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Thursday, 21 November 2013

An Evening of Christmas Baking with Richard Bertinet and a Recipe for Chorizo & Manchego Breakfast Muffins

Words & Photography by Simeen Kadi

A recent crisp Autumn evening found me in Marylebone at L’Atelier des Chefs enveloped in a cloud of cinnamon and allspice. Lurpak, Britain’s favourite butter brand, has just launched a slow churned butter and I had been invited to put it to good use in some Christmas baking.

My baking skills aren’t up to much so it was lucky that Richard Bertinet was on hand with some great recipes, tips and seemingly heatproof fingers. Richard Bertinet is well known for his cookery school in Bath and for his award winning cookery books (find out more here). And, I am sure that those who have attended one of his classes will also know him for his easy, genial manner and his patience.

We started off watching Richard mixing together dough for Spiced Christmas Tea Buns, but it wasn’t long before I was elbow deep in sticky dough. Richard was very handy with simple tips for working the dough, such as keeping your arms loose and working through the torso. And the ‘French Shrug’, the insouciant movement of shoulders and hands practised by our Gallic neighbours (especially Parisian waiters) which is both infuriating and alluring in equal measures. When used by Richard it instantly relieves sticky hands from gooey dough – try it next time, it really does work.

Richard Bertinet is a real authority on baking and we heard how bread making in the West has developed over the centuries, from mediaeval techniques for frasage (the initial mixing of ingredients) to the right method for stretching the dough to ensure enough air has been incorporated.

Stuffed with walnuts, cranberries and a goodly amount of the rich, slow churned butter, the dough was not very pliable at first but with perseverance (not my strongest trait) I got it to approximate Richard’s silky smooth dough. And after a turn in the oven and slathered with lashings of rich butter there wasn’t much to distinguish my paltry effort from that of the master baker.

Lurpak’s slow churned butter is actually very good – the long slow churn in small batches delivers a deep, earthy flavour and a rounded creaminess. We used it to make chocolate and orange crumpets, although, for my money, I would prefer to slather the butter on plain old toasted crumpets any day.

If you have more patience than me (very likely) you might like to try one of Richard’s savoury recipes:

Chorizo & Manchego Breakfast Muffins

Working time: 40 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Baking time: 30 minutes
Makes 14 good sized muffins

  • 100g Manchego cheese
  • 150g cooking chorizo
  • 450g strong bread flour
  • 50g fine polenta or semolina
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 20g fresh yeast (or 2tsp dried yeast)
  • 275ml water
  • 75ml full fat milk
  • Semolina for dusting
  • Lurpak Slow Churned Butter for serving
  1. Grate the cheese and dice the chorizo.
  2. Mix the flour, polenta or semolina, honey, sea salt, yeast, water and milk to make the dough. Then add the cheese and chorizo and fold into the dough. Leave to rest for an hour.
  3. Lightly dust your work surface and turn out the dough onto it. Turn the dough over and dust with semolina. Roll out gently to a thickness of about 2cm. Use a 10-12cm cutter to cut out the muffins.
  4. Place a griddle or flat frying pan over a medium heat. Oil the pan and add the muffin circles making sure not to crowd them in the pan – make them in batches. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  5. To serve, slice in half and spread generously with the butter.

Lurpak Slow Churned Butter has just been launched across the UK. For more information and for recipes go to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LurpakButter/app_169525643247814

Richard Bertinet’s Cookery School can be found on http://www.thebertinetkitchen.com/

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