Sour cream bloomer

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It’s wonderful to see a reaction that a simple, fresh loaf of bread can produce in people. Sour cream bloomer is a really great bread to make for people because of the beautiful rise and, if you get up early enough, it’ll be ready for breakfast (and quickly gone). It has a wonderful crusty crumb and ever so soft texture. The recipe came from Dan Lepard’s Short and sweet but it is also available via The Guardian website. I’ve made it before at home in the loaf tin. The ‘bloomer’ I made while staying with Beloved’s family in Wales and the best compliment came from a nine year old who said it tasted like cake. There was no loaf tin so I used a Victoria sponge tin instead and actually prefer the bloomer shape. Dan’s recipes are very easy to do as they don’t require much kneading so the ratio of reward for effort is very, very high.

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Little gem and spring onion tart

Having planned to spend Bank holiday Sunday walking, I made a big Little gem and spring onion tart from Hugh FW’s River Cottage Veg book in advance – I really do not like cooking after a long walk. This was perfect. The little gem lettuce still retained some bite, the pastry was light and short (milk, butter and flour, no water) and the creamy cheesy filling a proper comfort food after being out walking all day.

IMG_0564 I seem to be, thankfully, learning from past mistakes – last time I made a tart, I forgot that the tart case had a loose bottom and nearly destroyed the whole thing, this time I remembered to put a baking sheet underneath.

Sourdough bread

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Seems ages since I’ve made sourdough bread, it’s been over a month I think. I’ve kept the mother going, it spends 3-4 days in the fridge, then the next 3-4 days I feed it. I thought I’d ruined it this week as it went well over 24 hours without being fed and I’d run out of rye flour to feed it with so had to improvise with a mix of wholemeal and spelt. That felt a bit weird as the texture is completely different but sourdough mother is a thing of wander and seems to be able to cope with whatever I throw – or forget to do to it. So, now it’s back in the fridge, fed with rye and looking fine.

The loaf is good too, although I haven’t tried it yet, only halved it to freeze. This bread freezes very well. The texture inside felt light and airy and there’s a good crumb to it too. My new method of making a slightly wetter dough and using a mixer for kneading really seems to be working. On this occasion, I used 200g strong white, 100g of strong wholemeal flour, 380ml water and probably around a ladle and a half of starter to make the sponge on Friday night before going to bed. Now that I’ve made sourdough quite a few times, I tend to just pour starter in from the jar without measuring and I’m not even that precise with water – you just get to a point when it feels right. For beginners though, I’d suggest adding a ladleful at first and also no more than 350ml water per 500g total flour. Yesterday morning I added another 100g of each strong white and strong wholemeal flours and a teaspoon of salt. Kneaded in the mixer for 6 minutes, shaped, left for an hour then deflated, shaped and left for another hour. You do the deflating and shaping four times in total. Then deflate one more time, roll up tightly, then flatten the dough, blanket fold and shape into a round or a loaf shape, coat well in rye flour and leave to prove on a flour dusted board, covered with plastic bags for two and a half to four hours. Yesterday’s dough proved for about three and a half. To bake, the oven needs to be very hot, with a baking sheet in and an empty sandwich tin if you want to steam the oven as well. I had the oven at 245 degrees C for the first ten minutes then at 180 for the next 35 minutes. Slash the dough once you’ve transferred it onto the baking sheet and I also sprayed it with more water to help the crumb.

Shall have some shortly for breakfast with marmalade. Am seriously contemplating getting a proving basket and a pail though because as it is, the dough rises beautifully but I lose a lot of the air while transferring to the baking sheet. Problem is, where am I going to keep yet more bread making accessories…

Day 76 – we may have a problem

Conscious of the fact that there was no terrace watch yesterday, this morning’s was conducted bright and early. In fact, first watch was so early that it was still dark outside (see below). And, while I ended up with some lovely effects that kinda go into ‘accidentals’ category as I think pics are great and they sort of ended like that by chance (and lomo), that is now no longer important.

There is a far, far bigger issue of which I’d become aware earlier today – it is a complete tragedy and at the same time it is happy news…

the neighbours are moving…

For a second, I felt like anyone with messy neighbours would feel at this sort of news but that is not what this blog is about. This blog… obviously therein lies the problem as I started the blog because of the terrace. Oh well, have had weird and wonderful 10 or so weeks of terrace watch so once the neighbours go, will be on look out for something else. Am far to addicted to my little collection of photo apps to stop the whole thing now anyway. Blame lomo!

And here is this morning’s ‘night vision goggles’ shot – do not have flash on iphone camera so think this is actually an ‘achievement’:

Day 62

If you can’t trust the BBC, then who can you trust, I ask. ‘Light rain’, more like the ‘opening of the heavens’ today. It certainly isn’t nice out there!

Conducted an investigation of neighbours’ terrace this morning following an audible thump and found this:

The clothes-drying thingummy has been knocked down by the wind and the poor unwanted pair of jeans is now on the ground. Wander how long it will stay like that? Of course, the rain isn’t as bad as in this photo but I couldn’t resist using rain effect today. It’s so over the top but I think it adds a little extra something to the general state of the terrace which is pretty bad indeed.

Here’s another pic taken this morning without the rain effect:

I wander if and when the neighbours will notice? The jeans, the towel, the dirty curtain on the floor have all been out there for over a month already without anyone batting an eyelid and, just in case you are wandering, yes, there are people living in the flat with the terrace. I have a feeling that they will just leave it as is.

I started taking pictures and blogging about the terrace exactly two months ago. I know this isn’t a very long time but there were moments when I got bored with the whole thing, there are only so many filters one can apply to iPhone photo to make it look a bit more interesting/ fun… This morning I feel a lot better about the whole thing. Terrace watch will continue, invigorated by this autumn rain (although I’m not exactly invigorated by the thought of having to go home from work shortly in said rain). Now, I wonder if there have been any other developments since I left home this morning…