Apr 112013

Potato soda bread with cheese, garlic & thyme
Kaethe from SPUDS (The Sustainable Potatoes United Development Study!) in Ireland said:

Cheesy, garlicky soda bread made w/blight resistant Blue Danubes sounds fab, but where is the recipe? Any new take on soda bread ROCKS for us Irish, especially if it incorporates SPUDS…Send a link pronto!

Who can resist a request like that? Not me 🙂

The Blue Danube potato are a part of a selection of potato varieties I am trialling for the far-sighted people at the Savari Research Trust who are developing these highly blight resistant potatoes. These potatoes are more sustainable to grow because they do not need the frequent chemical treatment and other energy dense maintenance of conventional varieties.

As you can imagine, that’s a tough gig. Specially as I’m trying to come up with some novel recipes too.

This bread is almost addictive. The potato in it makes the bread moist and tender unlike many soda breads that can seem hard and dry. The mixture of cheese, garlic and thyme makes it wonderfully savoury. It’s great as it is; slathered with good butter; toasted and topped with a fresh poached egg or eaten with (leek & potato) soup.

If you want to find out how to make it, please read on…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:06
Apr 022013

Evernote Camera Roll 20130322 220654

I love the way Twitter works. In particular how ideas get propagated: across the world in an instant and inspiring new networks of enthusiastic people. And also how physical things are shared too.

This kefir bread is the result of both such things. My apologies for the pics – they’re taken quickly on an iPhone and the bread didn’t last long enough for me to take anything posher for you.

I sent Joanna at Zeb Bakes in England some kefir. As part of her experiements, Joanna (a great baker) decided to make kefir leavened bread blogged by her friend Cecilia. Joanna has written a very instructive blog post about her experience. And Cecilia is a Kiwi (New Zealander) living in mid-west USA.

So, with all this helpful stuff to read, I had to have a go at this.

As you can see from the pictures, the loaf turned out very well indeed. It was a soft bread (apart from the crisp crust), slightly sweet with a background tang. It makes lovely sandwiches and toasts well (browns very quickly). We had it au naturel, with marmalade and toasted with cheese and it went well with all of them.

You need to think a couple of days ahead as you need live kefir milk to start fermenting a flour ‘sponge’. You then add this sponge to a bigger quantity of flour to ferment the final loaf.

I’ve tweaked the recipes that preceded this to use a higher amount of kefir in the sponge and reduced the water to match. To see my recipe, please read on…

 Posted by at 17:36

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 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
Dec 042012

Maked ginger & pecan muffins

This is one of Debs’ inventions that I made yesterday. When I first tasted them I was in food heaven. Lovely spicy ginger flavour with the roasted pecan taste and a hint of spice. It’s such a gorgeous combination – they are my favourite muffin now.

What’s even better about this recipe is that you can make up the ingredients in the time it takes the oven to warm up and be eating muffins 25 minutes later.

I used Naked Ginger to make these ones: you can use preserved stem ginger in syrup or crystalised ginger to make them too. The Naked ginger is less sugary than crystalised. It’s an Aussie product that you can buy in the UK from Lakeland and other places.

If you want to have a try, please read on…
Continue reading »

 Posted by at 16:56
Jul 022012

Sourdough bread pudding
The rubbish ‘summer’ weather we’re having prompted a need for comfort food. I had a surfeit of bits & bobs of sourdough loaves in the bread bin, so bread pudding called to me.

Instead of just using the normal dried fruit, I wanted some sparkle in the pudding. The vibrant orange of apricots and red of cranberries were ideal for this. The fruit gives a lovely zing to the pudding to brighten up dull & wet days.

So if you fancy this, please read on for the recipe… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:15
Jun 152012

Apple custard cake Parisienne, sliced

You’ll love this cake. It has a crispy case;  firm, slightly spiced apple filling and an aromatic vanilla custard topping. What’s more, it’s ridiculously easy to make and you get to play with squidgy pastry.

I had a surfeit of apples in the fruit bowl that I wanted to use up and a need for custardy, cakey deliciousness. A quick google search soon delivered to me the inspiration for this cake. It’s remarkable how many web sites appear to have the same copy for the recipe…

I thought that the recipe(s) was (were) too sugar heavy. The four pounds of apples the recipes state I think is far too much to fit in the space available. I cut my apples first and measured their volume to work out what baking tin to use.

If you’d like to know how to make this cake, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 17:15
Mar 222012

Rye Vollkornbrot with Felin Ganol rye
In my goody box from Anne at the Felin Ganol Mill was some wholemeal rye flour and chopped rye berries. Along with some sunflower seeds, these are just what you need to make this delicious, hearty & earthy bread.

Rye Vollkornbrot with Sardo & DolcellateThe result was fantastic and we ate it with some very special cheese. The soaked rye chops help keep the bread wonderfully moist. Those and the sunflower seeds mean it also has a nutty texture.

The bread is easy to make as long as you do not expect the same feel and process as making bread with wheat flour. Rye doesn’t have the same gluten development as wheat, so you don’t get a big rise. The dough starts, and remains, sticky and so you have to handle it sparingly with wet hands.

It’s also best to ‘age’ the bread once it’s made for 24 hours or more so that the crumb can develop the proper characteristics.

If you would like to make this bread, read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 15:53
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
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