Saturday, 12 October 2013

Great with Bread: Houmous

Always wanting to eat Bread; I'm more than happy to have it with every meal - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Still quite a novice at bread baking;  but knowing a thing or two about using a Blender; this week has been the start of my "why we don't?" period. Introducing a health-conscious Italian partner to some of my favourite snacking foods is both a pleasure and a risk. Whenever I pop open a jar of something to be dipped in; the initial squirmy face is followed with surprise at how enjoyable it is and then the inevitable "why we don't make this tomorrow?" So instead of being able to enjoy a quick snack, I now have the pleasure of making it myself - from scratch.
The latest no-longer-snack item that I've been coerced into making is Houmous.
Although, I can't say I'm sorry. Since discovering how easy and quick it is, and how much better it tastes, I'm now more than eager to bring out the blender and make a batch of Houmous.

Today was the ultimate. After forgoing the Tahini on my previous attempt; I understood why it is very much a necessary part of Houmous. I think I use the standard recipe but here it is for those who've never tried it:

  • 1 can or jar of biological Houmous
  • The juice of half a full-sized Lemon
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of Tahini (Sesame Paste)
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
I can't say enough how delicious are all these things when  thrown into a blender together. So simple, so perfect, so texturally great.
As a lover of rustic bread in the baguette or round loaf style; it is always my first choice as an edible dipping instrument for Houmous.
This with a homemade Greek Salad was my very filling, very fresh lunch today.

The Bread Loaver

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Folded and Baked Sweets

Dan Lepard is a genius and I have the buns to prove it.

I used the recipe for Sweet Brandy Buns found in his book The Homemade Loaf.

I had second thoughts about tackling a dough and liquor combination; and I did indeed use a little too much of the sweet brown stuff but it paid off with fantastic results.

I started by making the ferment which was easy enough; the one change I made here was to use a bread mix with added yeast instead of just using pure yeast. This was only because I wasn't able to find yeast at the time.

I then went on to making the dough; sticking to the thrice kneaded method described in the recipe.

The final step before popping them into the oven was to fold and leave the dough to rise. As I'd used self-rising flour for the dough I halved the time required to set it aside before shaping into rounds for the oven.

The recipe was easy to follow and produced a nicely balanced flavour of sugar, brandy, and warmth.
The smell alone was too sublime to resist so I tucked in when they were barely out of the oven.

Despite the self-rising flour; the buns came out a little denser then expected but this was likely due to me not leaving the dough to rest long enough before heating, the additional bread mix, and also the fact that I used a muffin-tin as opposed to a flat one.

Next time I make these I will experiment with using a mixture of  both almond flour and white flour and of course I'll be sure to have some yeast.

The Bread Loaver

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Sweet Buns

Not sure why I'm thinking Sweet Brandy Buns... but I am. I wanted this book to try my hand at making simple fresh baked bread. When I got it, I was surprised by the number of sweet bread recipies included. Ever a lover of buns; why not make my own.

The Bread Loaver

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Beer Googles

Beer got the best of me whilst on a quick trip to Berlin and planning to find some bread. Regular programming will resume soon...

Sunday, 24 March 2013


Sadly leaving England; naturally exiting via London. A visit to Borough Market is overdue, so much so that snow (in late March!) can't stop me.
Borough Market was so much more than I expected, I'd forgotten how much prepared hot (and cold) food is available at every turn. The desire to taste and eat seemed to overtake the purchasing of food stuffs. That's not to say that the produce didn't do a good enough job of selling itself but the enticing smells and stall-to-stall fluidity meant that sampling cheese, and then preserves, and then cured meats was just too easy and too tempting to interrupt with a purchase. There was a lovely sense of quirkiness which surprised me as did the restaurant/café/gastro pub heavy circumference of the market.

Clearly the Borough Market experience should be one of taste over everything else. I can't say I remember another time where I've been advised of a 30 minute wait for a restaurant table in the middle of the afternoon; or had to queue outside of a bakery/coffee house in freezing temperatures in the snow. Perhaps I haven't been going to the right places. Which is why it's a shame that I'm leaving after re-discovering a fantastic place where food is displayed and enjoyed with fervor.

As a bread fan, I  kept my eyes open for a dough-rich stall and found one piled high with breads in abundance.
I again was surprised by the market atmosphere spilling out into the bricks and mortar establishments a stone's throw away; when invited to sample a freshly baked sourdough on a table in front of a bakery.
The knowledge that the sourness of the dough is determined, or produced, according to the temperature of the yeast mixture was freely shared and much appreciated.

Borough Market ensured that it is with a heavy heart that I fly out of London; despite the bizarre unseasonal snow and near-constant rain. If I knew I could experience food like this so easily where I live I'd be a happy girl, but like all great experiences there almost has to be something slightly fantastical about it. Effusive words? Yes; but my enthusiasm does get the better of me sometimes, especially when I've sampled the gastronomical pleasures of England and the Continent all under one roof.

The Bread Loaver

Friday, 22 March 2013

Seagulls and Crumpets

I'm now back in England and, funnily enough, beside the sea.
Something about being close to the water as winter melts into spring; the days still carrying a chill in the air and blanketed in a slight mist takes me back to my childhood holidays spent on Weston-Super-Mare.
The Seagull perched on my hotel window sill in the quiet early morning made me feel like I'd easily been transported to another time and place.
It's not often nowadays that I'm surrounded by this much Englishness and when I am, I seem to re-discover distant memories of a life that seems almost as if I never lived it.

These memories of childhood, the sea, and seagulls invariably take me back to another one  - one of crumpets; weird connection I know.
Basically as a youngster I ate a lot of crumpets; but never, that I can remember, in my adult life. Which is why memories of my childhood always bring back memories of crumpet-eating.

So as I am in England I try this decidedly English breakfast delicacy.
In their small surface area and dense package they provide a complexity and unexpectedness in flavour. The slight sourness and bitter bite incased in such a tame-looking shell really does seem to explain why this most simple of foodstuffs can trigger such strong recollections in me.
I'm no fan of butter so I devoured this traditional treat in a very non-traditional way; smothered in marmalade.

The Bread Loaver

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Hole-y Dough

Today I got my dough-craving hands on something that highlights just how versatile bread (or what we think of bread) is. I picked up some bagels for breakfast and realised that they are a perfect example of the duality and many facets of  the bread-canvas.

from left to right: Sesame Seed Bagel, Multigrain Bagel, Cinnamon Raisin Bagel

I enjoy a classic bagel embellished with either a type of seed/grain or dried fruit. Simple, no fuss but provides me with the shot of carbs that I'm after along with an added nutritious kick.
They're also not bad when holding together my favourite fillings; dare I admit to loving cheese and eggs squished in the middle and oozing out? Yes!

A Savoury bagel is great as it can quickly be developed into a filling lunch. Like assembling a puzzle, your favourite ingredients can be layered upwards creating a tower of deliciousness;  which if done right melts down into a mouth-watering, flavour-filled circle of holy perfection.
Breakfast is what prompted me to pop out to get a bagel today and during the week an easily prepared breakfast which incorporates some type of dough is a godsend for me. Toast with jam is a favourite but when I'm inclined to spend a little more time on preparation then slicing open a plump raisin-dotted bagel and smothering on the jam puts me in a great mood for the rest of the day.    
The Bread Loaver

Monday, 4 March 2013

Fresh out the oven

My very first blog post comes to you whilst sat at the kitchen table; hungry.

As you can guess by the title, this blog will be all about bread. I love bread; so much so that I need a place to think about it, talk about it, celebrate it.

Bread is great and extremely versatile. It can be dry or moist, sweet or savoury, soft and chewy or hard and dense.
It can be stuffed or topped with the most delicious ingredients, and prepared in many different shapes and sizes.
Without rambling on too much more I'll just say that although I have my favourites I want to explore the universe of bread and hopefully acquire some new tastes in the process.

At the same time as I'm starting this blog; I'm also challenging myself to make the very breads that I love and not just eat them.

Hopefully the results will be worth it, so here goes... to bread!

The Bread Loaver