Sep 112011
 

Cinnamon Orange Brioche SliceThe smell of this bread when making, baking and eating is heady. It’s redolent of warm summer evenings in Morocco with spicy orange & sweet cinnamon. You’ll be hard pushed to leave it once it’s out of the oven for the crumb to mature. I think it must be mildly addictive.

I came by the recipe by a lucky accident. I ‘met’ Carla Tomasi on twitter and we started talking food & bread. Lucky for me because Carla is a former chef, restauranter and all round generous good egg. Even luckier for me because Carla is based over 2000km from me in Rome and we would never have had the chance to swap recipes if not for Twitter.

Carla’s brioche recipe is legendary amongst her friends and rightly so. She tells me that it originally came to her from a Swede living in Spain. So it’s truly an international recipe and Carla is keen for it to be more widely baked. So she kindly agreed to me posting it here.

The bread is lovely just sliced and by itself, butter is an additional bonus and it’s wonderful lightly toasted. Most brioche doughs have huge amounts of butter in them, this recipe has only a small amount for less fat worries.

Would you like to smell and taste this beautiful brioche? Read on…

Continue reading »

Aug 022011
 

I’ve been going a bit wild of late. More specifically, wild fermenting. And it’s all Sandor Katz’s fault. Let me explain.

Wild Fermentation Cover

I bought a Kindle version of Sandor’s book Wild Fermentation. It explains the science and practice of fermenting just about anything. Not only are fermented products tastier & healthier, they’re also a great way of preserving things sustainably. There’s no need for electricity to keep a freezer going, or to put large amounts of energy into heat for canning or bottling. The whole process relies on the ability of wild yeasts to modify the ingredients so they do not spoil. Sauerkraut, or pickled cabbage, is one of the most widely known examples. Another two are beer & wine which also caught my attention. And, of course, there’s sourdough bread which I already have a passion for.

So I’ve thrown myself into a mild fermenting frenzy. On the go is sauerruben (turnips), apple vinegar and T’ej, an Ethiopian-style Honey Wine. I’ll post some more information about these later. Today I want to talk to you about Bouza. Continue reading »

Jul 052011
 

Boregi plated with saladThese courgette & feta boregi are so moreish. The stuffing is really fresh tasting, with the surprising crunch of the sunflower seeds. The pastry is crisp and deliciously rich. It’s a great way of using the courgette glut from this time of the year. It’s also liked by people who profess not to like courgettes!

They are perfect dinner party food and also do well for buffets and quick lunches. You can eat them hot, warm or at room temperature.

What’s even better is that the boregi keep well in the fridge and they freeze well too.

They are a very versatile food indeed.

I’ve adapted this recipe from the middle eastern cuisine guru Arto der Haroutunian’s book Vegetarian Dishes from the Middle East. His filling is just courgette, feta & mint which is just lovely. I wanted to add some crunchy texture and a slightly more complex flavour.

The recipe below makes about 40, depending on how thin you roll your pastry, so it’s well worth the short while they take to make and bake.

Interested in making these? Read on… Continue reading »

Jun 222011
 

I had a request for a recipe this morning from Craig at WeGrowOurOwn and Alys Fowler for the recipe for my breakfast bread. It’s a really tasty, simple and quick oatmeal soda bread.

Oatmeal Soda Bread

The principle of soda bread is that the raising agent is bicarbonate of soda (hence the ‘soda’ in the name) which is alkali which reacts with the lactic acid in yoghurt to produce carbon dioxide gas to lift the loaf.

As a result, the key technique with making soda bread is to get the dough together quickly, shape it and pop it in the oven. It can also be cooked in a dutch oven over a fire. So soda bread is the original ‘no knead’ bread.

Fancy having a go? Read on… Continue reading »

May 162011
 

Sourdough breakfast bread

This is a wonderfully moist, tasty and nutritious start for your day full of fruit, nuts & spices. It’s also a great mid-afternoon snack for when your energy levels are dipping.

First thing to say is that the original idea was not mine. This recipe is a sourdough adaptation of Ed & Marieke’s yeasted muesli bread which you can find on their beautiful blog. Their recipe is lovely and will be useful to you if you are in more of a hurry to produce the breads. Obviously, there’s differences in the taste.

Fancy finding out how to make it?
Read on… Continue reading »

May 012011
 

Rye and linseed sourdough breadI’m lucky to have a number of truly inspirational people in my ‘internet family’. This bread happened due to the inspiration of two people: the talented & generous Joanna at Zeb Bakes & baking guru & good guy, Dan Lepard.

Joanna posted some beautiful pictures of a flax (linseed) & rye loaf. As you’ll see I contributed with information about the mucilage the linseed produces when hydrated. So I was thinking about making a bread with linseeds and the rye seemed interesting too.

Matt the Miller at Bacheldre Mill had been kind enough to specially mill me a batch of chopped rye. Not as fine as flour and not the whole berry either.

Rye chopsI’d been looking for a chance to use them and this seemed like an ideal opportunity. This is where Dan Lepard’s inspiration came in. In his beautiful book, The Handmade Loaf, he has a recipe for a Sour 100% rye bread. In this, he uses a gelatinized rye mix to give the loaf elasticity.

Finally, I’ve been making a lot of bread lately with seed or grain ‘soakers’. Here you take your chosen seeds or grains and pre-soak them prior to adding to the dough mix. The presoaking means that they are fully hydrated and so do not take water from the flour grains.

So I thought the mucilage from the linseed and the gelatinized rye would make a tasty and moist sourdough if I used them like a ‘soaker’. And that’s what I did. If there are any of my readers who are pro-bakers who can improve on my recipe, I’d love the feedback…

If you want to know how to make the loaf, read on… Continue reading »

Apr 222011
 
Chocolate heart muffins baked

This recipe was inspired by my Twitter friend and genius chocolate baking blogger Choclette. Each month Choclette and baking friend Chele host We Should Cocoa – a chocolate challenge. The Challenge is to make something with chococlate and a special ingredient. For April 2011 the special ingredient was marzipan. I wanted to make a muffin that was like the traditional Easter Simnel Cake with marzipan in the middle. I also wanted to make the experience more delicious by using some favourite spices that were warm and cosy to enhance the chocolate. Finally, I needed a good name for the creation. My smallest biscuit cutter is heart shaped and these would fit nicely into the muffin cases. But you couldn’t be able to see the hearts because they’d be inside the muffin. ‘Hidden Hearts’ were born. I think they’d be good at Valentines with another heart on top. And I guess they’d be good with a little Amaretto in the mixture too.

Marzipan heartsIf you’d like to know how to make them, read on… Continue reading »
Apr 012011
 

When I posted this picture on Twitter, I really wasn’t ready for the reaction.
Rhubarb polenta cakeIt seemed that the idea and view of such a creation was quite attractive to many people. This made me laugh:

…god that cake looks good. I just licked the laptop screen…

I also had a fair few requests to post the recipe online.

I would love to read the whole thing on your blog, hint hint….

And after I posted this article things got better still.

This from international Chef & author Gregoire Michaud at the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong:

…you should definitely try Carl’s rhubarb and ginger cake – if not THE one, it has to be one of the best recipe of what you can do with rhubarb: awesome!

And this from Sue Daws whose husband ‘doesn’t like’ rhubarb:

Cake was a big hit! OH ate rhubarb and loved it!

Lastly, one (of many more) from Jono Stevens:

OH reckons its ‘one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted’, so you earnt me some brownie points too. 🙂

So here we go, read on for the recipe… Continue reading »

Mar 312011
 

In January I posted this article on how to make sourdough bread. I was amazed at how much attention it generated. I was so pleased at how many people contacted me to say they’d started baking sourdough bread as a result. You’ll see by the button on the right that I’m now a member of the growing Real Bread Campaign too. Please check out their site for lots of really useful information.
Sourdough loaf, star slashSince then I’ve talked, tweeted and met with an exciting bunch of enthusiastic bakers, amateur and professional alike. As a result, the way I make my bread has changed a little from the way I described, so I thought an update might be helpful.

I’ve made changes in three main areas:

  • Hydration – the amount of water in proportion to dry ingredients
  • Wholemeal flour proportion
  • Baking process

I’ll describe each of these in turn… Continue reading »

Feb 072011
 

Knead to Know book cover
This well designed book is subtitled, ‘The introductory guide to success in baking Real Bread for your local community’.

How well does it fulfill its remit?

How far along the line from interested or amateur baker to community purveyor of Real Bread can ‘Knead to Know’ take you?

In my view, The Real Bread Campaign are to be congratulated. ‘Knead to Know’ delivers on its culinary metaphor of being a:

buffet of tasters with pointers to where you can explore and find out more about the topics you find the most appetising

My view is shaped by my particular needs. As regular readers of the blog and my twitter feed will know, I’m a keen amateur baker. And I’ve had enough good feedback about my bread to wonder about producing bread for the wider community.

So here were the questions I was hoping ‘Knead to Know’ might help me answer.

  • How would I go about setting up such a venture?
  • What are the logistics of baking from home:
    • what’s involved in scaling up domestic recipes?
    • would I manage using a domestic oven?
  • What are the rules & regulations I’d have to be aware of?
  • Were there tips and ideas for promoting the venture?
  • What product mix would be good to start with?
  • How would I work out product pricing and ingredient yield.
  • Where would I go for further information?

So how well did it do? Continue reading »

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