM bowl and blend for 5-10 seconds/speed 9 or until very fine.
  2. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Chocolate Tart with Orange Ice Cream

If you like Jaffa's you'll love this choc-orange inspired dessert. To save yourself some time, make the pastry shell in advance. Simply fill the tart with the chocolate filling and bake when you're ready to eat.

Sweet Orange Pastry
250g plain flour
80g pure icing sugar
rind of 1 orange
30g hazelnut meal
pinch of salt
130g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk

Chocolate Filling
400g cream
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons caster sugar
6 egg yolks
30g orange liqueur eg Cointreau (optional)
cocoa, for serving
orange ice cream, for serving  (recipe here)
orange syrup, for serving (optional)

Sweet Orange Pastry
  1. Place flour, icing sugar, orange rind, hazelnut meal and a pinch of salt into the TM bowl and process for 5 seconds/speed 7.
  2. Add the butter to the TM bowl and mix for 10 seconds/speed 7 or until the mixture resembles a sand-like texture.
  3. Add the egg yolk, set to closed lid position and pulse turbo button for 4-5 times or until the mixture comes together.
  4. Turn the dough out and shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest. 
  5. While the pastry is chilling, make the chocolate filling - there is no need to wash out the bowl.
Chocolate Filling 
  1. Place the cream into the TM bowl and heat for 3 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1.
  2. Add the chocolate and sugar and stir for 60 seconds/speed 2 or until smooth.
  3. Add the egg yolks and liqueur and mix for 30 seconds/speed 3 or until the mixture is smooth. 
Putting it all together
  1. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out between sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3-5mm thick and place into a 22cm fluted removable base tart tin or tart ring. 
  2. Refrigerate to rest for another 15 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  4. Line the pastry with non-stick baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice or beans.)
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degrees.
  7. Pour the chocolate filling into the tart shell and bake for 30 minutes or until just set.
  8. Cool completely and dust with cocoa. 
  9. Serve at room temperature with ice cream and a drizzle of orange syrup.
Serves 8-10

To make the orange syrup, place 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and 1/2 cup of sugar into a saucepan and gently boil until the mixture has reduced by half. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Orange Ice Cream

Included in the latest Gourmet Traveller magazine is a recipe for a Chocolate Tart served with a scoop of Orange Ice Cream on the side. It looks really delicious, but the recipe is a little too complicated. However, I have simplified it using the TM and the result is fantastic and so easy to prepare.

Home made ice cream is a cinch to make - and you don't need a fancy ice cream maker either. I like to use unhomogenised full-cream milk and free range eggs - if you use good-quality ingredients your ice cream will look and taste so much better. Serve this with the Chocolate Tart (recipe coming up next) or in a bowl on it's own. YUM

3 egg yolks
250g cream
280g milk
150g sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
pinch of salt
rind of 1 orange
2 tablespoons of orange marmalade

  1. Place all the ingredients into the TM (except for the orange rind and marmalade). Cook for 5-6 minutes/80 degrees/speed 4.
  2. Place the mixture into a stainless steel bowl and stir through the orange rind and let it cool.
  3. Place the bowl into a freezer for 5 hours, or until firm.
  4. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and place into the TM bowl. Mix for 20 seconds/speed 9, using the spatula to assist if necessary.
  5. Transfer the ice cream into a container (that has an airtight lid) and gently stir through the marmalade. 
  6. Return to the freezer to set.

Makes about 1 litre.