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