GBBO Bake Along: meatball toad-in-the-hole

toad-veg-gravyIf I was taking part in the actual Great British Bake Off, I would probably be disqualified for this contribution. Not following the rules at all, but meh… whatever. This week in bake off bake along, it’s batter week. My choices were supposed to be to make a batch of perfectly even Yorkshire puddings with a savoury filling, lace pancakes or churros. I don’t have any means of deep-fat frying, so initially I turned my attention to pancakes. Mine would have been filled with mince though instead of being lacy and intricate. Then I started thinking about Yorkshire puddings… from where my mind wandered to the fact that it’s been ages since we last had toad-in-the-hole. It’s basically a giant filled Yorkshire pudding, so it totally counts, right? We didn’t actually have any sausages, though… but we did have mince. Which lead me to the idea of experimenting with meatballs instead of sausages. And so meatball toad-in-the-hole was born.

I’ve had my toad-in-the-hole recipe for so long that I don’t even know who it belonged to originally, so apologies if I stole it from you! It’s pretty generic though so probably not really subject to copyright…

Ingredients

For the batter:
115g/4oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
300ml/½ pint of milk

For the meatballs:
350g mince
1 clove garlic
Herbs (I used dried parsley and fresh rosemary)
Chilli flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt & black pepper, to taste

You will also need some oil or fat for frying the meatballs and for the oven-proof dish. I used olive oil for the former and sunflower oil for the latter.

Start by making the batter.

  1. Sift the flour, salt and pepper into a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack in the eggs. Use a wooden spoon to gradually beat the eggs into the flour then beat in the milk a little at a time until the batter is the consistency of double cream.
  3. Strain and push the dough through a sieve to remove any remaining lumps then cover and leave to stand for around 30 minutes.

While the batter is standing, pre-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6, then make the meatballs.

mince

  1. Start by placing your mince, herbs, garlic and seasoning in a bowls, as shown above. I used mixed pork and beef mince (the standard here), but you can choose your favourite. Mash all the ingredients together really well – you want garlic and herbs to be in all the meatballs!
  2. Using your hands, form the meatballs into roughly evenly sized balls. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can in the process (yes, part of the liquid will be blood. Sorry!). As you can see below, I got 12 out of mine.
    meatballs1
  3. Fry the balls lightly in oil for a few minutes. You don’t need to fully cook them through at this point (they will be in the oven for a while), but brown the edges enough to stop them falling apart. Or you could make proper meatballs with egg and breadcrumbs to hold them together. Meanwhile, put some fat or oil into an oven-proof dish and place it in the oven to heat for 5 minutes.
    meatballs2
  4. Remove the dish from the oven, place the meatballs into the hot dish, pour in the batter and then immediately return the dish to the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until well-risen and golden brown. Whatever you do, do not open the oven before 35 minutes is up, otherwise your batter will deflate like a punctured bouncy castle, and there’s nothing sadder than that!
  5. Serve with vegetables of your choice (in our case aubergine fried in the leftover oil from the meatballs, but you may want to go with something healthier!) and, of course, gravy. For more people you could also add mashed or roast potatoes or more veg. This served 2 of us, but with added potatoes it will stretch to 4-6 people.

toad-hole

Jan asked me, since the meatballs were clearly not toad, what exactly is in the hole. Since they are round(ish), I thought maybe frog spawn.  What do you think… will frog spawn in the hole catch on?

See more batter week contributions here.

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Science and Sunday dinner

I made a sort of Sunday dinner yesterday. Why “sort of” you ask? Well, there werre no Yorkshire puddings and the meat (pork steaks) was fried rather than roasted because I don’t trust my oven at all (there’s something wrong with the thermostat – no matter how high a setting you put it on it always claims to be at most 150°C. And I really don’t want to risk putting meat in an oven that I don’t actually know the temperature of…). We did have both roast and mashed potatoes though. And after my recent trip to England I have actual proper gravy granules. German “Bratensosse” is just not the same. Sure, it goes well enough with wild boar or Schnitzel but for a proper Sunday dinner you’ve gotta have English gravy!
We had a starter as well. I’m currently doing an Open University short course called Science Starts Here and this weekend I had to do an experiment which involved putting sliced potatoes in the oven and weighing them every hour to find out what percentage of a potato is water. The end result was something that looked a lot like those potato skins you get as a starter in restaurants so we covered them in salt and pepper and ate them. I also dipped mine in allioli (garlic sauce) which was dee-licious. While we were waiting for the main course to finish cooking I happened to mention to Jan what a shame it was I had no dessert to offer him. You see, one of the things on my 101 things list is to cook a three course meal for my boyfriend (3 times!) and as I had done all the work with dinner I thought if I had dessert I could let this count (even if the starter was originally a science experiment). Having had the thought I naturally couldn’t rest until I’d at least tried to carry it out, so I got onto Google and started looking up recipes that only use ingredients I actually had in the house. It being a Sunday in German I would have had no chance of getting anything that was missing – only the petrol stations and the tiny little shop at the train station are open. Luckily I found a recipe for golden syrup dumplings, so I made that. Mine looked nothing like the picture on the website but they tasted good and that’s all that matters, right?

We were going to go to the cinema after dinner to see the German film Der Weisse Band (The White Ribbon – read about it here) but Jan decided he was too tired, so we stayed home and watched two episodes of ER instead. We’re up to season 3 now. I love the old ones – Noah Wyle (Carter) looks so young!

Today could have been so good…

… if only I wasn’t so bloody tired.
Seriously, I’ve spent the whole day trying not to fall asleep at my desk. (HA! Wouldn’t have made a brilliant impression so aoon after the last talking to.) It didn’t help that I spent most of the morning proofreading a humongous SAP translation (SAP = Systems Applications and Products. Random database software. They have all their own random terminology that has to be stuck to at all costs even though half of it sounds utterly crap). Also I have had a headache all day.

Comfort food needed me thinks. Mashed potatoes with gravy for tea then.