Baking bread in Italy – Rosemary bread roll recipe

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been on holiday in Italy visiting family, eating ice cream and spending a lot of time at the beach running in and out of the sea. 
I love Italy, I love the food, people and atmosphere, I feel very at home there which is good as this will probably be my 26th time I’ve been there to the same place. A few years ago my dad inherited a family house, a very old house which is stuck in the 1950s with no boiler or hot water. We cook on a gas stove but I think it’s great.

This year I decided that I wanted to make the bread for our lunch times (as the crusty dry loaves we eat every day hurt my teeth). I bought the yeast with me from the UK but everything else I got when I was there. 

I made 3 different types of bread with varying degrees of success, though I was pleased with any success since I had no scales to measure my ingredients with!*

The recipe and pictures today are from my bread rolls. They are so very simple but I managed to make them work and we ate them all up very fast.

*How I measured the flour without scales was to buy 1kg bags of flour and guess that it’s half of it. Simples.

Rosemary bread rolls

  • 500g bread flour
  • 2 tsp dry fast acting yeast 
  • 2 tsp sugar 
  • 1 tbsp salt 
  • 300ml water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • Chopped up rosemary (or you could substitute for any dry herb, I used fresh rosemary) 

In a bowl add all of your dry ingredients, except the rosemary,making sure that the salt is on the otherside to your yeast. 

Make a well in the middle and pour most of the water and the oil into the centre.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture till it starts to come together then add in the last bit of water and mix. 

Tip onto a clean work surface and start to knead the bread. At first it will be very sticky and you’ll want to add extra flour…don’t!  Trust me, it will start to come together into a dough.

Keep kneading till it looks like dough and doesn’t stick to everything like glue. This will take at least 10 mins by hand. 

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave till the dough has risen well (in Italy this was about an hour as it was so hot, in UK temperatures it’s probably closer to 2 hours) 

Once risen put back onto the work surface and ‘knock back’ which is to knead the dough a bit more. Now add your herbs at this point. 

Cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll into ball shapes.  Put them close but not touching on your baking tray. I’d line a baking tray with non-stick paper and flour generously.  Cover very loosely. 

Heat the oven to 220c and let the dough rise for another hour. 

Bake for 15 minutes until lovely, golden and happy to see you. 


A recipe for mess: White chocolate Rocky Road Cakes 

My daughter is an only child but luckily we do have a street full of other children to play with. 

The problem is me, I’m starting on the new adventure of parenting called entertaining other people’s children!  So on Saturday morning I ended up with 6 girls playing in my garden (sometimes happily, sometimes bickering) but only one was mine. 

I thought it would be a good idea to invite them in to come and make cakes which they were very excited to do. 

I told them all to ask their parents whilst I set up my kitchen for something I was hoping would be a fun task for them all… And it was! 

After diligently washing their hands each girl had their own little bowl and a teaspoon, and in the middle of the table I set up an array of things. There were lots of cupcake cases, rice crispies, glace cherries, marshmallows, raisins and my special case of cake decorations.  I did the job of melting white chocolate over a bain marie then gave each girl two tablespoons of white chocolate. I instructed them to add their own treats and stir all together. Once complete they each put them into two cupcake cases, decorated with random decorations like silver balls and voila! 6 happy girls and 12 awful looking (but lovingly crafted) rocky roads. 

It was a lot of fun and surprisingly easy to clean up. Bowls in the dishwasher, left over marshmallows in the bin and a quick hoover.

If you ever need ideas for a baking party then this is definitely it.  They were proud of their cakes and so were the parents. Next time it’s decorating cupcakes…

White chocolate rocky road cakes

  • Large bar of white chocolate
  • Little marshmallows
  • Dried fruit (glace cherries, raisins)
  • Anything for optional crunch (rice crispies, nuts) 

In a bain marie melt the chocolate slowly whilst stiring. A bain marie is a pot over hot water without the bottom of the pot touching the water. 

Take the bowl off the heat and stir in handfuls of the other ingredients till they stick together nicely without too much extra chocolate about but also not too dry they won’t hold their shape. 

Then either pat down gently into a tray or spoon into individual cupcake cases. Whilst the chocolate is still warm sprinkle any decorations you like. 

Chill in fridge for half hour till set.

Don’t worry, they are never going to be the cutest of cakes but kids and adults will love them! And they’re great for no baked cake emergency. 

My candy cart 

I love to bake, it’s one of my favourite hobbies even though I have not nearly done as much baking as I’d like recently, however, I also have something else I enjoy too – having my own sweet (or candy) cart! 

A couple of years ago I was starting to make vintage style sweets at home, old fashioned ones you remember from childhood like fudge, lollipops, sherbert or coconut ice. I looked around at ways to sell or show off my new love of sweet making when I saw a candy cart on the Internet. 

From the moment I saw it I was hooked and for Christmas my parents bought me my own. It turned up all plain wood and I painted it and bought it accessories. Though I have never named it. 

Unfortunately my plan to hire it out never really transpired as it was too much to use up my weekends whilst having a full time job and a little girl. It has become something of a novelty which friends and family enjoy. It appeared at my daughters 3rd birthday, a christening and last weekend I set it up as a wedding present for a very close friend. 

It is hard to transport and I always end up damaging myself or something else when I’m setting it up but the big smile I get when I see people’s faces is well worth it. 

It’s definitely paid for itself despite never charging for it in happiness and that’s more important. Even if I do need an extra room in my house to keep it! 

Little baking and a high school fairy cake recipe 

My mini me loves to bake, it’s one of our favourite Sunday afternoon things to do together. 

She was only 18 months old the first time we started baking and by 3 years old she won our local under 12s bake off at a charity day.  I even too photos of her baking to show she made it all! (weighing and oven things excluded)

So as today is Sunday I thought I’d write this post about her. We nearly always bake a very basic fairy cake recipe that I learnt at school. I still have the original one I wrote in cookery lesson, it’s never failed once to come out perfectly, even for little hands.

Easy (fail proof) cakes for children 

4oz Margarine
4oz Self Raising Flour
2 medium eggs
Vanilla Extract

Buttercream to decorate – margarine mixed with icing sugar and a little vanilla extract. No need to measure, just beat in enough icing sugar till it tastes good.

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC Gas 4

In a bowl cream the sugar and margarine till light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time with some of the flour and beat in gently.
Spoon the mix into fairy cake cases (these are the small cupcake ones). You should be able to get 12 out of this mix.

Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. Test by gently pressing the top, it should spring back up.

Allow to cool and decorate with a little blob of buttercream or icing sugar mixed with a little water. If you’re feeling really retro – add a glacé cherry.

My little monkey decided she wanted to decorate with fresh strawberries and glitter. She was very specific.