Panettone

I’ve actually been excited about making this Panettone since Dan Lepard’s recipe was published in The Guardian last Saturday. Seriously excited. We were doing early Christmas presents with some of Beloved’s family who used to live in Italy so obviously, perfect opportunity to make panettone. Here it is:

IMG_0475I made it with chocolate chips instead of raisins or candied peel (candied peel is pretty much the only food I don’t like) as I thought kids would prefer chocolate and I did mess up the topping a bit – I made the second of Dan Lepard’s recipes as well, for Brutti ma buoni cookies (ugly but good) and clearly didn’t leave enough egg white to use for the panettone topping. Not that it mattered, this panettone is absolutely fantastic! So much better than shop bought, I’d urge all panettone lovers to make immediately. It’s very easy and so very satisfying (the eating).

And the cookies, they came out pretty good too – they aren’t the best looking but they taste very good – ground and chopped hazelnuts, ground almonds, bit of vanilla, cocoa and a whole load of egg whites:

IMG_0474Photos not very nice, daylight was going. I might try to take more tomorrow.

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Sunsets and change

Last night’s sunset, seen from my kitchen window. These lovely pinks lasted for a few minutes, long enough for me to take a few pictures. With the new camera. My first digital SLR too. I’ve wanted one for a very long time but since we have a perfectly decent (pretty good actually) digital camera already and I mostly only use iPhone or iPad to take pictures for this blog, I couldn’t justify the expense of a digital SLR. I was thinking I might save up and get one for Christmas and then a fairly extraordinary set of circumstances led to me getting this marvellous Nikon D3200. To say I am excited about it would be a gross understatement!

I am, of course, a complete novice. Have some vague memories of a photography class, long ago where I learned about apertures and shutter speeds with a borrowed SLR camera that I had to give back. I moved courses, unfortunately, too quickly to learn much. So I’ve bought myself a book for the Nikon that I am slowly reading. It’ll take a while and I don’t think I’ll stop posting iPhone and iPad photos here, even though my iPhone can now pretty much be classified as ‘vintage’ (am due an upgrade so will hopefully get a new one soon) and I know people mock those who use iPads as cameras (why? photo quality is pretty good and it’s very convenient for quick editing and uploading). Anyway, in a little while, the Nikon will get its first outing. The weather is meant to be sunny so we’re going to the coast for a long walk, yay!!

The sunset photo above was taken in ‘guide’ mode, which is pretty handy and I’ve resized it to post here. Will definitely be a while before I’m confident enough to do things manually…

Just made, red marl T shirt

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I used to make lots of clothes for myself with varying degrees of success. For the past 2-3 years I haven’t made as many for several reasons, firstly with work and study it’s hard to find the time, the sewing machine I have is not that brilliant and frankly, sometimes I can’t be bothered to make patterns and toile properly. After finishing my last course in June, the first thing I did was a trip to favourite cheap fabric shop. The fabrics I bought have been sitting in a pile ever since. Two designated large fabric boxes also full… Obviously, drastic action was needed so I splashed out on a new sewing machine (singer heavy duty, just seen in the pic background) and it arrived on Monday, yay! So I made a simple long T shirt in this red marl jersey. Finished hems this morning but have worn it out already, unhemmed, to a glorious junk food feast at Rita’s the other eve. Miraculously, managed not to spill any food on it.

I made a pattern by copying a Uniqlo Laura Ashley T and managed to get a perfect sleeve/ armhole match, very happy with that. Stitching not bad either, considering I am not that great at it. It fits me much better than the dummy, dummy was cheap eBay purchase a few years back and a bit bigger than me.

Think I’ll make one in blue jersey as well, according to my clothes making notebook I have two different blue jerseys… Why? Obviously need to implement better self control methods when it comes to fabric shopping too.

Just read, Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

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Having taken ages to read The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders, I was really looking forward to reading some new fiction, Song of Achilles was recommended by several places and people and won Orange Prize. Could not wait to read it. So I read it in a couple of days. Thought it was underwhelming. Was frankly expecting more, perhaps something like Magaret Atwood’s Penelopiad, which I really enjoyed. There are so many amazing review extracts on the back and inside covers and elsewhere that it makes me think I am reading too much non fiction and perhaps expecting too much of a simple novel, it’s a passable summer read, I guess. Did not think Patroclus had a personality, which bugged me the most. As to ‘originality’, mentioned in some of the reviews, please see Margaret Atwood. I might go look up Homer.

Rye apple cake

What a lovely cake! Made with rye flour, ground almonds, apple, cinnamon, dark muscovado sugar, recipe from Dan Lepard’s Short and sweet. Dan said to cut when perfectly cold. Ha, half of it is gone already and it is still warm…

I am sorry Dan, it did, obviously crumble a bit when cut but it was such a perfect breakfast (terrible, I know – cake for breakfast and really eaten at lunchtime!) on a fairly horrid looking rainy day. Might have more with a cup of coffee in a bit. Here’s a picture of the whole cake – it’s a bit dark indoors today:

 

Having a fairly quiet work-at-home day, only really interested in funny articles about how much everyone is hating the chaos brought on by the Olympics but, of course, I will watch every event that I can on telly. It’s my favourite rant topic at the moment, alongside the weather, of course. Boycotting any and all sponsors that I can.

In other news, looks like my exam result may come early, oh dear, don’t quite know what to do with myself now but it could be a long wait still?

 

Sourdough bread

I’ve done it!! Feeling elated, very, very happy. Have just made my first ever sourdough bread. This is way beyond exciting:

I followed Dan Lepard’s instructions in Short and Sweet to make the starter. Have fed it daily for a couple of weeks apart from a few days in the fridge while away last weekend. The actual bread recipe came from River Cottage Hanbook on Bread, which goes into a lot more detail on kneading, proving, shaping etc. Started it last night, made a sponge then did the rest this morning. It rose beautifully but when I made the 3rd slash, one end deflated slightly, so it’s not super even:

Have not sliced it yet, it is cooling. Can’t wait.

I made the starter with rye flour and bread with 400g strong white flour. It’s definitely bigger than I expected but then I had no idea how it would come out.

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Rich dairy challah

I was going to make a multi seed loaf this morning, only I didn’t have some of the seeds needed and it was way too early for local health shop to be open. Instead, I looked up Dan Lepard’s How to bake archive on Guardian website and found the recipe for Rich Dairy Challah. It has just come out of the oven:

I know this type of bread is meant to have a bit more of a smooth crust but I still want to whoop, it is too exciting! It’s also huge and, unfortunately, I can’t even have some for hours as about to go have lunch at Shrimpy’s, which I am really looking forward to so don’t want to spoil appetite.

So, while I’m off to lunch, am posting some more challah pictures – made with lots of butter and I bet it tastes fabulous:

And a close up: