A short, but very sweet post today Over the weekend it was my birthday and so we were on the look out for a good book and something chocolatey to go with it. We came up trumps with Yum Yum! by Mara Bergman and Nick Maland, a random but clearly meant-for-us find.
Two cheeky children get messy in the kitchen whilst baking bread, oblivious to the menagerie from a nearby zoo creeping through the open window, drawn in by the delicious smell. But when a big bear crashes into the kitchen everyone is aware of it. What has the bear come for? Is he going to eat up the naughty (but nice) children?
What’s not to fall in love with when reading this book? Independent little kids (no sign of parents anywhere), a camel, a crocodile, great rhyming text that trips of the tongue and builds easily and effectively to the scary moment when the bear appears on the scene hungry for something to eat. The sprinkling of fear sweetened with a good dose of humour is a really a delicious combination.
The illustrations are drawn with simple clear lines but are bursting with textures which remind me a little, and in the very best way, of the work of Ian Beck. This is one of those books that cannot be read only once in a sitting – J demands at least 3 or 4 readings one after the other whenever we find this lovely book in our hands.
Much as I adore bread, my regular loaf isn’t so celebratory, so instead we decided to bake some chocolate buns based on “Jack’s chocolate buns” from Richard Bertinet’s Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread. The recipe, should you wish to use it, is at the end of this post – do let me know how you get on if you try it!
The whole process is very kid friendly – just make sure you have some spare chocolate for the kids to enjoy whilst they’re helping This batch didn’t last long!
Yum Yum!: ** (2 stars)
Music we danced to with chocolate stains round our mouths included:
If chocolate buns don’t do it for you, you could try our “traditional” birthday chocolate cake – here’s the recipe!
Recipe for Chocolate Buns worthy of a birthday celebration
Ingredients for about 24 buns
250ml full fat milk
1 dessert spoon dried yeast
1 tsp plus 40g of caster sugar
60g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
25g cocoa powder
6 egg yolks
140g caster sugar
50g sifted plain flour
500ml full fat milk
15g cocoa powder
A vanilla pod
200g chocolate – whatever chocolate you like
A beaten egg to use as an egg wash
1. Heat the milk very gently so that it is just no longer cold. Add the dried yeast and the tsp of sugar and leave for about 10 minutes. A head of froth should form at least 2 cm deep.
2. Rub the butter into the flour then add the 40g of sugar, the salt, the cocoa powder and the eggs. Add the frothy milk and yeast mixture. Mix well and knead for a few minutes. Leave to prove for 45 minutes, covered with a cloth.
3. Whilst the dough is proving, make the crème patissière. I’d never made crème patissière before but it was surprisingly easy. Whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar, ie 70g of sugar, and all the flour. Put the remaining sugar ie 70g in a saucepan with the milk, cocoa powder and the vanilla pod (split lengthways with seeds scraped in) over a low heat. When the first bubble appears remove from the heat and whisk 1/3 of the milk into the egg and sugar mixture before adding the rest of the milk.
4. Put your saucepan back on the heat and bring to the boil Simmer for a couple of minutes stirring constantly to make sure the “cream” doesn’t stick and burn to the pan. Pour into a dish to cool (sprinkling a little icing sugar on top prevents a skin forming whilst your crème patissière cools).
5. Chop up your chocolate into small pieces (about the size of your little fingernail). Alternatively use chocolate chips.
6. Once your dough has proved and your crème patissière cooled transfer your dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently roll out into a rectangle about 50 cm wide and 35 cm deep. Spread the chocolate crème patissière over the dough and then sprinkle all over with your chocolate pieces. Starting on the long side roll up your dough so it looks like a swiss roll.
7. Cut your roll into 2 cm slices and place on their sides on baking trays lined with baking paper. Glaze with a little egg wash and leave to prove for about 90 minutes – the buns will roughly double in size. Heat your oven up to 220 C.
8. When your buns are twice their original size given them another egg wash, turn the oven down to 180 C and bake for 12-15 minutes. Check they are done by lifting one gently and feeling if the dough is firm underneath.
The prepared buns freeze really well – simply pop them in the freezer just after you have cut the slices from the “swiss roll”. To use them at a later date take them out, leave them to prove overnight and bake in the same way for breakfast