I’ve been watching last year Oregano grow like mad this year and needed to cut it back before it went to seed. I was wondering what to do with leaves rather than just dump them in the compost when I remembered this recipe in Paul Hollywood’s Bread
book, that Kimbob’s bought me for Valentine’s
Makes: 1 loaf
Tip: I use dried yeast when making wholemeal bread as the re-activation in warm water gives the heavier wholemeal flour a helping hand to rise. Feel free to use easy bake dried yeast or fresh if you want. You don’t need to activate the Easy Bake yeast just add it to the flour and stir in.
50 g butter, diced and softened to room temperature
1 large bunch of oregano, de-stalked and finely chopped
300 ml water
Activate the dried yeast by whisking the sugar into 160 ml of the water until dissolved, then add the yeast and whisk again. Leave in a warm place for 10 – 15 mins or until 2cms of froth covers the surface, whisk again and use (Not required for Easy Bake yeast)
Add the flour, salt and chopped herbs into a bowl and mix thoroughly
Add the butter and rub completely into the flour mix
Slowly add the yeast and water and mix in with your hands until all the flour from the side of the bowl, has been incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 6 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and leave to rise for 2 to 2.5 hours until doubled in size.
Lightly grease a baking sheet. Return the dough to the floured surface and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten with your hands and dust with some rye flour. Using a sharp knife, mark out the traditional square shape on top of the dough, pop onto a baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 8. Bake for 30 minutes until until the bread is risen, the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy with butter, or as the base for a slice or two of Mature Cheddar Cheese on toast or dunked in a bowl of my Bacon and Lentil or MinestroneSoup
Simnel cake is a light fruit cake which is covered in Marzipan and toasted. It’s normally eaten on the middle Sunday of lent and it’s been around since the Middle Ages. More recently it was traditionally given by Victorian servant girls to their mothers when they returned home on Mothering Sunday.
Normally eleven, or more occasionally twelve, marzipan balls are used to decorate the cake, as the balls are supposedly meant to represent the twelve apostles, minus Judas or Jesus and the twelve apostles, minus Judas.
For the cake
100g glacé cherries
225g butter, softened
225g light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
225g self-raising flour
50g chopped candied peel
2 lemons, grated zest only
2 tsp ground mixed spice
For the filling and topping
2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
Preheat the oven to 150C/280F/Gas 2.
Grease and line a 20cm/ 8in cake tin with baking parchment.
Cut the cherries into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper.
Place the cherries in a bowl with the butter, sugar, eggs, self-raising flour, sultanas, currants, candied peel, lemon zest and mixed spice and beat well until thoroughly mixed.
Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin.
Take one-third of the marzipan and roll it out to a circle the size of the tin and then place on top of the cake mixture.
Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 2½ hours, or until well risen, evenly brown and firm to the touch. Covering with aluminium foil after one hour if the top is browning too quickly.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out, peel off the lining parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
When the cake is cool, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining marzipan to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.
Mark a criss-cross pattern on the marzipan with a sharp knife.
Form the remaining marzipan into 11 (or 12) balls.
Brush the marzipan with beaten egg and arrange the marzipan balls around the edge of the cake.
Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg and then carefully place the cake under a preheated hot grill for a few moments to lightly toast.
Decorate further with candied fruit and flowers is you wish, slice and serve.