Baker of the week – Robert Allen
Baker of the week – Robert Allen
We love to see your bakes and now we’re launching our Baker of the Week feature! First up is Robert Allen, a passionate Bundt cake baker who runs the popular #TwitterBakealong! Read his interview below.
1. What is your signature bake?
I use a lot of Nordic Ware Bundt pans, I guess they’d be a signature bake for me. My favourite is my apple and blackberry Bundt, with blackberry icing, fresh and freeze-dried fruit, crumble and micro herbs. This photo was taken from a Bake and Shoot session at Manchester Kitchen Social.
2. What is your favourite Matthews Cotswold Flour and why?
I have three preferred flours. I like the French T55 for baking baguettes, the Italian Tipo 00, which I use for pizza dough and the Maizebite to enhance pastry and biscuit bakes.
3. Why do you buy Matthews Cotswold Flour?
For the variety, rather than using just a generic flour for everything.
4. Where do you buy your Cotswold Flour from?
I have in the past managed to purchase Cotswold Flour from Aldi supermarket. I’d like to see it in more supermarkets. I then bought a 16kg sack of bread flour from the online shop.
5. Do you bake for a living or for a hobby (or both!)?
I bake for a hobby and now co-run a baking community on Social Media, mainly Twitter – the #TwitterBakeAlong. We try and get people baking. This has led to us doing live baking demos at food festivals etc.
6. Do you have a favourite recipe using Matthews Cotswold Flour, you’d like to share?
Robert Allan’s Bread Recipe
- 500g Matthews Cotswold Flour – Strong White Bread flour
- 7g dried yeast
- 7g salt
- 300g (60% hydration) tepid water
- 4 Tbsp Cold pressed Rapeseed oil (or basic rapeseed will do)
- Weigh flour into a large bowl.
- Put yeast at one side and work into the flour slightly.
- Put salt at the opposite side.
- Make a well in the centre and add the water and oil to the flour and using one hand like a claw, stir together until the dough comes together as a ball.
- Empty the dough onto the bench and knead, for 10-12 minutes. Dust the worktop with a little flour and sit your dough on the flour. Flatten slightly and bring the outside of the dough, into the centre. Work all the way around the dough doing this, thus creating a little tension on the top of the dough.
- Dust a bowl with a little flour and pop your dough into your bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise (doubles in size). This will take between 1-2 hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
- Once risen, thump the dough to knock the air out and tip back onto a lightly floured worktop. Knead a few times and bring together into a ball.
- This basic dough can now be used for 1 loaf or 12 buns.
- Shape the loaf as before, bringing the outsides of the dough, into the centre, to create tension across the top. This can be popped into a loaf tin or left freeform on a tray.
- You could partition your dough into 70g balls of dough (ideal for sandwich rolls)
- Cup your hand over the ball of dough and roll into a tight ball. Place onto a baking tray and continue rolling the dough, placing each ball quite close (2cm) to each other on the tray. This will give nice soft edges, once baked.
- Cover either with the tea towel and once again and leave to rise – 45-60 mins.
- After 40 mins pop another separates small tin in your oven and heat your oven to 220C fan.
- Once the loaf the loaf has risen, or buns are proved and almost touching each other, pop the baking tray into the middle of your oven.
- The tin you popped into the oven, put 4 or 5 ice cubes into the tin and close the door, drop oven temp to 200C fan and bake for 35 min for a loaf or 23 minutes for buns.
- Once out of the oven, immediately place onto a cooling rack, to cool down.
7. Why do you enjoy baking – what does it give you?
Baking is a time to unwind, a release from everyday life. When you take simple ingredients, i.e. flour, yeast, water, and salt and produce a wonderful looking loaf, it gives a sense of achievement, not to mention filling the house with an amazing aroma.
8. Who are you a big fan of in real life?
I am a big fan of @Claire_Clark – Claire is a renowned pastry chef and was a judge on the first series of Great British Bake Off (GBBO) Creme De La Crème (or Bake Off The Professionals).
9. What is your most triumphant bake and your biggest disaster? And why?
I love the bundt in the picture above. This was baked in a development kitchen, whilst baking alongside professional chefs and professionally photographed by @pavlovaandcream
I’d say macarons were a disaster to start with, but I persevered and finally had success, after using Nancy Birtwhistle (GBBO) recipe, I succeeded in making them.
Besides bread, this is also one of my favourite bakes. It’s a bara brith but done in a simnel cake style, which was done for Easter.