Cumin & rye flake pitta bread recipe

 Autumn, Bread & baking, Fermentation, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter  Comments Off on Cumin & rye flake pitta bread recipe
Mar 312013

Cumin & rye pitta bread

Here’s a quick and easy pitta bread recipe as requested by my kind and talented Twitter friends @evilgordon & @karlasparlour.

I served it with a tasty lamb tangia slow cooked for 7 hours and which had some of the Smen I blogged about earlier.

The method is one I’ve borrowed from Dan Lepard, it saves a whole lot of faffing with the old ‘knead for 10 minutes’. It’s not necessary.


450g strong white flour
300g wholemeal spelt flour
50g rye flakes
5g cumin seeds
12g fast action yeast
12g caster sugar
12g fine sea salt
45g olive oil
500g warm water


Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Add the olive oil and rub in to the dry ingredients.

Add the water and mix well. You want to make sure all the dry ingredients are wet and the dough is mixed, that’s all.

Cover with plastic or a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes. Do what I call a quick ‘Compass Knead’. Imagine the dough is a compass, pull in to the centre of the dough from N, E , S, W and repeat.

Cover again, leave in a warm place and repeat the Compass Knead twice more at 10 minute intervals.

Cover the dough and leave for 30 minutes in a warm place.
Take out the dough and scale it into approximately 110g pieces, you should get 12 pieces.

Leave the 12 pieces on a floured board to rest for 15 minutes.

Roll out the pieces of dough so that they are about 5mm thick and 15cm in diameter.

I cooked mine on a hot cast iron tava taking about 2 minutes for each side. They could be cooked on a tray or baking stone in a very hot oven for about 3-5 minutes. Put the cooked pitta in a clean tea towel to stay warm and moist.

Tuck in and enjoy!

 Posted by at 20:20
Mar 312013
Herbed and salted Smen

Kefir grains on the left; on the right the finished Smen,

Morocco has a special place in my heart as that’s where I had my honeymoon well over 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve maintained a keen interest in Moroccan & other North African cuisine.

One of the ingredients that is traditional to this part of the world is Smen (also called smansemneh, or sminn) which is a cultured, salted and flavoured butter which keeps for ages. It’s normally made from sheep or goat’s milk. You’ll see it used to spread on flatbreads, to flavour tagines and cous cous. Jamie Oliver uses it for his recipe for mechoui lamb that I wanted to cook, so I decided to see if I could make my own smen.

Most of the recipes for it that I have found on the web and in my book involve clarifying butter. This is then kneaded with salt and an infusion of herbs (oregano or fenugreek). The butter is then packed and sealed and stored to mature. In others unclarified butter has the salt & herbs added and it’s then clarified.

The web tells of Berber herds people who will bury a sealed container of smen on the day of a daughter’s birth, aging it until it is unearthed and used to season the food served on that daughter’s wedding. I’ve no idea if this is true.

I’ve been playing with milk kefir grains for a while now. I wondered if I could use them to make smen from scratch with cream without the need to clarify already made butter. Read on for my story about how this might have happened in North Africa and for my method…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:44
Mar 092013

Three Sourdough loaves
These three sourdough loaves are made with Doves Farm English Wholegrain Wheat flour mixed with Shipton Mill’s Organic White Strong Flour.

I made up the dough yesterday and folded it four times and about one hour intervals and then left it in the fridge overnight to retard.

This morning I took the dough out of the fridge to warm up while I had my breakfast, divided the dough and left it for 30 minutes. Then shaped them and put them into bannetons. They proved in a not so warm kitchen for about three hours before baking for 50 minutes with some steam trays to start.

Other posts you may like:


 Posted by at 14:57
Nov 042012


Blues and bays made into vinegar using kombucha

Once you know how to make your own vinegar you can experiment with different flavours. Last year I showed you how to make your own apple cider vinegar. This year, I experimented to see if I could use the same principles to make some blackberry and apple vinegar.

I’ve also got into using Kombucha. We make kombucha tea as a tasty and healthful drink. It’s also possible to use it to turn a sugary solution into acetic acid – vinegar. All you need is a kombucha ‘SCOBY’ (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeasts).

If you’d like to find out how to do these, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:00
Mar 152012

Sourdough loaves with Felin Ganol Mill Tybalt flour

Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford
No better term than this,—thou art a villain

Now why would you name a wheat after someone who would say that?

I think this Particular Tybalt, unlike Romeo’s assailant, is more fiery in name than in nature.

This is another test bake of one of the flours I received the the Felin Ganol Mill. This particular flour is a fine grained white flour. I decided to use is as part of my normal bake of 2.7kgs of sourdough along with some Felin Ganol wholemeal spelt. Anne & Andrew say on the packet that they recommend it is mixed with 30% strong white flour. What I did was replace some of my usual strong white bread flour with the Tybalt.

Here’s the formula I used… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:49
Mar 102012

Amaretto sourdough loaf
It’s very funny how life works.

I nearly met Anne & Andrew Parry from Felin Ganol Mill last year. We were temporarily in the same room and then I had to leave the next day. That was at an ‘international’ meet up of bakers in Bethesda, North Wales.

Love of bread (and food in general) led me to become online mates with Azelia Torres-Martin. If you look at her blog, you’ll soon find out that Azelia is a bit of a flour geek. Azelia came across the Parrys through her flour researches. She introduced me to them virtually (over t’internet) because she thought we had similar values and ideals about life.

And after a brief email exchange with Anne, I now have a big box of different flours to try from Anne & Andrew’s beautiful mill. That says a lot about their approach to life and to their craft. In exchange for some free flour, they asked for feedback about it from someone who bakes a lot and knows a bit about what they feel & taste. Now I’ve not achieved the levels of geekery that Azelia has, but I do bake quite a bit and enjoy the challenge to learn about new flours.

This is a review of the first flour I tried. It’s milled from a 100% ‘Amaretto’ wheat variety grown by Howard Roberts in Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden. It’s at 70% extraction, which in baker speak means it has only 30% of the wholemeal bits removed. The flour is from the 2011 harvest and has a protein content of 12.3% for those that are into such things.

Leaving some of the bran etc in the flour makes baking a good loaf slightly more difficult. This is because the solid particles break into the strands of protein (gluten) which hold the gas produced by the yeast. So the loaf may not rise as high and the crumb can be dense. I’m sure you’ve had wholemeal ‘bricks’ of bread too. As you can see above, the flour performed very well for me. To find out what I did, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:19
Nov 022011

I wanted to do another post about making sourdough bread. Since my first How To Make Sourdough post and the Update, I’ve learnt quite a lot and continue to do so.

Miche made with wholemeal and swiss dark flour

I’ve now got more experience handling different flours and doughs. I’ve tried different ways of developing the dough, folding, kneading and no-knead.

What I now have is a method that I’m pretty happy with and which produces a consistently good loaf for our daily bread. It’s a bit different from what I used to do. I’ve been asked quite a lot now for my normal method which I’ve emailed to people. One email recipient, Carla Tomasi, suggested that the method would make a useful blog post and encouraged me to sort it out. So here it is.

Before I start, just to say this post will just cover the ingredients and method. I’ll leave the explanations to another post for those that are interested. So if you wanted to print this off, there will not be loads of extraneous information. I hope that’s ok.

Want to have a go? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:03
Nov 012011

Ethiopian honey wine, T'ej in a bottle

I’ve just racked this heady concoction into a wine box and some bottles and had my first taste. It’s just gorgeous: fragrant, rich, heady and aromatic. It’s such a simple and quick wine, I’m quite shocked we all don’t make more of it.

It’s another of the delights I found in Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to my own ends and to fit my own incompetence. It’s still substantially the same wine that’s been made for centuries.

I wonder who was the first person to find wild honey fermenting in a tree? Did they get a surprise when they tasted it and it was alcoholic? Did they remember what happened? And who eventually worked out how to reproduce the effect?

So if you have a go at this, you’ll be continuing a line of tradition going back millennia. Interested? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:59

The Sloe Trilogy II: How to make sloe wine, vodka, jam

 Autumn, Fermentation, Foraging, Forest Garden, Permaculture, Seasons, Winter  Comments Off on The Sloe Trilogy II: How to make sloe wine, vodka, jam
Sep 222011

This is the second part of the Sloe Trilogy where you use the same batch of sloes to make wine, vodka and fridge jam. In the first part I showed you how to make the wine, here are the instructions for the vodka.
Sloes in a glass
When you have strained the sloes off the wine ‘must‘ you can use them to flavour vodka. I suggest vodka for this because, unlike with gin, you don’t get that big juniper hit which may not be so nice in your breakfast jam.

If you’re coming into this without having made the wine, just use freshly picked sloes. You’ll need to squish them and this is easier to do if you freeze and thaw them first.

You’ll need a large container to make this in that you can sterilise and seal. A demijohn is great for it or a big kilner jar or similar. Pretty bottles that you can seal are a great way of presenting your finished vodka and make great presents. Continue reading »

Sep 202011

I like making the most of a harvest. Especially when the harvest is as hard won as picking sloes. So I wanted to work out a way of getting multiple products from the same batch of produce. I don’t mean dividing the produce and making three different things, I mean using the product sequentially for different products. I was astonished at how well it worked.

Sloes in a glass

First I used the sloes to make wine. Then I used them to flavour vodka. Finally I made a fridge jam. So I had 6 bottles of wine, 1 litre of vodka and half a dozen jars of jam from 1.5kg of sloes.


The process is really very simple with some modest bits and bobs you should have around the kitchen.


So in this first post, I’ll tell you how to make the wine. In a second post in a few days I’ll show you how to make the vodka and then the jam.


Fancy a go? Read on to find out more… Continue reading »

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