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 142011
 

Nettle gnocchi with thyme butterI’ve been looking for more ways to use this freely available and nutritious vegetable.

This recipe makes a vibrant green gnocchi that’s as tasty as it is inexpensive.

If the preparation takes a while, it’s more than paid off with the short cooking time.

One of the keys to success with this recipe is to choose and cook your potatoes correctly so you end up with a dry and fluffy mash.

You’ve got loads of options for sauces to go with the gnocchi. I’ve given you recipes for a thyme & garlic butter and fresh tomato sauces. The ‘classic’ Italian accompaniment is a dolcelatte cheese sauce. While the dolcelatte is yummy, I think pairing a heavy cheese sauce with gnocchi that are themselves surprisingly filling isn’t always a good idea.

Fancy having a go? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 082011
 

This recipe is a delight. It’s stunningly quick & simple to cook and moreishly gorgeous to eat. It will provide a quick supper for two or a fantastic dish for entertaining friends.
Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonaraThe wild garlic is seasonal, of course. Out of season, you could use garlic chives or chives. Other members of the onion family would work too such as the green tops of baby leeks sliced finely.

I know. This isn’t ‘authentic’ carbonara. I also know there’s a cultural difference in the addition of cream to a carbonara. I’m a no cream person (mostly) and there’s no cream in this recipe. I think you’ll make it too heavy if you use cream and spoil the freshness of all the tastes.

Fancy giving it a try? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 052011
 

Wild garlic and ricotta pastaWe’re really lucky here because the wild garlic a friend gave us has taken and produces masses of wonderful tasting leaves & flowers. It’s also called ‘Ramsons’ and its latin name is Allium Ursinum. As you latin scholars will know, ursinum refers to bears who like the bulbs.
Wild garlicWild garlic and ricotta give a twist to simple pasta. Here I’ve cooked pasta and a simple tomato sauce and garnished it with home-made ricotta flavoured with wild garlic.
This is a very simple recipe which will look and taste great without hours of effort.

You’ll need to make the ricotta a few hours ahead of eating it. The rest of the recipe is very quick to assemble.

The quantities serve about 4: here’s how to make it… 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 »

Mar 312011
 

Don’t we all just love things that don’t cost a penny? Foraging for wild food is a way to do this. March is the ideal time to pick nutritious nettles which are jam packed with iron and Vitamin C. You’ve no doubt seen loads of recipes for the ubiquitous ‘Nettle Soup’, which is, of course, lovely. I wanted to cook something a bit different
Risotto on the plateI’ve adapted a simple Georgio Locatelli recipe for nettle risotto to perk up your taste buds. I’ve added the bacon as a seasoning and the dried tomatoes for flavour and visual interest to Georgio’s basic recipe but you can easily make a vegetarian version by leaving out the bacon and substituting for the parmesan.
So how do we cook it…
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 »

Jan 252011
 

Baguettes on rack
I’ve been keen to make ‘proper’ french baguettes for years now. At last I’ve found recipes and techniques that work. There’s still room for improvement as I’m learning as I go.

All ‘high hydration’ means is that there’s relatively more water in the dough than a lower hydration dough: ‘wetter’ doesn’t sound so glamorous. More water means that the dough is stickier to handle, softer (closer to a batter), rises faster and has more holes.  Hydration is expressed as a percentage weight of water to flour. So the bread in the last post on sourdough was about 55%:  middling wetness.

In this post I’m describing two recipes: one with 65% and one at 80% water. Wet wetness. Continue reading »

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