Brendan Bakes » Breads Great British Bake Off Contestant Wed, 30 Oct 2013 12:44:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Honey-Bun Bears Tue, 28 May 2013 07:08:54 +0000 brendan

Brendan's Honey-Bun BearsAlong with the ‘Doggy Hot Dog’ rolls, these buns came out of an afternoon experimenting with dough. They are fun to make and will surely delight your younger customers, especially when filled with jam and whipped cream or perhaps some whipped cream blended with Nutella. Am still working on pussy cat and rabbit buns. Watch this space!

The recipe quantity will make 32 buns each weighing 60 grams. The ears and mouth parts are made from a separate biscuit dough. Halve the recipe for 16 buns. The wholt things is baked in two stages.


  • 1100g strong flour
  • 60g fresh yeast, or, 3 x 7g packets of fast-action dried yeast
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 215g butter
  • 3 large eggs – lightly whisked and mixed into the water and honey mixture
  • 2 tbls runny honey mixed into the lukewarm water…
  • 400 – 420ml of lukewarm water
  • 1 large egg, whisked for glazing
  • Vegetable oil to grease the bowl
  • Some currents for eyes and nose


Brendan's Honey-Bun BearsDissolve the fresh yeast if using in 200ml of the lukewarm water. Sieve the flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl, and add the dried yeast if using that. Rub in the butter. Add the whisked eggs, the honeyed water (and the yeast mixture) and enough additional water to make a fairly soft dough. Cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead well, about 5-8 minutes, until the dough becomes firm and springy. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with Clingfilm and leave to rise until it doubles in size – up to 1 hour. Turn out onto surface and knead for 2 minutes. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. While proving, line 2 or 3 baking trays with non-stick parchment, or grease with some butter.

Cut off pieces of dough weighing 60g each. Knead lightly to make a round ball. Flatten out to form a round disk of 6cm/2 ½” and place onto prepared tray. Leave enough space to add ears later – say 8 bun disks per tray with a 5cm/2” space between each one.

Glaze with egg wash. Using a small knife make a small incision to make room for eye sockets just above centre line of disk. (There should be more ‘headroom’ above the eyes than usual – see photo). Press a current into each socket. Glaze again. Allow to prove for 20-30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 190C/Gas5/375F.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. When nearly baked, remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. (Recipe and method follows for biscuit dough). Have the ears and mouth parts ready prepared. Brush all round, the outer rim of each ear with egg wash and attach to head – leave the centre unbrushed for contrast. Brush mouth part disk with egg-wash on back only and place just under eyes. Press a current into biscuit dough circle above crescent incisions. Reduce oven to 180C/Gas4/350F and return dressed bun to oven and bake for 7-9 minutes to just lightly browned. Do the same with other tray, and return to oven. (It is OK to allow the buns to cool for 1 minute and to open the door as the buns are set and will not shrink. They will finish baking with the biscuit ears and mouth). See photos to help with the method.

Biscuit Dough Ingredients

  • 175g/6ozs plain flour
  • 1/4tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 50g/2oz caster sugar
  • 3tbls golden syrup
  • 1 tsp milk

In a medium-sized bowl put flour, caster sugar, salt, and baking powder, and mix together with a small whisk. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the golden syrup and milk and mix with a wooden spoon just to bring it together. Continue to knead the mix together with your hand while still in the bowl until it forms a ball. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead for 2 minutes max to form a smooth dough. Cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Brendan's Honey-Bun BearsDivide dough in half. Roll out one half to form a rough circle to about £1 coin thickness. Cut out circles with a plain cutter (3.5cm/1 ¼” diameter). Using a smaller cutter mark out 2 crescents to run from ‘nose’ centre to edge of circle – see photo.

To make the ears, form a log with the other half of the biscuit dough to 3cm/1” diameter. Using a sharp, small knife, cut off 1cm/ ¼ “pieces. Press lightly to flatten a little. You now have everything ready for when the buns come out of the oven and follow the instructions above.

When baked, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. Transfer carefully to a cooling rack with a fish slice to avoid breaking off the ears. Once completely cold, the ears will firm up and remain firmly attached.

The sweet bun can be cut in half – but leave the ears attached to the lower half – and filled with jam and/or cream. Or Nutella, but beat it with a whisk or wooden spoon to make it more easily spreadable. You can also, add some whipped cream to the Nutella to make a lighter cream filling. Great recipe for making with children.

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Doggy Hot Dog Rolls Tue, 28 May 2013 06:57:12 +0000 brendan

Brendan's Doggy Hot Dog RollsI was playing around with dough the other day seeing what shapes I could come up with. Monty-the-Labradoodle sat watching me with his calm, and sometimes unnerving, gaze. Looking at his face I had the idea to create these little rolls. They are simple to make and great fun for children. You could fill them with any kind of small sausage or perhaps with a fish finger. Monty loved the sausage that I used in the photo but wasn’t too bothered with the bun!


  • 500g strong flour
  • 1 packet fast-action dried yeast
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 350 – 370ml warm water
  • 1 tin of cooked, black beans, well drained and patted dry with kitchen towel for eyes and nose.
  • 1 egg beaten for glaze


Add salt and dried yeast to flour but keep both separated. With a hand-held whisk, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly together. Now add water to achieve a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface, and knead for 6 minute to achieve an elastic shiny dough. Oil a medium-sized bowl, place dough inside, cover with a tea towel or Clingfilm, and allow to prove for 1 hour. Once proved, turn out onto work surface. Cut off 60g pieces until all dough is used up. This quantity will make 15-16 rolls.

Briefly knead each piece into a ball. Press down and flatten out slightly. Use a sharp pair of scissors to make incisions each side of ‘head’ to create ears (see photo). Place on a tray covered with non-stick parchment leaving 1 ½” space between each roll. With a small, pointed knife, make a small incision through dough to create 2 eyes, and one for the nose. Place a black bean into each incision.

Briefly knead each piece into a ball Making the ears Eyes and Nose!

Leave to rest for 20-30 minutes to rise. Heat oven to 180C/gas5. Brush buns with egg glaze and bake for 20 – 25 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

To serve, slice through front of roll to about 2/3rds back to create cavity. Press in a small piece of lettuce in ‘mouth’ and finally a cooked sausage. (Use slim sausages for these rolls. Normal sized sausages will be disproportionate to the size of the roll). See photos. Great fun to make with children, ideal for BBQs and picnics.

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Gluten-free Pecan and Mixed Fruit Bread Wed, 13 Mar 2013 07:19:12 +0000 brendan

Perhaps it’s just coincidence but in the last few weeks I’ve met a number of people – online and in person – who have asked me about gluten-free bread. Making bread suitable for coeliacs has been become much easier with the wide availability of flour mixes (I use Dove Farms). However, it seems that people often end up with a dry brick when they attempt to make a loaf for the first time using such a mix.

So, in the hope that everyone will enjoy a light and flavoursome loaf, I’m sharing this recipe. This has not let me down yet. As the recipe points out, the dough needs to be much wetter than for a wheat bread and there is no need to knead. So, this is actually a very easy bread to make and much nicer than the gluten-free loaves typically found in the local supermarket.

Equipment needed

Either 1 large loaf tin or two standard ones e.g. one 33cm x 13cm x 8cm tin; or two 25cm x 11cm 7cm tins. Well greased or oiled.

Recipe can be halved to make one, good-sized loaf.

Preheat oven to 200C.

Brendan's Gluten-free Pecan and Mixed Fruit Bread Dry ingredients

  • 800g gluten-free bread flour blend
  • 300g mixed dried fruit (I used Neal’s Yard Ultimate Berry mix, but you can make up your own, e.g. cranberries, golden sultanas, blueberries, raisins etc).
  • 150g chopped pecans
  • 4 tbls caster sugar
  • 4 tsps quick action yeast
  • 1 tsp fine salt

Wet ingredients

  • 2 tbls Maple syrup (or good flavoured honey)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 8 tbls sunflower oil – or other flavourless oil
  • 650 ml warm whole milk, or semi-skimmed


  • In a  large bowl mix all the dry ingredients together using a hand-held whisk to mix thoroughly.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  • The mix will be very wet. Leave to stand for 3 minutes and the mixture will tighten. However, this is a very soft, wet mixture so do not compare with the texture of wheat flour, bread dough. It also requires no kneading as there is no gluten. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin/tins, and level off with a spatula.
  • Allow to stand in a warm place for 45 – 60 minutes, covered with Clingfilm.
  • Bake in preheated oven on middle shelf for 45-50 minutes if large tin, or 25-35 minutes if using the smaller tins.
  • Remove from oven and let stand for 3-4 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife round the edges of the tin/s to loosen. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Notes: Do not over-bake as the bread will dry out.  Again the baking is shorter than bread made with wheat flour, but gluten-free flours behave differently. Also, they require and absorb more liquid; hence it looks wet and porridge-like when you transfer it to the tin, but that is okay.

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Spelt, Honey, Green Raisin & Cranberry Loaf Sat, 23 Feb 2013 14:09:46 +0000 brendan

Brendan's Spelt, Honey, Green Raisin & Cranberry Loaf Recently I was invited to the launch of an initiative to raise awareness of bowel cancer. This is a collaborative effort of Bowel Cancer UK and Sharpham Park, a company producing organic spelt flour and various spelt products. I decided to bake something using spelt flour for the launch event and came up with this loaf. It tastes every bit as good as a conventional wheat loaf, is high in fibre and requires less kneading. I’ve used green raisins for interest but golden raisins or sultanas would work just as well.


  • 300g white spelt flour
  • 200g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 10g fresh yeast, or, 1 pkt of dried yeast (7g)
  • 10g salt
  • 2 tbls of runny honey
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 150g green raisins (or use golden raisins if you can’t find green. Or golden sultanas)
  • 350 – 360 ml/g water


Soak the raisins in warm water for 30 minutes to plump up. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel.

Mix the two flours and salt together with a wooden spoon or whisk. Add the dried yeast if using, or rub in the fresh yeast. Add the dried fruit and mix together. Now add the water and mix thoroughly with your hands or wooden spoon to form a softish dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes (do not over-knead as spelt gluten is more fragile than wheat).

Oil a medium-sized bowl and transfer the dough to it, rolling it round in the oiled bowl to give a thin coating of oil to the ball of dough. Cover with Clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 200ᵒC/Gas 6 for at least 20 minutes.

Punch down the risen dough to degas it in the bowl. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball with your hands. Flatten slightly and brush with plain yoghurt, fromage frais or egg wash. Scatter some rolled oats over the surface. Now score with a sharp knife e.g. either a triangle as in the photo, or various slashes, or a cross pattern. Transfer to a greased baking tray and allow to rise for 30 minutes, again in a warm place.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes on middle shelf. Tap for hollow sound to ensure that it is baked through. Place on a wire rack to cool.

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Barm Brack – Ireland Wed, 21 Nov 2012 07:39:43 +0000 brendan

Brendan's Barm Brack - IrelandThis tea bread exists in various forms. In Wales it is known as ʻBara Brithʼ and in Scotland as ʻSelkirk Bannockʼ. ʻBrackʼ reportedly comes from the Gaelic word ʻbreacʼ which means ʻspeckledʼ – a reference to the bountiful dried fruit in this moist loaf. Traditionally served at Halloween, this bread is delicious spread with butter at any time of year.

(Barm is the frothy, yeast mixture that floats on the top of beer vats during the brewing process)
This quantity will make 2 large or 3 medium-sized cakes. They freeze well, and are great to give as gifts. They keep well in greaseproof paper in an airtight container.


  • 10ozs/285g full-fat milk
  • 10ozs/285g water
  • 1oz/30g caster sugar
  • 2ozs/60g fresh yeast
  • 4oz/115g plain flour

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside in a warm place until it rises and falls, about 30-45 minutes depending on room temperature.


  • 2 lbs/1kilo plain flour
  • ½ oz/15g salt
  • 4 ozs/115g caster sugar
  • 6 ozs/170g butter (or ½ lard, ½ butter as in olden recipes)
  • 5 ozs/140g egg at room temperature
  • 3lb 4ozs/1.5kilos sultanas or, a mix of raisins and sultanas
  • 8ozs/225g mixed peel (If using shop-bought, chopped peel, grate in zest of 1 orange to supplement it)
  • Zest of 2 lemons


Whisk the eggs with the sugar and salt for 1 minute with a large whisk. Add this mixture to the ferment. Now add the flour and mix until it starts to form a dough. Before it does so, add the butter or lard/butter mixture, and mix thoroughly to incorporate. Leave aside for 15 minutes to recover.

Brendan's Barm Brack - IrelandMeanwhile, warm the dried fruit in a low oven or on top of an Aga, for example. Add to dough and mix to incorporate. When ready, divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. Transfer to greased baking tins. Brush with egg wash. Allow to prove in a warm place for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 200C/420F/Gas5 for 20 minutes before baking. Grease the baking tins (for large think 10” – 11”/25-27cm, for medium-size 9”/23cm) in readiness, or cake hoops. If using cake hoops, grease the tray they will stand on as well.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 40-50 minutes. Test with skewer for doneness. (Cover with tinfoil or greaseproof paper loosely if browning too quickly). Transfer to cooling rack. These loaf-cakes can also be shaped by hand and baked without bakeware. But a cake tin or cake hoop will give it a more rounded and higher appearance.

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Green Olive & Cheddar ‘Chop-Chop’ Bread Mon, 17 Sep 2012 06:36:43 +0000 brendan

I got the idea for this bread in the patisserie section of a smart department store in Stockholm. Intrigued by the sound of chopping I took a peak into the kitchen and saw the baker using a metallic dough scraper rapidly to cut up his dough. He kindly explained to me the technique. I loved the informality of this recipe in which eggs, grated cheddar and olives are added to a rolled out dough and the whole mixture is then blitzed with the scraper and piled into sandwich tins to bake. The result is an irregular foccacia-type loaf with a crispy top, light texture and lots of flavour – great for dipping in olive oil mixed with some balsamic vinegar. It’s worth buying a metal dough scraper or strong plastic one for this rather than using a knife. And either will double as an excellent tool for removing frost from your windscreen in winter!

For this recipe, I use the ‘Savoury Danish’ bread dough and method.

Brendan's Olive and Cheddar Chop Chop Bread Brendan's Olive and Cheddar Chop Chop Bread Brendan's Olive and Cheddar Chop Chop Bread Brendan's Olive and Cheddar Chop Chop Bread Brendan's Olive and Cheddar Chop Chop Bread Brendan's Olive and Cheddar Chop Chop Bread


400g grated cheddar cheese
200g pitted green olives in brine – fully drained.
2 large eggs


Pre-heat oven to 200ᵒC

Prepare 2 x 9” victoria sandwich tins, or same size tart rings. Grease both tins and lightly flour. Base line each tin with some non-stick parchment paper. (As the bread has both cheese and egg in it, it will tend to stick to the tin so good preparation is necessary). Depending on size of your oven, place both tins on a baking tray, or on two separate ones. If using the tart rings, line tray/s with non-stick parchment.


Once dough has proven, degas and knead for 30 seconds. Roll out to a rectangle of 60cm x 40cm/ 16”x 24”approx. (If you find it is hard to roll, just let it relax for 10 minutes). Leaving a 3” – 4” border all round, sprinkle the grated cheese over dough surface. Distribute the whole olives on top.  Finally, break 1 whole egg into each ‘half’ of the triangle.

Now fold over the dough until its edges meet and all the ingredients are enclosed. Using a dough scraper – either metal or plastic – just chop every part of the dough until you obtain small pieces. The chopping action will also roughly chop the olives at the same time.  The eggs will moisten the dough and bring it together – see pictures.

Scoop up pieces of the dough into the prepared tins and distribute evenly between them. Press the dough mixture into any crevices. Cover with non-stick parchment and leave to prove for 1 hour. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes at 200ᵒC, and then lower temperature to 180ᵒC for another 20 – 25 minutes. Test for done-ness with a skewer at the 20-minute point, which should come out dry. If not, give another 5 minutes.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a cooling rack.

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Chocolate & Vanilla Bagels Mon, 03 Sep 2012 07:11:30 +0000 brendan

Brendan's Chocolate & Vanilla BagelsBagels are a relatively recent departure for me, particularly sweet bagels. When asked to make some of these for the Great British Bake Off I tried out various combinations. I was keen to produce something that looked interesting as well as tasting good, but there is only so much you can do to jazz up a circle of poached dough! Then in a moment of inspiration I came up with the two colour idea. These are a little more fiddley than regular bagels that use a single dough, but you will soon get the knack. And trust me, the look and flavour will make the effort worthwhile.


Serves 12

  • 650g strong flour
  • 2 tsps active dried yeast
  • 65g (2 ¼ ozs) unsweetened cocoa powder – (Green & Black’s for example)
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 4 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 155ml warm water
  • 3 tbls malt extract for adding to boiling water


  • 1 large egg white + 1 tbls water
  • 100g chopped hazelnuts
  • 3 tbls Demerara sugar


Mix all the dry ingredients with a whisk in a large bowl. Divide equally into two bowls and to one add the cocoa powder. Whisk egg, water and vanilla together and add equal amounts to the two bowls. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. The dough in both bowls will be firm rather than soft. Add more water or flour, as needed, to achieve this consistency. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Knead both doughs for 10 minutes until shiny and elastic.

Place in 2 oiled bowls and turn it round so that each has a thin coating all over.

Cover with plastic wrap and leave to prove for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

When ready, knead each for 8 minutes until doughs are soft and elastic.  N.B. While doughs are proving, 2/3rds fill a large saucepan with cold water – large enough to hold 3-4 bagels evenly across its surface – about 5-6 litres size.  Add the malt extract and bring water to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer gently.

When both are proved, weigh and divide each dough into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each to 8” long. Twist 1 vanilla length and 1 chocolate length round each other to form a rope, seal ends by pressing firmly together, and leave to rest for 20 minutes. While resting, make topping by combining chopped hazelnuts, Demerara sugar and cinnamon and mix well.

Boil the bagels gently for 1 ½ minutes on each side, turning with a fish-slice. Use your watch or clock to time.  (The longer you boil, the chewier the bagel). Use a perforated spoon to lift from water onto a waiting tray.

Brush with egg white and sprinkle generously with prepared topping. Transfer to a tray lined with non-stick parchment. Or you can lightly grease tray instead and sprinkle the surface with coarse- ground maize for crunchiness.

Bake in hot oven for 20 – 25 minutes.   Cool on wire rack.

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Apple & Raisin Soda Bread Sat, 01 Sep 2012 09:03:56 +0000 brendan

Soda bread is something I’ve made so often over the years that I could probably do it with my eyes closed. It takes about fifteen minutes to prepare and around an hour to bake. I like to make this for breakfast when guests are staying over. While it’s baking I lay the table. The smell of the caraway infused bread fresh from the oven generally lures late risers to the table! Here I’ve added apples and raisins which gives moisture as well as sweetness. In Ireland apple is traditionally added to soda bread come harvest time. Enjoy this one with cheese or jam. Like all soda breads it is best eaten the same day but it will make great toast for a day or two afterwards.

Brendan's Irish Soda Bread Brendan's Irish Soda Bread Brendan's Irish Soda Bread


  • 1-½ lbs of organic mixed flours e.g. 8ozs of wholemeal, 1 lb of unbleached strong white flour. (You can increase the wholemeal flour to say 12 ozs, but the finished bread will be heavier).
  • 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 ½  tsp salt
  • 2 tsp of caraway seeds
  • 60g raisins
  • 3 medium apples peeled and diced – about pea-size (see photo). I use Cox or Bramley for strong flavour
  • ¾ – 1 pint of buttermilk, or plain yoghurt & milk (50-50)
  • A little plain yoghurt for brushing the loaf
  • 1tbs rolled oats, or bran, or pinhead oatmeal, or just plain flour
  • 1tbs coarse maize meal, or semolina to sprinkle on greased tray – adds crunchiness


Preheat the oven to 220º C for 15 minutes.


Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, cream of tartar, salt and caraway seeds together thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Then mix in raisins and diced apple.

Add buttermilk or plain yoghurt & milk, and mix.

You are aiming for an easy to knead dough that is soft, plastic-like in consistency. Only knead until it comes together smoothly – about 1 minute.

The soda responds to the acid in the buttermilk or yoghurt, and starts releasing its gas, which you need for raising the bread, so work fairly quickly. Shape into a round and flatten slightly to about 1½” – 2″ high.

Brush the top with plain yoghurt, and sprinkle on your choice of topping from selection above.  Cut a cross ½” deep into the dough. Place on a greased metal try (which you can sprinkle with either semolina, or maize meal, or plain flour:  the first two add flavour and some crunchiness). Or simply line with non-stick parchment.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes at 220ºC, and reduce to 190ºC for 40-50 mins depending on your oven. It is baked when it sounds ‘hollow’ when tapped underneath, and nicely browned all over.

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