Granary and spelt bread



I was going to make sourdough bread yesterday but forgot to make the sponge the night before so this loaf has both yeast (a little) and sourdough starter (a lot). I had malted granary flour to use up, then added some spelt flour and some strong white to make up my usual 500g quantity. As it’s quite humid today, I gave it less proving time,  it rose beautifully and did not deflate when I transferred it onto the peel and then onto hot stone (this is what usually happens!). The end result is really rather good, here it is sliced:


I sliced it while it was still hot, which I know I shouldn’t have but we were starving. Anyway, very good, light texture, nutty from the spelt and with a good crumb. Glad I got a decent shape after my last attempt.



Sour cream bloomer



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.

Sourdough (mishap) bread

I was so organised about this week’s bread (I thought). Did a lovely oaty sourdough too, not aided by any yeast + the mother had been in the fridge since Sunday, unrefreshed for that extra sourness. Made the sponge last night, got up bright and early to give it plenty proving time. Then I ended up with this:IMG_0670

That’s basically one giant sourdough kipferl… Dough was a tad on the wet side so I should have really really coated the peel, not just really coated it. It was such a good loaf shape too and then obviously deflated while I tried, desperately, to shove it off and onto the hot stone. It was quite a long loaf in the first place so one end of it went off the stone. Oh well. Tastes good though, very good. I added rolled oats to the sponge (mix was 200g strong white flour, 100g strong wholemeal flour, 75g rolled oats, sourdough started – probably around 100-150g and nearly 400ml water for the sponge last night, then another 100g strong white, 125g strong wholemeal flour and a teaspoon of salt this morning for the dough – full method here). I find the oats add a really great nutty taste and improve the texture. Here’s another photo:



Looks even more like a kipferl from this angle but never mind that, look at the marvellous crumb!

Monastery bread and homemade jams



I haven’t been able to make bread for the past couple of weeks now so didn’t want to let today’s heat stop me. Thought I’d try Monastery bread from River Cottage Bread Handbook. Still a little obsessed with oat breads and this recipe called for 3 handfuls so it suited perfectly. Other than that, I used a mix of malted grain flour and wholemeal bread flour (recipe said ‘brown’), a bit of honey and melted butter, little bit of yeast and some sourdough starter. Fabulous crumb and that great oaty texture that I just love. Just had some, still warm with butter and new jams – strawberry and gooseberry, which I’ve only tasted as I made them a couple of weeks ago but haven’t tried properly. Am pretty impressed, especially as I worried that I may have burned the gooseberry one a little. It is totally fine. Strawberry jam is quite intense and the gooseberry one has just the right amount of tartness. I used River Cottage Preserves handbook for both recipes.



Photos are not very good, we get too much sun in the flat in the afternoons so it’s all a bit hazy and washed out.  Going to disappear now to the cinema to watch the last of Edgar Wright’s ‘cornetto trilogy’, can’t wait, flat might even cool down by the time we get back if we’re lucky.

Oatmeal and linseed loaf

Bit of an experiment yesterday, I wanted to see if I can use both yeast and sourdough starter in a yeast-only bread recipe. I ended up with a really good Oatmeal and linseed loaf, a mash up of Dan Lepard and River Cottage Bread Handbook.IMG_0600

The recipe I adapted was for Dan Lepard’s Soy and linseed loaf from Short and Sweet, I didn’t have soy milk so used semi skimmed milk and Greek yoghurt instead. Also added sourdough starter and then made the bread according to River Cottage. Very pleased with the result, although I wish I’d made a bigger loaf! Good crumb and a lovely texture inside.

Ingredients and method: in a mixer bowl (you need a dough hook attachment), soak 50g rolled oats with 100ml boiling water for 10 minutes. Add 325g strong white flour, 50g rye flour, 50g golden linseed, 100ml sourdough starter (or thereabouts, I actually never measure the sourdough starter, just tip out from the jar a quantity that feels right, have not been wrong so far), 1 and a half teaspoons quick acting yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 100ml milk and 175g Greek yoghurt. Knead at a slow speed first to combine then increase speed and knead for 6 minutes. Alternatively, mix to combine then knead by hand for 10-15 minutes until the dough is elastic. Oil your hands and a work surface a little then shape the dough (it’s a little wet) into a ball and place into a bowl, cover and leave for an hour. Deflate, shape into a ball and leave for another hour and repeat this one more time. Take the dough out, deflate one more time then roll it up tightly. Flatten and stretch, then blanket fold and shape into a loaf – use more rye flour to coat. Leave to prove until doubled in size (took an hour and a half yesterday), meanwhile heat the oven to its highest setting (250C is good) placing a baking sheet or a hot stone in the oven first. Slash the loaf, transfer into the oven and bake for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 180C and bake for a further 35. Leave to cool – this is the bit I can never do…

Flatbreads for a feast

I love broad beans and earmark good broad bean recipes to do when they’re in season. As it takes a while to pod, steam and skin them, they’re pretty much ‘weekend cooking’ only so yesterday afternoon I did a bit of a cookathon of lovely things to eat with Merguez lamb meatballs with broad beans from Hugh FW’s Three Good Things. I made Baba ganoush and Beetroot and walnut hummus from River Cottage Veg book and Flatbreads from River Cottage Bread Handbook. Here are the flatbreads with meatballs in the background:


I made the dough for flatbreads early in the afternoon and then let it rise several times, while lamb was marinating and I got on with the dips. They were delicious and I managed to get 8 out of 500g flour total (250g each plain white and strong white). They puffed up beautifully, was rather proud so posting another photo:


Interestingly, the River Cottage flatbreads are quite different from the Casa Moro ones I did a few months back with minced lamb and pomegranate molasses, which were smaller and a bit thicker – although I think I’m better now at rolling them out thinner. I prefer these but would also like to try Dan Lepard’s recipe from Short and Sweet for comparison. 

Honey, fruit and nut loaf



I’ve really gotten into the basic bread recipe from River Cottage Bread Handbook. It combines sourdough starter and yeast so it does not take as long to make as a pure sourdough and the method is very easy to follow + easy to experiment with adding extras like fruit and nuts. This weekend I did a take on the Festival bread, using a combination of different flours and yoghurt instead of cider and a combination of walnuts, raisins, dried apricots and rolled oats inside. It’s a meal in itself – crunchy crumb, earthy, nutty and sweet texture, delicious.

Here’s the method: Mix 200g strong white, 150g strong wholemeal and 150g spelt flour with 1 and a half teaspoon quick acting yeast, 100ml sourdough starter, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, 150ml water and 150g Greek yoghurt in a bowl with your hand until it forms a dough. Knead in the mixer for 6 minutes or 10-15 minutes by hand. Flatten the dough then sprinkle some rolled oats, chopped dried apricots (about 3-4), a few chopped walnuts and some raisins (in total, just about a handful of fruits and nuts). Knead briefly to combine then shape into a ball and leave, covered, in an oiled bowl for an hour. Deflate, shape into a ball again and leave for another hour. Then deflate one more time, roll up tightly, then flatten again and blanket fold, shaping into a loaf. Roll the loaf in some rye flour then leave to prove, on a flour dusted board, covered with a plastic bag, for anything between an hour and two and a half hours, depending on room temperature. Yesterday was quite warm so I left mine for an hour and a half. In the meantime, place the baking sheet or a hot stone in the centre of the oven and an empty sandwich tin on the bottom (for a steamed oven, improves the crumb) then heat the oven to its highest setting – I usually heat the oven to 250C. Boil some water in the kettle if you are steaming the oven. Transfer the loaf to a floured peel, slash with a serrated knife and, if you are steaming the oven, spray the loaf with water then transfer onto the stone/ baking sheet and fill the sandwich tin with boiled water. Bake for 10 minutes at 250 then turn the heat down to 180C and bake for another 35 minutes.