Category Archives: Bread

Bread, Baking and Barbeques

Bread Baking

Sunday was such a wonderful day. I spent the majority of it in the kitchen preparing for the evening’s festivities. It was time to crack open Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake‘ and indulge in some good, old-fashioned bread making. What a luxury! On today’s menu were Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia and Wholemeal Barm Cakes. Both were recipes new to me and both were a great success.

Focaccia

The focaccia was a delight to make and eat. (If you wish to have a go, Paul Hollywood’s recipe can be found here as well as in the book). The dough was springy and silky smooth and surprisingly easy to manipulate considering its stickiness. Watching those episodes of ‘The Great British Bake Off, Masterclass’ paid off at last!

Focaccia

I sprinkled one loaf with sea salt and oregano, as the recipe suggested, but the rosemary and sea salt version was the real hit. So moreish, we did eat a lot of bread!

Barm Cakes Dough

Wonderful as the focaccia was, I was proudest of my Barm cakes (another name for soft rolls, perfect to use as burger baps). They were soft, light and floury with a wonderful nuttiness. (I had run out of white bread flour so had to substitute wholemeal bread flour. All good!) Being so soft, their texture is quite different to most home-made breads where the crust is the best part. As these were so delicious I have written up the recipe in case you want to have a go.

Barm Cakes

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast (I used active dry yeast and it worked well, I just left it a little longer to prove)
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 320ml cold water

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, butter and enough water to form a rough dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes until smooth.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 1 – 3 hours until at least doubled in size.

Tip out and knock back before dividing into about 12 pieces or balls of 70g. Leave to rest for 30 minutes on a heavily floured surface.

Flatten slightly with a rolling-pin and place on lined and floured baking trays. Sprinkle with flour and place the trays in a carrier bag and leave to prove for about an hour until doubled in size.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 210 °C for 10 minutes before cooling on a wire rack.

Store in a lidded container to keep them soft.

Chocolate Orange Cake

The final preparations came in the form of cake baking. Gizzi Erksine’s Chocolate Orange Truffle Cake to be specific. This recipe was actually the top layer of my wedding cake – sweet, gooey and delicious.

Chocolate Orange Cake

It is incredibly rich but the orange gives it a slight tang and stops it from being too sickly. Nom nom.

Worm Hunting

The Little Man was amazing all day. He spent most of it in the garden with various family members, endlessly walking up and down, playing football and searching for worms in our vegetable beds! We have experimented with putting the kitchen waste straight into the soil at the front so we can grow courgettes/squash on the freshly composting peelings. It seems to be going well as a lot of the matter has already decomposed and the bed is now full of worms, always a good sign in these situations and an excellent source of entertainment for 2 year olds.

Barbeque

Finally it was barbeque time. There is nothing quite like the glowing embers of a barbeque. Any of you who visit regularly will know that I am a fan of open air eating. Yes, this is England. Yes, it is February. Yes, it is cold outside. However I do not see why that should spoil our fun. It was time to celebrate my lovely brother-in-law’s birthday in style. (This was party take 2 as he had missed half of his own celebrations last week – see here). What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening. We all ate lots and laughed lots. The weather remained dry and relatively mild.

I love parties! 🙂

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365 Catch Up – Week 5

Morning sky

Hello my lovelies, I hope that you are all well. I have been trawling through my albums, selecting my favourites for my daily snapshot. I do love this project, I love seeing how my life evolves day-to-day, bobbing along quite contentedly with regular moments of excitement. I have split this post up to help keep the size down so will just do a few days at a time. I have also decided to merge my 365 Project and my Crochet Mood Blanket by including which colour matched my ‘feeling’ for that day.

Cake and Crochet

Wednesday 29th January: Being treated by my husband – a custard slice and a crochet hook brought a smile to my face and gave me a bit of peace before resuming work for the evening.

Mood of the Day: Beige – warm, comfortable, calm.

Cuppa and Crochet

Thursday 30th January: Cuppa and crochet – me time. I have said it before but I am loving this enforced hooky time of an evening. It is so good for the soul!

No Knead Bread

In other news, I am still continuing my No-Knead Bread journey, although it has somewhat slowed for the moment.

Mood of the Day: Ice blue – cold, tired.

Sponge Cake

Friday 31st January: A slice of sponge cake baked by my husband’s fair hands. What a lucky girl I am! (Do also note the beautiful, warm and furry cardigan covered in stars. My favourite item of clothing at the minute!)

Mood of the Day: Light blue – another day at the end of a long, tiring week. Lightened by the fact that it was Friday.

Splashing in the Mud

Saturday 1st February: I love my Little Man dearly but, if I am honest, this was a difficult week for him and therefore us. The world can be an infuriating place for a nearly-two year old. A lot of frustration. A lot of screaming. Sometimes I did not even know what the crying was about. Where had my wonderful, happy-go-lucky boy gone?

Forge Mill Farm

My solution to tetchiness is always to get out of the house so a trip to the farm with my sister was on the cards. Blue sunshine, lots of mud to splash in and animals to entertain. What could go wrong? Let’s just say the journey around the farm lasted under 30 minutes, 25 of which involved moaning and screaming. Argh! Get me out of here.

Indoor Picnic

We decided to escape the biting wind and take refuge in a little barn fitted out with tables and chairs for indoor picnicking. Within minutes peace descended. Smiles returned and there was much laughter and chatter, especially as we were quickly joined by two dogs and their owners who were also seeking a bit of warmth.

Play area

As good spirits had been restored we decided to burn off a bit of steam at the play area before we left. A lovely way to end a rather awful outing.

Mood of the Day: Shrimp – bright, cheerful, love and cuddles. Even a bit of moaning does not stop me being grateful for my weekends with my amazing boy.

p.s. I am glad to say that, as all such phases, Little Man’s mood had lifted by Sunday so peace and harmony has returned to our household. x

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Seeking Comfort

Lake

Good evening all! I hope you are well. I have been missing my regular postings and did not want to end the weekend without popping by. If I am honest, this last week has been rather difficult, stressful and exhausting. Things have been getting on top of me; my work seems to have become unmanageable and housework just non-existent. There has also been rather a lot of guilt as I have felt rather ineffectual as a wife and mother, even staying late at work a couple of evenings. All in all, I am seeking some equilibrium and intend to get things back on track.

Little Helper

Stage one of the recovery plan was some theraputic domesticity. Providing healthy, homemade food for my family makes me feel good and, as we do not keep in many ready made options, last minute baking is a regular necessity (especially when meal planning has gone somewhat awry). Today’s cooking was especially exciting as, not only did I have a little helper to test the ingredients, it gave me the opportunity to test my birthday new book – Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake‘. As lunch was due on the table in under an hour, there really was only one choice of loaf – soda bread. It is amazing that four simple ingredients (wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and buttermilk) can combine to create something so delicious. A great success and I look forward to trying more Hollywood recipes in the near future.

Soup and Soda Bread

The bread was served with my take on the traditional Brocolli and Stilton. As we had no brocolli, it became pea and courgette. Not wholly sure that this was an improvement as these ingredients do lack the flavour of brocolli but it was cheap, healthy and was enjoyed by everyone so no worries.

Anyway, I must dash now but I am ending the weekend with positive thoughts for the week ahead. I hope that you are managing to keep life balanced and are concentrating on the positives. Back soon! 🙂

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Creamy Sweet Potato and Pear Bisque

Sweet Potato and Pear Bisque

Yum yum yum! This was today’s dinner, kindly prepared by my dear husband: Sweet Potato and Pear Bisque (or soup for those of us who are not used to such fancy terminology!). I was inspired to make this dish after reading Teresa’s rave reviews of the recipe on her blog, Can’t Stay Out of the Kitchen. It sounded exactly what we need at the moment – healthy comfort food to warm one up on these dark January evenings. And indeed, it did not disappoint. This soup was delicious. Sweet and tasty, like velvet flowing down my throat.

And what better to serve this creamy dish with but fresh No Knead Bread! As I was running low on flour, this loaf is a bit of a mish-mash. 1/2 cup white bread flour, 2 cups wholemeal bread flour and 1/2 cup plain (all-purpose) flour. However it was none the worse for it! The wholemeal flour added a delicious nuttiness, enhanced by the addition of poppy and sesame seeds (it needs some sunflower/pumpkin seeds for some real bite but I am also out of those).

Plate

The other rather exciting element of this simple supper was that it gave me the chance to use my wonderful new plate, a Christmas present from my lovely mother. Happy days!

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365 Project – Day 4

Ball Pool

Hello my lovelies. Don’t they look pretty?! Like a giant pool of sweeties. We’re down in Kent visiting hubby’s family and today’s photo represents our morning’s entertainment – a local soft play area. Hell on earth some of you may be thinking, but it actually turned out to be highly enjoyable for one and all. Even though it was busy, there was a feeling of space and we were not tripping over children at every turn. It was also the perfect entertainment for the Little Man on this very wet Saturday. He isn’t quite old enough to appreciate the fun of walking in the rain so this was a marvellous way for him (and us!) to burn off steam.

No Knead Bread

In other news, my No Knead Bread experiment is going well with attempt 2 proving very successful – 1 cup wholemeal, 2 cups white bread flour. It was much tastier than the totally white version and the texture was improved by reducing the amount of yeast used. I hope to post properly about this once I have experimented with a few different flavours. So far so good! x

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No Knead Bread – The Beginnings

No Knead Bread

Evening all! Thank you so much for your kind comments on my return to Rosy Hill. You are wonderful.

Today’s 365 photo records my major achievement of the day – a successful loaf of No Knead Bread. I am so proud! Looking at that picture, I believe that it sits quite happily next to the (rather expensive) artisan bread behind it. Taking less than 20 minutes hands on in all, I see an exciting journey ahead. Having used dried rather than instant yeast, I may have misjudged the conversion as I the dough looked slightly wet and overproved after the first rise but not bad for a first attempt.

No Knead Bread

Although I have read about N0 Knead Bread before, I was inspired by Lucy at Attic24 to actually jump in and have a go. I had been put off previously by not having a suitable pot to bake the loaf in but, having recently acquired a beautiful new Pyrex Dutch Oven, now seemed the perfect time to have a go. And it worked! I will write more about my No Knead experience when I have experimented with a few loaves.Christmas Turkey Soup

We enjoyed my loaf with one of my favourite meals of the year – my mother’s Turkey Soup. She makes it with the carcass of our Christmas dinner with any scraps of meat and stuffing that have escaped the original feast, bubble and squeak dinners, curry and ploughmans lunches that are the traditional fare at this time of year. This soup envokes the best childhood memories. The frivolities are over, much fun and laughter has been had and endless food has been consumed. Time to enjoy this simple supper, a last attempt to hang on to the festive season before ‘real life’ resumes. (Thank you to my wonderful brother-in-law who kindly offered his services as hand model!)

Blue skies

In other news, the weather today was glorious. Stepping out this morning with the Little Man, the blue sky and sunshine made my heart sing. We have been so lucky to avoid some of the awful weather that has caused such difficulty and disruption for many over the Christmas period but the last few days have been rather dismal. Therefore the clear skies were a welcome change, giving us the chance to strech our legs and breathe in some much needed fresh air.

It was all so wonderful that I walked back the long way, enjoying the sunlight twinking over the water.

Sunny Lake

I even met a special visitor.

Heron

Can you see the heron sitting quietly in the centre of the picture? I love them so much – they look so human and seem to belong in a Beatrix Potter book. We spent many minutes eyeing each other up as I carefully sidled round to get a better view. Slowly… slowly… only one more step…

Heron

…and of course he flew off! So there you go, a picture of the heron’s wingspan. Hey ho!

See you tomorrow. x

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