Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Sourdough September

How long does it take before something becomes a habit? Research seems to indicate that it depends on how difficult that task is. Drinking more water on a daily basis - relatively easy, getting into running - very difficult (for me anyway), making sourdough......? I think, after 6 weeks, I'm just about there. But it does take commitment, an organised mind and, for best results, some new additions to your baking kit.

The Real Bread Campaign has been championing Sourdough September for a few years now and it is well supported by a range of businesses and promoted in local and national press. I've recently been helping out in a small artisan bakery in Shrewsbury called Bread and Loaf on a casual basis. They specialise in sourdough and interesting yeasted and rye breads and seem to have a loyal and growing customer base.

Telegraph - 12/09/2015

The Shrewsbury Chronicle - 03/09/2015

A few weeks ago, to promote Sourdough September, Bread and Loaf gave away a small tub of sourdough starter to anyone interested in 'having a go' along with a recipe and information sheet. Over 160 starter packs were given away and 13 plucky customers returned with their loaves on Saturday to be entered into a competition judged by Kate and Martin who own and run the business. Interestingly all looked and tasted quite different despite starting with the same recipe and starter.

I wonder how the other 150 recipients are getting on. Is their starter languishing in the fridge waiting to be refreshed? Has it grown and grown as people feed it and can't bring themselves to throw half away? Or have people given up as they cannot fit making soudough bread into their busy lives? I'm probably making a loaf every two or three days and alternate between using the Bristol sourdough starter we acquired and my own 'home grown' starter. Below is a pictorial story of my sourdough 'journey'...

In the beginning....... sourdough starter

Equipment list - bread stone, lame (scoring blade) & banneton basket

Sourdough rising slowly in the basket (12 hours plus)

Sourdough turned out and ready to be scored and cooked

My 6 weeks worth of sourdough loaves - all different!

So although Sourdough September has come to an end I hope making soudough bread is one habit I'll try and keep up.   

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Fabulous Figs

It's a bit of a family joke that eating a Fig Roll covers at least one of your '5-a-day' - who knows it could be more - depends on how many you scoff in one go of course! Joking aside figs are a good source of dietary fibre, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and vitamins A, E & K. So these naturally sweet fruit will promote a healthy nervous system and contribute to strong bones.

Fig Rolls are a long time favourite with hubby Dave and he has experimented with most of the supermarket own brands as well as the more upmarket and expensive Jacobs. One website has gone to the trouble of comparing most of the varieties out there - now that's dedication to the cause! So I decided it was time to try and make my own and found a great recipe on The Little Loaf website. What they lacked in appearance and uniformity they more than made up for in taste and they disappeared very quickly.

With some dried figs left over I decided to try out a Fig and Honey Coil recipe in my Pocket Bakery cookbook. Similar to Chelsea Buns these use an enriched yeasted dough onto which a fig and honey mixture is spread. The rectangular dough is then rolled up and left to rise before glazing and cooking. If anyone wants the recipe please send me a message.

A nice fruity twist on the classic Chelsea Bun recipe - delicious.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Gadget Girl

Not for me the iPhone 6 or latest tablet. Sad I know but I've fallen in love with my new gadget.

It's my birthday soon and my lovely twin sister Sue gave me money to buy a mixer of my choice. There's so many out there........which one to buy? After reading reviews and comparing prices I decided on the Kenwood KMix which came with a 5 year warranty from John Lewis. It's solidly made and has so many attachments. Those following the Great British Bake Off this year may have noticed that the stylish KitchenAids have been replaced with the more affordable Kenwood KMix. See the Telegraph article here

It's so shiny and new - shame to get it covered in flour and cake mix......